Friday, August 26, 2011

Jillian Lauren, On Reading

"It's appropriate that it's late right now (too late for a woman who has to wake at dawn with a toddler), and I'm writing about reading. Because late is when I've always read, since I was a child. First with a flashlight and then when I got busted--as I often did because they were onto me--by the red light of my digital alarm clock.

Late at night is when I conduct my love affair with books.

Now I read late because I don't have any other time in the day to sit down and sink into a book. But that wasn't always the case. When I was young, I read late nights because it was a quiet time during which I could spiral out into the darkness and explore the endless possibilities that I found in books. Books were the only thing in my life that spoke to the kind of magic I suspected was shimmering in the shadows in the corners of my room. I certainly couldn't find it in the people surrounding me in my small, stiflingly conservative suburban town. Nor in the world of school and soccer and temple and birthday parties and sameness through which I shuffled in the daylight.

Or maybe it was simpler than that. Maybe I just couldn't sleep. Maybe I was desperately lonely. But wherever the longing came from, ultimately it made me fall deeply in love with reading.

I have rarely met a writer for whom books were not a salvation, an obsessive passion, the first true love of their life.

And there are times I forget how much I love to read. There are times that reading and I grow too familiar with each other. There are times that I pick up book after book and put them down after thirty pages, unable to stay engaged with them for one reason or another. But inevitably, a book finds its way to the top of my unruly pile and it grabs me by the throat. It blows the top of my head wide open. And I lie there late at night vibrating with the same passion as ever for the singular experience of connecting with a work of literature.

I read for the same reason I write--to experience a space of infinite possibility. And more importantly, to connect. To connect with with my own deepest humanity and with that of others. Which is to say, to fall in love."

{Jillian Lauren is the author of the novel, Pretty and the New York Times bestselling memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. Visit her website here, and she can be found on Twitter, here.}

1 comment:

  1. Good to see that I'm not the only serious reader that occasionally struggles with it. I'm a reader through and through, but I too have real dry spells where I begin to question my love of books. Then I stumble across something amazing, usually something I wasn't looking for, and all the reasons I love to read come springing back to life. Thanks for the post!