Hi Virtually Readers! A few days ago, I finished reading Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (I will post a review eventually, so you have that to look forward to). I immediately started reading it again, because it was just that good (to be clear, I was reading like three other books as well, because that’s how I roll. This meant that I could make a personal record and finish four books in one day). Anyway, I think part of the reason I liked Foolish Hearts so much is that I read it when I needed it. Many of the books I like most I appreciate because I read them when I needed them.
Let’s look at some examples. I read Radio Silence while in the middle of applying to university and worrying about prestige and grades and all that, and coming to understand that there weren’t many people at my school who I liked or felt close to. The friendship of Aled and Frances, and the way Frances learned to be kind to herself, was a lovely reminder. Then there’s Untidy Towns, which I adored in November. At that time, I was feeling uncertain and anxious about various things coming up in my life (such as moving to New Zealand, which I’ve done already, and starting university, which I have not). The main character, Addie, grapples with uncertainty in her own life as she contemplates the future. Both of these books are good on their own, and maybe particularly good because they have stories that will resonate with lots of people; but they were especially powerful because it felt like the character’s story echoed mine, just a little.
And then we come to Foolish Hearts. Foolish Hearts is a story about needing the people around you—but not taking them for granted, about putting yourself out of your comfort zone to get to know others. I needed it, because my life has just changed somewhat, what with moving from India. Foolish Hearts reminded me that making new friends and finding new routines will be hard, and I need to be actively involved in doing it. (It also reminded me that I need a Gideon Prewitt in my life, but that is of less importance.)
When I feel like I need a book, I love it especially. And while I am able to enjoy TV shows and movies and YouTube, I rarely feel that exquisite sensation that they were created especially for me. There’s something about the written world that proves to me, over and over, that I am not alone. (and that, wonderful people, is why I’m a book blogger *exit stage left*)
To be clear, there is a human tendency towards empathy. When I need to hear something, I probably subconsciously search it out in the books I read, and then try to find it in the stories I choose. (I mean, I’m extrapolating here. I only did one year of very basic psychology, thank you very much, but I like to think that I’m quite a self aware person.) Until someone writes a book about my life (it would be a lot of random panicky thoughts and reading and not much else lol) there will be no book that perfectly describes me. But that makes the fact that there are stories so potent that they shimmer and enfold me in the wonder of being understood is nothing short of a miracle.
In some ways, whenever I read a book, I’m looking for something in it to call to me, to be needed. I read books for a lot of reasons: entertainment, curiousity, information, and (least importantly, but still) because they help me look and be more intelligent. All books which are even the slightest bit ‘needed’ are marked as ‘made me think’ on goodreads. All books that help me to understand the world and my place in it make me think (gosh, ‘my place in it’. This really is a post of cliché’s. But that’s okay. I’m trying to get better at not using parentheses as a way to criticize my writing as I write, but alas…). To make me think, is to be needed, though there are various degrees of this. Sometimes made me think just means ‘the character had truly excellent hair, and I need to be more creative with my hairstyles’.
And so I find books, and often I need them; a big piece of them, or a small one. I continue to look for books that will call to me. These days, not all of those books are YA, or even fiction. I make my peace with that. I keep reading. For it is not just me who needs books; the books need me, to make sense of them, to give them meaning and potency.
Dang, this post turned out more philosophical than I expected. What is a book you have needed to help you in your life? I’d love to hear about that experience in the comments!