I Never Knew Books Could Do That

“I never knew books could do that.”

“Do what?”

“Take me away from this place and make me forget.”

It’s intermission for “Beauty and the Beast” at our local Junior High (my middle kid—the one I hardly ever mention here for no good reason other than her distinct lack of spazziness, which is a good thing—is in the show. She’s playing a “silly girl;” one of the little estrogen crowd who is in love with Gaston. And–as a side note– it’s totally against her type.  She’s more the pensive, open-hearted, why-would-I-flirt-it’s-so-silly-and-seems-rather-disingenuous type.) (On the other hand, it seems to have had an effect on her. She told me the other day that maybe she’d consider wearing makeup on a daily basis now. BUT JUST A LITTLE.)

 Anyway, Belle and Beast just had that little convo up there above.  And it reminded me of the first time I read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Until then I’d been unwilling to read anything but picture books. I mean “How can you read this? There’s no pictures!”–as Gaston would say. Guess I thought that anything with nothing but words had no power to transport.

But man! There was magic in that wardrobe! And a bunch of kids who went in one side and came out the other into a whimsical new land where animals talked and a Lion ruled and a winter witch was trying to take over the world. You didn't need pictures. The way Mr. Lewis wrote you could totally see it. But it was even better, because with your mind running the show the story could go far beyond an illustration and actually take you right into the adventure. You could live it.  You could, as Beast said, go far away from where you were and forget any stress or pain or fear in life. What a lovely thing.

I was so inspired when I first traveled to Narnia in elementary school that I wrote to C.S. Lewis to tell him how wonderful I thought is book was. I never heard back. Might have had something to do with the fact that the man was dead. But he wasn't, was he? I was reading his words and even though he was no longer with us, they were transporting me right into his mind and his dream, and it deepened my thoughts. (So much so that I set up a chair and spent afternoons reading beneath a tree in my backyard. Then I left the book on the chair to get a drink and it started raining. And I forgot about the book. Had to pay the library for it, as it had swollen to 3 times its normal size. That story had burst right out of its binding.)

That would be a mighty fine thing to do for people, I think. Write something that transports them (not bursts them out of their binding). Something that fills them up. That sparks new thoughts and vision and ideas. Something that makes people laugh unexpectedly.

Yep. That's what I want to do. Hope to do. Am working on doing. And so many other people are too. Thanks to everyone who writes anything! You're making the world a better place.

I'm starting with a cookbook–because, why not? It's a soup cookbook. Just sent it to the editor. It'll be an eBook (I'll be doing Kindle and iPad signings at Costco. Using a sharpie. Or a screw driver. Whatever you want), and it'll be highly tested. Because my kidlets grew up on those recipes. So did I–many of them. And hopefully it will make you smack your lips, and smile or laugh. Because there's some of that in there too.

Right. That's where I'm starting. How 'bout you? Are you writing anything? What is it? And maybe you can share your favorite childhood book as well. We've all got summer coming up. A good reading list would be grand.

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Love Narnia! You have a way with words. Have you seen “Shadowlands” with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger? If not, I highly recommend it 🙂

    • Thank you, Cassidy! I have seen “Shadowlands”–both in the theater and on stage. It’s wonderful. Love anything CS Lewis. What a guy.

  2. I’m constantly writing all kinds of things. Even finished at least 3 books, one of which found limited print. I don’t know how people survive without playing with words part of every day! As for a favorite childhood book . . . I’ve always read everything that stood still long enough, but probably The Little Engine That Could, followed by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, followed by any book by Isaac Asimov, and then Atlas Shrugged . . . can you see the age progression? But lately? I read Mosiah a lot – it’s just so full of wisdom! I should have read it more often and a lot sooner!

    • Great comment, Susan! I agree. I don’t know how you get through the day without writing. Congratulations on your book! That’s fantastic! And I totally had a dog-eared copy of Little Engine. 🙂
      As for Mosiah, good on you. That’s a great one.

  3. YES! This is exactly why I write , because every time I read a book or even see a movie that I love, that transports me, I think, “Man, I wanna create this experience for someone else!”

  4. Whoops, hit the ‘Post Comment’ button too soon. Anyway, Beauty and the Beast falls into that category for me, in all its forms: book, movie, musical, whatever. It’s truly one of my faves.

    Congratulations on your soup book! We must celebrate when it comes out 🙂

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