You read to get beyond your regular life, right? Fun, learning, excitement -- going somewhere beyond your usual routine.
Yet, there's a special thrill when what you read does connect to your life. The novel's main character likes your favorite wine. The biography is about someone your grandfather knew. The history mentions a martyr of your faith.
The lure for me is places I have been -- or been near. Travel writing goes there directly, of course. (Miles from Nowhere, anyone?) Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon novels take me to national parks I have seen. Same for anything about the battlefields or cities I have visited. If I can connect even a small part of my life to what I am reading, the reading becomes more of me.
The latest catch is a classic -- Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, one of those books I've been intending to read, since I lived, as a young man, near where it takes place. That would be Sauk County, Wisconsin, a lovely land of green hills and farms and bits of sandy Wisconsin River banks including Prof. Leopold's.
Leopold died 70 years ago, right after writing the book. The almanac and his other writings helped give the wilderness preservation movement more ability to compete with land development than it had in his day. Sauk County was also where I was introduced to the idea that hunters are conservationists -- or at least can be. And it was where I interviewed a preservationist about his tiny new project -- the International Crane Foundation, which is now a world-renowned force for wildlife.
So, reading A Sand County Almanac more than 40 years later was bittersweet, as I wish I had read it then, learned from it, and maybe visited Leopold's land. But maybe I will yet take that trip, and create an even closer bond between great writing and my own life experience.
Evan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.