I have been making a lot of casseroles lately. It seems many friends have need, they have suffered loss or are recovering from surgery and the happier event of having a baby. While I am sure this is true in all communities, it is especially so in the south, any major life event calls for the offering of homemade nourishment, usually the more cheesy and bubbly the better. The true gift of these offerings is not what lies beneath the foil with baking instructions on top, but the tacit message that comes with. You are loved, you are cared for, you are not alone, we grieve with you, we celebrate with you. All this is conveyed with each bite the recipients take in. When you offer that casserole you are feeding the souls not just the bodies of the receivers. I think authors, books and readers are like that too. An author pours a bit of their soul into their work, whether it is fiction or otherwise. While that work might not be written for a specific person, it can have a great impact if it comes in contact with the right person at the right time. As readers we find books we connect to, that feed our soul, inspire us to grow. I always know those books by the way they linger with me for days after I have read the last page. I would like to think some of my work might touch a reader that way. I definitely know a bit of my soul is poured into every story that bubbles up in my brain and spills out onto the page. I think if someone took away books or writing from me the affect would be similar to withholding food. I need to write, even if I am the only one who sees the product. I need to read, it allows me to travel in time, develop empathy for characters unlike me and wonder at the possibilities. Books have been feeding my soul for a lifetime. Authors have given me gifts beyond the stories they have created. I would love to hear what book or author has done this for you if you are so inclined to share. The sharing of a book can be just as nourishing as that casserole of love.