Mission Implausible

Everyone needs a hobby. Some of us have more than one. Among mine are writing and reading, painting badly, and talking to myself. Recently, inspired by an estate sale find, I embarked on a new hobby; although, perhaps it would best be called an eccentric pursuit.

Here’s what prompted my search:

A hardback copy of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Nothing special, right? In fact, at one time I owned every book in the series; although, some were the paperback editions. I donated that collection to a school library in Champaign, Illinois. A librarian friend had put out a request for Harry Potter books, and I couldn’t let her down.

But when I saw that copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sitting all by itself on a table at an estate sale it seemed to say, “Take me home.” So, I did. Well, after paying for it. I’m no thief.

On my drive home from the sale I devised a plan to buy all of the books in the series again, but, with certain rules:

1) Buy only hardcover books in good condition.

2) Purchase only one book per location.

3) Buy them in order of publication.

4) Only buy the books from garage or estate sales. I’m still wrangling over whether I should allow thrift store purchases.

Yesterday, I found the second book in the series at a huge estate sale in Tallahassee.

It fit all of my requirements. And even though I could’ve purchased books 3 and 4 at the same venue, I slapped myself on the wrist and carried my book to the cashier.

Now, to me this search sounds perfectly reasonable, but when I tried explaining it to the woman in line to pay behind me, she gave me an odd look and slowly took two steps back. It seems there’s a fine line between eccentric and outright crazy.

Peace, people!

Read it Again, Ma’am

I read all the time. If I could no longer read for some reason I’m sure I’d wither away and die. Oh sure, I could listen to books on tape, and I suppose I could make do, but there’s something magical about the way a reader interacts with a book that a recording can’t replicate.

My taste these days runs to science fiction/fantasy, but I’m always looking for some new delicacy regardless of genre. And then there are my favorites. These are books I’ve read more than once, and for someone like me who’s always looking for the next literary thrill this repeat reading is the highest compliment I can pay a book.

So what select books are among my repeats?

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is number one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve delved into the world of Scout Finch, and I read it at least once a year in the fall.

2) Stephen King’s, The Stand, is a close second. The epic tale of good versus evil still gives me chills, and I become suspicious of any sniffle or cough, certain that Captain Trips is about to wipe out most of humanity.

3) A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, comes in third, and I can’t really say why. There’s something about this coming of age story that draws me in. My heart aches for these boys on the brink of manhood and all of the pitfalls awaiting them. If I pick up my well worn copy when I’m dusting or otherwise moving stuff around I can’t help but begin reading it again.

4) I’ve read all but one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series multiple times, having read the series from the beginning every time a new book in the series was released. So I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seven times, while I’ve only read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows once.

I’ve recently added a new book to those deemed worthy of a rereading. This book, The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig, is the first book that comes to mind when a friend asks for a recommendation. So when I didn’t have a new book in the queue, I thought it might be time to remember why I recommend it so often.

The Whistling Season is set in Montana in 1909. A widower with three sons takes on a housekeeper whose ad, “Can’t cook, but doesn’t bite” intrigues him. The widower and his sons get much more than they bargained for when Rose and her brother, Morrie come into their lives.

This book is an homage to education and the one room school house, and to a time when life was a bit slower, but no less complicated than it is today. The language is incredible and the story so compelling I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to reread it.

Those are mine. What books have you read repeatedly? I’m always looking for my next favorite. Looking forward to suggestions.

Peace, people!