“A story told is a life lived”…a reflection on Outlander 3.09 “The Doldrums”

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I’m sitting at home drinking hot tea and convalescing from some sort of bug. This is one of those times when real life conspires to interfere with my Outlander life.  I’ve watched the “Doldrums” several times and found it delightful, but was too sick to think about what I saw let alone write.  What I’m thinking about this morning, in between sips of Earl Grey, is the journey. Voyager is the name of the book this season is based on and I find it aptly titled. This couple has been on a voyage back to each other and the love they once shared. Diana’s story of two passionately committed people and the show’s version of their story have taken us on a voyage too. Both versions are epic in scale, detail, and truth about the human condition and I’m finding myself grateful for both.

The line of dialogue I can’t get out of my head is “A story told is a life lived”.  It reminded me of a line from George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”  I shared last week that I almost quit writing the blog during the drought because it just seemed too trivial a concern in these current times.  I did not because I decided I enjoyed writing it and that was okay, no matter what was going on in the world. As I sat down to write today, I thought of my belief that what I was doing was trivial and then I thought about the joy Outlander’s stories have brought into my life. Not only joy, but insight, empathy, and healing. Mr. Willoughby’s story captivated the sailors and the show let us see that all who heard were moved by it. He told his story and then he had to let it go. I couldn’t help, but think of Diana and the creators of the show. When her book is finally ready and that first copy hits the shelf or when it comes time for the show to air, the story is in some ways no longer theirs. They tell the story and then they have to let it go. Just as each person on that ship listened to Mr. Willoughby’s story and connected it to their own lives, so do we. Story telling, I have now decided is not a trivial pursuit, but a noble one and a story told is a life… well lived. Because of writers and film makers, we get to live a thousand lives.

I had an experience with a poem that illustrated this point for me. Sam Heughan had tweeted a poem written by Kim Moore he had read and had evidently found moving.

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I read the poem and then speculated about why this poem would have meant something to Sam. I pulled it apart line by line and made connections to what life might be like for a struggling actor and wrote an article about it.  The poetess read my article and wrote to me! I was of course completely wrong about the intent in the poem.  It was in fact, a poem about an abused woman.  I was a bit embarrassed, but she assured me that it was okay and that in fact, she was fascinated.  She said she was glad I was able to see so much in the poem because it meant that the poem had life beyond her. Once again, a story told is a life lived.

When I went to college, I was already an adult with 28 yrs of life experience. My husband gave me a little insight into what college was likely to be like for someone such as myself, “You’ll be like a sponge . You’ll love every minute.  The professors will love you and the kids will hate you for making them look bad! “. He was pretty prophetic.  I did love every minute and the kids tended to roll their eyes at me and my eagerly raised hand. I wanted to discuss and share! They wanted to pass the class with as little effort as possible and I was making them look bad. However, after a long night partying and a short night studying, some of my fellow students saw me as a valuable commodity, “Let’s ask Beth what the reading was about”.  I may have gotten my fellow students out of a sticky situation temporarily, but I always felt they were missing the point…reading was life changing.  At least, I felt so.

Reading helps us to experience things we may never have the chance to in real life.  Studies are indicating that people are inspired to make changes in their own lives as a result. In the article,  If You Didn’t Love Reading Before You See This, You’ll Love It After  by Sarah White, the author says that  studies show that reading fiction,

“…teaches you to be human…helps you see other people’s perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person’s skin, and it can help us understand the real people in our lives a little better. …Reading can give you a new perspective. Here I’m not just talking about getting to peer into different worlds, but the fact that reading about life situations similar to your own may give you a different perspective on things. Whether you need help navigating a breakup or dealing with your parents, there’s a book for that.”

