WINDOWS

“Mom, I want to make a list of books to read over summer break. Any titles you want to suggest?”

As a mom, a teacher, and a writer, my daughter’s summer-reading plan thrills me on so many levels. I want my children to value the written word. I want them to be curious and to make a practice of learning from books their entire lives. But also, when it comes to reading, I want my children to have fun.

I read to learn. I read to teach. I read to better develop my own writing. Sometimes, though, with all this reading – for school, for work, for professional development – sometimes, I forget that reading is simply fun.

This weekend, I set aside the school books and the theology books and the craft-of-writing books, and I picked up Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See.

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All the Light We Cannot See is story-telling at its best, so beautifully written that it is a delight to read. But not only is the book technically delightful, it possesses that unique magic characteristic of excellent books – suspension of time and place.

Doerr’s writing allowed me to transcend time and place, to leave my 21st-century house in the hay field and to be – for a few short days – a blind French girl living as a refugee in Saint-Malo during World War II. And a German orphan with a talent for building and repairing radios. And a terminally ill sergeant major with one merciless goal in life.

Books like this remind me why I fell in love with books in the first place, way back years ago when I was a shy five-year-old curled up on the sofa with a copy of Little House in the Big Woods. Books take me to places I would otherwise never be able to go. They give me new eyes to see and new ears to hear – eyes and ears that I could never have on my own.

Books are not simply compilations of useful information or tools for professional development. Excellently-crafted books are windows into the heart and soul of humanity.

They are infinity, eternity, compressed neatly between two covers.

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