30 novels, day 29: The reason a book stays with you
The 30 days are almost over, and there are so many books I haven’t talked about yet that have mattered to me and stuck with me over the years. The Hardy Boys adventures. The Tarzan books. The stories of King Arthur, and Sherlock Holmes. The Odyssey. Lost in the Barrens. The Time Machine. Tay John. Merlin’s Ring. Phantastes. The Lord of the Rings. Dune. War and Peace. The Brothers Karamazov. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The Unlimited Dream Company. To the Lighthouse. Life: A User’s Manual. Little, Big. In the Skin of a Lion. The Writer’s Tale. The Prowler. Green Grass Running Water. No Fixed Address. 2666.
The list goes on.
Looking over these titles I see my own journey as a reader, from wide-eyed childhood to restless youth to ... whatever I am now. From a reader to a writer. From a smaller to a wider world. I see that there isn’t any common theme or subject matter. With every book I was looking for a story to draw me in and hold me, to entertain me, maybe comfort me, too. But I also wanted the book to mystify me, bother me, shake me up a little. Some books compelled me to read them, even if I didn't think I wanted to know what they had to tell me.
The great Robert Kroetsch once said that a writer isn’t someone with answers, a writer is someone who asks good questions. A particular book stays with me for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that I’m probably still asking myself the question that it first raised for me, and still searching for an answer.