If I want to take a deep dive into my emotional state during any time period all I need to do is look at what I was reading. For instance, during the first year of the pandemic it was all non-fiction. If there was a book on infectious diseases I was all in. By year two I was drowning in tomes about the political climate.
Now I’ve gone back to fiction and I’m having an obsessive moment with the English Cotswolds. I’m besotted with mystery novels based in idyllic villages with rolling hills, thatched roof homes, a pub on the village green and exceedingly high murder rates.
It’s gotten so bad I’m even dropping British terms into conversations. I’ve found myself calling the trunk of my car a “boot” and I used the word “trainers” for my tennis shoes which I know makes me sound utterly obnoxious. (Although I’m probably going to keep saying trainers because it irritates my husband and that brings me a certain level of joy.)
Then there’s my new fascination with hot tea. I’ve always been an iced tea drinker and yet I’m now drawn to the china teapots my mother has given me over the years. In fact, the whole tea time concept is brilliant (or brill if you want to sound born to the manor posh).
In the books I’ve been reading the tea tray is always piled high with scones fresh out of the oven and at least one kind of fruit tart. It’s like having a little anti-Keto protest every day and I’m here for it.
Now, I realize the daily custom of tea and scones in the U.K. has been replaced with to-go coffees and green juices. But it’s still lovely to think about stuffing your face with homemade pastries that are slathered in clotted cream every day.
What’s made my recent reading journey to the Cotswolds possible is the library. I’ve always been a big library user but for the past several years due to Covid closures etc. I had stopped going. But several months ago I descended on my local library and felt like a woman who had discovered a lost love. (I also discovered I had $5.10 in fines, but I didn’t let that affect my mojo.)
As soon as I entered I took a deep breath so I could savor that distinct library smell and then speed walked to the mystery section. I leisurely rambled down the aisles running my fingers down book spines of my favorite authors from Agatha Christie to Rex Stout and smiled remembering how my mother gave me my first Christie book “Murder at the Vicarage” and said, “You’re not going to be able to put this one down.”
There’s just something about a library that a bookstore can’t duplicate. (Although as an author I also support brick and mortar bookstores that have a charm of their own.) I think it’s that each book has two stories. The one that was written and the one that’s been imprinted by all the people that have read the book. It’s like finding a new friend or being reacquainted with an old one.
One of my favorite things though are the librarians. They’re like reading sherpas always ready to point you in the right direction or introduce you to new adventures. When I feared I was running out of Cotswolds’ based mysteries to read, which was making me a little anxious, a librarian came to my rescue and introduced me to two (new to me) authors that write the coziest of gruesome English countryside murders.
Currently my happy place is being ensconced in my favorite chair with a pot of tea reading “The Blood of an Englishman.” The only thing that’s missing is some scones.