“I’m an author too,” she says with a smile after we introduce ourselves.
While I am speaking from the stage about Sabbath to a group of clergy spouses, Susanna’s eyebrows arch, her body leans forward as she listens to what I’m saying. She’s taking notes; the kind of person you want in each seat of your audience.
But it wasn’t until we sat in a circle with plates of salad on our laps during a break that she tells me about her book, published with Simon and Schuster.
She opens vistas on the shores of a familiar landscape in my heart and we can’t stop ourselves from wading into the warm waters of books; our thoughts swimming with details about the writing life.
We float for a while on the need for support in the inevitable solitary nature of becoming authors.
Weeks later, at her generous invitation we meet at Osterley House and Gardens (because we both love gardening too) for a picnic lunch, a walk and conversation about her next book proposal. A conversation that surprises us both because it’s easy, as if we’ve always been girlfriends though grown up on different continents.
This is the magic of books isn’t it? With each page read in a story, our lives become entangled with the beauty of our humanity and you look forward to the moment you meet again to savor the next chapter.
I left Susanna’s house holding her book in my hands and the story of the way it was birthed written on my heart. An early moment in our journey to London I won’t soon forget.
A book that is now one I reach for daily on the top of my reading stack. And when we find a book we love? You know you want to share it, right?
We were careful about not packing too many books to bring on the crate when we moved to London. Still, you will find a treasure trove of bindings from favorite authors on all three floors of our house. On shelves, bedside tables, lying on the floor of the family room next to a comfy chair and piled high on my writing desk.
Normally, I read several books from different genres at once like a tapas meal; savoring each voice and content in small doses. Do you do that?
Books are for parts of your day like pairing food on your plate. Light-hearted and amusing books for breakfast, spiritual inspiration for a quiet time, memoir for tea-time during a writing break. Page turners are for after the dishes are washed and luxuriating on Sabbath.
My stacks are a smorgasbord of authors encompassing vintage classic, memoir, spiritual inspiration, best-selling fiction and something that challenges me to think differently. Here are the titles:
A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie, Updated and Revised by Susanna Wright – These daily prayers for morning and evening gifted to me by Susanna are infusing my prayer life in ways I didn’t expect. I can hardly move on to the next day’s prayer because every page is inspired and rich. If you long to energize a tired quiet time, I highly recommend it.
Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines – This memoir is her debut book and it is stunning, like all of the things she writes. I found Amber’s blog a few years ago and her poetic way with prose never ceases to inspire me to be better at crafting sentences. This is a raw, honest account of a woman’s brokenness and redemption. So vulnerable, she makes me want to live free and brave like that too.
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro – Books on writing inspire my thinking and creativity in a way that is different than reading fiction. Highlights throughout, it is inspiration for a new writing group I’m leading this autumn.
House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I’ve read every one of her books except this one, her first, and it doesn’t disappoint. Kate has such a way of keeping you away from all house work to find out what will happen next. And then she will surprise you with the ending. Every. Time. Her next book, Lake House, is available in October. I have an alert on my phone.
A Room of One’s Own and A Writer’s Diary both by Virginia Woolf – Dani Shapiro (above) mentions A Writer’s Diary as being a book she returns to often for inspiration so I downloaded the sample on my Kindle. When my friend Dea was here in London, I took her to my favorite bookstore, Persephone, and they had both of these titles. So, she bought them for me as a gift. Because friendship, shopping and books for people who are passionate about words.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – I started this a while ago and then got distracted until the movie came out recently. There is a reason why books are referred to as vintage classics. The word imagery sticks to your memory and returns again years later in conversations, new places visited; in prayers for others when you least expect it. Brilliant, as they say here repeatedly – about everything.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – I’m savoring this one because I’m the only extrovert in a house with three introverts. Need I say more?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I finished this book a while ago but I couldn’t do a list without telling you how much I love this book, given to me by my friend Elizabeth. He is a master at building layers of plot and crowds of character; writing scenes in a way that haunts. A writer’s writer for sure.
What are some of the books you are reading that you love and want to give away to friends and family members? Let’s share what we are reading in the comments.