Maybe you have felt that reading a book is like making a friend, or that, picking up someone else’s pages, you have made a connection across miles and time with the author. You read someone else’s words and you think, Yes! I feel the same. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'” For a lonely kid, that is the magic of books.
Now, as an author, I see another side of publishing, “red in tooth and claw” as it is. Books are business, and business is not friendly. Trying to get a manuscript published is like sucking up the courage needed to run naked across a stage while being pelted with rotten fruit and large pointy objects. No one sane would do it at all. But even in the muck of publishing, there is a nice side, the friendship that can bloom in unlikely ways through the pages of a book.
I have been privileged this year to make such a friend, a stranger across the country who was willing to review Thirty Thousand Days. That it could have gone badly I am well aware. Even as I sent off a copy, I dived under the bed to wait for tomatoes to fly. But what I heard to my happy surprise was “What? You too?” I am pleased to say that I have found a friend in Carolyn Litfin, and I am honored to know her. If you should happen this week to read a book that makes you happy, find the author (she’s probably hiding under the bed) and tell her so. We all have room for another friend.
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