Crisp and crinkled pages, scribbled notes in margins, underlined words to remember the sentences that destroyed you in the loveliest ways, coffee stains on the pages that became a part of you, tattered covers of the books you took everywhere, even to that one party in college-- just in case.
Books are not words on pages, or simply stories written down, but reminders long forgotten, wisdom found, discoveries made, places traveled, hurts healed, truths told and reassurance you aren't the only crazy one-- you aren't alone. And I think everyone, no matter what they've been through, where they come from, or what they hold as true, wants to know they aren't alone-- wants to be understood.
Healing is found through books, usually paired with salty tears, snorting laughter, or a thrown book across a room-- perhaps all three. It's something else, to feel understood by someone you've never met. The connective power of books is a strange and beautiful thing. And so, for all of these reasons and more, I will keep on reading.
I've recently read three books that are all very different from one another, and my current read too differs entirely to the other three. I am learning more and more the immense value in reading a diverse range of genres and styles. I am an old soul with trust issues, so I prefer to stay in my reliable comfort zone: classic novels. I believe everyone should read the classics, but there are other books worthy of equal love -- I'm preaching to myself, because I'm still working on this. But I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and pick a book you usually wouldn't.
For me that book was Eat, Pray, Love. I am fairly resistant to jumping on reading bandwagons, and by "fairly" I mean very. Especially when the bandwagon contains a book made popular through a movie. So leave it to me to pick up a novel five years after all the hype and still feel I am getting out of my comfort zone-- I'm working on it, okay? I will admit I couldn't leave out classics entirely, but four out of nine books is a good mile or two out of my comfort zone.
Diversifying your genres helps you see things from multiple perspectives, and reading different writing styles will not only help writers, but all artists improve their craft. Read intentionally: observe how the artist forms sentences, develops characters and events, and provokes your emotions -- great lessons of discipline, courage, patience and creative freedom will be gleaned.
And to show I am a paradox, I have never read Pride and Prejudice-- oddly enough I was quite resistant to it as well, because this classic is coated, and forever will be, in girly hype. But I've always been a romantic in denial and I know this book is much more than a romance. I'm also overly excited about the cover design of the copy I found at Goodwill.
And so as July comes to a close here is a reading list for the fresh month of August:
Bold titles I read this month // I'm currently reading The Man Who Was Thursday.
- Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
- A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Recommended by a dear friend.
- The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton
I started reading Chesterton my last semester of college and fell in love with his paradoxical writing style. His writing is one that takes time to process-- my margins are full of notes. This short novel is a good introduction to his writing style/philosophy/theology.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
Recommended by another dear friend. I found a lovely copy at a quaint coastal bookshop in Monterey, California, which also contains a diverse range of Wilde's other works. $5 well spent.
- Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
This 20-something's poetry is the epitome of what I mentioned earlier-- being destroyed in the loveliest ways. This is her first published book-- I encourage everyone to support new authors.
- A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest and I go way back, as in I've loved him for three years now. I believe everyone should read this book, but especially you fellow writers.
- Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
- Relentless by Rachel Treu
Another brave 20-something's first book. She also has a blog full of beautiful, sassy and authentic words.
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
So, what's your go-to genre? What genre do you want to venture into?