“Stories enable us to live”

Everything is a story. When you tell someone about your day, you are telling a story. When you talk about anything, you are telling a story. So much of who we are is based on the story we tell of ourselves or what stories we tell ourselves.

When I read books I read for different reasons. I read to escape, to learn, and to feel. When I am looking to feel something it is because I am struggling. A lot of the time I am looking for something I am missing. When I was thirteen a friend of mine introduced me to Harlequin romances. This was a long time ago. Back in the days when the steamy scene was the big kiss at the end of the book. But what I found was something unexpected. I grew up in a house where there was a lot of abuse and a lot of arguing. I didn’t really know what romance looked like. I knew what dysfunctional love was. I knew what it looked like to be manipulated and ignored, but romance was not something I knew about. I spent the next three years reading romance books of many different genres before I discovered Sci-Fi/ Fantasy.

The Sci-fi genre lasted a long time. I enjoyed the realm of fantasy. I could daydream my own worlds into existence. Strangely enough, I never read The Lord of the Rings until I was in my late twenties. I found answers to questions I didn’t know I was asking when I read. I have found that with a lot of books.

When I discovered mystery books I had moved to Massachusetts. I read an article in the newspaper about a mystery book shop in Cambridge. When I found the store I felt a sense of accomplishment. It took a map and a subway ride to find but I was successful. The woman behind the desk asked if I was looking for anything in particular. I told her the story of reading the article and that I had never really read mystery books before. She sat me down in a comfortable chair and brought me a selection of books telling me to read the first chapter and see if it was something I found interesting. I have never looked back. I have far more mysteries than any other genre of books.

With each pregnancy I found myself craving a different genre. My first was science fiction. The second pregnancy craved mystery and my first daughter reignited my love romance. The other pregnancies inspired biography, general non-fiction, and more mystery. I passed through labor with one of my sons while reading a biography of Einstein. Books have literally saved my life.

I was listening to an older podcast of On Being the other day and heard Rachel Naomi Remen say that; “Stories remind us that we are not alone with whatever faces us.” That statement connected with my heart. She also said, “stories enable us to live. Sometimes we need a story, more than food to live.” The day was one of the special days when everything seems to line up. My husband called to share a quote he read in The Donkey of Schaerbeek, a biography of Ade Bethune. In it, Ade says, “…the story is what leads us back to touch the memory.”

As you can tell books are very important to me. I love the stories and the journey that I go on when I read. I love it when I find a book that I want to share with others or to just talk about. I read on average between 125 and 175 books a year. I only know this because I started to keep track a few years ago after talking with a friend and finding out she had kept a list of all the books she has read for the last forty years or so. She said that by looking back over the year she can tell how she was doing in her life by what she was reading. When I look back at my list I can see how I was doing also.

The reason for this particular blog is to say that books can give us the connection we might be missing. They can help us to see answers to problems we have been struggling with as well as insight into other perspectives. When I finally learned to read at nine I never looked back.

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