Monday, September 28, 2015

Readers Are Like Pickled Onions by Paula Vince

A 'Blast from the Past' Post


That's us, everyone. Pickled onions. Writers and blog-visitors alike are also readers. I'm sure many of us have been avid readers since our childhood. The longer we've been reading, the more pickled we are. Let me explain the analogy in more detail.

You peel your raw onions and soak them in a delicious, briny solution that you've made up with yummy ingredients such as vinegar and brown sugar. Eventually, a chemical reaction takes place. The onions you take out are nothing like the hard onions you put in. They are soft enough to bite chunks straight out of in a way you'd never manage with the original raw onions. Some people think they are a delicious treat. Whether you like them or not, one thing is clear. They can never go back to being the same hard, raw onion they started as. They've been changed to the core.

Books are like the delicious brine and readers are like the onions. We get to soak in stories, biographies, reflections, inspired thoughts and knowledge. These are the ingredients that make up the brine. We come out better and different. We're spicier people with softer hearts. We can have more interesting conversations. We're more creative than we would have been, more clued-up about the world, more empathetic, less inclined to be self-focused.

From the time we were young, the brine has been working its special chemical reaction on us. We get to wonder, 'Would I have succumbed to the White Witch's turkish delight if I had been Edmund?' We see Milly Molly Mandy living with all her relatives in that thatched roof cottage, loving their simple lifestyles even though they had hardly any money. Like Beauty, we grow to understand the Beast's many great qualities, fall for him too, and realise that judgment based on first impressions is limited. We follow the whole process of the work on Marilla Cuthbert's heart until she decides to keep Anne at Green Gables. And how could Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy end up together after the bad start they had?


We're pickled onions, and we wouldn't have it any other way. We have softer hearts. We've been given insight into human nature which makes us more understanding than we might otherwise have been. We're simply nicer people, based on our reading history. And those of us who are also writers have the fun of making up our own special brine recipes to help pickle more onions.


Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, please visit her blog, It Just Occurred to Me. You may also like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review where she also interviews other authors.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Paula - a great analogy and so true that books help us to see the world from other people's perspectives, softening our hearts.

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    1. Hi Jenny,
      I'm glad you like the analogy. We can never un-pickle ourselves, and that's the way we like it.

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  2. Hi Paula - It was great to have another look at this post and to think how much I've pickled over the last couple of years. There are certainly some books that have had a huge impact on me and have stayed with me long after I turned the last page (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Footsteps of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women) and others that have really challenged my thinking (e.g. The Reader, Caleb's Crossing, March). I love the 'what if' element you've raised. We always like to think we would have acted like the hero/heroine and differently to the villain, but would we? Interesting food for thought. Luckily we'll never run out of books to get in a pickle with :) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Nola,
      Like you, I've probably done a little extra pickling myself in those intervening years. I hope so. That's another good thing, we can never consider our pickling process finished.

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  3. Great post, Paula! I love pickled onions, but never saw myself as one before. Great analogy and, as always lovely thoughts.

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    1. Hi Elaine,
      Same with me. I'd been hoping the title would get people wondering why.

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  4. Great post Paula and I enjoyed re-reading it. Loved the analogy too. And you know what! Reading is delicious - as delicious as picked onions. And writing can be delicious too (although not always). Thanks Paula. The title was certainly intriguing!

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  5. Hi Anusha,
    A good book with a lovely salad sandwich which includes a sliced pickled onion sounds like a good combination, don't you think?

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  6. What a great analogy. Thank you. We are pickled onions. Haha. This tickled me. I love pickled onions. So I understand this. All f us who are writers GET this. But maybe non-writers would scratch their non-onion heads. *wink*

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  7. Ha, it's seems we all have a vinegarish streak in us Paula! A very interesting analogy. It a kind of maturing that helps not only with our reading, but with our writing, doesn't it?

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  8. Beautiful analogy Paula. I agree with Anusha; words, stories and books are all delicious. they are nutrients to the soul.

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