I could read almost as soon as I could walk, and never looked back. Books were early friends, companions, conjurers, and sages—leading me straight into the heart of myths and fairytales, my favorite early literary genres.
Books showed the way to my own powers of conjuring, of imagining, of dreaming big. Books gave me permission to daydream in realms that were completely different from my own baby boomer reality. In the pages of biographies, folktales, literary romances, histories I found an endless crowd of exotic places and exciting new acquaintances.
Books expanded the world, and in turn the tales and characters I met in books illuminated my everyday life, enriching everything I said, and saw, and did. Playing Robin Hood in my childhood transformed the woods behind our house into a vast and mysterious forest, where ghosts, and dashing knights, and evil robbers awaited me and my friends.
Colors, textures, and aromas were heightened, and became more vivid thanks to my growing fluency with adventures and fables.
The life of my imagination—opened and enlarged by books—helped to shape my lifelong habits of exploration, of inquiry, of asking questions in every situation. My sensory life took on an edge, an urgency that has never left me. Books led the way, kindling my own sense that daily life could be more intriguing, more playful, more everything than more people seemed content to accept. I was mad for books, and they just seemed to pump more and more energy into the world I saw and in which I lived.
From the start (thanks to a deep saturation by literature) I rejected the ordinary whenever possible, taking the paths that led to as yet undiscovered destinations. Books triggered my every enterprise and choice. Books colored my every experiment and romance.
They still do.
Right now I’m reading three books of fiction and one of scientific non-fiction. Each one opens —and keeps open—a new country of word images, of ways of speaking, and of revelations of consciousness on the part of people and places that only exist between the covers of those books. What a lot of excitement magically contained in a small package!
Which is why spending a few hours in a bookstore—such as Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore in Carmel — sifting through some new and old books, talking about writing books, and my own new book Inside the Flame, strikes me as just about the most Christina Waters activity I could engage in on a Saturday afternoon in April.
Join me on April 8th, from 1 to 3pm, and bring your own favorite book stories with you — Pilgrim’s Way in Carmel. Looking forward to seeing you!