I was on "tour" last week, with Prism Book Tours. It was a good trip, a good week. I was also working with the local community theater and at the library and occasionally at home and then we went to North Carolina to watch our granddaughter graduate from college and I ran out of time. So I hope you don't mind if I use a post--or maybe a couple of them--I used somewhere else and ask you a question I asked last week. I'll ask it here at the top, so you can't miss it, and then again at the bottom in case you did, because we Wranglers are the curious type and we want to know, What have you read or what do you read that makes you happy?
Before I was a writer—although not long before I was a writer—I was a reader. I wasn’t at all prodigy-like—when I entered first grade (no kindergarten then) I was uncertain of my letters and could barely count to 10. I was scared of my teacher and don’t remember all that much about the year.
But I do remember that the first word in the first Dick and Jane book was Look. Within that first paperback reader were other words I can recall: see, oh, come (that one took me a while for some reason), and run. I’m sure there were others, too. Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, and Tim were names. And the kids called their parents Mother and Father instead of Mom and Dad. (I assumed that was what rich people did.)
And there’s something else I remember from when I was learning those words in that first reader, and the ones in every reader thereafter and every Little Golden Book I could get my hands on. I remember it from later on when I was reading all those words in every library book that was made available to me. I remember that when I was reading, I was happy.
I think it was a pact. Between Louisa May Alcott, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and a whole host of other writers who wrote exclusively for young people. I think they wanted to fill gaps in lives, incite laughter where there wasn’t enough, and provide a psychological hankie to dry tears no one else knew were being shed.
I am still happy when I’m reading, and below are some of the titles that continue to make me that way.
1. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The book introduced me to Vermont, for which I am ever grateful. It is one of the few children’s books I’ve read as an adult that I have enjoyed as much as I did the first time. I even have it on my Kindle and occasionally read parts of it to make me feel…yeah, happy
2. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin. And I don’t have a reason. I don’t remember how old I was or for that matter, where I was when I read it. But I loved Rebecca and Aunt Jane and Mr. Ladd. And I know reading the book made me happy. With adulthood, I’ve come to admire Aunt Miranda. I think age has given me appreciation for ornery women!
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It still makes me happy. I still want to be Jo. And I want to go to Concord.
4. The Sue Barton nurse series. Because Sue was an independent spirit before her time. And after her nursing school and New York City adventures, she went back home to New Hampshire. Which I love nearly as much as Vermont. Do
5. Till the Stars Fall by Kathleen Gilles Seidel. Okay, anything by Seidel, but especially this one. I’m still waiting for Danny French’s HEA.
6. Once More from the Top by Nan Reinhardt. We’re friends, which makes me happy, and she first introduced me to Michigan’s west coast in this book. It’s the first of a series—another happy thing!
7. Forgiving by LaVyrle Spencer. Spencer makes a setting into a strong and wonderful secondary character-–do you sense a pattern here? I love good settings! My husband and I even went to Deadwood this fall so I could breathe in the texture she painted it with. I was disappointed, but we tried.
8. The Born In… series by Nora Roberts. I’ve liked a ton of her books, but these not only have great protagonists and Ireland, they are just special.
9. Always Annie by Liz Flaherty. It was the first time I ever heard an editor say, “I want to buy your book.” Yes, happy.
10. The Happiness Pact by Liz Flaherty. Because every new book is my favorite and they all make me happy.
What ones do it--or have done it in the past--for you?