I’m just back from 11 days of vacation. I chose this time because a game I love, love, love just came out and I’d planned to play it for 264 hours straight, or as near to that as possible. The game is online only, so I had to download 51 gigabytes, but the game company’s servers were either overloaded or slowed down to allow a lot of people to download at the same time. I started the process on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 10 p.m. On Saturday, I went to the OSU basketball game (Amazing by the way! If you haven’t watched the Pokes in a while this is the year to do it) and upon return saw the game finally was fully downloaded.

I excitedly pulled it up to start playing only to learn that there was now a 48 gigabyte update that immediately had to be downloaded. That was the end of my dream gameplaying vacation. During the hours and hours of watching my game slowly trickle in kilobyte by kilobyte, I started to read. It has been a terribly long time since I’ve been on a read-cation. Although it was not what I intended my vacation to be, it was really very lovely. I had time to savor many books rather than just dash through them as I have a few minutes here and there.

It also helped me remember how amazing reading really is. Think just a minute about the act of reading and just what it means. Literally, someone puts words on a page and it makes you see pictures in your head. Pictures of fully realized people who do not in fact exist. Images of places that have never been. Scenes of complex events that will never take place. I am shocked over and over again that those in the earliest days of the development of the book where not more shocked and fearful of its magic. Because books are magical. Authors are clever magicians who write their word spells and make people see things that aren’t there. Two of the books I read last week particularly put a spell on me:

“The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware – Hal receives a letter saying she is the beneficiary of large estate. Despite knowing that the attorney involved has mistaken her for someone else, Hal travels to the estate in hopes of gaining a few pounds to help her finances. Once there, Hal begins to unravel the story of her ancestry. The book was similar to “Gone Girl” in that it was a tale of two parts. “Gone Girl” had a masterful first half and an okay second half. “Mrs. Westaway” was the same, but in reverse. This book has a lengthy slow start, but around page 200, it was unput-downable.

At that point, the story’s reveal starts. This is always an absolutely delicious time in a book – when your brain scans through a myriad of implausible outcomes and anything can come true. This story spun me through a ton of crazy possibilities and had me tingling with excitement to learn which one the author chose. A great suspense if you just stick with it.

“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate – Avery is the daughter of a privileged Southern family. Her grandmother has recently been placed in a memory care unit, and Avery has started finding a few clues that suggest her family’s lofty background may not be what it seems. Avery’s story is interwoven with that of a young girl named Rill who, along with her brother and sisters, has been taken from her parents and placed in an orphanage for adoption by the country’s elite.

Wingate’s writing could be a bit better, but it is the agonizing heartbreak of Rill that propels the story and makes it a great read. I also enjoyed the suspense of learning exactly what happened to all of Rill’s siblings. The book is loosely based on the true story of a woman who organized the systematic stealing of children for her own profit.

If you need a book that will put a spell over you, stop by the Help Desk for suggestions. And don’t forget to stop by the Library’s “Game On” winter reading kick-off this Saturday, 1-5 p.m. You can play tons of fun games with your family and register for the reading program too.

Stacy DeLano is an Adult Services Librarian for the Stillwater Public Library. For information, contact sdelano@stillwater. org at 405-372-3633, extension 8124, or visit library.stillwater.org.