On A Book Treasure Hunt
Reading has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can still recall books from my childhood, some of which I still have, and the feeling I had as they were read to me or when I was reading them. My aunt Grace fostered my love of books, giving me some wonderful books for my birthday or Christmas, along with the bookmobile lady, who let me check out stacks of books during the summer. What fun! Nothing was better on those hot South Dakota summer days than to curl up somewhere with a good adventure story or mystery and get lost in it, while the cicadas lazily hummed in the air and the heat rose in waves off the sidewalks.
I'd like to share a little with you about how I find a book that I want to read. It usually takes time, unless a referral comes to me from a trusted friend. I have found some resources that help me with my search for a book to read.
While I enjoy hunting through bookstores for a good read, it often seems a frustrating endeavor in this age of literature. I have no desire to read about vampires or zombies, and I tend to veer away from books just because they've made some bestseller list. Actually, that's a good indicator to me that I likely will not enjoy it. So what to do? I go back to the classics. With classic books, I know I can usually find timeless stories, interesting plot lines characters and, more often than in today's books, a moral standard closer to my biblical Christian worldview.
When I pick up a book to read, at some point I want to know more about the author. In newer books, I have a habit of reading the forewards and acknowledgements; I can pick up interesting tidbits in them. In the classics, I will read through the Introduction to the story; however, I will admit I tire of lengthy introductories, so then I skim. As I read a classic, I like to know things about the author: what era did he live in, who were his friends, what was his worldview (this is essential), why did he write the story -- it helps me understand the story. Often I can find some of that information in the introductory pages; however, when I need more information, here's a peek at where I turn.
I have a few books I turn to when searching out a classical author. One favorite is The Company of the Creative by David L. Larsen, D.D. While I have a very personal reason for this book being a favorite of mine, I do find that Dr. Larsen's review of authors and their backgrounds is one of the most helpful references I own. I can look up a particular author and gain an understanding of his background and perhaps a little history behind the particular book I'm reading. It helps me understand the story better. I found this particularly helpful recently as I read through Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
Two other books that I find helpful are Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis, Thomas L. Martin, Editor; and Invitation to the Classics, edited by Louise Cowan and Os Guinness. While both of these books differ from Dr. Larsen's, each book gives me a different perspective on the authors or the books I'm reading.
One of our favorite pastimes as a family is to read the classic, then watch the movie that has been made from it and discuss whether it followed the book well, or whether it was shipwrecked on the shores of Hollywood. I try not to watch the movie and then read the book. I have found it is truly disappointing to find that the movie I just enjoyed was nothing at all like the book!
What about you? What do you use for resource material when looking for a good book?
[Note: The books I have referenced above are my personal views only; they are not endorsed in any way by MÂCHÉ.]
MÂCHÉ Board Member