I have a treat for you today and a chance to get a surprise gift, no fooling! More Agreeably Engaged is kicking off the Meryton Press Dear Friends Event. The blog portion of this event will take place each Saturday in April. The Blog Schedule is listed below and we hope you will take a moment of your time to visit each one. Be thinking about why you love books and reading. See if you can give a different reason for each stop. I will be giving you my reasons in just a bit; then in the comments, I hope you will share at least one of yours.
For now, I turn the floor over to Meryton Press.
“Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately received.” – Jane Austen
Jane Austen describes a fine friendship between Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Collins. One friend welcomes another with ‘the liveliest pleasure,” and the other is pleased to share in that. We at Meryton Press know from your words that you, our fans, receive our books with pleasure and affection. It makes our authors warm inside to know that.
We have many things that bring us together, but above all we share a deep love of books. We’d like to center the subject of this event on that which makes books such a delight to us. We have asked each blogger to talk about what it is she loves so much about books and/or reading and we would like to provide a few paragraphs from one of our beloved authors to complement it. We hope that readers participate by sharing something about their love of books in the comments.
Why do I love books and reading? Allow me to begin with a few questions.
Do you ever feel that you personally know Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? Do you discuss them or characters from other books as if they were real people? I can answer a resounding yes to both of those questions.
Yes, I feel like Darcy and Lizzy are my dear friends. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, John Thornton and Margaret Hale and Ross Poldark and Demelza are a few other dear friends. I’ve been through tons of bad times and good times with them. I’ve cried and worried, I’ve laughed and rejoiced. Sharing their love and their hard-fought path to happily ever after never gets old. I’m right there with them, experiencing every up and down as they live it.
Having conversations with a friend about the characters in a book, as though the characters are living breathing people is the other ‘yes’. As many of you know, Jan Hahn is a close friend. Occasionally we go out to dinner and sooner or later our conversation always turns to books and their characters. We talk about them and the things they are doing as if they are alive. Then we laugh at ourselves thinking if anyone around is hearing, they would be surprised to learn we are talking about fictional people!
Have you ever been so immersed in a story that when you looked up and realized there was no snow on the ground or no rain falling from the sky, it was a shock to your senses? Oh yes, I’ve been there too! That is true immersion. We can escape through the pages of a cherished book; share other lives and forget our own for the hours that we read. We lose ourselves in a good story.
Being so involved with all the Bennet’s, Darcy and Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam and even Lady Catherine and George Wickham, we love and we despise. Thanks to Jane Austen for creating such memorable characters that have stood the test of time. Thank you for putting quill to paper. Thank you to all the other authors in every genre that have captured our hearts and minds with their incredible talent.
Whether it’s Jane Austen’s novels, Elizabeth Gaskell’s, Winston Graham’s, any historical or modern romance, science fiction, paranormal, adventure or drama, I can share life with the characters of these novels. I can visit new and exotic lands, go back in time or explore a distant universe. Through reading, I can see it all. It’s time travel in a book. Isn’t that grand!
Since this is a Dear Friend Event, I ask my dear friend and beloved author at Meryton Press, Jan Hahn, to do this post with me. Thank you, Jan, for agreeing to take part. Now that I've shared my thoughts on books and reading, will you share yours? What makes books and reading special to you?
I hold some friends close―or even closer―than family. I go to them in times of joy or sorrow and know they will laugh or cry with me. Some characters in my favorite books have been a part of my life for so long that they feel like old friends. I turn to them for distraction or comfort, confident they will either brighten my day or divert my attention when life gets tough. It began when I was a child and first climbed up the Alps with Heidi or huddled close to my brother while Mother read Treasure Island. I could not wait to learn to read, and when I did, I gobbled up books like manna from Heaven. I had a hard time choosing between a trip to the city library or a few hours at the park.
I devoured The Bobbsey Twins, a family containing not just one set of twins but two. And they solved mysteries to boot! I considered Nan and Bert good buddies while Freddie and Flossie were cute but too young for my company. I resolved to have twins when I grew up, certain that my desire alone would accomplish the fact.
Jo March, naturally, became my favorite of Alcott’s Little Women. I thought her such a bonehead for refusing Laurie until I matured somewhat and understood the better choice was Professor Bhaer. Because the author Fred Gipson is a distant relation of mine, my father suggested I read Old Yeller. Big mistake. I cried and cried when Travis was forced to destroy the dog he dearly loved. It didn’t keep me from reading it again, though. I discovered Shakespeare in my teen years, and read and re-read the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. If given the part, I was convinced I could have been the world’s greatest actress because, surely at fifteen, I knew all about love.
Literature classes introduced me to Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but I confess I didn’t care to re-read their books. Once was enough. I liked Edna Ferber’s saga, Giant, and was thrilled to see her characters come to life in the movie version. I would choose War and Peace any day over pitiful Anna Karenina perhaps because I skipped a lot of the War portion and concentrated on Natasha’s life until I knew her well. And then I met Father Ralph de Bricassart in Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. Talk about a doomed love affair. A young Australian girl with more than a crush on an ambitious Catholic priest had heartbreak written all over it. I cannot remember how many times I read that book.
