My entire life, I’ve offered the same response whenever anyone has asked me what I’d like for Christmas: books. Big books, little books, good books, trashy books. Just books. However every year I’m met with a sack full of Christmas present disappointment. Maybe it’s under the socks? No, that’s a nail file. It could be hiding under that low fat cooking magazine? No, that’s just a book shaped body wash.
This year, I must have done something right because Santa heard me… well it was actually my mother in law but hey, Santa / mum – not much difference right? Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that I was ecstatic to find on Christmas morning that I had received both the DVD and the book of The Bridges of Madison County. I must confess, ordinarily it would never be a book that I’d pick up to read / buy for myself but because it was a gift (and my MIL had raved about the film) I figured I’d give it a go.
I’m glad I did. Venturing out of my literary comfort zone is not something that I do all that often but on those odd occasions that I have done it, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised (note to self, do more often). And Bridges was no exception. Initially it did take me a good few pages to get used to the romantic style and sweeping prose but once I acclimatised, I could not put the damn thing down (which suited me perfectly given the post Christmas madness foetal position I had assumed on the couch).
So what’s the book about? Well it’s a love story – derr – complete with passion fuelled love making, waterfall tears and death inspiring heart ache. Admittedly, at times it did get a tad Mills & Boons-ey on me (surprise, surprise) but, I didn’t mind. That over the top, over the rainbow, sensual floralness was warranted. And yes, I got lost in it. Honestly, I did. I was swept right away.
My husband calls me a literary snob / wanker depending on how kind he’s feeling at any one time – and maybe I am one, or both of those things. Writing is my thing though. Literature is my thing. Books are my thing and, naturally, I enjoy keeping up with the latest and best in those forms. However, as I’ve now come to realise, this can – at times – lead to me reading the same authors / the same quality of writing all the time and, without me even realising, restricting myself.
In no way am I planning on giving up Dostoevsky for Maeve Binchy any time soon, (and in no way is Waller Binchy!) but every now and then I think I will give myself the permission to read something mindless. Something that I wouldn’t usually read just so that I can detach and get swept away. Of course some authors are much, much better at their art form than others – that’s just a fact – but at the end of the day, they all have a story to tell – and who doesn’t like a good story? With books, masterpieces or otherwise, there is always a new place to escape to and a new person to get to know.
This Christmas I was pleasantly surprised. Not just because I got a book (!) but because I got a book that I usually wouldn’t buy… and I read it. Cover to cover. And loved it. With the new year approaching and all, you should give it a go too. If you read sic-fi pick up a classic. If you read classics, pick up a sci-fi. Venture out of your comfort zone and come back to share because, I’m sure, you’ll be pleasantly surprised (if you persevere – that of course is key!).
Happy venturing out of comfort zones into lands that are foreign and frightening xx