I believe in the power of timing. Certain books have come into my life in such a way that I can't help but think, "This is the perfect time for me to be reading this."
I can usually read only before bed or when I wake up in the morning. One day I was at home on my little ranch in New Mexico and nothing was going on. It was cold outside, so as soon as I got up I padded into the living room, where I have all these bookshelves. On this particular morning, a book called Crazy Woman, by Kate Horsley, caught my eye. I pulled it down, built a fire and dragged a beanbag chair in front of the fireplace.

That was a great luxury—to actually sit down with a whole day free, start a book, and like it enough to just barrel right through. I got up once, I think, to get a cup of coffee. Other than that, anybody who came by my house that day would have seen me in different postures in this beanbag chair.

When I finished, I realized what a joy it is to read books that take place sort of where I am. I could look out at the landscape so similar to the one the author was describing.

Of course, sometimes I'm just as grateful to find a book that takes me a million miles away. When I was in Indonesia, everything was so foreign to me—exciting and beautiful but overwhelming. I had brought along Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop . Reading such an American story made me feel comforted. That's what I mean about timing: I got to read this great Kate Horsley book right there at home. Halfway around the world, I had Willa Cather's novel, which was exactly what I needed then.

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