Sea glass

by Jennifer on October 29, 2008

Ah, yes.

I remember this feeling.

I finished reading the book I was on, and now I’m left with that delicious, satisfied melancholy that hangs around after an author has pulled me along by the hand through the storm of a great story.

This year, my reading list has been a bit more spare than usual, since I’ve spent a lot of time writing this blog and reading those of others. But I’ve missed that feeling of getting so wrapped up in a book that housework be damned I have to see how it turns out.

Remember the days of never making it out of your pajamas because you couldn’t put down a book? Or staying up until 3 o’clock just to finish one, even if you had to go to work in the morning? It’s a bit less practical to do that these days, since the kids’ principal is a bit of a stickler about them showing up at 7:55 every day, no matter how tired their mama is, but I still try to grab pieces of that feeling where I can.

And why not? It’s good for the kids to see that, and it’s good for me.

I want them to know that feeling of being filled up with the magic of words, words that can wash over you like the tide coming in on a rocky beach, filling all the empty places with churning sea water. With sentences that can make you say my god, someone else gets it.

(I love those moments…)

If the beach is the soul, then the sand becomes something to be traded, replaced, and we let go of how we thought the world looked just one page before and allow ourselves to accept a new possibility, a new way to see. The rocks, the hard places inside that just chapters before lay bleaching in the sun, suddenly become something alive, something for the tide to curl itself around and soak into.

A soul, drinking.

In time, of course, the feeling will pass. The book will take its place on a shelf, the tide goes back out, and I’ll be left feeling much the same as I was before, but changed in a way that’s hard to quantify. The best stories leave behind pieces, undeniable shards of the human condition that lie like sea glass or jingle shells on the beach.  Sadness. Satisfaction. Pain. Heroic acts. Consequences. A happy ending, or sad. The lost. The found. The redeemed.


And the hope – always the hope – that real life will leave us, every now and then, with the same feeling.


In her latest post, my best friend Madge writes about her love of books, and how right now she’s feeling a little bit lost. Stop by her place if you have a minute.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise October 29, 2008 at 5:40 am

I need my real life to leave me for a while. I LONG to start a book. I didn’t even have a chance on my last trip. It is very difficult to start one in my real life, but I can carry it on if I get it started elsewhere.

Beautifully written post.

Louises last blog post..You Just Might Be a Redneck If… Plus a Little Catch-up

Franki October 29, 2008 at 6:04 am

I remember getting yelled at by my parents for staying up too late under the covers with a flashlight and my book. I bet they longed for those days when I hit puberty.

Frankis last blog post..One Day at a Time.

Em October 29, 2008 at 6:46 am

Wow – just beautifully done.

I love when my kiddos catch me reading – so far they both seem to be catching the bug as well. I hope. I strive.

I’m bookmarking this post.


Ems last blog post..W.W. – Probably not what the doc had in mind…

Madge October 29, 2008 at 6:49 am

i also love it when i talk to someone and find myself thinking, ‘oh my god, THEY get it.’ like when we talk…. thanks so much.

Madges last blog post..Ten Things I Use Every Day

Ree October 29, 2008 at 7:16 am

Yes, those days when you see the sun peaking up – especially when there isn’t a job or school to go to in the morning – and you can fall asleep – not worrying about whether you’ll feel okay, but dreaming about the characters…

Rees last blog post..Dell Hell

Kimberly October 29, 2008 at 8:25 am

I just finished a book that’s stayed with me much longer than others. I can’t stop churning it over – such a great experience. There’s nothing else like it.

Kimberlys last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Snow falling on pumpkins

Anastasia October 29, 2008 at 8:35 am

I know exactly what you mean…I love that feeling. My blog (and the reading of other blogs) has taken a lot of my reading time. I do love reading the blogs but I think maybe it’s time to get a better balance in my life.

Thank you!

Anastasias last blog post..A Woman of Substance

Daryl October 29, 2008 at 9:45 am

Love reading but cannot do it in bed … it wakes me up … I know I am an oddity… in many ways

What book did you read?

Ann October 29, 2008 at 11:32 am

Oh, how I adore that feeling after a great, great book – nothing like it. So rare and precious. So rare, that I’m more often re-reading books than opening a new one.

Anns last blog post..I Think I’m Finally Hydrogenated

Hilary October 29, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I know that feeling and you’re so right. I just wish I could read a book without falling asleep a few pages into it. I’m OLD!

I’m curious too.. which book did you read?

Hilarys last blog post..Bridging Generations

Jennifer Harvey October 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I was reading The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane. It gets 5 stars from me…

Bruce October 29, 2008 at 3:23 pm

This is a rarity in my life these days. Things are so busy and projects so bountiful, that time to just sit and read seems like a distant memory. Maybe someday i will rent that beach house and just sit on the shore and read a good book. Maybe…..someday.