There is also a movie for that. Film can impact us in a very similar way. Especially, if that film is full of visual metaphors and visceral images. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/is-your-brain-culture/200903/your-brain-movies 

I know that what Diana created for me was a reading experience that I have yet to duplicate. I read other things, I just don’t enjoy them as much or learn as much from them. I’m still not sure exactly why her words and this particular story resonates with me, but it does.  What this show has given me is another way to interact with her story.  Although the series will never replace the books for me, in some ways, I found it just as impactful and at times, more so than the book. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the visual story I was told in “Wentworth” or “Faith”.  Seeing emotions on a real face is impactful and quickly takes you to a place of empathy. When we get lost in a book, or a quality film, studies have shown that we might actually change our own behaviour and thoughts to match that of the character.  It is a phenomenon that researchers are calling “experience-taking”. They found that “experience-taking’ can lead to real-life changes. Strongly identifying with a character who overcomes can lead to over-coming!  Experience taking…a story told is a life lived.

I’m sure, I’m not the only one who has found this to be true in their own lives.  I too have been changed by books. The Box Car Children and Queenie Peavy helped to shape the child I became.  Corrie ten Boom and The Hiding Place taught me about faith and what it means to care for others and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and the TV series have both enriched my understanding of relationships and truths about life.  If you can tell a story that can do that for a person than you are truly part of something bigger than yourself and by letting go of your story and releasing it to the wind you allow others to live a thousand lives. Bravo. I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

 

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110 thoughts on ““A story told is a life lived”…a reflection on Outlander 3.09 “The Doldrums”

  1. mdelony

    As always you give me food for thought. As a literature professor, I spend a lot of time talking about the value of story. You’ve reminded me of ways I can make this argument for my students. I love your thinking and writing. Please don’t stop.

  2. donnakaylc

    I have always read books, poetry, biographies, fiction and non-fiction, true crime, absolutely anything that caught my eye. My parents encouraged it and did not restrict me from it. It is a wonderful gift to enjoy and escape for a while into someone else’s story. I am grateful for libraries! Love your thoughts about some of my all-time favorite books in the Outlander series.

  3. You wrote, “I know that what Diana created for me was a reading experience that I have yet to duplicate. I read other things, I just don’t enjoy them as much or learn as much from them. I’m still not sure exactly why her words and this particular story resonates with me, but it does. What this show has given me is another way to interact with her story.” Yes, yes..you’re going to get another huge DITTO from me! lol As long as you don’t tire of hearing it, I’ll keep saying that you somehow manage to frequently, if not always, put into words what is rolling around in my brain! I tell my family all the time now, “Diana has ruined me as far as my expectations for a good read!” I enjoy other books, but I rarely read them more than once, and I certainly don’t have them piled around me like the folds of a security blanket. Another insightful post, Beth! – Dawn

    • Pam Allum

      You’ve done it again, Dawn, as has Beth! I smiled at your words about books being piled around you. I have every book in the series at hand, on the bookshelf, on my kitchen table, in my sewing room, next to my bed so I can check, or re-read as the need takes me, especially while re-watching the DVDs. I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who does this. YES, the Outlander series (as well as the LJG books) has changed my life and the way I see and do things. I have always been an avid reader and quite a few other books are patiently waiting to be read, just not yet. I usually don’t re-read books as I never seem to have enough time but, Outlander is the exception! My life has been enriched by reading these beautiful books and watching an amazing series and I am grateful Diana let her story go.

    • Lee

      I agree with you and Beth. Its unreal. I don’t mean to sound irreverent or disrespectful to anyone but the only other book(s) I know of that’s been so dissected, analyzed and critiqued is the Bible. ?
      Plus Sam has absolutely brought it to LIFE. King of Men ! -)

  4. momt14

    Like you, other books fall short of Outlander. If a story told is a life lived then I have lived multiple times in reading Diana’s books because each time I reread I live something that I missed before. Mr. Willoughby’s Tale made me cry. I love what they’re doing with that character.

