Sunday, October 4, 2015
Letter to October #3
Today I feel completely, irrevocably under the spell of a book. Even as I take a break to write this, I can feel its presence next to me, willing me to pick it up and disappear into the story again. The book is Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge, and in the 200 pages that I've read so far, I can safely say that it has reminded me why I love reading. More specifically, it brought me back to the reading experiences that seemed so much more common when I was a child, where a story sucks you in so completely that during the time that you are reading it your life takes on strange new characteristics. You notice new things. You find yourself thinking about the characters as if they were friends with which you have frequent, urgent correspondence. They tell you tales of their adventures while you worry and fret over them, waiting for the next moment when you can sit down and hear about the newest development in their lives.
Today I spent the afternoon with street urchins and con men, in snow white carriages dappled with pearls, on barges and floating coffee houses. The world of Fly by Night is one of numerous deities, guilds, societies, and a lore all of its own. It's complicated and occasionally confusing, but I was so entranced that this hardly bothered me. As the warmth of the blankets lulled me into sleep, the world of the book shifted, ghostlike, into my dreams. I woke up from my nap slightly disoriented, unsure when exactly I'd stopped reading.
Before this book, I'd been in a bit of a reading slump. I moved mindlessly from book to book, finding pockets of enjoyment here and there, but failing to find a story I could truly immerse myself in. I had gotten so caught up in the language and pace of adult books that I was taken completely by surprise by the smooth magic of children's literature. How easy it was to get completely wrapped up in the world! How easy to fall in love with the characters! Why isn't every reading experience like this one? Why do I put up with anything less? Of course, I am also of the belief that reading experiences should be varied, and that you should expand your horizons and read out of your comfort zone. I believe that all books can teach you something: at worst, about your likes and dislikes, your capacity for boredom, and at best, about your passions and your vulnerabilities; a good book exposes the cracks in your world view.
People are always talking about the transformative power of books, but you don't truly understand this until you experience it, again and again. Stories can warp time. They can re-wire thought processes. They can consume and they can dispel. I had forgotten. I was happy, October, to be reminded.
Song of the Day: Harry's Wondrous World by John Williams