From the time I was a little girl, I have always loved history. I don’t mean true-to-life history–although I have huge appreciation for that now–but books, short stories, or images from another time and place. This list includes science fiction, fantasy, and fairy tales, among others. I was the teenager who read historical romances for the history! I loved the emotional quality of finding myself as someone immersed in another place and time completely unfamiliar to me.
I’m certainly not alone in my passion for books and stories that throw you into places unknown. For years I’ve hopelessly devoured Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. If you’ve never had the pleasure of losing a quarter of your life to reading these novels, you’re living a sad life indeed. Rich in history, Scottish culture, and romance, I can hardly wait the time gap between books to discover what happens next to Claire and Jamie! The series has spawned such an amazing following there is even a musical and a possible mini-series for cable TV in the works.
But the characters only tell part of the story, don’t they? Would Jamie be as fascinating if his Scottish clan history was pulled from his character? Would we care as much if Claire was instead fighting the ins-and-outs of life in a cubicle in New York City? I’ve personally convinced male, straight friends to read these novels, and they also grew hopelessly addicted to them. Were they addicted to the romance? I don’t believe so. There is something about the experience of thinking someone else’s thoughts that helps you ponder about what you would do under similar circumstances. And that means it tells you a bit about yourself. It’s a journey of self-discovery.
It has been said that living your life for yourself today can often leave you shallow for life. However, history, and experiencing the richness of someone else’s life, gives you emotional depth you can wiggle around and sink your toes into. And anytime you can walk in someone else’s shoes, even for a while, you statistically double your perspective on life–think about that for a bit.
Murder mysteries, like a good historical novel, give you a touch of a lifestyle you will likely never live, but relishing the difference adds to the richness of your life. Sometimes the most interesting journey takes you a little off path. You might lose a little time, but you carry the experiences with you always, and they become a part of who you are.
Make the journey a rich one…