  5. Bravo to YOU Beth, for putting into words how I feel in my heart about this series of books. I read as much as I have time to do so, but it’s the Outlander novels that I find the most joy in re-reading. I think it is partly because I would love to have a relationship like the two main characters in the book. I never had that and sometimes I think I never will but just reading about them and their lives brings me joy. I have learned so much from Diana’s novels and also love the historical aspect of them. As for the poem, I was surprised to find that it was about an abused woman. Like you, I took something else entirely from the words. Love your blog, Beth. Please don’t stop ~

  6. Anne Hetherington

    Beautiful, Beth! You have put this so well! One thing that I keep thinking about in this episode is the beautiful delivery of Mr. W’s story by Gary Young. Seeing him deliver that piece had a much greater impact for me than when I read it, another instance of the show and book complementing each other, all to the benefit of the story. Thanks for your words, Beth

  7. Linda Adams

    Oh Beth, If I were a writer I too would have expressed my feelings for Outlander exactly as you have. The books, the STARZ series including all involved, have changed my life for the better! Thanks for your excellent blog. P.S. I was one of those young students who always disliked and admired the older students who always had their acts together!

  8. Laurel Bierovic

    Thank you for your thoughtful commentary, Beth. (And I hope you feel better soon.)
    Somewhere in my past, I heard the phrase: Give it to the wind. (As I remember, this was a Native American response to troubles or situations that are not ours to control.) However, when Mr. Willoughby released the pages after telling his life’s story, that phrase came immediately to mind. Let it go, or let go of the past. How appropriate.
    That same imagery – Yi Tien Cho’s giving the story of his life to the wind – was made real again by your examples of what a writer or actor must be willing to do once a book or creative project is completed, and how we as readers or viewers can be irrevocably changed by their work. Wow. Powerful stuff.

  9. Jane

    I love reading your thoughts and learning from your understand and perspective of the books and the show. They are my favourite books too and I see the show as a great addition to my enjoyment of the story. Reading your writing and sharing your enthusiasm is a joy, so glad you didn’t stop writing.

  10. Joan Tinnin

    I really enjoyed this piece. I have always loved to read. I had A Very Bad Year in 2013. From being on warfarin (for 2 pulmonary embolisms) for a long time, it caused osteoporosis. I found Outlander when four (1 then 2, then) vertebrae compressed in my upper back causing me to be lonely as I would not ask to be babysat and my n pain. Three surgeries to repair them. Lost 3” of height. A friend recommended it. I thought she meant the show. Watched a couple episodes and bought first book. Then all of them. The actors are in my imagination as the characters. I was transported by the glorious writing of Diana Gabaldon. I adore the show. Diana writes in a fashion that one can connect to. Really connect. Things I thought no one did but me. She gave me freedom. The show helped me connect completely with the characters. I am so very grateful to her and the series. I have a great family. My husband is so like Jamie. Only modern. And totally Scottish ancestry. They helped me get through. Diana and the series helped keep me sane and full of life. Your words are wonderful as you express what I cannot. xx

  11. Claudia Krage

    Another great commentary. I was an English Lit major and have read all my life. I don’t know why Diana’s characters resonate so deeply for me, but they really do. I am enjoying the TV version because we are learning about things from Jamie’s viewpoint. Also, Ye Tien Cho’s writing with water on the deck and his speech was more significant with the visuals rather than reading in the book. So grateful to DG for her writing, this story and these characters. Just as grateful to Ron and his team along with Sam, Cait and all the actors for giving us the show. While I am troubled by many things in our world now, I find comfort wrapping myself in reading the books again and seeing the story on TV.

  12. Elaine Novajosky

    Wow..just wow!! I look forward to your blog after every show because I find your words insightful, poignant and full of meaning to me personally. I relate and agree with so much of what you have to say. My favorite lines of this last episode were ” a story told is a life lived” and when he says “once I tell it, I’ll have to let it go” So much meaning in those two simple phrases. I love to read and have not found anything to compare to Diana’s books once I discovered them . I’m so very glad that I’ve had the opportunity to catch these life stories as they have been “let go of”.
    Thank you, Beth…keep on writing and I’ll be happy to keep on reading!!

  13. I have the same feelings about this story Diana wrote…all other stories are just that stories, and other authors are just putting words on pages…for some reason this Outlander series resonates with me also!

