Book Magic

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March SOLC – Day 4

DSCN4998The sun shone through the palm trees, gloriously warm on my New England winter-pale skin. The on-shore breeze stirred the palms into a rustle and their shadows danced over the surface of the pool. In the background the constant surge and swish of the ocean sang and the pelicans dove in the surf.

Sitting by the pool in Puerto Rico, I surreptitiously wiped tears from my cheeks, and my heart ached. Slowly I closed the book I had just finished reading, setting it gingerly on my blue and white striped beach towel. I had to get up. I had to move. Something felt cracked or bruised inside of me. I walked over to the edge of the patio and stared blindly out into the brilliant turquoise of the Caribbean Sea.

I was bereft. I wanted to throw my head back and howl into the tropical wind. To ululate. To keen. To wail with grief. I fought to stifle the sobs welling within me.  How? How can people be capable of such atrocity? How can people be capable of such bravery? How is it that the worst in man can inspire the best? And, oh sweet Lord, how can humans be so incredibly resilient?

Two days ago I wrote about books and how they have impacted my life through the years. Stephen King believes that writing is telepathy. In On Writing he wrote that “All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation.”   On the morning I described I hadn’t been in Puerto Rico, I’d been moving through war-torn Europe, witnessing the heights and depths of humanity, transported through space and time by the pages of my book.  There is surely magic in the ability of an author to craft words about the horrors of war and the triumphs of individuals into a reading experience that sent tears streaming down my cheeks in the tropical sun and simply put, overwhelmed me.

After some time spent staring at the ocean, struggling to regain my equilibrium, I stuffed those feelings deep within me, incapable of fully wrestling with them, at this time, in this setting. But before returning to the sun and the surf, I bowed my head, bearing witness to the past and acknowledging the power of Kristin Hannah and the written word.

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24 thoughts on “Book Magic

  1. Lisa Keeler says:

    Wow- I’ve been hearing about this book for some time, but you just convinced me to track it down.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bevbaird says:

    What a feeling when we can be so drawn into a book and forget where we are. Just finished another of her books “If You Believe” – enjoyed it. Will have to read “The Nightingale”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Adrienne says:

    you intrigued me enough to send me on an online search for the book. I just put it on hold at the library. It looks as though I will have a bit of a wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The power of books! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have been debating whether or not I wanted to read the book, Nightingale. Now I think I must.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      It was powerful to me. I want to say enjoy it, but that doesn’t seem to be quite the right word. At any rate, I hope it moves you as much as it did me.

      Like

  5. Glenda Funk says:

    This reminds me of the Emily Dickinson poem “There is no Frigate Like a Book.” The power of books to transform us from one place to another is my favorite thing about reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. elsie says:

    It amazes me the power of books and how our hearts are wrenched by mere words placed on a page. So you’ve made me want to put my heart out there, I’m now 56th in line for 18 books at our library.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tara Smith says:

    This slice was such an adventure – first the lovely beach, and then the journey into the sorrow of a book and the way it moved you. I’ll have to look for this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know this may shock you, but this ADULT book has been on my TBR for awhile. Having read your reaction, trusting your opinions on books, I’m making it a priority read. And it will be fun to talk an “adult” book with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Color me surprised! Susan, I have a friend’s copy right now and you’re welcome to borrow it if you’d like. Just let me know! I can’t wait to talk about it with you!

      Like

  9. Cindy says:

    Can’t wait to read this book- I love when you reach the last page of a book, and have tears of joy, relief, or sorrow and just have to ponder it further- or even to make the book alive for just a little longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mbhmaine says:

    I was overwhelmed by this one, Cindy. Put it on the top of your TBR stack so we can talk about it!

    Like

  11. mgminer says:

    I couldn’t put down The Nightingale. Stayed up until 2 am – even on a school night! So amazing. I love the last sentence, but won’t spoil it for others here.

    Like

  12. I am in awe of writing that has the power to transport us the way Kristen Hannah does in The Nightingale. Have you read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr? It also takes place in France during the war. It is a beautiful, breathtaking book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I have read it, Catherine and thought it was absolutely wonderful (though I didn’t react to it as viscerally as I did to The Nightingale). I’d hoped to visit St Malo this summer when I was in Brittany but unfortunately wasn’t able to do so. Another amazing read is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Have you read that one?

      Like

  13. vanessaw2007 says:

    I was so lost in your words. This was so beautiful!

    Like

  14. Thank you for sharing. I definitely want to run out and read this book. My husband is a veteran who has served our country for over thirty years. My dad and uncles served during WWII and my brother in Vietnam. So thankful for the brave men and women who give of themselves.

    Like

  15. Wonderful post – and having read The Nightingale last year, I can tell you that I shared many of the same feelings after I finished it. I told my students how I cried when I finished (and I never cry at books!). Beautiful book!

    Like

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