Every morning I read. Every evening I read. Every night I read.
Now I am not the only one. Some read to pass the time on a train, some to gain an understanding of a life they do not know, some simply read to take themselves far away from the life they currently have. Some read for words, some read for passages and others read for chapters. Some thrive off of the turn of the first page, while others rejoice in the final pages punctuation. Regardless of the reasons why anyone reads, the simple point is that reading changes lives.
I have always been an avid reader, which is what led me to my undergraduate degree – English. I have also always been an avid writer. Whether it be mere prose or poetry written to clear my thoughts at 4 o’clock in the morning, writing is a therapeutic art form that allows you to spill your heart onto a page – and I do. What I have found is that the intertwining of the two has propelled me to understand why I read in a different way.
I read to feel something. Anything really. Different books provoke different emotions which truly is the joy of reading. It all depends on your state of mind, what you are seeking to receive from the text on the page. I spent four years reading for content, plot, character development, themes, hidden subtext and more. While I do sometimes find myself wondering when the protagonist is going to get a sense of self in my latest bildungsroman, I read more with a keen eye for worth.
Recently I have been racing through a lot of novels on spirituality and the meaning of life. All have different philosophies such as; “Eat, Love, Pray” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Tuesday’s with Morrie” by Mitch Albom and currently “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman. Now there have been some chick lit novels thrown in for giggles, but besides that, reading books that make you think is what I am intrigued by.
These are the real page turners, the ones that keep you reading for fear that you still have lessons to learn. I read for the ability to put down a book and question my place in life, where I am at and where I would like to go. A book that makes me open my eyes to the world around me, the world I do not know, and the world that I would like to roam. These are not easy books to find, mostly I feed off of recommendations from those who want a challenge out of their own lives just as I do (all 3 titles mentioned above were recommended by great friends). While I am no expert in this genre, one note I can make is that each will transform your life in a different way than it has mine.
I believe whole-heartedly that I will acquire a different sense of self than you, you who is reading my blog, will… even if we both read the same novel. For example, “Tuesday’s with Morrie” is about a professor with ALS who instead of fearing his own death, is turning his death into his last class to teach. He taught the meaning of life, which was broken into different parts, just as life is. He did not claim to be an expert on the topic, yet that he was. While many would take away the importance of accepting death so that they may live life, I was side-tracked. The only thing I could collect was that when you are older, and possibly living through an illness that will inevitably kill you, connections with people matter. Deep connections, connections that shake your core and cause you to think. We are all very quick to make connections based on looks or shared interests, and keep those connections based on comfort and convenience. At 80-years-old I hope to have connections with those who I can have a conversation with in an empty room, possibly one that I am no longer physically able to move from, and still feel as though my life has meaning and is worthwhile. Whether these connections are with friends, family members or most importantly my life partner, that is what I felt Mitch Albom’s book was saying to me. No more glossed over relationships, look for what is deep in order to persevere through the challenges of daily life.
I would bet my next pay cheque (it’s an interns salary keep in mind) that anyone else who has read this book would have resonated with something dissimilar. Or, if you hadn’t, than possibly that piece of the puzzle was exactly what you were looking for through those scattered words on the page. Regardless, it’s exciting to travel through those words in order to discover the meaning for you.
I will still continue reading terrible books that receive bad ratings because they are fluff novels with no substance. However, I will keep my mind open always to those books that choose to create an impact on my own existence. Bottom line – I will continue to read because what a waste of a brain without it.