Nineteenth century British literature drew me to the Bronté sisters. No matter how often I open Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Cathy never live happy lives, and although Mr. Rochester doesn’t deserve Jane Eyre, I rejoice each time she returns to him. I’ve lamented the ending of Tess of the D’Urbervilles far too many times. I prefer Far From the Madding Crowd when I want a touch of Thomas Hardy. I get just as aggravated with Bathsheba when she rejects Gabriel Oak as I did the first time I discovered the novel.
PBS introduced me to Elizabeth Gaskell, and after seeing the gorgeous John Thornton, I was only too glad to read North and South. Margaret Hale became a friend I can admire. I rented and watched the 1970s version of the Poldark miniseries long before the hunky Aidan Turner came along. I confess, however, it’s the present incarnation of that eighteenth-century antihero that caused me to seek out the author, Winston Graham, and read the story for myself.
I think I’ve enjoyed almost all of Anne Tyler’s quirky characters, but I return to Breathing Lessons when I want to laugh out loud. I can re-read all but one of Jan Karon’s Mitford series any time the wind blows. I find the small town nestled in the Carolina mountains as comforting as coming home after a long journey, and I applaud Father Tim for finding true love after the age of sixty.
And, of course, Jane Austen is the author I can read over, over, and over again and never get enough. I reach for a tissue each time Edward Ferrars declares his heart belongs to Elinor Dashwood; I bless Henry Tilney’s forbearance with fanciful little Catherine Morland; I want to pull Emma’s hair and tell her to mind her own business each time she parts Harriet Smith from Robert Martin; I cannot help but hope Fanny Price accepts Henry Crawford and makes him a better man because I just do not think Edmund Bertram deserves her; I want to reassure Anne Elliot that she has not lost her bloom; and even though I know Darcy returns for Elizabeth, I still grow nervous when he takes forever to propose the second time.
I’ve touched on only a few of my favorite books, but by now, I’m sure you can see a pattern. If I really like a book, I want to read it more than once. Each time, I either learn something new, reacquaint myself with passages that have grown dim in my memory, laugh, weep, or fall in love with my favorite characters all over again.
A common love of reading unites us and never more so than in the Jane Austen community. I am grateful that this beloved author is the means through which I have made so many new but dear friends. May we continue to read and share and love the stories that bind us together.
Thank you again, Jan, for your willingness to join me today and share your love of books. What better way to begin a Dear Friend Event for bloggers, readers and fans than with a personal friend. I had purposely not read Jan's post until I put it on the blog nor has she read mine and will not until the post is live. I had to laugh a little when I read her reasons for loving books and reading. We definitely think alike on a few things concerning books and how we feel about them. What do you think, Jan?
Dear Friend Blog Schedule:
More Agreeably Engaged–April 1; ends at 11:59 PM April 6th; winner announced April 7th
Austenesque Reviews–April 8; ends at 11:59 PM April 13th; winner announced April 14th
So little time…–April 15; ends at 11:59 PM April 20th; winner announced April 21st
Diary of an Eccentric–April 22; ends at 11:59 PM April 27th; winner announced April 28th
Just Jane 1813–April 29; ends at 11:59 PM May 4th; winner announced my May 5th
In the month of April, we want to show our appreciation to you, our most steadfast supporters, our dear friends. Good friends give each other gifts. You have given us the gift of your affectionate reception, and we want to reciprocate by giving some of you gifts in return.
As much as we’d like to, we can’t give everyone a gift, but at each hosted blog post during this event on the schedule listed above, an opportunity will be given to enter to win a surprise gift. Each person who comments can enter a Rafflecopter drawing to win. Although a person can enter multiple times (once on each blog post and tweet daily on each blog post), they can win only once. One winner will be chosen at each blog. Five gifts total will be awarded.
Giveaway is open to US residents only. Eligible entries will comment on Dear Friend Event blog posts, tweet about the event and use the rafflecopter to enter. Winners will provide a valid U.S. shipping address for gift delivery upon request. Further details for entering to win a gift are posted at the Meryton Press website.a Rafflecopter giveaway
· All Winners will be contacted via social media or email and announced on the Meryton Press website, Facebook, and/or Twitter.
· In the event that a winner or winners do not respond within 5 days, a new winner will be drawn.
· Winners may not be Meryton Press employees, contractors or authors.
· An entrant can enter once per Dear Friend Event blog post and multiple times on Social Media, but can win only once.
· This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Twitter.
I am thrilled to be a part of this event honoring dear friends. I have been so fortunate to meet and make many friends in the JAFF community and through this blog. I appreciate you all. Thank you Meryton Press, Bloggers, Readers and Fans. You have enriched my life and I'm thankful for you.
I want to end this post with a special April Fool's Giveaway! No joke! :) This giveaway will NOT be part of the Rafflecopter surprise gift giveaway, but a separate one. It will be based on comments made from the moment this post goes live until 11:59 PM Central time, April 1st. Anyone that leaves a comment will be entered in the April Fool's Giveaway. There will be one winner randomly selected for a surprise gift. Winner will be announced early next week. To get more entries, share my Facebook post about the Dear Friends Event happening on my blog today. You can get a third entry by retweeting my tweet about the event. I will check my tweet on my twitter page for retweets and the Facebook post on my Facebook page for shares. I hope I see your name there! Thanks and good luck. Remember the April Fool's Giveaway ends at 9 PM Central today, April 1st. The Dear Friend Event Giveaway for my blog ends at 11:59 PM on the 6th of April.