For as long as I can remember I have had a passionate and torrid love affair with literature.
To say I read voraciously doesn’t adequately explain it.
I burn through books.
I read everything and anything that comes my way. If I don’t have books somewhere in my immediate environment, I feel a slight sense of unease.
They are piled and stacked in every room of my home. I carry them in my purse. I keep multiple copies of favorites in my car to randomly hand out to people encountered if I feel like they may benefit from or enjoy the message they contain.
I gush about authors rather than actors or athletes or musicians. I bring books to bars, once even infamously starting a library section at my favorite local dive.
Books have saved me too many times to count. My escape when I couldn’t run, my safe place when I had nowhere to go, my best friend when I had no one to talk to. My defense mechanism when I was unable or unready to cope with reality.
I don’t just read books; I fall in love with them.
The stories and characters I meet through them, the adventures and heartaches they inevitably bring me, the places they allow my restless spirit to travel that I have not been able to reach.
Recently, I have been attempting to live more outside of the pages that have enraptured and enfolded me. Attempting to make real connections outside of printed ones. Trying to take a chance at developing my own story—rather than living through somebody else’s.
I have admittedly high standards when looking to connect intimately with another. Some could make the partially correct argument that it is because I have been living fictionally for so long—that I have unrealistic expectations.
I prefer to think it is because I have settled far too often in the past. I no longer feel it necessary to diminish my own worth for the sake of others’ sensitivities, and I refuse to ever be abused or mistreated again. As I grow older, my views of the love I know I deserve have changed.
I don’t see anything wrong with knowing exactly what I want and asking for it…
Love me like I love my favorite novel.
Remember me long after you have read me.
Think of what falling into me felt like—how you couldn’t put me down.
How you thought of nothing beyond discovering the next page. How you felt lucky to have found me. Grateful to have somehow seen me sitting there, when others could not or would not or did not.
Love me like you can’t stop reading me.
Racing over the sentences until every word becomes entangled and you have to go back and read them again. Straightening the letters out and rearranging them in awe that what you are reading is actually in front of you and real.
Love me like you never want me to end.
Glance at me and feel solace knowing I’m there—not because of my cover, but because of what you unearthed and knew to be true after reading me, interpreting me the way only you could.
Be disgusted, enthralled, amused, afraid, excited, intrigued, appalled, turned on and satisfied simultaneously.
Reread specific passages and underline your favorite parts. Fold the pages and write notes in the margins.
Put me on a shelf. Not to be admired, but because I deserve that place of reverence.
Know that seeing me every day will bring you satisfaction and completion after having absorbed me so intimately. Take me down and thumb through my pages, sighing contentedly when reading paragraphs that make you feel safe, or things that you relate to on a guttural level. Reread parts that you want to memorize and recite. Ones that that inspire you to create your own artistic burnings that you have not yet had the confidence to attempt.
Love me like you want to drown in me, my ink and your blood.
Obtain multiple copies, because you can’t help but feel a glow when you notice me out there amid the masses. A feeling of knowing. A feeling that you want others to experience as well, because the knowledge of what I contain is something you know must be shared.
Though there will always be a small part of you that wants to keep me for your own, love me like my favorite novel—
And pass me on.
Author: Shana Shippee
Editor: Toby Israel