There are some books that become personal artifacts, books you give to everyone for birthdays and holidays, that you read over and over again. I’ve several of those, no doubt why my chosen profession is English Professor. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre, and Hunger Games again and again. Some books I’ve taught every year or two for the sixteen (!) years I’ve been teaching, and some books I grab on a rainy or sad day.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a rainy day book.
I first read the book when it was published in the early 1990s. I was on a family vacation in 1992, and my best friend pointed out the book to me. “I love that book!” she said. I read the back cover, and decided to buy it because 1) it was about time travel and I loved the concept of time travel, and 2) it was a historical novel, and I loved anything historical.
I read that book straight for two days, then went from last page to first page and read it again.
I’ve always been a quick reader, ever since I was a kid. I tend to read a bit slower now, just because the professorial part of me is taking mental or physical notes, and that takes some time. But whenever I read books like Outlander, or Outlander itself, I devour them. There’s no other word for it.
In 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina ravaged my family’s and friends’ homes, I traveled to England for research. My two best friends met me there, and over a weekend, we took a very long bus ride from London to Inverness, Scotland (13 hours ONE WAY). I’m still owed 2 quid from Charlie on the bus. I don’t ever thing I’ll see that 2 quid, do you?
But we went for one reason and one reason only: because Claire and Jamie were in Inverness. We went to Culloden Battlefield because Jamie fought there.
It was, in fact, my first literary pilgrimage. My first personal artifact inspiring me to travel to see something real that inspired something fictional.