What is the best book you ever read? If you are like me, it might be hard to choose just one, but I am curious what makes it your “best book?” We certainly all have different interests and tastes in what we read. Our bookstores and libraries are a testimony to that and yet I think perhaps that some of what makes it the “best book” is the gift of the author and how they take us on an adventure.
In Patti Callahan’s newest book, Once Upon a Wardrobe, there is a place where she writes about C.S. Lewis struggling to write a certain poem and determined he had missed the target and tore the poem to shreds and then notes, “…he knew what writing actually meant. It wasn’t just words, one after another. Composing a poem required more than lining up sentences one right after another.” A good poet or a good writer knows that and has the gift to be able to take something of this world or one totally from imagination and help us to travel there. They can help us visualize something that adds to our imagining.
Art and photography can do that as well. What does the photo above suggest to you or invite you to consider? It’s a favorite of mine from a trip we took to Stowe, VT, some years ago. Does it make you wonder where the path is going or what you might experience along the way?
Communication through poetry, books of all kinds, photography, paintings, music, and more is one of the things that distinguishes us as humans. Sometimes we can be so accustomed to chatting away and talking we forget the significance of what we are able to do.
“…talking and writing aren’t merely for chatter. They are, above all, a means to discovering the truth.”Patti Callahan
You may think that sounds a bit grandiose but consider it for a moment before you are tempted to toss it aside. You invariably learn something through talking, writing, and reading. Sometimes it is about yourself. Sometimes it is about someone or something else.
It is one of the reasons the Bible has had such a profound influence on the world through the centuries since it was written and canonized. It continues to impact its readers in ways that change us, give us pause, and help us see more than we would have without it.
When I read a book that impacts me, not unlike George in Once Upon a Wardrobe, I often wonder where the idea of the story came from in the author’s mind. What Megs and George discover in the quest to discover the source of Narnia is revealed in how Callahan writes that C.S. Lewis responds to that question:
“After a book is written, it is hard to know where it came from. Can anyone – can you – say exactly how things are made up? How one of your physicists comes up with a new theory? How imagination rises up to make meaning?”Patti Callahan
At one time not along ago, there was a T-shirt that some were wearing that said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” I couldn’t agree more! If we are introduced to stories and books while still babes and toddlers on the laps of people who love us, we come to love what is being read to us and are much more likely to love reading if those who teach us capture our imagination and make it more than a drill. A good teacher can make learning to read as fascinating as the magic of a story we first hear as it is read to us.
Some of the stories we recall are ones that were handed down from generations before us in oral or written form. When we first hear them, we don’t usually understand how much of an impact they may have on us.
“Every life should be guided and enriched by one book or another, don’t you agree? Certainly, every formative moment in my life has been enriched or informed by a book. You must be very careful about what you choose to read – unless you want to stay stuck in your opinions and hard-boiled thoughts, you must be very careful.”Patti Callahan
The books that speak to us tend to have pieces of the author, what they have experienced or learned along the way before the words became a story. That was true of the Narnia stories.
“Its pages chronicle a man who turned all he was and all he is into a magical story about Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”Patti Callahan
What is the “best” story or book you have ever read that somehow you remember even years later? How did it change you?