It has been a good time to be a reader around here.
Now, on the one hand, it almost always is a good time to be a reader around our house. There isn’t a room in the house that doesn’t have books in it, and we are never happier than when returning from a looting and pillaging expedition to the nearest bookstore to add to that collection. So there’s something just a bit, I don’t know, mundane about that opening statement.
On the other hand, it has been a particularly good time to be a reader even so.
Autographed books are flying in. Free autographed books. Life is good.
Yesterday we got a package in the mail from Canada. It was simply addressed to us as a family, from someone that I had never heard of, and inside was a book. There was also a note congratulating one of us – the note did not say who, as the author apparently did not know which one of us to congratulate – on solving a puzzle in a previous book of his and apologizing for taking so long to get back to us, the publisher having taken its sweet time in forwarding along the solution to him.
It turned out this was Tabitha’s doing.
Last summer as her big prize in the library summer reading program she chose a book on codes and ciphers. At one point, the book got onto the subject of pinhole codes, where a seemingly normal bit of text is altered with pinholes above or below certain letters, and if you connect the letters you get a message. And lo and behold, there was indeed a pinhole code in that paragraph instructing whoever noticed and decoded it to send a note to that effect to the publisher.
Apparently Tabitha was one of six people – two of whom were adults (one being a US Army Intelligence officer) who caught that and sent in the note.
The author was so tickled by this that he sent an autographed copy of another of his books.
Last month it was my turn.
Not that I won anything or figured out any puzzle the way Tabitha did. No, I just sent a request for information to the far side of the globe and scored.
A number of years ago I had discovered a wonderful book – a delirium of a book, one that is probably on my top ten all time even if it was the sort of thing you had to think twice about who you would recommend it to, as it was clearly not designed for everybody. It was also the first of a series and when each subsequent volume appeared I would rush out to buy it.
But the fourth and concluding volume never did come out here. It was published in its native Australia three or four years ago, but the American publisher still hasn’t done anything with it and at this point I doubt they ever will. They certainly weren’t interested in returning my calls, anyway.
So through the magic of the internet I tracked down the author.
The fact that he has his own website, livejournal and blog did make this easy, I will admit.
And I sent him an email asking what plans might be afoot for publication here in the US of A.
Several weeks went by, and then I got a very friendly reply explaining how the fate of the American edition of this book was a particularly sore point for him, that he didn’t know any more than I did what would happen, but if I would send me my address he’d send me the Australian paperback, signed and everything.
So I did. And so he did.
No, I’m not going to give out his name. He did me a nice thing, and I don’t want it to get out of hand.
But it is a good time to be a reader, here in Our Little Town.