The breeze blew softly as I sat on the porch and turned the page of captivating novel. Page after page detailed a land I had never set foot on, never seen, never even considered. I saw the rivers come into view, felt the cool wind, and smelled the plants that were entirely foreign to me, save the descriptions I read in this book. Bit by bit, I became familiar with a place I had never laid eyes on, all within roughly four hundred pages of a story. Books have the power to take us on adventures, they capture us entirely and carry us away.
I closed the book, and returned to reality. My eyes once more took in the world in which I’d grown up. The land I knew first hand. Home.
Three months later, my own two feet stood on the land I had come to know through the writing of another woman. I saw the same river my imagination had beheld, felt the same cool wind, and smelled those strange new plants.
As the Lord would have it, I moved away from the home I had known and found myself in the one I’d only read about. The North was far different from the South I knew so well, yet there was still a sense of knowing, of belonging, because I wasn’t a stranger entirely. A writer had introduced me. She’d taken me there with her words. Her story had shown me these faraway places. I knew them, though I’d never seen them before. All because that author had taken the time–hours probably– to capture the details, the minor things that go unnoticed by even those who live in the land being described.
Some books take us on adventures, yes, and some take us home.
Dear authors, you have a gift in your ability to tell a story. You capture our imaginations and take us on adventures. You give us your characters, your worlds, your lessons, and your challenges. Those things stay with us. They change us.
But I know you spend a lot of your time in the nitty gritty, the textbooks and newspaper clippings. You travel to see, smell, and taste the places you write about. Yes, those details you painstakingly research add to the story, but you’re doing more than that.
I’ve heard so many people say books “take you on adventures” but I think sometimes they do a bit more. Sometimes books take you home.
When you spend those hours combing through the historical facts, the geographical details, you are not wasting your time. You are not minoring on the majors. You aren’t simply setting the stage for your character’s story, but your reader’s story. You never know who will pick up your book and find themselves lost in the pages.
The old woman who reads a story of her childhood home.
The young child who moves to the city they read about in elementary school.
The grandchild who reads of the shoreline her grandmother grew up on and recounted to her.
Words can take us places in ways even photographs and illustrations cannot. It matters that those places are described accurately. Those details make a world of difference.
Dear authors, your stories take many on adventures, but they take some of us home.
When you wonder if it’s worth it, all these hours in the seemingly small points, remind yourself that it is.
I picked up a new book recently by the author who wrote the one I described in the beginning of this post. I opened the page, and took in the scene she described. I immediately closed it and took in a deep breath. A smile crept onto my face. On those pages I found the home I’d left behind. I felt the Southern heat, and smelled the dogwoods.
Once again, a book had taken me home.
Dear authors, thank you.