Friday, October 14, 2011

Literary Therapy

Today has been an early day of uploading book reviews. I should have done them earlier, but got caught up in all the work drama that now seems to be sliding slowly toward a new path. There are worse ways to spend my life, but making more money with better benefits and a whole lot less stress doesn't seem to be one of them. These are the times I go back to basics, one of those being the comfort of an old friend -- a book.

The book is Andre Norton's Moon of Three Rings about a Free Trader (space faring free trader) on a new world caught up in that world's intrigues who ends up wearing fur for a while. The fur is a barsk, a dangerous and violent animal not easily tamed, dying from abuse. The Moon Singer, Maelen, finds and saves the barsk and ends up putting Krip Vorlund in the barsks body, shoring up both spirits since his body has been beaten. Thus begins an odyssey into the interior of Yiktor among the Thassa and a price that Maelen must pay for her actions.

I read Moon of Three Rings for the first time nearly forty years ago and I find something new every time I read it, picking up little details and bits of writing that I missed the first few times. Each time it's a new book, not because I don't remember the story, but because I am coming to the book a little different, older, hopefully wiser, but most definitely changed by time and experiences. I bring a different me to the book each time, as I do to other books I reread. My experiences change me, but they also change the way I view the world and the world within the books. Good books just get better with time, and I was in need of a good book, although I almost opted for the next Disc World book from Terry Pratchett.

I flirted briefly with another Jasper Fforde, likely The Eyre Affair, the first in the Thursday Next series, but decided a good old book was exactly what I needed.

I often wonder if doctors ever think of library therapy for what ails their patients. It should be a required treatment for depression, ennui, high blood pressure, and stress, among other ailments that have accumulated with our modern age. Sometimes the best treatment is slowing down with a good book, not just any book, but a really good book, a golden oldie if possible. There's something to be said for a trip through the pages of a well loved book where the characters are familiar and the environs comforting. It's the literary version, at least in my opinion, of stopping to smell the roses. A vase of fresh cut roses wouldn't go amiss while sitting down and reading and you'll have time to smell the gentle fragrance while you read. Two birds. One stone.

The world changes so quickly and times begins to feel like it's traveling past at mach speed. The vistas change and so do we, but at the core we are the same people who fell in love with a story or an author as children and need a little reminding. I may even dig up a copy of the very first book I ever owned and read it again, imagining myself lying in the sweet hay on clean sheets in the loft looking up at the stars shining into the attic with Heidi. Or I could journey back in time with John Carter or swing through the jungles with Tarzan or even go on an adventure with Conan the Barbarian.

What I really need is a box full of vintage comic books and a Creamsicle or a bowl of popcorn and a stack of fairy tales or 1001 Arabian Nights. Sometimes the world looks better from a fantastical perspective. Thoreau did say to simplify and fairy tales, comic books, and fantasies are the simplest and best pleasures I know.

Simplify. Find a comfortable spot with good lighting and read a book. You can enjoy your lunch in a comfortable chair as easily as at the table or a counter, but bring a napkin so you don't mess up the book. Don't forget the roses.

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