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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday's Talk About a Book


Every writer can tell you the story of a book that changed their lives. The one that made them take notice and say, "I think I can do that." The one that stirred all the stories inside, making them want nothing more than to come out from the head and land onto paper.

I have a few of those books.

The little town I grew up in had a small library but it was chock full of books. Our schools had libraries equally as plentiful and, several times a month, the Bookmobile came from the public library to our school, just in case there was something we were missing.

In my day, reading was a way of life. Families only had one television per household and that television was 1) complete with only three channels, 2) those channels had to be changed by getting up off the sofa, walking over and flipping a dial, 3) with the channel changed, the antenna had to be adjusted, and 4) pretty much left to the discretion of the parental units. In other words, we children watched what our parents wanted to watch.

So we read.

One such book that influenced me was titled A Lantern in Her Hand, by Bess Streeter Aldrich. I don't remember the first time I read it, but it was surely a long time after it was written,which was around 1928. A Lantern in Her Hand is one of those books with a story line that stays with you. I can only think of a handful of books that have been so well-written they've done that with me. Colony, by Anne Rivers Siddons is one. Mr. & Mrs. Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head is another. There was a book about a man who found a girl-dolphin but couldn't convince anyone of his find (no, this is not the Tom Hanks movie!), but I cannot remember the title of it. I just remember reading it when I was about 12 years old and being effected by the whole thing.

True story: I told my husband about the first book, A Lantern in Her Hand. He and I were out on a Saturday morning, going from estate sale to estate sale, yard sale to yard sale. At each sale we'd find a stack of books--typically old--and so, as we drove from one location to the next, I told him about reading this old book back when I was a child but I couldn't remember what it had been called. I told him how it had resonated within me and how I wish I could remember the title. I said, "It was something like A Light on Her Path or something like that. I'd try to buy a copy of it if I could remember the title and the author's name. It was a three-name-name, but I can't remember what it was."

Then I told him about the plot. Start to finish. That is how much it meant to me; after all those years, I could remember the story almost verbatim.

My husband parked the car in front of an sprawling old home--the kind where "old money" people live--which boasted an "Estate Sale" sign out front. We walked up the brick steps laid into the sloping front lawn, crossed the wide-board porch, and entered through the front door.

Directly in front of me was a large, antique dining room table stacked high with books. Old books. Dusty, musty books. My husband said, "Well, there's more books for you to dig through." He turned to the right, heading into what appeared to be, at one time, a parlor.

I picked up the first book my hand could reach as I peered at the handmade sign reading, "All Books 25 Cents." Then I looked at the cover of the book.

You guessed it. It was a copy of Bess Streeter Aldrich's A Lantern in Her Hand. I jumped up and down. I ran into the parlor in search of the man with a quarter. "This is it!" I said, though not too loudly so as not to drive the price up to, say, a half dollar. "I cannot believe I just told you about this book and this is it!"

Here's the best part. This book is a 1928 edition. It became the first book in my collection of "antique" books/novels. If you are ever a guest in my home, ask to see it. I'll gladly show it to you.

[What about you? What book changed your life? Answer and enter my weekly drawing for a book from my bookshelf!]

7 comments:

  1. The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. I was in the 6th grade when I first read it. It really demonstrated the changing power of God and greatly impacted my life.
    Beth Jarrott

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  2. I had so many...The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet Elinor Cameron, (I think that was the author), also I love love love the Mitford books by Jan Karon. I painted the 128 pages of illustrations for my first book in Mitford while I listened on tape. My kids were little and I would put them to bed at 8, turn on the tape player and be transported to another world till about 4 am while painting then I would fall into bed happy. The next day I would do it all over again. I can look at some of the illustrations and see scenes from her books in my head. I even find myself quoting Father Tim sometimes. My son once said "Mom you do realize that Father Tim is a fictional character don't you?" HA! Teenagers.

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  3. I too have many... The Shack, by William Paul Young is high on my list. For the first time in my life I began to allow God to come "out of the box" where I had held him captive for some 50 years, and began to see Him in all His possibilities. However, and soon after reading it I attended, Xtreme Missions, a Youth Camp at Panama City, FL, I met David Nasser. No, I did not come back with a crush on the speaker, I came home with his book, A Call to Die, a 40 day journey of fasting from the world and feasting on God. I prayed for a thirst for Jesus in my life, and I began searching with all my heart to know Him and to know His purpose for my life. The process of dying is not fun, for during this time I had to allow God to move into some areas of my life where I myself had not gone, and it wasn't easy but, as a result, He changed my identity, and I am still "under construction."

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