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When I think about writing Bookflurries each week, sometimes a word jumps into my mind and I say, “What?”  Then I think about it for a while to see what it has to do with reading.  Tunneling into a book means to me diving deeply into a subject or a place and really getting to know it, thoroughly.  At the present moment I am tunneling into Czechoslovakia just before and during WW II, the Y service in WW II, and London starting from about AD 50.

I will say that tunneling is a different experience from dipping into an Ice Cream Sundae and I do like to do both.  The thing about tunneling is that it takes time and it takes commitment even if I read only a few pages each night.  It may be why I seem to do it more often in the winter when there is time to spend.

There are many images of tunneling that come to mind as I explore this metaphor.  There are the miners who labor beneath the earth, digging out tunnels bit by bit to reach the coal, diamonds, or gold.  Reading about miners makes me aware of the terrible danger of such work.  Then, there are the necessary tunnels for transporting goods and people that are dangerous to build.  When hubby and I traveled in the mountains we often drove through short tunnels or under snow sheds built for protection against avalanches.  

There are books that require us to tunnel into them and the reward for doing so is great.  They are worth it.  The author has done detailed research and presented it to us in a readable format.  We must be willing to dive in and go deep and dig out the nuggets that will stick in our minds.  

It can be daunting to approach and begin a book that will require months of reading.  I give kudos to readers at Bookflurries who have managed many books that I could not read.  I am always interested in hearing about them even if I can not read them.

Prague Winter by Madeline Albright is about her country and not much about herself.  It is an explanation of what happened to it and it is well worth the time to read about a country that was proud of being Democratic while being surrounded by countries that were not.  It is interesting to read because I had already read To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel.  It also tells us about her family who died in the death camps.  

So far, the London book, A History of London by Stephen Inwood, is going well.  I read London by Edward Rutherfurd a few years back and many, many other fiction stories set in London so I am prepared for this book and willing to tunnel into it for months of pleasure.  

I have been tunneling for a second time into a character who has so many different layers to discover.  Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano on the outside is ornery and yells a lot.  He seems preoccupied with good food and yet when we pay attention to his thoughts and his self-questioning, we learn so much more about him and it raises the stories above being murder mysteries set in Sicily.  I tunnel into this complex character and I am surprised over and over again.  There is the favorite walk to the rock by the lighthouse where he has cried.  There is the olive tree where he sits as he puzzles over cases that are as gnarled as the tree’s branches.  There is the sea that he swims in.  I find him endlessly interesting as his thoughts are revealed.

Tunneling into books often means immersing oneself so much that the rest of the world seems pale by comparison.  It takes courage to dive in and explore so deeply, but we learn so much that way.  When we come up at the end of the story we have grown.

What books or characters have you tunneled into?  Is it worth it?  Are you being rewarded or just hanging in stubbornly for whatever good bits pop up?  

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! We have these fears.
by SensibleShoes
http://www.dailykos.com/...

On the Joys and Importance of Reading and Learning
by Andrew C White
http://www.dailykos.com/...

SNLC, Vol. CCCLVIII / SN@TO 14: Maria Stuarda Edition
by chingchongchinaman
http://www.dailykos.com/...

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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