Today is the annual Times Festival of Reading, and even if I didn't know how hard my colleagues work on putting it together, I'd still say it's a great event, and anybody who cares about books and storytelling should go.
Our cover subject, Jane Velez-Mitchell, will be there to talk about her recovery from multiple addictions — and cancer. It's an inspiring, gripping tale, to judge from Times book editor Colette Bancroft's interview, and the excerpt from Velez-Mitchell's book, iWant.
There are more than 50 other authors on tap, too, so just pick up a schedule and stop in to hear anyone who sounds at all interesting. Don't worry if you haven't read the book; you can always enjoy it later.
Better yet, you might get inspired to start writing your own stories. Even if you have no intention of getting an agent and a book deal, we all have tales to tell and people who want to read them.
I was reminded of this the other day when I got an e-mail from Carolyn Leonard, who recently wrote in Personal Best about her decision to reclaim her health after she lost her husband to a sudden heart attack.
Earlier this month, she flew home to Tampa from Las Vegas, a place she and her husband enjoyed visiting. Seated next to her was a 20-year-old Marine, just back from Afghanistan, who was flying home to see his mother. Aaron had no money, but Carolyn saw to it that he got an in-flight snack.
I'll let her tell the rest:
"As we approached Tampa, he thanked me and said that he could not repay me for my kindness but reached into his wallet and took out currency from Afghanistan. He gave me a bill and told me that it was worthless here, but it was all he had. He knew his mom, who was down on her luck and working at (a dollar store), would be meeting him.
"We walked to the air side and Aaron stopped at the restroom. Before going in, he stopped and hugged me, thanking me for my kindness. We said goodbye, and I told him to stay safe. He promised that he would since he would probably be redeployed soon.
"When I arrived at the main terminal, I saw a woman with tears in her eyes. I knew it was his mom.
"I had spent three days in Las Vegas, celebrating the 35 years that I had with my loving husband. I was very sad when I headed home, and God brought Aaron to me to remind me that life goes on. I will forever keep my worthless Afghanistan currency and my priceless memories of Aaron.''
Thanks for the story, Carolyn.