Books are kind of the "bookends" of my life. I cannot remember ever not being able to read. There is some speculation that I might very well have been born with a book in my hand! The consensus is that while I might not have been actually born with a book in hand... I probably picked one up on the way to the newborn nursery!
At the opposite end of life, if I were to die having just finished a wonderful book, I would die a happy woman. See? "Bookends!" And if there is some kind of afterlife, if there aren't books and reading, I'm not going!
Everywhere I go, I have a book with me....either in my purse or somewhere close at hand. If I go out to eat, I take a book. If I have a doctor or dental appointment, I take a book. Hairdresser?? I take a book. Babysitting??? I've got a book. Vacation or business trip??? SEVERAL books!!
If I don't have a book or something else to read, I don't know what to do with my hands or where to look. Books are my escape, my refuge, my best friends! I LOVE books.
Writers of books are like idols to me. I can put a sentence or a paragraph or two together, but write a 400 page novel or a biography or whatever? I could never do that! Ever! The people who have the ability write must have an extra chromosome or something that the rest of us don't have. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who are (or were) considered AUTHORS.
Of course, there are many levels to writing. Not everyone has the same ability or style or command of language. There are poor writers who nonetheless have managed to put together a book and convince somebody to publish it! Actually, poor writers who have enough concentration or talent or whatever it is, to string enough words together to end up with a "book", albeit a poor one, still amaze me.
And then there are the plots (I'm speaking about fiction now). Great ideas that get fleshed out with fully-developed characters that are believable and that you end up caring about. Words that not only tell a story, but give a message or a moral, or make you laugh. That's why books are so powerful! It's what makes the difference between a Bronte and a Bozo!
Most of the time when I read, I don't do a bunch of analysis on the message or the moral. I have no interest in taking a book apart like they do in book clubs. I read for enjoyment, not to critique. I don't read anything heavy (either in weight or content). I don't particularly like short stories or novellas either. I will read one or two in a pinch, but I read very fast and I just go through them like the wind! Besides, you are just beginning to be interested in the characters or the story and, BAM, its over. I find that very unsatisfying. I've gone through mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction phases. After a while those genres get tedious, predictable, unbelievable or sometimes all three!
For the last several years I have been reading "womens' fiction". Authors of this type of book are overwhelmingly female (is that a given??) who are exploring the relationships women have with their spouse, their mothers, their children, their friends. They can be written humorously or deadly seriously. They can have a little love or romance. They can be deeply moving or superficial. They can have happy endings or not and that's okay.
There are some wonderful authors writing in this genre. There are the masters: Nora Roberts, Judith Kranz, Maeve Binchy, Danielle Steel, Sandra Brown, Debbie Macomber, and the Queen of them all, Anne Rivers Siddons. There are also the newcomers (at least new to me): Dorothea Benton Frank, Sheryl Woods, Robyn Carr, Marion Keyes, Emilie Richards. And in a special group, my favorites! These are the ones that I will run to buy their new hardcovers as soon as they are published: Susan Wiggs, Barbara Bretton, Barbara Delinsky, Jennifer Cruisie, Kristin Hannah. And in a class by herself, the hysterical and masterful and incomperable Susan Elizabeth Phillips! For my money, she's the best of the best!
I love reading these ladies' work. Some I have read again and again. There are many, many more writers, of course, that I haven't discovered yet. Not to worry, I'll get to them. These days I have lots of time to read and that's a dream come true! So, I'll keep reading until the other end of the "bookends" crops up and there's no more time.
It's not original to me, of course, but an appropriate epitaph for me just might be:
"So many books, so little time"