My twelve-part series ends with this book; I’ve saved this one for last.

#12 -Endangered Pleasures

Why: It transformed me from a reader into a writer. 

 

Barbara Holland is another author I discovered through the “A common reader” book catalog. “Endangered pleasures” is a collection of whimsical essays about those things of life worth cherishing: bare feet, dawdling over the newspaper, idle summer vacations, and happy hour.  I loved her whimsical humor and spot-on jabs from the get-go. When I first read this book I thought ‘Gee I would write like this if I was a writer.” 

The notion I could write something let along think myself a ‘writer’ was almost heretical. I am a reader; I read things. I don’t write. One did one or the other. Besides to be an author one probably has to go to some sort of writing school and get a license to practice. All the same I wanted to write something, anything. 

That year a friend extolled me to write a blog. He had one and he thought I should try it. What on earth could I write about I wondered? He didn’t know but he implored me to just start and get it going. My long time itch to write was about to be scratched. I don’t know what possessed me but before I tried this I wrote to Ms. Holland. I suppose I wanted her blessing. Here is the email: 

Dear Ms. Holland,

I have never written an ’email fan letter’ before. I suspect you get many so I will keep it brief. I enjoy your essays and writings. If I could write, I would want to write like you do. I don’t mean in the same style, but in the same response; to evoke smiles and thought in my readers.

Keep up your work!

Regards,

Urspo

To my amazement she wrote back: 

Thank you, thank you! Hey, write it!  

B. Holland. 


I started writing this blog.That was in 2006 and here I am.  

I feel fulfilled from writing. It is not my livelihood it is my life. I read now not just as a reader but as a ‘writer’. Who knew one can wear both hat? I am eternally grateful to Ms. Holland (sadly now deceased) who encouraged me take this step in the evolution of my reading process.

So ends the series “Books that have changed my life”. I hope you enjoyed it. Maybe you learned about some authors and books to try. I hope so.

I will end with the last page from this book, which is ironically about the endangered pleasure of reading books:

The rooms along the corridor [Barbara Holland’s memory] are reserved for books, and only certain books at that. And, like our songs, they are portable and permanent. Let the house burn to the ground, let friends, family, hair, and teeth desert us, let us be chained to the dripping wall of the dungeon in utter darkness, and still the door will open when we name it.

I expect this to be the last satisfaction for me when I’m blind and bedridden. I shall whisper “The Sword of the Stone” and the door will open on Merlin the magician and his owl, Archimedes, perched on his shoulder. 

Except for an occasional alcohol rub, I suppose this will be my last earthly pleasure. I hope there’ll be doors enough to see me out. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll simply disappear and find myself not in hell or here but on The Grand Trunk Road, wearing Kim’s dusty rags and merrily stealing sweetmeats for my lama.