Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fun Mail!

New books have been a rarity for us because we used to be at the library at least once a week and at the thrift store frequently, where we could, on half-price day, fill a bag full of books for the price of one new one. But for the last few months, since we are stuck at home, I have treated us to a box from Amazon every three to four weeks. We desperately need something to look forward to.

The mail has taken on new importance, particularly when our book box is due to arrive. We used to get up and eat and I would get a bit of work done, and then we would walk down for the mail. Now we can't wait, and as soon as we get up we pull on our shoes while the dogs dance around and Tildy barks her exuberance, and we head out on our walk first thing. Sometimes I think we hope for some kind of miracle enclosed in the box with the red flag. No miracle today but what a thrill to find our box of books. The third book of the Austin series by Madeleine L'Engle arrived -- The Young Unicorns -- for us to read together, as we read the first two. And I decided to try a recent Dean Koontz.

The Austin series was one I read multiple times as a young person and even a young adult. Her characters were so real to me and I loved that people you got attached to in one series might pop up in another. I felt true anguish when one of her characters, Joshua in Arm of the Starfish, was killed. Reading "Meet the Austins" to Jing and Lily was very special to me. When I was their age and read it I was immersed into the warmth and love of this family. I dreamed of and yearned for the close family I would someday have and vowed to read to my children every night just as Mama Austin did. And now the dream is fulfilled, and the vivid warmth of these books is touching their hearts. I hope the circle continues and that my girls are someday piled on a couch with their pets and my grandchildren reading the Austin family series and all the other good books they can find.

As far as Dean Koontz, he is not an author I would have chosen on my own. I was badgered into reading him by a coworker who finally did me in by saying - "this book (Watchers) has the best dog character you will ever read." And I relented and soon was hooked! I have not read all his books, some with just too much violence. But there is a goodness in his books, always two or more people drawn together in a unique way who work together to fight against something dark, and the light and the good always win. The writing is gripping, the words painting a vivid picture, portraying a real emotion. Just as Madeleine L'Engle captured me so many years before.

I actually wrote Mr. Koontz a letter once and told him that only he could get a square Baptist girl to read books that included the liberal use of things like Glocks and eyeballs in jars! I told him he inspired me as a writer wannabe with his ability to make his characters real and worth caring about, and he replied with a full-page handwritten letter and sent me his latest hardback book, signed by him and his dog Trixie, her pawprint, that is! He encouraged me and said my letter was exceedingly well written and he could feel a true writer shining from that letter! I was elated to say the least that he would take the time to hand write such a lovely note! Unfortunately, when our house was vandalized it was lost in the mess, both letter and book, but I will never forget skipping down our long driveway with Lily looking up at me in awe, wondering why Mama was acting so giddy!

The other fun mail was a picture of my nephew Nate's and his wife Samantha's adorable twins who will be celebrating turning 1 year old this week. Happy birthday Kaden and Kaylee!


  1. what a great post.. love your story about Koontz. Katie, at age 8, 3rd grade and an advanced reader, just finished "A Swiftly Turning Planet" by Madeline L'Engle I read along with her.. I can see why you like her books... we love books here too!

  2. wow you did have fun mail!!! I have a four year old that would like to read all day with yall :)

  3. I love your journalling! I also feel there is a writer trapped inside you just yearning to come out!!!

    It is so great that your girls love to read and you are able to find books even if you feel trapped at home right now. I can imagine the anticipation you all feel when you know that book box is coming!

  4. I agree, Jan, your journaling is always so vivid! Do you know about Might be something you want to check out. It's how we get most of our books and even better get rid of a lot of our books. I think I have about 25 credits right now. I have to go shopping.

  5. Jan,
    I enjoyed visiting your blog today. Your girls are lovely and obviously blessed to have such a dedicated mother. I'm praying for your eyesight.


  6. Nothing is better than a box of books!!!
    I love Dean Koontz and think it's sooo cool that he responded so kindly to your letter! (oh and Trixie too!)