I have bought my sister’s Christmas present and she will buy mine early. We have the same taste in books. So we have gotten into the habit of buying each other books for Christmas that we both want to read. We buy them early, read them first and then give the book as a Christmas present. It does mean we have one less surprise for Christmas. But at our ages who needs surprises? We’d rather have something we want and will enjoy.
I have bought her Sharon Kay Penman’s “A King’s Ransom.” Penman is one of our favorite authors. The book is the last in a trilogy about Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard, the Lionheart. This book deals with Richard’s return from the Holy Land, his capture in Austria, his subsequent imprisonment by the Holy Roman Emperor, his ransom and his death five years later from gangrene. He was shot with a bolt from a crossbow while besieging a castle in France. The shooter was later flayed alive (can you imagine that?). Richard was buried at the feet of his father in Fontevraud Abbey in France. His heart was buried in Rouen to reward the people of that town for his support of him. His entrails were buried in Chalus to show his displeasure in the way they betrayed him.
He is one of the most renowned kings of England and yet none of his parts are buried there. He considered his French lands more important and actually spent less than two years in England after his was crowned king. When my sister and I were in Rouen and while everyone else was worrying about where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, we went to see the tomb erected over his heart.
My sister will buy me “Edge of Eternity” by Ken Follett. It will not be out until the middle of September. It also is the third in a trilogy and traces American, British, Russian, German and Welsh families from just before World War I to the 1980s. The last book is from 1960 to 1980. I really liked the first book “Fall of Giants.” I found the second book “Winter of the World” somewhat formulaic. How can a character be at every seminal event leading up to and including World War II? I think I like Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance” better. I might just go back and reread them.
Anyway, what I was trying to say, before I began my long digression about books, is that I have not been using my e-reader for a while as “A King’s Ransom” was 688 pages. I’m not complaining. I like a fat good book you can stay with and get immersed in the characters (and three fat books in a trilogy is three times better). But it took me a while to finish reading my sister’s Christmas present.
And guess who missed me while I was busy reading a real book?
That great retailer in the technical outer space of computers must have some really smart and detailed computers. Amazon knew I wasn’t spending my usual monthly amount for e-books, and they missed me (or my money). I began getting all sorts of e-mails offering me enticing offers for “great summer reads.” Or even better, you just finished reading such and such a book, and we know you will like this book we are recommending. The affordable health care people should have used Amazon to set up their market place.
I remember when a new book with an unbent spine was a cause for rejoicing. Going to the library was a treat. My mother banned books from the dining table like I ban i–whatevers that my granddaughters carry like an extra appendage.
There is a scene in Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” when Paul Atreides, a child in the first book, is allowed to view an artifact of ancient Earth, a book. He is awed and amazed that such things once existed. “Dune” was published in 1965. My Macon granddaughters have their text books and work sheets on an i-whatever. The cost of textbooks and reams of paper make, I am certain, i-whatevers the cheaper choice.
Save your books for The Antiques Roadshow.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at email@example.com.