This post is dedicated to Theoden,
who has the keen ability and thoughtful nature
to select just the right book.
One of the great pleasures in life, for me, is to read. The sharing of thoughts, ideas, experiences and emotions, through time and space, is an amazing gift. That the writer and the reader can be connected so intimately, without awareness of each other, demonstrates the power of the written word. I think this is why I like to read, and also to write.
I wish I could say that I am an avid reader of books. The truth is that I go through spurts when I can’t put a book down, and then it may be a long time before I begin the next. Magazines and the internet compete for my reading attention, and I have to admit that television can pull me away from book-reading, too. To dedicate time to read a book really is a conscious choice. My goal, now that I am on summer break and have more free time, is to cultivate the habit of reading books, especially since I have quite a few books that have been waiting very patiently for me.
Recently, I picked up one of those patient books. A Christmas gift I received a couple of years ago, I feel guilty for not having read this book sooner, especially since I am really enjoying it now. Once Again to Zelda: The Stories Behind Literature’s Most Intriguing Dedications by Marlene Wagman-Geller offers glimpses into the lives of some of literature’s most revered authors. Each chapter is devoted to exploring the relationship between an author and the person to whom his/her book is dedicated, filling in the details only hinted at in those few words following a title page. The authors’ lives and their works were shaped and influenced by these relationships that were, for many, loving and romantic, for some, messy and tragic. A total of fifty chapters reveals the personal, very human side of fifty famous authors. (The title, Once Again to Zelda, refers to the dedication written by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his wife, Zelda.)
I have to say that I am relishing each chapter of Once Again to Zelda on its own, since I can pick up the book, reflect on what I’ve read, and then pick it up again at a later time. I am especially savoring the historical context presented within each “biography”. Wagman-Geller brings the past alive in a way that makes what seems so distant feel contemporary. I find that by understanding the times, events, and social mores that influenced each author’s life, I am getting a better understanding of each one’s motivations, actions, and reasons for writing. While I have read some of the classic titles referred to in Once Again to Zelda, there are so many that I haven’t picked up (yet). As I am discovering more about these authors as individuals, I am developing more of an interest to check out their books. That may be one of the best consequences of reading Once Again to Zelda: to be encouraged to continue reading beyond the book and already have a ready-made list of titles from which to choose!
So if you are looking for a riveting, easy read that is filled with true-life drama and colorful characters in remarkable historical settings, I highly recommend Once Again to Zelda. The stories will fascinate, inspire, and provoke your emotions, and allow you to consider what it might be like to live the life of a writer. My thanks to Theoden who especially chose this book for me!