The healing power of books

There’s no question that a good book transports the reader, and can uplift one’s mood, or leave one devastated.  Such a lovely idea, then, to set up a bookseller as a literary apothecary, with the insight and knowledge to know precisely which books would heal the ills of customers strolling in among the shelves. And, even better, setting him up in a floating bookstore – a boat, free to set off and traverse the rivers of France.

In my reading life, I have always felt that I’ve been playing catchup.  Despite working my way through many of the great writers, there always seems to be more to read.  For some time now, I’ve had the goal of tackling James Joyce – with little success, as yet. But, sometimes, when the pressures of life mount, I fall back on some favorite comfort writers, among them, Ross MacDonald.  I thought I’d read every book by MacDonald, and recently was looking through the titles in my audiobook library to listen to on my commute to work.  I started playing “The Far Side of the Dollar“, and realized, to my delight, that I had never read this story.  Can there be anything better than discovering that you have the pleasure of a “new” story by a writer that you know will deliver? Pure satisfaction. Ross MacDonald wrote hard-boiled detective novels set along the California coastline, and his hero, Lew Archer, works alone, and, in good private dick tradition, never rests until the truth is outed.  The crimes are often based on psychological injuries suffered long before the crime is committed, and the solution involves sorting out twisted relationships within families, between husbands and wives, and parents and children. There is something reassuring in the ultimate airing out of long-held pain.

Recently, I was talking with a ten-year-old acquaintance of mine, who reads all the time, and asked him what he was currently reading.  He replied that he was rereading something that he wasn’t very interested in, because he is waiting for one of his favorite writers to come out with a new book!  Sadly for me, most of my favorite authors are long dead.  One of the bonuses of belonging to this online book club has been the joy of getting to read new authors, and new genres.  This past summer was a very busy one for me and my family, and, while I was drafting posts in my head all through those warm days, they never made it to this site.  I hope to catch up with some thoughts from these past few months before the memories are too dim.  But, this book has jump started me, I hope, and I look forward to more books in the coming months.

Little_Paris_Bookshop_by_Nina_GeorgeDisclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu–a literary apothecary–finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago.. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

3 thoughts on “The healing power of books

  1. Some days at the library are this!

  2. thienkimlam says:

    Reading a new-to-you author requires some emotional commitment. I have to be in the right mood.

  3. Kate says:

    In an episode of WTF with Marc Maron, Fred Arminson said, “That’s what’s fun about being alive is being late to the party.” Totally agree – it lets you dig into old books and music!

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