Saturday, December 4, 2010

Comfortable Words

Under the weather recently for a few annoying medical problems, I found myself picking comfortable reading, low on dramatic action and high on colorful conversational cadence, books that invite you to pause and reread a sentence or two just because it sounds good, and you wish you could write like that.

One of my favorite authors in this vein is Rumer Godden, who wrote for both children and adults, passing away at 98 after publishing over 70 books. Years ago I discovered her book, Episode of Sparrows. The title itself invites the reader to sit and look...perhaps out the window or across the garden. One does not read about the protagonist, Lovejoy; one actually joins her and her friends in their quest to make something in their grubby lives beautiful.

When I mentioned this, a British friend described what she called her "poorly books," books that she read when kept in bed by a childhood illness. One, she said, was Little Plum by Rumer Godden.

It's a great gift to be able to write an action-packed story that keeps the reader flipping the pages to the end. Perhaps it's a greater gift to write a novel where each sentence is savored. "A poorly book."


  1. We should all be able to write such "poorly" books!

  2. I posted last August about one such book, The Sisters of Hardscrabble Bay. I couldn't read it without stopping again and again to savor the poetic, descriptive sentences.

  3. For me, rereading books is like spending time with an old friend - comfortable, yes.

  4. I hope new "poorly books" will still get their chance to find an audience.