Bruces last blog post..Random Thoughts

cce October 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I often wonder about those people in airports and waiting rooms the world over who just sit there and pick at their cuticles until they fire up the cell phone to find someone to keep them company…”this is a life without books,” I think staring at them with pity over the top of the novel I’ve carried with me to ensure that I never have to pick my cuticles or fire up the cell phone just to avoid boredom. With books, those who read are never bored, and are only left wishing there were more hours in the day to allow for more reading.
And that’s quite a glowing review for Lehane…I just might have to get that one.

RiverPoet October 29, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Oh, how I love that feeling. I remember watching my mom reading for pleasure, just wrapped up in her romance novels that took her away to amazing places of heaving bosoms and dashing young men. It had to be better than starching Dad’s shirts! And my children saw me reading voraciously. Like me, they were reading well in advance of kindergarten. And they created their own books, too. My son will still get lost in a Harry Potter novel or a book by Christopher Paolini, anything by R.A. Salvatore or Terry Goodkind. My daughter loves true crime novels and nonfiction medical books, particularly CSI type stuff.

It’s the best gift I was able to give them, and it didn’t cost more than a library card.

You’ll never regret giving that gift to your children. A sleepy, happy mama is a good mama.

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Wanting More

Leanne October 29, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Yeah, I’m with you. I sometimes have to finish a book to see how it ends, only to hate myself for finishing it because then there is no more. Sigh.

Leannes last blog post..Spooky Days

Jenn @ Juggling Life October 29, 2008 at 8:00 pm

I read Madge’s first. You’ve both expressed today what I have felt at various times.

I have to make a much more concerted effort to devote time to my ficiton reading, but I’m so much happier when I do it.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Don’t Be A Hater

phd in yogurtry October 29, 2008 at 8:04 pm

You captured it so well – that feeling of, “I’m not alone” when I read a particular thought or feeling or one of those small, everyday situations that I thought noone else had thought or felt or experienced. A wonderful Aha! Moment. Love when I find an author who captures that precise voice.

Thanks and great post.

phd in yogurtrys last blog post..congratulations phillies!

anymommy October 29, 2008 at 9:07 pm

I love to read and I have let it slip a lot reading blogs as well. They fit better into my current life, but I adore that feeling you describe and I want my kids to see me reading a book quietly, not just plugged into the computer.

Your sea analogy is gorgeous – one of the things I am most looking forward to on our island adventure is collecting sea glass again.

Suzanne October 29, 2008 at 9:18 pm

I am so with you on that one. I was the kid who got in trouble for reading long after lights out.

Recently, being unemployed has meant I read even more than normal. I have to fess up: there were a couple of times when I read until 7am, got the kids off to school, then went to bed.

A great book is one that once you’ve finished, you’re discombobulated, because the writer pulled you completely into the world they’ve crafted.

Thanks for articulating something that I’ve felt all to often about reading.

Suzannes last blog post..Eulogy For A Kitchen Gadget

flutter October 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm

You never cease to amaze me with your beauty, in pen and in soul.

flutters last blog post..

Momisodes October 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I do remember that feeling, and know of that hope. You’ve captured it so well here, as always.
And now I’m thirsting for a great book…. 🙂

Momisodess last blog post..My Adoption Papers Are Here!!!

jenrantsraves October 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm

I dream of leaving others with that feeling you just described so eloquently. There are a couple of books that I have read over and over, just to keep getting that feeling. Also, it is so amazing to me that if I read a book, then read it years later, it will speak to me in a totally different way.

Sus @ wiggle rooms October 31, 2008 at 3:49 am

Here via Madge’s link. What a beautiful post – and so true, that feeling of being “filled up by the magic of words.” Have you read the God of Small Things? It’s what I’m into right now – plodding and dark, but wow, what an amazing use of language.

As for our kids experiencing this magic, here’s an old post I wrote (at the risk of seeming very cocky for linking to myself). I cannot wait for my kids to feel this feeling – it’s as good as a kicking baby in your belly.

Nice to meet you. 🙂

Sus @ wiggle roomss last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Dorothy & Scarecrow Debut, Receive Critical Acclaim

JCK October 31, 2008 at 1:23 pm

So lovely…

I collected sea glass as a child. 🙂

JCKs last blog post..HOPE in the rain…

NJ Girl November 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

A good article, and you know, I wish that I had more time for reading. There just isn’t enough time in the day anymore.

NJ Girls last blog post..Sea Isle City in the Fall

Lisl Armstrong February 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm


I would like to invite you to join a social networking site for sea glass enthusiasts this site is interesting to anyone who loves to beachcomb or loves the sea:

Hope to see you there!

Lisl Armstrong

Sea Glass Secrets November 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm

What a lovely story. The beach soothes the soul, there is no better place.

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