Friday, November 19, 2010

Passing down my favorite author...

I love books.  I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the idea of them.  I love to open a book and smell the crisp pages.  I love to read the jacket and anticipate the storyline.  I love to start a new book, get introduced to new characters.  This may sound nutty, but the voices of authors, the way they write, comfort me.  Sometimes, I am in the mood to visit with Jodi Picoult or Elizabeth Berg or Anita Shreve.  Lately, I can't get enough Jennifer Weiner.  Each writer has a style, and when you open a new book by them, it is like visiting with them all over again.  I actually miss them the way you would miss a friend, long for a new Chris Bohjalian or Marisa de los Santos.  Some may say that is crazy.  But other readers - I would hope some, at least - understand.

I love to curl up in bed and read.  On a rainy day.  On a snowy day.  On a crisp fall day.  On a stormy night.  On a snowy night.  On a windy fall night.  Or on the beach or at the pool on a lounge chair in summer.  You see, to me, every time is a perfect time to read.

Maybe it's an escape.

I certainly could challenge myself more.  Occasionally I do, I force myself to read Steinbeck or Irving or Austen or the Bronte sisters.  I recently re-read "The Great Gatsby".  I can slog through Shakespeare and Chaucer.  But, I really like contemporary novels.  Not necessarily best sellers.  I've even been known to indulge in a romance, especially in November, when the Christmas-themed Harlequins come out.  Harlequins are like candy.

I work in a library.  Which is like the most awesome job in the world for someone like me.  I get to be around books.  I get to have a say in what we order.  I get to be around people that love books and love to read.  And, I get to make recommendations.  Making recommendations is probably one of my greatest joys.  (If you tell me what genre you like, I will recommend several books.)  I get such happiness from someone coming back (or emailing or facebooking me) and telling me how much they enjoyed the book.  In a few cases, how the book changed their lives or stayed with them long after they finished it.

So, it should come as no surprise that the moment I handed my eleven year old a book by my all-time favorite author, would be a big moment for me.  A tear filled, oh-my-mom-is-such-a-weirdo moment.  And then to see my eleven year old curled up in a living room chair for hours reading this book, asking which other books I have by this author, and being able to reply, "I have everything she ever wrote."  It's a moment to be savored.

Norma Klein.  She really tested the limits.  When others were writing sweet high school series, she was writing about single parents and kid's inquisitive-ness about sex; she wrote about step parents and step siblings; she wrote about homosexuality when no one was writing about that; she wrote about alcoholic parents and recreational drug use.  Nine of her novels are on the banned books list.  Ms. Klein had this to say before her untimely death in 1989, ''I'm not a rebel, trying to stir things up just to be provocative. I'm doing it because I feel like writing about real life.'' She wrote in a way that felt real.  In those angst-ridden adolescent years, her voice was a comfort.  There are only a handful of books that A is really ready for and they may seem really dated to her, but I am just happy that she is enjoying Mom, the Wolf Man and Me.