Books as Life

Thought for today’s post I would go into some of my back story of why I love books so much. I wrote this last year when I was home for an extended period of time. It brought a lot of introspection my way, hence the “Books as Life” piece.

Enjoy!

Books as Life

My old childhood friends have come to seek me again in adulthood.

Imagination.
Escapism into a good book.
The words of another created to envelope you and bring out their own take of your life situation.

The book, whether fiction, classical, non-fiction, poetry, or favorite childhood picture book, will grab on to a certain piece of you and tattoo what they have seen of you and you of them. Like a tattoo, the experience grows with you, and leaves an ever changing stretch mark on your internal skin. You should never leave a book unscathed; to do so means either you or the author has not given the experience the full sensory overload it demands.

The book not only knows if you have a Mr. Darcy, it knows if you want one, need one, or have been misguided away from one. It is felt through the way you race through certain scenes, the way you sigh, or perhaps the way you roll your eyes. It is up to you, the reader, to make your own story with this information; your book has with no pre-conceived notion of you. Are you a loveless Lolita, taken advantage of before setting your own, if not ideal, path for yourself? Or are you a Daisy (and there are two Daisys from which to choose). Both Daisys expects you to choose a love that would ultimately lead to someone else’s downfall (nay, death). Do you choose your own or that of the man you love? For you know in these tales, there is no happily ever after.

As a reader, do you understand what is expected of you? Books are not just paper, they are not to be read and discarded or dismissed. If you have not let at least one character into your life of friends, you have not read at all. Reading is not the act of viewing words and making sounds out of them, but rather escaping into another world and leaving with cherished friends and sometimes even hated foes. If you do only the former, you have seen words and you have moved on. Does Rebecca not haunt your thoughts; do you not often wonder “what if” in regards to Gatsby’s death? And do you ever think of the multiple victims of Humbert’s – not just Lolita but also her mother Charlotte and Claire Quilty, so easily dismissed though brutally murdered. A true reader sees all of these as characters, and not just names or words on a piece of paper.

Who are your characters? Have you felt the pain of Tennessee Williams’ Laura and her awkward quest for a “gentlemen suitor” or have you looked at the bottom of a glass of an empty drink across the sea with Jacob Barnes? If you are you, then can you also be a different version of you created decades, maybe centuries before. It is not to see you as a direct representation of Jay Gatsby or Daisy Miller or Jacob Barnes, but to understand that these characters are more than just a figment of someone’s imagination. They are your own imagination, and they are manifestations of all of us who study them, learn them, and understand them.

These are the ways books touch our lives, not only as a refuge, but also as mirror.

Amy

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Austin Girl
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 23:59:08

    You’ve written a remarkable, sharp piece. Yes, a well-written book should leave the reader visualizing the characters… feeling their pain of regrets and rejoicing when they discover love. Good job!

    Reply

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