  14. Cathie Davis

    Thank you for not giving up on writing your blog. I really look forward to its arrival in my inbox. I have been a reader all my life. True story: I was in 5th grade in a Catholic school in Southern California when I read The Robe. The nuns were ready to put me up for sainthood. That is until I followed it up with reading Gone with the Wind. They then contemplated expelling me. LOL I found Outlander soon after it was first published 20 however many years ago. It was quite a wonderful discovery since I am four generations out of Scotland, my family came from Nairn and we are Frasers. My son’s name is James Fraser Martin, not named for JAMMF. LOL I have all the books in hard back AND all of them on my Kindle (easier to carry around. They are really BIG) Every time a new book came out, I began at the beginning again. I am now on another reading of the series and have lost track of which number this is. There are so many levels to Diana’s writing that each time I discover new bits I had not absorbed the other times through. Even when I am cringing, knowing what is coming (Claire is about to be kidnapped/raped) I am still drawn in. What a world Diana has created for us. It is so amazing and I am so grateful! I love the series for giving us a visual world to go along with the written one. I do read other books when I’m not re-reading these but as others have pointed out, it is very difficult to find anything that holds my attention as well and all the time I’m reading, I’m thinking of getting back to Outlander. Your well thought out comments are just icing on my Outlander cake. Thank you! Keep writing. We’ll keep reading!

  15. Pam Allum

    Once again Beth, thank you for your beautiful words. Like so many others I look forward to reading them as they always seem to echo my feelings too. How happy and grateful are we all that Diana let her story go! Please keep writing as your words enhance our appreciation so much.

  16. Celia Toohey

    Thank you for this insight. I, too, am baffled by my immersion into the Outlander world. Earlier this fall, my DH and I decided to start season 1. Instantly we were hooked. The characters, the actors, the setting, the story…..it was a perfect storm. DG’s story is so transcendent and complete, you cannot resist the pull. I’m on book 4 and can’t read fast enough. ❤️

  17. Nan D.

    I just reread Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, this summer and I am still reflecting upon it and thanking God for the “fleas” in my life. 🙂

  18. Rita Wood

    I’m glad you didn’t give up on your writing, you have the gift and it must be shared! Once again you come to the heart of the matter, “I’m still not sure exactly why her words and this particular story resonates with me, but it does.” How many of us can say that about Diana’s writing. In turn, your writings about her work and how it relates to life itself resonates with us as well.

  19. Marge

    Beth, thank you for your wonderful insights. This story, books and video, have helped me through tough times because I love it so much and can share it with friends. As you said “Because of writers and film makers, we get to live a thousand lives.” Keep writing!

  20. lindaimle

    Hi Stacy,

    How are you? I saw a picture you posted of your fireplace. It’s very lovely and cozy. It probably smells good too – it’s wood burning instead of gas, right? Have you had a snowfall yet? Then, a fire will be extra nice with snow falling outside your big living room window.

    Dad and I have been getting the leaves up in the yard, and also cutting back some bushes. Today it was sunny and 53, but we know cold weather is coming!

    I’m forwarding this article to you for a couple of reasons. Beth Wesson is the blogger, and she writes mainly about Outlander episodes. But she’s a good writer in my opinion, and in this particular blog, she writes about reading, and the impact a good book can have on a person’s life. She also refers to a poem and I think you can read it even though the print is small. The lead actor in Outlander, Sam Heughan (who you know I really admire!) posted this poem on Twitter, and Beth tries to figure out why this particular poem impacted Sam to the point that he posted it.

    Anyway, I thought you also would like the poem, and also what Beth has to say about reading and books.

    Found out yesterday from John Moore that Henry will only be here for one day right after Thanksgiving. John’s mom, Mildred, is going to have a pitch in on the Saturday after Thanksgiving so we can spend some time with Henry before he goes back to his Navy school. I’m hoping that you, Claudia, Anya and Owen will be able to stay for a few days, and won’t have to go back until Sunday. Really looking forward to you coming down and all of us being together at Scott’s house for Thanksgiving meal.

    Tell everyone hi – and we miss you all so much! I just bought two Stranger Things POP figures for Owen for Christmas. Have you and he watched all of Season 2? I’ve only watched the first two episodes.

