It used to take me two trips inside from the car, after a trip to the library, to haul in all my new books. I’d stack them neatly in the corner of my room, then sprawl out on the carpet and begin to read. Read for hours, for days, into the late hours of the night after “lights-out” time.
Ah, the sweet luxury of days on end in sweet summers as a child. I would tear through short stories and novels alike, tantalizing my mind and awakening my imagination. I still yearn for those days. Now, the power of literature pulls me back unannounced. I can be skimming a book for class, and a line will set my heart on fire. I can be perusing through quotes of a late poet, and beauty will catch my breath. Words, and the power implicit in them, is the one alchemy I have spent my life grappling with, always coming up with no solution, only a mere appreciation and an insatiable thirst for more.
I believe reading a book that enraptures us is like looking in a mirror.
Maybe our favorite parts of ourselves are the parts that have stunned us in such a way that we have no words to express. Maybe the lines that most resonate are words that have been willing their presence in our minds and our spirits. I believe the right stories, characters, and messages come into our lives at the right time.
The famous story behind why I started Lit Without Limits is simple:
In my high school years, I had become otherwise preoccupied and lost my focus on reading. I was assigned to read Jane Eyre for sophomore year English, and, after finally allowing myself to fall into the pages, it sparked my love affair with reading once again.
I found something in Jane that I needed in constructing my self-concept. I found something in the story that I needed in understanding my worth. It changed how I viewed myself, how I viewed others. It instilled self-respect and self-value.
I may not know the right books to bring into girls’ lives at the right times, but I know the ones I have chosen will resonate in different ways. We all want to be inspired and empowered. For this to occur, we have to read something that cuts deep. Books open our eyes to so much more than a new world we’ve never envisioned – they open our eyes to who we are. And, if girls continue to read about other girls who do remarkable things or overcome limitations, they are likely to see the same capability in themselves.
So here’s to the books that go beyond the words – that prompt contemplation, evaluation, action. Here’s to books that bond people, because the human experience is so diverse and plays out in so many unique ways, yet can be broken down to the basics in literature. We have all grieved, all experienced bliss, all fought adversity. Books share in this, books tell us we can.
So, let’s start reading.
– image credit: Annie Spratt