I'm not a big reader of fantasies, but when I do commit to that genre, I go big. That's how I find myself over 900 pages into the second book in Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle, The Wise Man's Fear.
I read the similarly-sized opener, The Name of the Wind, a couple of years back, taking a series break thereafter. On occasion, I would check the local library's holdings for book #2, yet it always proved to be borrowed. I resisted placing a hold as I prefer to let serendipitous discovery govern most of my reading life. I waited patiently, not unlike the series' main character, an innkeeper with more backstories than I can count.
June found me in a second-hand bookstore where the book and I intersected. I made my purchase even as I knew I wasn't ready to start it at that moment. (Readers always make plans!) It sat on my shelf for two months of prime summer-reading time.
In August, a chance encounter on a street corner with a long-lost grade school classmate unexpectedly led to chatting about the series. "The second book is better than the first," my friend wrote. "The series is a deep contemplation on the nature of stories and storytelling." Not a hook I could resist for long...
I'm happy to report: The novel is delivering on his promise. It also turns out to be a deep contemplation on teaching and learning, which brings me to another crossroads, where the book, a follow-up conversation with my friend, and my professional life intersect. If we are the stories we tell and coining new stories has inherent power to change us, I would do well to listen better to what my students narrate -- both to the world and themselves. "Only that which bends can teach," says Vashet, one of many literal teachers in The Wise Man's Fear, reminding me to bend my ears when school resumes next week.