Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Year of Reading

By Nicole Seitz
Author of Saving Cicadas, Trouble the Water, A Hundred Years of Happiness, The Spirit of Sweetgrass and upcoming novel (Feb 2011), The Inheritance of Beauty

When I was in my twenties, I was living alone with my black cat in a little apartment in Mount Pleasant, SC. I remember it was about 600 square feet, one bedroom, everything covered in green carpet. It was an amazing time of change. My aunt had just passed away, I was working my first jobs, being my own person for the first time, learning how to cook for one and stumbling-grumbling-growing through it all. I count myself blessed to have had some time to live by myself before I got married and had kids. I remember it was so quiet when I got home at the end of a workday...I started reading.

Now some might think this strange, but I decided I wanted to read the Bible from cover to cover. Before then I had only been a drive-by reader, a spiritual "flipper" if you will, meaning whichever page I flipped to, that's the one I read. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact, these days I still do it. However, reading the whole thing through in one year was my goal, and I met it. I didn't retain or understand it all, but that's been coming steadily in the years since.

Okay, so the really strange part is--I also started reading Harry Potter at the same time I was reading the Bible in a year. I'd bought this YA novel for my mother, the big reader, but she wasn't much into it. I'd heard so much about the book, I thought it would be up her alley. Apparently, it was right up mine. And yes, I did see spiritual parallels in Harry Potter with certain good/evil characters and themes, but that's probably for another blog post. I simply remember that year as being my Year of Reading, the one that opened my eyes to the joys of books. Next I turned to Amy Tan's novels--The Bone Setter's Daughter, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses-- and I was enamored with the way she portrayed the Chinese-American culture of life as we know it co-mingling with the supernatural world.

Other books I've loved since then are The Lovely Bones, Like Water for Chocolate, The Time Traveler's Wife, Roseflower Creek, The Historian, The Secret Life of Bees, The Kite Runner, A Spot of Bother, Keeper of the House, Water for Elephants...oh, and so many more. Each book transports me to another world. Each book has characters I root for and love. Each book has lovingly, tenderly, become part of my literary fabric.

Amazingly, the only book I still want to read over and to read daily is the Bible. It's truly timeless. In it, Jesus often tells parables, or fictional stories in order to teach. There is something to be said for fiction that speaks deep truth to your very core. It's what we all strive for, isn't it, as fiction writers? To write some piece of fiction that speaks such universal truth that it hits the reader in those deep places and is never forgotten--dare I say, even life-changing?

Lately, audio books have captured me, and I drive while listening to The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency or some other equally well-read, well-written novel. So what will I read or listen to next? What should I put next to that big book on my nightstand? I don't know. How about a book that takes me somewhere I've never been before? One that introduces me to characters I will love and remember. How about a novel that will show me some truth about myself in a way I've never considered before. This is what I love. Got any suggestions? I'm all ears.
Nicole Seitz is the author of four novels that blur the lines between reality and spirituality - Saving Cicadas, Trouble the Water, A Hundred Years of Happiness, The Spirit of Sweetgrass and upcoming novel, (Feb 2011) The Inheritance of Beauty.

She lives with her husband, two children, a cat, a dog, and a hamster in the Charleston, SC area where she also teaches art at a local private school. Find her and her work at http://www.nicoleseitz.com/.


nreddick said...

I've often thought that fiction speaks louder and is deeper and has more meaning than non fiction. Excellent point!

Anonymous said...

Have you read "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner? It's one of my favorites.


Peggy Webb said...

You named some of my favorite books! I would add Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Isghiguro to the list. It's simply haunting.

Anna Michaels said...

All the books on your favorites' list are also on mine. If you haven't read Whistling in the Dark and Still Alice, you should take a look. They're splendid.

Nicole Seitz said...

Oooh, I'm so excited to hear some new must-read books! Thank you, everyone. Keep them coming!

sushil said...

i think fiction speaks louder than any thing as novel because it test the whole ability to thin of the person writing a fiction
every one can write if he knowsHOW TO WRITE