In the deepest, grittiest parts of my personality, I am a reader. I have always been more a consumer than a producer. This is directly my relationship with words. I read a book about every other day, although reading longer and better books is averaging me out to two a week, which is more comfortable for my compulsion. I read while I’m brushing my teeth, before I go to bed, while I cook dinner. It’s my phantom limb. I am perhaps at my most comfortable with a book in hand (I’m lying, I am definitely at my most comfortable with a book in my hand).
I unconsciously collect things as representation of memories. My basement’s home bar has no fewer than six bottles of liquor with two sips left, literal messages in a bottle to myself— remember how much you liked this and who you were with and what you were doing? I save notebooks written in three times but not again, mostly because I keep losing them and finding them. Now I keep them on a shelf, but how depressing is a full shelf of half-realized ideas?
Books are yet another way to remind myself of things, of myself as I was, am, could be. I buy books in spurts. Many arrive in the mail after I have lost the motivation and intention of reading them, but I shelve them sideways as reminder that they haven’t been read. I want them to leap out at me from a quick, casual scan of my shelves; I want to remember the girl I was when I decided I wanted to read them.
This can also be called curating, like when I only post the good selfies to Instagram, or when I go through Etsy shops to find juuust the right print to hang on my wall. You know, the one that speaks to who I am, what I like, what kind of person I am. I curate words, too, or cull them. Words can instinctively make me happy, and authors earn warm places in my heart for stringing together good sentences full of rich words, like hot soup on a cold day. I love the word “vivacious,” love words that tinkle like bells in my head when I read them out loud. Notably, a book loses half a star if I see the word “abyss.” I read to curate, to always have more information, to have more to say to people I’ve just met, to have more in common with people I like and admire.
Reading is the intellectual stimulus that sparks me into action. My brain needs to be fed, constantly. I have visited so many worlds, met so many characters, that I immediately find myself diagnosing new books. Is this world going to be like Wildwood? Will the main character be like Marya Morevna? Does the person shrouded in secrecy have a backstory like Martin Chatwin? I like to be right, but when I read, I like even more to be surprised. The best of both worlds is when something turns out the way I guessed using a clever twist I wasn’t expecting. That’s when I really win.
I read to curate, pulling pieces of stories I like into my own head, leaving sips and stubs of the worlds I will never visit, the foods I will never taste, the characters I will never meet, scattered around my mind. I store them, catalogued by mood, intensity, color, just waiting to be called upon, to challenge me.
Lit & Love,
Want more? Check out Why Amy Loves Books!