    Let me know what you think of the poem 😊

    Love,

    MOM

    ________________________________

  21. Joanne S. Drysdale

    That was so beautifully written. So many sentiments that I feel exactly. Reading for me has been a constant companion my entire life. It has brought so much joy into my life. Discovering Diana’s writing has touched me in a way like no other. I love her work and the series in equal measure. So grateful for the gift of reading.

  22. Goodness, again and again your thoughtful, insightful musings are so gratifying. A couple of funny parallels ~ I too read that poem that Sam posted and found it so moving I posted it on my own poetry site [wishing I had written it]. To underscore Kim Moore’s response to your blog, good poetry gives the reader license to interpret the words as they pertain to the reader . . . that’s why good metaphors are so effective. So, reading and interpreting Ms. Moore’s poem was a great compliment to her and it’s so cool she contacted you!

    Another parallel ~ I read that Psychology Today article too and emailed it to a writer friend of mine. When I read it, it explained precisely how I felt reading his work. I’ve been pestering him for years to get published, but he gets bogged down and discouraged by the whole process. I call it “experiential” reading, or movie watching, and Diana’s books provide that in spades. Now so does the TV show. I’m always shocked [heartbroken] when the episode is over — it seems like it just started! And I’m so happy the writers have given Mr. W some dignity and depth — wasn’t real crazy about the book character. But Diana’s books have definitely made an impact on my life for various reasons, and how lucky are we to experience Outlander in two mediums!

  23. Beth, you did it again LOL. I agree with OSS, I’m gob smacked that you always manage to capture the thoughts running around inside my head. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and simply can’t imagine life with out books. I’ve been on marvelous adventures without leaving home.
    I was 28 before I went to University and my experience was much the same as yours. In many way I’m glad I was a “mature” student I truly believe being older enhanced my experience. Life lessons are important and lead me to a greater understanding and appreciation of so much I thought I already knew.
    Diana has totally ruined me for other authors. I’ve not found another author or book that has captured my heart like the Outlander series. My family rolls their collective eyes when I mention anything Outlander – ask me if I care 😀

    Kate

  24. Jacqui Page

    Blessings on you Beth….you add another wonderful dimension to what has been, for me, the most life-changing journey created initially by Diana but then further enhanced by the talents of Sam and Cait and Ron Moore et al. I so look forward to the wisdom of your comment. Thank you for being you. And please don’t stop writing!

  25. Nita Stacey

    I look forward to finding your blog in my inbox. So often you give me new things to think about regarding the series. I loved this episode, particularly when Mr. Willoughby told his story. It was more meaningful hearing the words. Being a kid who was raised in ‘the country’, my greatest excitement each week was a trip to town and the library. I came home with my limit every time. One of the most memorable books from my childhood was The Box Car Children! Thank you for that sweet memory. And, thank you reminding me that I need to reread The Hiding Place!

    Hope you are feeling much better soon and I’ll be looking forward to your blog next week.

  26. I too am sick… a week an a half now… sinus. I am glad you still write. I do enjoy reading your blog. I did not read as a child for no one read! OK, Black Beauty! In the 80’s I was introduced to some novels.. but that didn’t go far. Then in 2015 Outlander came to me, and off I went… I’ve read about the Kings & Queens from the 9th century on up. It’s be will what about this era or that era…. And when Mr. Willoughby did what he did, OH MY! That was the show! Keep writing, cause I’ll be reading….
    Hope you get better soon.

  27. Nancy C.

    I was a little late to watch this episode. The first thing that hit me was the amazing music of Bear – his new adaptation of the Skye Boat song gave me goosebumps. Nice start. This was for me the best episode yet – they keep surprising me. I know Mr. Willoughby was portrayed in the books as a very unusual character – beloved in a way we love anyone, or should love anyone – with “defects” and a good heart. I find his TV personality lovely. I did listen to his life story – it was filled with his truth. When he tossed his life’s work over the side of the ship, I teared up. It was an emotional scene, and this character was able to make himself real. Still complex.

    Marsali was a gem. Where “Leerie” will always be despised, Marsali captures a sassy, genuine young lady who, I believe, we’re going to adore. That they cast an actor as the daughter of Leerie – who looks similar, acts similar is genius.

