Reading in Bed by Steven Gilbar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So much of our lives are lived for others. We learn what they want us to learn, and do what they want us to do. All the reading I did as a child, behind closed doors, sitting on the bed while the darkness fell around me, was an act of reclamation. This and only this I did for myself. This was the way to make my life my own.
I looked to books for reassurance. But sometimes all I found was not so much reassurance as nearly extinction.
Books are symbols of the life of the human spirit. That’s why libraries and bookstores are so important, even if no one ever used them. They are places of communion, repositories of humanity.
To be transported but also transformed by a piece of writing is a magic that can’t be easily dismissed or comprehended.
Voltaire said that writing is, “...painting with the voice.” And Lauren DeStefano, author of Burning Kingdoms, said, "Give someone a book, they'll read for a day. Teach someone how to write a book, they'll experience a lifetime of paralyzing self doubt." I feel it’s the same with a terrible book or rather a book not meant to be read by us at that particular time. The mystery and the wonder of it is that, somehow or other, the books one needs are the books one finds.
I always feel a little depressed after reading, or attempting to read, a ‘bad’ book as if it’s my fault somehow that I didn’t enjoy it, and maybe it is, but the guilt isn’t so strong that I push through it to the end. I’m a book adulterer in that sense. A good rule of thumb that I’ve found that works for me is read what you want, life is short.
Reading is one of the best ways I know of to learn how to examine your life and reading the first words of a novel is like glimpsing the first crack of light along the edge of an opening door.
But the act of wrestling with a book can be a daunting task and at times that’s very much what it feels like. To fight with meaning and interpretation. Although if the book is well written we don’t readily notice the struggle, sometimes not at all, the story over powering the mechanics of the writing itself, but the joys are bountiful to be sure and those of us who treasure the written word may be an endangered species in a world of aliteracy but, we endure.
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