Imagine yourself alone, on a deserted beach with white sand and crystal clear waves crashing gently on the shore. It’s warm, but a gentle breeze floats through the swaying palm trees and overhead, gulls circle lazily. Sometimes, far out on the ocean, you see dolphins playing in and out of the water. There is only one world for a place like this – paradise.
How could it be that you are alone in a place like this, safe from the world but enjoying every moment, living your life to the fullest in this little piece of heaven? Well, if everyone know the secret of this hideaway Caribbean paradise, then it wouldn’t be a paradise anymore. It would be commercialized, vandalized, and crowded. Sometimes, the little secrets you hold are the greatest ones of all. And, in this way, a good book can capture the mind and pull it into an unknown world filled with magic and wonder.
I am as guilty as anyone else to falling into the popular books – Harry Potter by JK Rowling. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini. The Sookie Stackhouse Chronicles by Charlaine Harris. These books are all magical, but they aren’t secret, and they aren’t yours. Chances are, even as you read them, you know some of the details, knew what was going to happen. Maybe you saw the movie or the show first, and picked up the book because of an interest in that. These sorts of books hold no secrets.
Stephen King once said that “Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.” I agree. Part of what draws us into a novel is a need to know the answers, to discover them for ourselves. This isn’t to say that the popular books aren’t good (they are) but there is something special in discovering a book yourself, uncovering its secrets, and being able to pass it on to the next person.
When I was in high school, I discovered, though a friend, the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I devoured it like nobody’s business. These were book nobody I knew had ever heard of. When I finished the first one, I attacked my closest friends and insisted they read the book. That was the beginning of a long literary relationship between the three of us, trading books and opinions, giggling when we knew secrets the others didn’t. It was fun, and what’s more is we couldn’t read the books fast enough.
Today, I know that the Anita Blake series is well known, and although I no longer follow it, at least one of my friends does, and more importantly, we all still read like it’s nobody’s business. All four of us have an insatiable hunger to unlock a book’s secrets. We share books from time to time, even six plus years later. I know for myself I spend hours on Goodreads.com scouring for obscure books whore empty beaches and silent waters I can have all to myself.
Have you ever had an experience when you were the first to discover a book? What book’s secrets were the most surprising to you?