“Books are uniquely portable magic.”  So said Stephen King in his classic book on the craft of writing,  On Writing.  If you’re a reader, you know just how true it is.

Summer 2012 002 (2)The book, whether physical or electronic, can be taken anywhere, but the magic remains.

I’ve read thousands of books, and I often forget titles, and even authors, but I find that I often remember where I read them.

I was sitting on a bench on a beautiful fall afternoon the day I began John D. McDonald’s One Fearful Yellow Eye, the eighth book in the Travis McGee series.  I remember that day, and the excitement I felt reading the book, as though it were yesterday.  Of course, as soon as I finished the book, I went to the local bookstore to buy books one through seven in the series.

I was on vacation in Las Vegas, at the Bellagio Hotel, and I’d finished every book I’d packed for the trip. So, like any self respecting reader I went into the bookstore, browsed through their modest selection and found a futuristic crime thriller by someone named J.D. Robb.  I took that book, Origin in Death, to the pool, and fell right into the story of a New York City police detective that took place 45 years in the future.  I’d never read anything like it before.

I’ll admit to being mortified when I found out the book what actually written by the amazingly prolific romance writer, Nora Roberts, but by that time I didn’t care.  I was hooked on the series.

I was about 40 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, on a small island, resting up for a long bike ride when I opened my first Elmore Leonard novel.  It was Get Shorty.  I read the first half next to the pool on one day and the second next to the Atlantic, the next.

I’d read every Nero Wolfe story I could get my hands on by the early 1990s when I learned that another author, Robert Goldsborough, had continued the Wolfe series, with novels of his own.  I was able to get one of his books, I believe it was The Bloodied Ivy, at a local book store, while I was spending time with my retired parent in their Airstream travel trailer.   I read that entire book, which stayed fairly close to the way I remembered Nero and Archie, in the small living room of that travel trailer.

I was Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina a few years ago.  My wife and I were there to see our son, who’s  Marine, off on his first deployment to Afganistan.  I’d taken a couple of non-fiction books with me, but there were some delays, and I finished them and needed something new.  The last thing I wanted to read at that time was a pulse pounding, hard core thriller where I’d feel a sense of fear for the protagonist.  We already had enough of that in real life with this deployment.   I wanted a light, funny mystery.  I drove off  base to the local Barnes and Noble and found Wanna Get Lucky, by Deborah Coonts sitting on the front display  I bought it, and spent every spare minute in the world the author created until we left for home.  Ms. Coonts and Lucky O’Toole have been on my must buy since that day.

Through the years, the overwhelming majority of my reading has taken place inside my home, wherever that may have been.  But it’s comforting to know that the magic of reading is portable, it goes wherever you choose to take it.

Photo by David Jace

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