On reading

I’ve read enough books by now. Enough to understand that authors are people too. We’re just a little weirder, not necessarily more complex, but definitely more inquisitive. We question things more. We ask (at least) one more vital question. Why? That is where the root of all evil lies. By evil I mean all those aspects we do not really wish to contemplate on and all the ideas that appear too daunting or dangerous to even entertain.

I’ve read enough books by authors I love (and by those I’ve ended up hating or completely disagreeing with) to know that the forces that should drive us are being stifled by the ones we consider safe and convenient. There’s nothing more treacherous than convenience.

Why do we read books? I’ve heard and read a million different answers, but really, there is only one: to know that we’re not alone.

The first time you actually feel it, it’s terrifying. I will never forget it.

I was in the eye of the hurricane that was my tumultuous life at the time. I was alone in the house, it was dark, I was sitting at my desk chair, reading “A Spy in the House of Love” by Anaïs Nin, a book I had been meaning to buy for a year but which I had only then decided to acquire. I am two thirds of the book in and suddenly I begin reading a monologue by the protagonist; it was a reflection, an afterthought of hers.

Halfway through I realize I can’t catch my breath. I close the book, I look around me. I expect someone to come out and say, “Ha! We read your thoughts, articulated them coherently, wrote them down, printed them out and sent them to you in the form of a book.” I open the book again and check to see when it was written: in the 50s. I close it again. My eyes open wide, I cannot even cry. I am simply awed. I am moved. I am shaken to the core at the thought that my soul has been uncovered and laid out in the pages before me. That another woman, all those decades ago, felt exactly as I did. That I would have given everything to meet with her, look her in the eye and say, “you saw inside of me. I feel bare in front of you for you have seen me, and I love you.”

I felt naked and exposed and destroyed and elated.

I felt more human than ever.

I’ve read enough books to know

that I will never stop reading.


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