Elizabeth Kostova spoke at a reception Thursday evening, October 7th on Carolina Day’s Key School campus in Asheville, North Carolina. Throughout her talk, she shared her childhood experiences which were centered on reading. Her growing up years were not only focused on silent reading, but reading aloud to one another. Kostova’s family read the classics including Jane Austen, Henry James and Charles Dickens. In fact, as Kostova picked up Conan Doyle to read aloud to one of her children, she realized that it was these stories that contributed to her first novel.
And it is these memories that shaped and developed The Historian. It was the first debut novel to land at the number one position of the New York Times Bestseller list. “The Historian” also ranks as the fastest-selling hardback debut novel. Kostova released her second book, The Swan Thieves in 2010. As interviewed by the Asheville Citizen Times, Kostova shares her passion for books–” ‘As a lover of books,’ Kostova said, ‘I love real books. I love the way they feel, I love the way they smell, I love to have them in my hands. I love the fact that they’re artifacts, works of art and pieces of history, and that when you have an actual book, it makes a wonderful gift.”
It was reaffirming to listen to Kostova speak of everybody’s right to read. It is a privilege that many people take for granted. However Kostova asserts that to deny one’s right to read is to grant them a “‘half-life”. Books help give soul to everyday living. Reading grants you access to anywhere in the world, during any historical time. There are no limits to the world of reading.
Kostova hopes that with her partnership between Carolina Day’s Key School and the Literacy Council, she will make an impact on reading. The Key School is a nationally recognized school that uses progressive teaching methods anchored in multi-sensory language instruction, thereby stimulating learning among very bright children. Many of these children have dyslexia and language-based learning differences. The Key overcomes these challenges by using very low student-teacher ratios and progressive approaches to open up the doors to a lifetime of reading. Nothing could make Kostova happier….
The event last evening was hosted by the Literary Council of Buncombe County, whose mission is to improve adult education and English language skills in Western North Carolina. Kostova urged the audience to make time to read every day and cautioned against “screen time”. She shared that the United States ranks fifth among industrialized nations in terms of literacy skills. Reading is one of the most critical determinants of success in a person’s life. More important, it is reading and physical books that give soul to one’s life.
The Captain’s Bookshelf also contributed to the event by selling signed and numbered limited editions of “The Swan Thieves” as well as hardbacks of Kostova’s work. These copies were personally signed by Kostova after her talk.