Last night I was on Twitter. When am I not on Twitter, or Tumblr, or adding books to my TBR? Only when I’m writing or caring for my son, or the occasional date night/ GOT marathon. Even then…Tweets happen.
Back to the story…last night I was on Twitter and I came across this by author and fellow Twitter fiend, Leigh Bardugo:
The link featured above takes you to Leigh’s tumblr page and the rest of the heart-wrenching ask. Visit it before reading on. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Back? Crying? I was, and am threatening tears now, so don’t judge me. This little girl who lost her father, who is standing in the midst of chaos, chose to reach out to the author of a book with her grief because somehow Leigh’s books made her feel ok. Even if it can’t last. Even if when she closed the book there was all the loss and sadness staring right back at her. She had a few hours reprieve thanks to the Grisha world, and now she’ll always have Leigh’s words of encouragement to lean on when she forgets she’s going to make it.
This is the power of books. Why it’s never just telling a story for writers, and it’s never just a book for readers. More than any other creative medium, books have a way of adhering themselves to us, of living inside us and forcing everything else to quiet, of becoming part of us and never leaving.
Books are friends in the loneliness of youth. They are confidants. They are the transformative power of the imagination. The knowledge of being part of something more than you and your life. The certainty that somewhere out there someone else is reading the same words and feeling the same things, and that means you’re not alone. And when you are ready to face the world, books can help you start that conversation.
I remember when I first read Harry Potter. I was sixteen, skinny, wild-eyed, moving too fast, and somehow, briefly, Harry slowed me down. Harry took me outside myself and let me see others. Harry made me passionately, unashamedly fight for my friends, my dreams, and all that I believed in because he gave me a place to start. He gave me an open door.
What this moment between an author and her reader reminds me of is the absolute necessity for books — wherever you can get them, whatever genre, age group, subject — and the further power of them as a tool for healing. How many times have you been talking about a character and realized you’re talking about yourself, your pain, your needs? And what’s better, you’re being understood. You’re able to speak because it’s not just you. You’re able to let go because you’ve seen them do it. You’re able to talk when you feel awkward because they’re reading that same book too.
I know for me the answer is always, constantly, forever.