    I appreciated that Jamie and Claire were able to connect in loving ways. i especially loved Claire’s laughter when they were “quietly” getting it on. Oh yes, my husband and I have been there. TMI? Probably not.

    Finally, dear Beth, about reading. We get to travel, meet people, be people, live in other centuries, love many, hate others, become someone else … through reading. Books stack about in my house. Some never read. Some read many times. I will agree that the Boxcar Children shaped my childhood. My third grade teacher read it aloud to our class. I was totally enchanted. We had a creek right by our house, and that set the stage for my own Boxcar experience.

    I’ve mentioned it before. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher shaped the adult me. Penelope’s children are flawed. So is Penelope. But her life story is beautiful. I’ve read it at least 15 times. And will do so again.

    Dianna’s Outlander series is fairly new to me. Certainly not 20 years ago. I cannot explain how these books didn’t register on my radar. But thankfully, I am devouring them over and over. Dianna’s vision and her descriptions of characters and time is so exquisite. I am thankful for such good reads. And you, Beth, who captures the essence of each episode and makes the connection of TV and books so beautiful, thank you. Again and again.

  28. Randi Vreeland

    Love this post, your thoughts, your incite, your heart. I too have been captivated and influenced by Diana’s books. My sister got me started reading them back when she belonged to a writer’s group with Diana on AOL. She actually took a trip to Scotland with Diana and some of the other writers in the group. My sister died of cancer 5 years ago and I watch these episodes on TV knowing that she would have loved to have seen them. Knowing her she probably would have been resistant to the changes made by Ron Moore etc, and being such a fanatic about Diana’s writing and Claire and Jamie’s story she would have grumbled about changing Diana’s work at all. That being said she was a huge fan of Ron Moore’s Battle Star Gallactica and I know she would have seen the wisdom in the changes he’s elected to make to make Outlander work on screen. Let’s face it, that is the goal now. to make the book come alive in a different venue and to a new audience while remaining true to Diana’s vision. All I can say is thank you to Diana Gabaldon, Ron Moore and his talented staff, the incredible cast, Caitriona, Sam, and the rest of you talented people. Thank you for bringing this epic to life on the screen so I can watch it and believe that my sister is watching it over my shoulder with me.

  29. I cannot imagine not reading. I do not understand those who do not. How are we to learn about other lives, other countries and other thoughts? How can we judge our own selves? I read and consider what would I do in that situation? Why did that person make that choice? Do I think it was the right choice, and if not, why not?
    Outlander provides so many opportunities to partake in other lives and and times. We are given details of lives that while fiction, give us the opportunity to look at our own relationships. What a gift we are given; a mirror held up, allowing us, if brave, to perhaps change.
    Diana has given us two different, past times. It is easier to form new opinions from a distance.

  30. Leesa Rigby

    I love this Outlander world! Like you, these books & the show has kept me reading & rereading, watching & rewatching. It is so difficult to immerse myself in other books. I read them, then read some Outlander. When life gets sad or crazy, I find comfort in my familiar Outlander places.

    My first novel I read was The Secret Garden when I was in 2nd grade & it began a lifelong love of reading. In 4th grade, I discovered Nancy Drew & read every book our library had. As a young teenager I read The Hiding Place & will never forget the lesson of forgiveness it told. Some of my all time favorites are The Red Tent, Memoirs of a Geisha, Kane & Abel, Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights, Redeeming Love, Sea Biscuit, Unbroken & Tuesdays With Morrie. I am 60 & find that the older I get, the more beautiful the scriptures in the Bible become. Books bring me joy, sorrow, peace, wisdom, comfort, laughter, tears & pure fantasy.

    Beth, I love that your writing makes me contemplate not just Outlander’s latest episode, but makes me think about things like the richness reading has brought into my life. Today, you helped me recall, fondly, some of my old favorite books. You must be a wonderful teacher! I appreciate you & am so happy that you continue to write.

