I’ve started the new year with two works of fiction. One was added to my “to read” list as soon as I heard the author was preparing to release her next book. The other was a Christmas gift.
Both books are written in English. Both have language that stretches me.
Tony Hillerman has long been one of my parent’s favorite authors. But it’s my first time to read one of his books. I started The Blessing Way as bedtime reading on Tuesday.
I have read every book in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series – except the latest one – at least twice. The Kingdom of the Blind went with me on Wednesday as waiting room reading. Once started, I read it straight through, putting it down only to drive home, to prepare and eat supper, and to sleep.
Returning to the Hillerman book, I was struck by how I was challenged by the language. The names of the native peoples, their names for places, and even some of the descriptions of the southwestern U.S. landscape are mostly foreign to me. I have to concentrate to keep them straight.
Set in French speaking Canada, Penny’s books also include names of people and places which are mostly foreign to me. Having done nothing with the French I took in college 34 years ago, decoding phrases written in French takes effort. I have to concentrate.
Reading as an enjoyable pastime requires falling into the language. Relaxing into the rhythm of words and phrases and sentences. Being open to new vocabulary as well as new ideas. Allowing the text to reveal a new or unfamiliar world.
What are you reading? How is it challenging you to see more broadly or think more deeply?
So many books. So little time.