We are a house of books. The sanctity of the written word looms large in our mystique. I cannot stress enough how important reading is in our household. Of all the things we had to get rid of when we moved here, books was the most difficult. But honestly, we had literally thousands of them; how many were we going to read again? That was the tough question that I had to ask myself over and over again when sorting through the many shelves. I wept more than a few tears while packing up many boxes of our books.
A lot of them found good homes but some ended up going to GoodWill. Hopefully there they will be found by another reader and enjoyed again before being passed along. In a way, it is another form of recycling, I suppose and I should be pleased that I participated in the regreening of our earth. I apologize to environmentalists everywhere, but I cannot fully commit, however. While I don't mind e-readers while travelling, especially on a plane, I don't care for them the rest of the time. I need a book in my hands. I want to turn actual pages. I know it's politically not favourable to say so, but I prefer a real, actual, book.
And I'm fine with a previously read book. In fact, I kind of like knowing that someone else read it before me. I'm okay with an occasional coffee stain or an underlined passage and I love it when I find a book that comes with it's own bookmark, accidentally left behind by it's previous owner. I wonder what they thought when they read the words and what was it about that particular line that they admired enough to underline it.
My dad was a huge reader. If he wasn't out doing his best to run the world, or at least his corner of it, he was reading. I can still see him, in my mind's eye, in his recliner, kicked back, his little dog on his lap, book in his hands, rapt in concentration, lost for hours at a time. He didn't hear you, if you called his name, at least not the first time and maybe not even the second. He wasn't ignoring the caller, he was just worlds away, lost in the words of a book.
If you know me, you might be aware that I'm not only an avid reader, but also a writer. And as such, I know other writers. We seem to attract one another, like magnets. It's a supportive community for the most part. And because I take that seriously, I try to do my part. When my friend, who I've written with in the past, asked me to read his book and give him feedback, I did so. And I gave a great deal of thought to what he wrote as well as what I was about to write back before sending my ideas on each chapter. Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it that matters most. He has been very grateful for my input and instituted most of the changes that I suggested.
One of my new neighbors is a writer. When she told me of the book she wrote, I was heartbroken for her. There is no greater loss than that of your child. But knew that although it would be a difficult book to read, it was also an important book to read. I ordered the book. It arrived around Christmas time and I knew I couldn't read it then. So it sat. And then I was involved with all sorts of apres-Christmas tasks and house projects. And so it sat. But every time I passed by the stack of books waiting for me, that one, in particular, called. Finally, I could postpone reading it no longer. It was a difficult read, but I knew it would be. Incredibly well researched and very well written, it was still very hard to read. I would read as much as I could and step away over and over again. But eventually I completed it. I cannot imagine enduring what she did and then having the presence of mind to be able to write as well as she did without being destroyed. I think perhaps, instead of ruining her, writing the book put her back together again.
Later today, I will go back to Amazon and write a review for her. Partly because I know her a little bit now, I consider her a friend, partly because it was a powerful book and deserves a review, partly because I, too, am a writer and appreciate the effort but mostly because I am a reader.
I know it's an extra step for everyone in a world when nobody ever has enough time to do anything. If you can even carve out the time to read at all, who can you find even more time to take the extra step to write a review? It honestly doesn't matter if it's a book in electronic form or paper, it's the same words. And it's important. If you loved it, tell the author that you did and tell them why you loved it. By the same token, if you didn't like it, tell them that and why. It's equally important to know what, as writers, we are doing wrong, so we can do better, so that we can improve our craft.
Most people's jobs get immediate and direct thoughts on how we are performing. The boss, co-workers, employees, customers, clients and patients have little hesitation in telling a person if they are doing their jobs well or not. The customers of writers are invisible. By and large, we do not meet our readers, so we do not hear what they are thinking about our labors. And by the way, just knowing that the book sold well or not is not sufficient. Have you ever received or purchased a book you didn't read? Or just perused a few pages before realizing that this was not the book for you? Well that book that you didn't read, still sold. Did you ever borrow from a library or a friend, a book that you absolutely loved. That book that multiple people read and enjoyed, only sold once. So honestly, those numbers do not say as much as you might think.
So there is my plea for today. Please consider, when you read a book that truly resonates with you, writing a quick review. It only takes a moment or two and can be done on your computer. Amazon in particular makes it very easy to do. This time, you are the writer, you have the power to make an impression on someone else. Other people will read your words and it will make a difference.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.