    Hope you feel better, soon!
    Leesa

  31. Marge

    I looove to read! I can not imagine my life without books in genres of all kinds. But, best of all, becoming acquainted with lovely, like-minded people like you folks! Corrie Ten Boom! Hurrah! How I have longed to be like her in Spirit but there’s only one Corrie. Thank you Beth, for another delightful, insightful blog.

  32. Barbara Spellman

    Beth, once again you have said what is in my heart, mind and soul, only you said it far more brilliantly and beautifully than I ever could. You truly have a gift for writing, and I am so happy you choose to use it so intelligently and positively. You, like Diana through Jamie, are a great observer and analyzer of life. Diana has him saying so many wise things about human nature, religion, morality, philosophy, culture, war and much more. I have all these places marked for rereading. Then she has good characters to emulate, as they live lives of faithfulness, respect, forgiveness, fairness, acceptance, kindness and love. Their situations may be different from ours, but the underlying emotions are the same. As you said, we can learn from them and I do. That’s why I like them so much. I have learned many things and changed my attitude toward many things because of good books. I like the way you explained the complementing of book and series. I love each episode and am so grateful to everyone involved in bringing the characters to life on screen. I too read the poem, and I felt like I was reading my life the year our son age 22 died in an accident. Good writing does have a life of its own and the reader can personalize it and learn from it. Thank you, Beth, for giving life to your thoughts.

  33. Andrea Kappes

    A small bookstore owner in NC started me reading Outlander way back in the early 90s. I worked with emotionally disturbed teens in a wilderness camp/school. We lived in tents without electricity and usually had long nights reading by lantern light. I think I probably read Outlander over 20 times til the DO A came out. I made co workers read it, sent copies to friends and thank God camp got internet and I found Compuserve!! I still read other stuff and have loved other authors series and standalone but nothing has touched me like Outlander either. When I heard on one of the boards they were making it a show I thought oh no, they will screw it up…happy they havent…some might disagree but oh well, to quote someone else the “show is a cousin to the book not a clone.” Enjoy your blog!!

  34. bwismer5

    Hi Beth – gosh, you write so incredibly well even when you are feeling ill! Amazing insights! I’ve also found that reading has enhanced my life, and my understanding of life, so very much. And YES – sharing everyone’s appreciation of Diana’s books – the VERY BEST of all reading experiences. The fact that the show has absolutely eclipsed all my 20 years of imaginings is astounding and wonderful. But back to your comments, Beth – I believe that reading also has broadened my understanding and appreciation of what it means to be human. Yes, movies and tv can do that, too, for sure. But to enter your own imagination and construct the world of which you read, that truly engages all your senses and leaves an indelible impression. That’s the life-changing experience, I believe. Thanks again, Beth – for all that you do.

  35. My mom taught me to read at a very early age, much sooner than going off to kindergarten, and she instilled in me a love of story and reading that has always been with me and I’ve always felt this to be her greatest gift to me. I also find comfort in Diana’s Outlander books, like no other I’ve ever known. When you wrote:

    “I know that what Diana created for me was a reading experience that I have yet to duplicate. I read other things, I just don’t enjoy them as much or learn as much from them. I’m still not sure exactly why her words and this particular story resonates with me, but it does. What this show has given me is another way to interact with her story.”

    I understood immediately what you meant, and, once again, became amazed to find you living inside my head. I look forward to your blog posts because you are so wonderful at finding the essence in…. that something, that ONE thing, that niggling thought bouncing around, that flash of an idea. It’s like my head and heart are filled with butterflies; your words help me catch them so I can finally examine them closely before letting them go free, only to recognized them as old friends as they pass through again.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey, too.

  36. Sheila

    One of your most interesting pieces for me. I related to so many things. I, too loved Kim Moore’s poem and have her books.
    I hope you never stop writing, Beth. Thank you and I hope you’re feeling better soon.x

  37. Nickie Gorsky

    Thank you so much, Beth. I am still amazed at the affect these books have had on so many of us readers! For many years I thought that I was all but alone in my “obsession”. The tv series gladly pointed out that I was not. How beautiful. Story has carried me through the ups and downs of life, reassuring me through the author’s words that once again, I was not alone. When my grandchildren and I have story telling time, we sometimes read a book but more often nowadays, we tell our own stories which they thoroughly enjoy and I find cathartic. How beautiful.

