WOW!!! The past couple weeks have been a nightmare here at home. First my lovely wife was sick with a stomach bug. She then passed it on to my fifteen month old son, who then passed it on to me. That was bad enough. But let’s fast forward three days and my son gets strep throat. Fast forward four more days and I come down with a sinus / upper respiratory infection. Even tonight as I type this I’m still on antibiotic. Let’s just say the house has been sterilized and deep cleaned.
I hate being sick. But what I hate more than myself being sick is when my son is sick. Nothing makes you more paranoid as a parent then when your child (who can’t talk yet) is down for the count. You feel helpless, because they can’t clearly communicate what the problem is. It makes you want to escape Find that moment where you wish you can pause life and just get lost.
I have had those type of moments all my life. Not just when I’m worried about my son, but when I’m stressed about life in general. And no matter what anyone says we all experience those chapters in life. We search for an answer, anything that can fulfill those few moments of emptiness. Some turn to whatever addiction they may have that helps them fill the longing. I tend to turn to fiction, I mean after all that’s where my addiction is at. Can you see me at a twelve steps meeting….
“Help, My name is JJ and I’m a fiction addict.”
But let’s be honest… Fiction has helped take my mind off things so many times. It’s kept me distracted and allowed me the chance to get refocused.
Now- Let’s not think that I read just when I’m stressed. I don’t… In fact I read all the time. About thirty or forty novels a year. (I’m a slow reader compared to some). But reading is a life line for me, a hobby, something I do because I love the world of stories. If I couldn’t read I’m not certain I would survive.
So with ALL the rant above I must say that there are some stories that have stuck with me over the years. They’ve impacted my life in a way that I will always remember the specific plot details. I may even read them twice, three or four times. They’re that good. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re the books that leaving shaking your head when you turn the final page. Not because you are in disbelief, but because you realize that you won’t find another one that good for a while.
First up for me- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It seems kind of odd that I would start off with a fantasy novel, but that’s one thing that fantasy allows you to do more than other genre. It provides such an easy escape. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, but this book can be summed up quite simple: Oceans 11 meets Lord of the Rings.
Second is Watchers by Dean Koontz. This was the first Koontz book I ever read, and without question his best. There are very few sci fi thrillers I have ever read that you know you want to come back and explore. But Watchers is the best. Besides, it made me wish my dog could play scrabble with me…
Third is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I thought this was such an amazing story. A young father determined to protect his son and travel south to Texas in a post apocalyptic world. Just the pure joy of a father that would do anything to protect the life of the son he loves.
Fourth is A Painted House by John Grisham. Many fans of Grisham hate this book. I’m not sure what it was about this book that stuck with me, but I loved it. I read it, then three days later I went back and re-read it again. I think for me it brought back some pleasant memories of me growing up with my grandmother and grandfather. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Fifth is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I read this book back in September and it very quickly jumped up on my all time list. Just like A Painted House it reminded me of my childhood. Those days when I would block out the world and lose myself in a book. Besides, isn’t it true that stories are safer than people anyway.
So that’s my list of books that stuck with me. There are several others as well, and maybe I’ll share them some other time. But these five- These were something special to me. These gave me that moment to escape….
JJ Johnson- Still escaping.