Like someone running
“I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there.” — Rebecca Solnit
Unlike Solnit, I would say that my childhood was a happy one, but like her, I too disappeared into books from the time I learned to read– or even before then, when others read to me. When I ran into the woods, it was out of curiosity and an eagerness to explore, not to escape anything. As I grew older (and some of my classmates grew crueler, inclined to bully those who were different) reading did become an escape from a world where I often felt unwanted or misunderstood. But the enchantment with discovery was still the primary appeal of books.
From that time to this, I’ve depended on books, reading, and writing. In the sorrow and unending solitude since Jeff died, I have relied more than ever on written communication (increasingly translated to audio books or digital formats such as this). And yes, the other side of that solitary immersion into text is the connection to others who, for whatever reason, also wander through the “forest of stories.”
I know I’m not alone in this. Just look at the countless book groups that have sprung up like mushrooms, seemingly everywhere. Most of these gatherings are face-to-face meetings in neighborhood and community settings, where people go to meet others who share their favorite pastime. For the record, I’ve never been to one of these meetings, though I keep intending to go. My neighborhood, my churches and my local libraries all host such groups. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) the day and time will be right for me to attend one of them.
And of course, there’s this blog, which introduced me to more people than I’d ever dreamed of meeting, and also enabled me to re-connect with people I’ve known for years. There are countless other blogs, too, each with its own unique community of people connecting through the “forest of stories” found in the posts and comments.
How about you? Do you ever run away into the forest of stories? Who have you met in real life, as a result of your literary discoveries? Do you belong to a book club, blog community or other group drawn together from shared adventures in reading? If so, we’d love to hear about it.
For years I had a magnet on my refrigerator that said “Libraries change lives.” One of the most important ways they do this is connecting us to others. Reading tells us we are not alone, and once we find that reassurance, we can indeed come out of the forest and find people just waiting to be friends.