  38. I went to read your article about the Poem, I was fascinated by a peek at Sam’s “real self”. It occurred to me that as Readers we can all easily get different meanings from Characters, from Poems and even from works of Art. isn’t the Human Mind a total fascination ? I can see where there is double meaning to the Poem having worked with Abused Women in my Nursing career, but I can easily see a struggling Actor/Person it would also resonate in mind and heart. THIS is why I so love your Blog ! You think similar, but different from me, and it makes me see thru that “smoke”. What ever the Human Condition, there is a Book, A Movie a Play, that strikes to the heart of the matter if we will but listen quietly and digest it. For my formative years and then my Professional life I was very much influenced bu “Cherry Ames, Nurse” , as well as “Nancy Drew” Investigator Extraordinaire series. Those of the Over 40 yr Group have discovered this, the under 40 group are still too busy searching for “an App for that ” in Virtual life….such a shame !
    I adore Mr Willoby, even tho they chose a more Politically Correct version, he speaks his wisdom when he is moved to do so. I finally know what it is that gets my resistance going between Book and Show minutia. It certainly does not diminish any part of the entire TV production, those Folks are AH-mazing ! It is the Politically Correct twists,dumming down Characters emotional language, the softened speech of early Leg-ohare, the switch from spanking Ian to making him make Poop Burners, the current fashion appearance of Mr Willoby with o mention of his weird fetish, things like that , that Diana researched extensively to put in the Books for a purpose of detailing the customs and behavior of those times, Not our oh so as to not offend times now. I’m an Outlander Fan, thru and thru, Love the Books. Love the show, and LOVE You ! Thanks again for a whopper of thoughtful expression !

  39. Kathleen Heckman

    Love your blog! It is so true! Reading was my salvation to get me through my most difficult teenage years and on to college and independence! Whether for pleasure or academics, I can’t imagine my life without books!

  40. Geri m. Davis

    No self-help book could have given me the insight and strength to carry on, as did the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. During the years of rehabilitation and caring for my husband, following his massive stroke and the time spent seeing my son go through cancer treatments….Diana’s books allowed me to see, not the position we found ourselves in, but to reflect on what we had had…a great and powerful love which truly is the chord to life itself.
    Thank you for your insight and your dedication to the written word..much love, GERI

  41. Beth,
    I hope you don’t mind if I share something here that occurred to me as I was reading through all the responses to your post (please delete if you want to). While doing so, I found a reoccurring theme:

    “a reading experience that I have yet to duplicate.”
    “the Outlander series (as well as the LJG books) has changed my life and the way I see and do things.”
    “ Its unreal.”
    “ other books fall short of Outlander.”
    “it’s the Outlander novels that I find the most joy in re-reading.“
    “The books, the STARZ series including all involved, have changed my life for the better!”
    “I was transported by the glorious writing of Diana Gabaldon.”
    “I don’t know why Diana’s characters resonate so deeply for me, but they really do.”
    “have not found anything to compare to Diana’s books”
    “I, too, am baffled by my immersion into the Outlander world.”
    “so transcendent and complete”
    “Diana’s writing has touched me in a way like no other.”
    “Diana has totally ruined me for other authors.”
    “what has been, for me, the most life-changing journey created initially by Diana but then further enhanced by the talents of Sam and Cait”
    “ I still read other stuff and have loved other authors series and standalone but nothing has touched me like Outlander either.”
    “No self-help book could have given me the insight and strength to carry on, as did the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.”

    and I feel all of this, too. But why? I found a blog a year or so ago by Dori Koehler and it is the only explanation I’ve ever found that made sense to me. I reread Dori’s post often, just to make sure I didn’t imagine it. It spoke clearly and deeply to me and I found it very moving.

    https://mythicbliss.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/on-the-archetypal-significance-of-tv-epics-and-ridiculously-embarrassing-celebrity-crushes/

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