Last week’s guest blogger was Paula Yoo, who gave away a copy of her book to a random commenter. The winner for last week’s contest is The Page Flipper! Please email me at teenbookreview@gmail.com with your mailing address and I’ll forward it to Paula. This week’s guest blogger is Lisa Ann Sandell, author of Song of the Sparrow. Thanks so much to Lisa for her fantastic post about books! Speaking of fantastic, and of books, you’ve got to read Lisa’s book if you haven’t yet done so. Lisa is also giving away a copy of her book; read on for details.

On Books and Reading…

My husband accuses me of being a silly romantic for elevating books and reading to some foolishly glorified state. After all, so much of our reading time is spent finding out what celebrities are wearing or what the candidates are feuding about or what the tabloid headlines are. And there’s nothing elevated about reading that stuff.

So what is it about books?

Well, I like the smell of a book, of its paper and ink, the perfume of the printed word. I love the feel of a book, especially if it’s squat and heavy and fits in my hands just so. And I get a kick out of the fact that the book is a technology that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years (although, I’ll admit the future of the book seems somewhat uncertain in this electronic age).

But best of all, I love the way I can curl up in bed, in a comfy chair, or on a blanket in the park and geLisa's living room is so overflowing with books that they've started to grow on the walls!t lost in a book. Lost in a new and different world, lost in someone else’s view of the world. I love slipping on somebody else’s shoes and going for a nice, long tromp. The greatest thrill in reading, for me, is entering into a stranger’s head and looking out on life through different eyes and learning something about myself in the process.

For as long as I live I will never forget the first time I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and met Meg:

“Go back to sleep” Meg said. “Just be glad you’re a kitten and not a monster like me.” She looked at herself in the wardrobe mirror and made a horrible face, baring a mouthful of teeth covered with braces. Automatically she pushed her glasses into position, ran her fingers through her mouse-brown hair, so that it stood wildly on end, and let out a sigh almost as noisy as the wind.

It was electric. Meg embodied all of the ugliness and pain I felt when I was younger. She felt the same despair I did, the same sense of awkwardness and loneliness and hopelessness I felt. Her closest friendship was with her younger brother, as mine was with my younger sister. I identified with Meg in every way, and that connection was profound for me. Because I realized, for the first time, that if someone in a book could feel the same way I did, then maybe it wasn’t just me. Maybe I wasn’t the freak I thought I was.

Then, as I followed Meg on her adventures and saw the courage and intelligence and grace she brought to the subsequent stories, I began to feel hopeful. And throughout the course of L’Engle’s series, as Meg grew up and grew into a beautiful swan, I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t doomed to ugly ducklinghood for the rest of my life either.

So, if you ask me what it is about books that I like best, I can tell you: A famous writer once said that “You can’t see around your own corner.” Books allow us to do just that. It is inside of a book that we can sometimes discover what is best about ourselves. Even in a flight of fantasy, we can read a good story and be reminded of what makes us human and what brings us together as a species.

I’d love to hear what reading means to you. And here’s an incentive: One lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of my latest book, Song of the Sparrow!
(Excerpt from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, New York: A Yearling Book, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1962. p. 6.)