When I open a book I am captivated. I enter a world not my own and I get to pretend it is. I fall in love, I brew with hate, I am flooded with sadness. And I'm overflowing with joy. All because I get to experience the many characters, their emotions and experiences. I am in it.
My favorite author is Stephen King. Whenever I mention his name or someone sees me with one of his books, and they've never read him, maybe only seen a movie, their opinion is the same. "Oh, scary. How can you sleep? He's a freak." Etc. Etc. And what I say to them is, "You've never read one of his books, have you? It's amazing what he can do." And of course only an avid reader of anything would be able to relate, even if they haven't read King. He is amazing. And when an author is amazing, you are wrapped up in every... single... word...
The first of his books I read was Carrie. And I read it when I was in fifth or sixth grade. And I've come to find out that it was his first published novel. I read it first because it was the first one I heard about from watching the movie. And since I'm 24 now, I can't remember all the details but it was good enough to start me on the rollercoaster of reading King books. And for that I am forever pleased.
My favorite of his books is The Dark Tower series. All four books. When I first picked up The Gunslinger I put it right back down. I just didn't think I'd enjoy it. But after finishing Rose Madder and buying Bag of Bones, I picked up The Gunslinger again, and I started. And I had no idea what was to follow. Not only did I enjoy the book. I didn't want Roland to end.
And this isn't new to me. I've read a lot of books and most of the time I become very emotional about the characters. Not just with King characters. VC Andrews characters as well. And others, like Judith Guest's Ordinary People. But with Roland, it was more powerful. It wasn't romantic or anything. It was just awe. He was perfect without being perfect. He was a hero without being corny. He was a gunslinger, an excellent fighter, tracker, thinker, without being a hokey cowboy. You could be proud of him in a way you can't be proud of so many characters. It was like the pure pride one only has for their children. Perfect and clean. And when The Gunslinger ended I was extremely happy to find three more books waiting for me at the library to continue his story.
Because it was an excellent story. It is an excellent story. In fact it is the best story I've ever read. and I've read a lot of stories, from VC Andrews to Charles Dickens to William Shakespeare to Edgar Allan Poe. And Roland had to have a series of books to tell his story. Seven. Number five is on its way. With six and seven to follow. And then I'll have to say goodbye to any new tellings of his tales and make do with returning to the places he's been. (re-reading the series, again and again)
He had the intelligence. The skills. The quick hands matched with his quick thinking. He had the courage to stand up to men who have been fighting for longer than he'd been alive. And he had a trust in something he had never seen yet he believes in it like he's seen it a million times. He is an angel without having wings. He is brave without needing medals. And he is pure and true without being innocent and childlike. He is Roland. And he is the character I can't bear to give up.
When I finished with the fourth book Wizard and Glass in March of last year, I felt sadness. A sadness so deep that it shocked me. I didn't want to let him go. He was too much in me. He was mine. I needed to know his actions and if he was all right. Then I saw the only newsstand magazine I ever bought after picking up and leafing through. Entertainment Weekly headlined that Stephen King was retiring!!!
But what about Roland?!?! What about all the stories that his leaks into. What about seeing the man in black as Flagg? What about all the stories he could tell? Please let it be false!
But I was saved. Roland's story would continue and it would be complete. Three more books awaited me in the quest for The Dark Tower. King promised to complete the series, then retire.
I could breathe again.
And a books section wouldn't be complete without the telling of how I came to love books. And this credit belongs to the Flowers in the Attic movie. I was in the local movie rental place in fifth grade and was into scaring myself, so I was in the Horror section. And there I saw Flowers in the Attic And since then they've moved it to drama where it belongs, the books belong in a place between horror and drama though. I was watching the movie and read Based on the novel by VC Andrews.
Now, that sounded familiar... I had made a habit out of purusing the living room bookshelves to find books and lost objects. And I had passed by a series of books, three, all by the same author. VC Andrews. So I went back to the bookshelf and discovered the titles were one in the same, along with two other flowery titles. I read the first, then the second, and the third. And I discovered there were two more. And I was hooked. I went to the public library and found many a book by VC Andrews. I didn't know until later that by the time I began reading her books, she was dead, and a ghostwriter was writing under her name.
And at that time I had to learn the concept of a series. I partly understood... But it only went so far, I soon found out. Because the next series I read (after the stand alone novel My Sweet Audrina) was the Casteel series, and I started with the last book Web of Dreams. And when I finally figured it out, and got to the first book Heaven, I already knew all the stufF I wasn't supposed to know yet. Not until the end.
But, because of the Dollanganger series, Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday and Garden of Shadows, I became addicted to reading. A true and proud bookworm. I have read the Flowers series three or four times, and the first book over half a dozen.
VC Andrews helped fan the flames of reading in me. She gave me the desire to read. The lust to read. I was hooked.
I realized that books were the best escape. On top of being able to be someone else, it was safe. I already knew to stay away from drugs and alcohol, I saw the horrible effects of that all around me. And so reading was the perfect way to get away from myself and the life I had to deal with every day.
I was comforted in the arms of another place. Another time. Another world where I could be beautiful and loved and needed and with someone who truly loved me. And I longed for someone like that. At that age it wasn't a husband type thing, it was just longing for a kindness that I never had. Or could hope to have.
I wished I could have the beauty Catherine had. And I wished that she would escape that awful place that made her insides ache and her soul burn with vengeance. I wanted her life to be better. And I cried when she said goodbye to the attic and threw away Cory's pet mouse Mickey. Because she was letting go of her little brother... Still hoping he'd be there with the rest of them. I prayed for her family to recover and learn to trust. And I watched and understood her relationship with Chris. And I hated her mother when she hated her mother. And I forgave her mother when she forgave her mother. And I wanted her to see her son Bart for who he was and what was being done to him. And I wanted Bart to feel happy and comfortable with who he was and not be so jealous of his brother Jory. Because I could relate to that.
I wanted the Dollangangers to rest and be at peace. And when Cathy died in the attic she grew up in, I cried. But I knew she was joining her Christopher. Her father. Her little twins. She was going home. To a home she never had. Here she would find the happiness she'd always longed for, the happiness with peace.
I am thankful every day that I picked up that movie and located that book, because not only did this introduce me to the Dolls. It introduced me to a love and escape that I'll never have to give up. It also introduced me to some great books. It introduced me to Roland Deschain of Gilead. A gunslinger. A hero. The perfect character I can never let go.
The end. But my reading will never end. Not until I do.