Before last week, I had not finished a book from cover to last sentence in well over six months. I have this odd faithfulness to my semesters … reading anything other than my material felt like I was cheating. I was eyeballs deep in other literature on the brain, the central nervous system and all-things regarding substance abuse. I can’t say it was boring (The wonders of stress on the body! The wonders of substance abuse and dependence!), but I most certainly did not understand how much I missed the world of fiction.
Once the semester was over, I scanned my bookshelf in search of anything that would have that cabin-in-the-woods-getaway feeling for my mind. I picked up Fitzgerald’s collection of short stories, which I had already gone through. I figured humor was sprinkled throughout, and maybe I could avoid the darker stories since I knew what they were. I mean, the man could not avoid writing about his wife’s mental illness or his infidelity with women and drink in every. single. story.
It was this same day that my dear friend, Andrea, recommended Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins. I was on Amazon in a matter of minutes ordering the cheapest, dirtiest (the previous owner must have eaten his/her lunch and dinner while reading) version there was. I finished Beautiful Ruins in a matter of 38 hours after its arrival. I can only explain that as my desperate need to read fiction. Descriptive, sweet, quirky, Am I literally in Italy with Pasquale? fiction.
I think the best thing about washing a good book over my life is how mentally and emotionally refreshed I feel. Great fiction tends to always feel like the cobwebs to my creative side were Swiffer-ed, and there’s a great sense of feeling a tinge brighter in my thinking. I love the way my mind begins to shape physical attributes of the characters, and finding those very distinct voices to each of them. As the character ages, their appearance and voice does, too. As they feel and explain their heartache, I unearth old memories to relate and ache, too.
And perhaps there is a sense of escapism attached to literature. Why focus on my own problems when I’ve got the problems of my character, who is sure to find their solution or dissolution in a matter of 52 pages or so? Whatever it may be, I am making a promise to myself that I “shall not let myself be starved of fiction while in school,” er, something to that dramatic effect.
Currently, another dear, adorable, reader-friend (Margi!) lent me Where’d You Go, Bernadette and I am doing that read-it-all-without-pause-or-eating-or-sleeping thing again. Healthy? Probably not. Either way, I have two classes this semester and more books to consume!
What about you? Why do you love reading so much? I mean, you’re reading my blog, so it’s an assumption….