During the summer, I always become a more voracious reader, but this summer was different.
This summer reading saved my life.
I don’t know if it was the circumstances of loss in my personal life, or the fact that I am still in a constant state of limbo location-wise that’s left me feeling displaced. Perhaps its a conglomeration of all of these reasons and more. Whatever the reason, this summer I couldn’t get enough books. Reading became an integral and needed part of my daily life–above and beyond the usual.
I’m not one of those speed readers I admire on other blogs, who can read 20 or 30 books in a hot second. But I’ve been checking piles of books out at the library like its my job, and steamrolling through each book, devouring the story and language, and writing each book down in a reading journal with ridiculous amounts of precision.
After I unexpectedly lost a close family member to liver failure, I crawled into the car with my husband to drive home from his funeral, and opened my new copy of Carry On Warrior. Reading such spirited and inspired words kept me from craving the fetal position and drowning in tears. This book was so helpful not only in my day to day mental state, but in the much needed process of working through grief.
I half-heartedly (at first) picked up the book Comfort Me With Apples, only because another author I love whole-heartedly recommended it. As I unexpectedly blew through the first chapters, I realized I was on the verge of discovering a new-to-me author that was soon to become one of my writing teachers by way of my highlighter and an eager mind. This summer, I added Ruth Reichl to my list of authors whose words show me the way reading and writing should work.
When I couldn’t find a small group women’s Bible study to plug into, I picked up Beth Moore’s The Law of Love: A Lecture Series on Deuteronomy. Through video segments and lecture articles, God spoke the very necessary truth I needed to hear into my stopped up heart. When indefinite limbo did a number on my psyche, God’s word that once felt stuffy and unaccessible spoke volumes of reassurance and peace over me.
In a summer where multiple auditions didn’t yield a drop of performing work on a stage, the words of a fun and frothy beach read brought me back to my days as a performer in NYC, and helped keep me from drowning in a sea of self-pity and wishful thinking. Someday, Someday, Maybe was most likely just a easy-breezy read for most people this summer. But seeing so much of myself in the main character Franny and cheering her on made her as real to me as if she were another one of my real-life gal-pals chasing her dreams in Gotham City. I left New York City for the country life way too soon, and its one of the few things in my life that I regret. Somehow, through reading Franny’s story, I could imagine the kinds of things that could have happened had I stayed. I’m grateful for the way my life has unfolded, don’t get me wrong, but this story struck a chord with me when I really needed it. (Thanks, by the way, to Lauren Graham of The Gilmore Girls fame, for crafting such a beautiful story and heroine.)
I didn’t read a particular passage on a page or blog that somehow saved me from a catastrophic illness, nor did I read a book that had an earth shattering truth or unbeknownst-to-me sentence that rocked my world like no other book before it–nothing that dramatic or provocative. Though I know these specific books spoke something wonderful into my life this summer, it could have been any number of books that would have made this summer of reading so special. I think a big part of this season was having the act of reading to fall into at just the right time. Reading helped keep me together and kept me sane, yes. But it also was about something deeper.
Words and book bindings, soft pages, perfectly executed sentences and a fluorescent highlighter dripping ink on page after page were all vehicles for miraculous grace, solace and soul healing that I didn’t even know I desperately needed.