Open a good book and experience the magic

Terri Baas of Milaca can still remember the first time a book swept her off her feet. It was like the characters came to life inside her mind, and she wasn’t just reading a story, she was living it. Now, years later, she can still picture moments from the experience. She can see the 12-year-old boy Jody down by the water making a paddlewheel with sticks and leaves. She sees him look up and notice the fawn. Terri Baas of Milaca can still remember the first time a book swept her off her feet. It was like the characters came to life inside her mind, and she wasn’t just reading a story, she was living it. Now, years later, she can still picture moments from the experience. She can see the 12-year-old boy Jody down by the water making a paddlewheel with sticks and leaves. She sees him look up and notice the fawn.  Baas was in fifth grade when she read “The Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnen Rawlings. The book was just sitting on her uncle’s shelf, and she pulled it out and opened it. This certainly wasn’t the first book she had read. Ever since her big brother had come home from first grade and taught her to read (she was 3), she had been devouring books. But most of them had been formula fiction: The Bobbsey Twins, the Nancy Drew mysteries, The Hardy Boys, and the like. All of this reading was great practice for her. Her vocabulary was wide, and she was familiar with common story patterns. So when she accidently found herself with a Pulitzer Prize winner, she was capable of fully appreciating it. “When I read the last sentence of ‘The Yearling,’ I understood it,” said Baas. “And then I threw myself down on my bed and sobbed and sobbed. It was astounding to me that literature had that kind of power.”    Not every book is magic for Baas. But she considers that discovering great books is one of life’s great delights.  Another happy surprise was when she randomly picked up a copy of “The Number One Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith while browsing in a book shop. She loved it and went on to read all the books in the series, finding that Smith’s charming writing voice had the ability to transport her into another world. If daily life was stressful, she could find respite by reading herself over to Botswana and experiencing life from the refreshing perspective of detective Precious Ramotswe.  Sharing books with her children has also been wondrously meaningful for Baas. “The Sign of the Beaver,” by Elizabeth George Speare, was one book she loved sharing with her son Josh when he was in third or fourth grade. Josh loved the outdoors and already knew a lot about animals, so he really enjoyed the book. It was a great mother-son bonding experience—like taking a trip together. They virtually travelled back in time together as they shared the experience of the book.Magical moments aren’t something you can expect every time you read a book. But if you read enough books, you’re bound to find them. Book reviews, recommendations from friends who have similar tastes and values, and researching prize winners are good ways to avoid wasting time on inferior books.I’d love to know what books have been magical for you. How did you discover them? You can reach me at [email protected] And remember to read 20 minutes today.