Ever since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed reading. It was my way of escaping the lonely isolation of my youth. Sure there were perks to being an only child, but the indescribable loneliness can sometimes be consuming. At times I felt as though the emptiness of my environment was merely a reflection of the hollowness inside. At first I read to distract myself from my situation and to appease my mother from worrying about me. As long as I looked like I was enjoying what I was doing, it seemed like everything was A-okay, that I didn’t mind her absence in my life. I couldn’t blame her, she did the best she could to provide a good future for me, and for that I am forever grateful. So fake it until you make it, it went. Fortunately enough, I actually fell in love with reading. Literature provided a comforting sense of security. I read stories I could relate to, I somehow felt like I wasn’t a lone blip in the universe. Reading felt like I was connecting to other souls that empathized with my struggles. There were others just as confused and lost as I was; I wasn’t alone anymore. It’s what inspired me to start writing. Perhaps I too could connect with someone by sharing my experiences, and someway somehow make life a little more bearable similar to how other writers inspired me to keep going. I don’t know what contribution I’ll make someday to humanity, but if my words can somehow be the soothing words of reassurance to temporarily appease others that were like the past me, then I can die a happy woman.
To be honest, I didn’t come to realize this until recently. I thought I was perfectly fine being alone, that I could survive living a life of isolation if need be. However even if I lived as a recluse, my heart would always come back to reading and writing, and literature is all about connection. It’s not a direct connection like doctors have with their patients, but its a connection nonetheless. Most of the time, you don’t really know your audience, or who ever happens to grace their eyes on your words. Themes of hope, friendship, love and the like tie people together despite the diverse backgrounds they come from. There’s a difference of opinions when it comes to how a subject should be handled, such as love and loss. And to quote Flaubert,“You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful.” I’m taking it to heart and writing not to impress anyone or gain attention, but merely in hopes that someone out there also feels the same. I don’t claim to be a good writer by any stretch (god knows there’s a lot I can improve on), but I can only write in my words and my voice, no one else’s. Despite how unique and original we think we are, we’re all just really after the same things in life: to be happy and to be loved. I suppose we all want to form a constellation out of the blips in the big cosmos we live in, to feel like somehow we belong somewhere.
Before I digress and ramble farther away from my original intention, I wanted to share the books that made an impact in my life. The books that shaped my perception about life, love, and loss. It’s these books that helped me through my darkest of times, the books that I turn to time and time again when I feel like I’m losing my way. The were the sort of Lode Star that guided me back where I needed to be. Perhaps I’ll elaborate how each have changed me, but it may be too long for this post, and it’s far too late (2:00 am) my for my mind to function properly to do them justice. Without further ado, I present the works that shaped my life: Don Quixote, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kafka on the Shore, As I Lay Dying, The Geography of Bliss, A Jane Austen Education, A Sense of an Ending, Le Petit Prince, and The Things They Carried. I hope that somehow it makes an impact in your life like it did in mine.