Moorea is a blogger, jewelry designer, musician, business owner, and all around renaissance woman. She also has a love for reading, has beautiful rhetoric, a strong contrast the wordless posts around here. I was able to read the post before it went up and I'm honored to feature her love for literature here. She also asks that universal question in the back of our heads- what we read and what it defines about our character. Thank you, Moorea!
The other day, I was re-reading one of my all time favorite books, The Alchemist, and thought to myself, "What about me draws me to certain books? What do I truly love reading about and why do I connect with it so deeply?"
Sometimes I look at my bookshelf and think, gosh I don't really think I have a certain type of book I love best. But as I picked some of my very favorite books off the shelf today to photograph I realized that no one book is my absolute favorite and that is kind of freeing. With each different book, a different side of me is sucked into its pages. A different part of me is ignited and enlivened as I read different sorts of books. I am reminded that I am not just a robot who does one thing, likes one thing, is one thing, when I look at my book collection. My favorite books are stories in themselves, but they tell a story about me too. And I know the same goes for you and your favorites :)
As I took the photograph of my favorite books above, I thought to myself, "Now what about each of these books explains a different element of who I am?" Perhaps I think too intensely about these things, but I love knowing that I can always learn new things about myself if I just sit back and reflect. Here are a few things that I recognized about myself by simply thinking about the elements of each book that I really connect with:
Well, as I said before I am a soul searcher, and that definitely shows up in the books I read. Whether it is sort of coming of age books like Catcher in the Rye or stories of self discovery like in many of these books pictured, I love a story that directs me to new self understanding. The Alchemist is a story of a boy on a journey to discover his Personal Legend. He goes through many challenges and wanders a mysterious path to find his treasure. The twists and turns in his journey to achieve his dreams is comforting for me to read about because I have big dreams that I really want to achieve in my lifetime, but I need a sort of spiritual hope to keep myself trusting that my dreams can come true if I work hard enough.
Many of my books deal with spirituality on some level, but rarely do any of them deal with a specific religion. I grew up in a religious home, and I've always had a love and angst relationship with religion. But even through seeing how many of my books deal with spirituality on some level, I am reminded that I will always need some sort of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual dialogue happening in my life. spiritual conversation is a part of who I am.
What I love specifically about A River Runs Through It, Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, My Name is Asher Lev and many of these books is that they all deal with spiritual experience, questioning, and a spiritual journey in totally different ways. In a River Runs Through It, the narrator talks about how "...in my (his) family, there is no clear line between religion and fly fishing." Each character in the book has their own spiritual connection with the river, the fish, and fly fishing itself. It is magical for me to get to almost live through each of the characters and their different connections to nature on a spiritual level, and how their everyday lives differ from their experience of fly fishing and their relationship with nature.
A person's connection with nature always fascinates me. The complex real life young man that was Chris McCandless in Into the Wild sparks so many curiosities in me. It amazes me to read stories of people adventuring into the unknown and literally, into the wild. I guess, here again, a journey of self discovery is a central theme to this book. But what makes this book different than many of my other books is that it is a true story.
Much of the time, I find myself drawn to more fantastical sorts of stories, almost magical realism like many of Haruki Murakami's books and Kafka's stories. I love how both of these authors craft characters, detailing beautifully their lives and experiences whether it be in a 600 page book or a 6 page short story. I love how real life experiences smoothly transition in and out of fantastical experiences in the lives of their characters. And I love how each of their characters have such unique and powerful voices.
A unique and powerful voice is also something I really value about Walt Whitman's poetry, and most specifically in his wonderfully long Leaves of Grass. His writing is like a whirlwind of Transcendentalist themes, a value of the self and ones intuition, Romanticism, Realism, and self searching spirituality that captures the American spirit. There is something mysteriously beautiful about poetry that captures so many facets of the self, the I, and the I that is everyone as a whole.
An element of mystery always sparks my curiosity, even if it is something that is kind of silly to be so curious about. I'm totally intrigued by secret societies like the Freemasons. That would explain the really goofy Secrets of Freemasons book I have at the bottom of the pile :) Teehee. Kitschy informational books, coffee table books, and cheap fun books about secret societies are my book guilty pleasures. And still along the vein of my love for secrets, I love the beauty, mystery and quietly romantic mood of Snow Falling on Cedars. I remember the first time I read it in high school, I listened to the same song on repeat for the ENTIRE time that I read the book. The song just made it feel like I was in the book, with a dark moody fog hanging low to the ground and dew resting on my shoulders.
When I described why I connect with each of these books so well, I highlighted key words that really stood out: soul searcher, self understanding, comforting, spiritual hope, spiritual conversation, spiritual experiences, questioning, spiritual journey, magical, nature, adventuring, fantastical, magical realism, craft, detail, unique and powerful voices, value of self, intuition, romanticism, realism, mystery, curiosity, secret, beauty, quietly romantic. I see myself in these words, and I understand better now why I connect so deeply with these books. The books and I just get each other :)
Would you like to try out this exercise, searching your favorite books to see what it is about you that connects you to your favorite texts? I think you should give it a go! You may find out something new about yourself, a curiosity or passion that you didn't know was in you. Or perhaps you will find reassurance in an element of who you are that comes up often in your books. Journal about why you love 10 of your favorite books, highlighting key words that stick out to you. I'd love to see what words really stand out to you and describe you well!