Hallo, from the 19th century!
In the Diamond and Doran Mysteries I want to take readers back to the 1880s, a period in Chicago’s history teeming with life. Where rich and poor rub shoulders in the street, but rarely cross social boundaries, even as some of the most wealthy Chicagoans come from humble roots. My love of all that history came to me as a child through books given to me by adults who knew the secret.
As a child, from the first time I picked up a book and began to read, I discovered the secret superpower of books, the gift of time travel. All through my childhood years whatever my actual life held, it was nowhere near as exciting as the adventures I experienced through the pages of my books.
At eleven years old I was at the court of Louis XIII, and his wife Anne, helping The Three Musketeers fight off the evil plans of Cardinal Richelieu, thanks to Alexandre Dumas. I joined Dumas again for The Count of Monte Cristo. Later in life I was off on adventures with the Brontë sisters, H. G Wells, Jules Verne and later still, as an adult, I charlestoned the night away with Jay Gatsby and stayed on into the 1920s and 1930s to spend time with those doyens of murder mystery, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and of course, Agatha Christie.
By now my time travelling course was set. When I wanted to be serious I read my way into the horrors of the First World War, went back to Restoration London to read Pepys’s gossipy accounts of fire and plague in that great city. But I also went into space with Ursula K. le Guin and back to Viking Britain with Bernard Cornwell, until I came right back around to the present day and the novels of the 21st Century.
That is the beauty of books. It doesn’t matter whether we are housebound or a high flyer, always on a plane, or travelling here and there and everywhere. Take a book with us and we’re transported even further and wider than any travel agent, airline or cruise ship can take us. Trains, planes and automobiles will only take us so far, but a great book can take us forward or back in time, to mysterious gardens, locked rooms, open pastures, the top of mountains, to other worlds, or inside the mind of a killer. Books have no limits.
Good books make us laugh out loud, cry our eyes out, shake our fists at the villains and feel the injustice for the victim. We are sad to leave them, and our favourites can turn us into Gollum from The Hobbit when anyone asks to borrow our precious books. The best of them are not the shiny covered pristine books, but the dog eared, cracked spined, greasy covered gems we return to again and again.
Books expand our experience, take us out of our comfort zone and remind us what it means to be human, or alien, or an insect. They shine a light in dark corners and illuminate our minds to our own fears, failings, prejudices and loves. You can never have too many books.
Which is why there is that leaning tower of joy, the To Be Read pile. Thrills, spills, tears and torment lie in wait for us in this teetering collection of treats that grows ever taller as other shiny books come into our orbit and delay the wonderous moment when we take our next book from the TBR pile and move it to the reviewed pile. I find the anticipation of the next book almost as enjoyable as finding that one great book I would recommend to a friend. As long as they buy their own copy of course. I couldn’t possibly lend you my precious.
What are your favourite periods in time, places to be transported to, people to meet? What do you love to read?
Here are a few of the books that have taken me to wonderous places where I’ve made some firm friends, enjoyed the adventure, and even learned things I never knew.
Leave us a comment below and let us know what is on your "To Be Read" List!