There are stories to tell in so many aspects of daily life, and I am endlessly fascinated by the human psyche, our minds control our entire world. Reading offers a socially acceptable outlet to try on all sorts of lives and minds. How extraordinary that we can explore so many exotic locations from the comfort of our homes. Magic may only exist in stories and fairytales, but reading transports us to the past and future, to mythical worlds, far away galaxies, exotic lands, the apocalypse, and beyond. So who can really say that books are not magical objects?
Storytelling has the power to manipulate genuine emotion. I have a library full of creased spines and tear soaked dog eared smudged pages as proof. I’ve mourned the death of cherished characters, celebrated their triumphs, blushed on their behalf, slept fearfully with the lamp on, and thrown my book across the room in disbelief. Words are powerful. They teach us how to feel, love, and to process emotion. Books have held my hand in times of loneliness. Some fictional characters have been with me and kept me company when my life has been empty. We all want our lives to be rich and eventful, but inevitably we go through times when things are less than perfect.
When you read a book that really pulls you in, you walk around in a partial daze. Half existing in reality with the other half residing in the book world. Being able to immerse ourselves in fictional worlds is an escape. Only books can allow us to explore insanity, poverty, depravity, fear, heartbreak, love, and death, all through the safety of a lens. Just slam the cover shut to return to the real world.
Reading has also taught me that literary masterpieces do not only flow from the quill of Shakespeare, some of the more obscure and eccentric writers have the most enigmatic and profound stories to share. Stories can be small, a poem or short string of words can leave a lasting imprint when it resonates. Everything we read is absorbed into ourselves: the classic, the quirky, and the life changing. I am the product of everything I have ever read, and I was written by many storytellers.
I studied English literature at university, and looking at books in an academic mindset was initially disconcerting. It felt scientific and I had absolutely no interest in placing my favourite texts under a microscope to be poked at and prodded like a specimen in a cold sanitised laboratory. I love the smoke and mirrors of art and I certainly did not wish to have my illusions dashed, thank you very much. Nevertheless, I spent hours anatomising words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters of brilliant and beautiful minds, and during that time, I found that looking deeply into literature did not ruin the magic at all. Quite contrarily, I learned to read in between the lines and context, where the real magic is hidden.
Towards the end of my degree, an idea dawned upon me. The privilege of being able to talk about books in a room of gifted and likeminded people was soon coming to an end. Fearing that I might become the eternal arts student haunting the gothic catalogue of the library, I then decided to build a website dedicated to literature, a cosy place to write about books whilst feigning adulthood in the real world simultaneously. I only have a small section on books on Her Suitcase, but I am always reading something. These days I listen to books while I exercise, which is a great way to escape and enter into a book world.
Words can change us, shake us at our very core, and wake us up to new ways of experiencing the world. No two people read the same book as interpretation is uniquely personal, and while reading may be a solitary adventure, literature is most beautiful when shared, discussed, and celebrated with others.