When my two adult children asked me what I wanted for Christmas this past season, I told them I wanted something new to read. That wasn't specific enough, they told me. What titles did I want? Was there any particular author?
My response? Go browse. I like fantasy, which usually means series of books, but I'm eclectic in my reading tastes, so...I finally told them that, if they were going to buy me a book, to find one they think I should read. Any genre except horror or suspense (they give me nightmares. What can I say? I have a vivid imagination!). Any author, any anything. Just something they thought I might enjoy.
Of course, what that forced them to do was think. Consider. Ponder. To actually LOOK at the books and weigh it against the books I already have on my shelves. Which meant they had to go look to see what I had on my shelves. My answer required them to do a little work in picking out a book for me -- which was my present to them.
Because, you see, I spend time choosing presents for people. I hate money in a card. I'll only put it in the bank or trifle it away on the cups of hot chocolate I get too many mornings from McDonald's on my way to work. No, I want to know people actually THOUGHT about me as they made their choice. That they considered me and what I might like.
Mostly, when I'm asked what I want for Christmas, I say, "Surprise me" because that's exactly what I want. A surprise. If I know what's in the box before I open it, where's the fun? The mystery? And if my great-aunt Mabel thinks I need a purple and orange and teal afghan that she crocheted with left over yarn, then I think I need it, too. It's a gift of her love and what do I care about the colors?
So my kids really should've known better before asking me such a silly question. But they try every year and this year I took pity on them and gave them a "real" answer: Buy me a book you think I'd like.
And they did.
My daughter bought me not one, but three books -- the first in the series by three different authors. Three books, three series starters. When I opened them, she told me, "I figured this way, you could start them and then, whichever one you liked, you could buy the rest." I hugged her and told her that was smart thinking.
My son bought me a boxed set trilogy -- the first of six books in one series. He said that he read the back cover and liked it himself, so he thought I might like them as well. I hugged him and told him it looked like a great series. He didn't realize it, but the author he bought me (Brandon Sanderson) went on to finish the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series, so they guy has some chops.
The only problem is that I can't read while I'm writing a book. I said above that I have a vivid imagination and I meant it. When I open the cover a book and start reading, I am transported. My mom used to say she could set a bomb off next to me and I'd not notice. You can't imagine the number of times my husband, daughter or son have to call my name to get my attention when my nose is in a book.
So I can't read and write at the same time because I do the same thing when I'm writing. I'm totally immersed in the world of my own creation and don't want anyone else's creation getting in my head. As a result, I didn't even pick up any of the books they got me until after Under His Spell was done. Then I gave myself a treat and opened Mistborn, Sanderson's first book in the Mistborn series.
It's a good thing I wasn't writing...because I got pulled into this world hook, line and sinker. One of the traits of a good book is the way it stays with you after you read the last page. It should stay in your head, the characters' speech patterns or comments should continue to echo in your brain.
This series has done that. I find myself continually returning to the events, replaying them in my head, wondering what would have happened if.... I'm looking forward to purchasing the next two books in the series and continuing the journey. I do hope he's kept some of the same characters (in fact, I even know which character I'd like to be the protagonist of the next set of books!).
The upshot of my telling my kids to find me something they think I should read? I can now recommend Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series to everyone who likes fantasy!
Now off to read my daughter's choices for me...