For years, reading was just escape. The feel of untraveled pages, words pressed intimately into my naked palm, was as exciting as holding a plane ticket. I could hear characters whispering, smell their lingering voices for days. A treasured rendezvous with V.C. Andrews and I shared stolen moments in the dark, hiding under sheets and pen lights, or in quick stints on the bus before and after school so as not to risk my mother breaking us apart. (Although, years later, I found out she knew all along.) However, John Steinbeck‘s East of Eden has found its way into my hands multiple times. A close second would be F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby. I fell in love with the novel in high school, and then again when I stepped foot into the majestic mansions of Newport, Rhode Island a few years ago. Getting a degree in English and being required to attend entire semesters on concentrated works like Shakespeare, Washington Irving or Chaucer was a gift.happened often, sometimes repeating itself over and over during hot summer months. There was a short time that
Marriage, parenthood, divorce, self-exploration and new beginnings changed my reading habits. My shelves are stocked with self-help books, diet guides, health plans, parenting advice and reference books. Sometimes, I forget what it is like to read for escape, to dream in words and hear the whisper of someone’s imagination. Life has continued to shape and mold the contents of my book shelves.
I read for escape and curiosity.
I read for self-improvement.
I read to create an opinion of myself and to declare my own measure of success.
A little over three years ago I started blogging. I was struggling with making sense of my hormones, entering a much lonelier season of parenting, and facing some big lifestyle decisions and milestones. I got tired of talking to myself, tired of second guessing every decision, and thought putting my thoughts in front of me would make them clearer and more productive. It was like keeping a diary, only better, because occasionally someone would talk back. Someone would relate. And then I started reading other blogs and realized I didn’t need escape. I also realized I didn’t need “self-improvement”. What I needed all along was community and validation. I needed encouragement and the opportunity to encourage others. I needed personal acceptance more than I needed personal transformation. Blogging is as much about writing as it is about having conversations.
Used books are still delivered to my house almost on a weekly basis, especially now that I home school, but the majority of my recreational reading are blogs. I read everything, but finding the voices and stories of other women give me a sense of belonging. I’ve discovered all of my crazy and quirky ways are not unique to me, but completely normal. (Apparently dysfunction and insanity are the new normal, I was just unaware until recently.) I am not alone in my sadness or elation, my fears or my triumphs. I am not weird for being insecure today but confident tomorrow. And it’s okay to be occasionally funny yet chronically reflective. Now I read to feel connected. I read for inspiration and I read to find unity. I read to be encouraged and to be reminded of my blessings.
I write to hopefully give even a small piece of that back to someone else.
*This post is part of May’s Books Make a Difference sponsored bloghop. Books Make a Difference is a bimonthly, online magazine focusing on readers and writers.