The Comfort of Reading
C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” I have always believed that. And yet, initially what that meant to me is that when we’re reading, we’re not alone. We have the characters, and their experiences. Whether you have a child with autism, a marriage that is unraveling, an ailing parent, unfulfilled dreams, or unrequited love, there is a book out there for you. That book can let you know that your experience is a shared one. There is someone out there who has been on a similar journey, who has felt your pain and lived to tell the story.
Then there are the characters, the ones who are like you, the ones you wish you were like, the ones you despise and these people mirror life. They make us laugh, they touch our hearts, and they stir our emotions…When that happens, you could be in the most solitary, private moment of your own life, and you are not alone. You have this depiction of people who are there with you. And you have the writer, who is having the experience of you, dear reader.
All of these things are true. You could be stranded on a desert island with a book and find solace in it. If you are indeed stranded on a desert island, you are probably not reading this post. And if you are, I would like to suggest that you immediately stop reading and email someone so that you can be rescued. Please, before your battery dies.
However, there is another way in which readers are not alone. Look at this blog! Readers are connected by their shared love of books. And there are true interactions that come out of those shared experiences. For me, some of my favorite books are ones that I have read, discussed with someone else and found that we had different opinions on the story. Whether we rooted for different characters or had varying opinions on what their motivation was, we shared something together.
We live in an ever changing world. There are wars and famine. There are the day to day things, like babies being born and the loss of a loved one. There are dishes in the sink, and bills to be paid. Some days you wake up and the sun is shining, nothing in your world is collapsing, and you feel like anything is possible. Some days you wake up and find that everything you thought your life was going to be has suddenly changed, and it takes all the will within you to keep going. Through all of these things, there are books and people with whom you share them.
Reading is such a beautiful gift. It is the gift of company and connection. I want to thank you for having me here today and grateful that we are connected to each other through books.