Home. It’s an emotionally charged word. For me, “home” brings up images of warmth, good food, comfort, and a sense of rightness. And for me, that sense of warmth and rightness has always included books.
In fact, as I sit here writing this post, I am surrounded by books. When we bought our house, one of the first things my husband did was install custom built, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the small room we turned into a den/library. It took us all of one weekend to fill them. While I was away last weekend, he moved a smaller bookshelf into the room. It’s already more than half full.
Literature and music is full of the sentiment that once you’ve left “home,” you can’t go back. But I’m not sure that’s true. If home is where the heart is, then don’t we take home with us wherever we go? In our mobile, 21st century society, most of us will call many physical locations “home.” But I bet if we think about it, those places all share some things in common – whether it’s a color scheme or piles of books everywhere, from the back of the toilet to the living room.
Yes, home exists in the mind. Which means it can exist in places other than a physical address. It can exist in fiction and literature, too. A favorite book can feel like “home.” For example, Pride and Prejudice feels like home to me – something I can read over and over, and still get the warm fuzzies.
And I think that’s why books, especially series books, connect so deeply with readers. We spend time with these characters. We learn their world, put down our own roots. Series books invite readers to come in, put their feet up, and stay a while. Maybe have a cup of tea while we’re at it. It’s a complete “come as you are” invitation. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne don’t care if we’re in our jammies when we visit. Harry Potter doesn’t mind if we take our shoes off and there’s a hole in our sock. It’s home.
Just as we enjoy catching up with family over Thanksgiving dinner (well, most of us), we enjoy learning about new doings in the lives of our favorite characters. What is Kinsey Milhone up to now? Will Jake Brogan and Jane Ryland ever get it together? Who knows? That’s part of why we read.
As a writer, I know my characters feel more like friends than fictional people. As such, I want to spend time with them, see what’s going on in their lives (okay, yes, I’m supposed to know that, but characters have a way of surprising you). I’d like to sit on the back porch and have a beer with my PSP trooper Jim Duncan, share a glass of wine with Sally, or have a girls’ night with Jaycee.
Because for me, as I hope it is for my readers, all of it is just like going home.