I got home last night, after a fourteen-hour drive from Idalia, from a week of camping with my family in the Colorado Rockies. Aside from last year’s lake trip to Roosevelt Lake in Washington state, it has been the best family vacation I’ve ever been on.
Sadly, it was plagued with the pain of mockery as all of my cousins spent most of their time poking fun at my recreational habits, which, on this trip, were comprised mostly with reading. I will admit, I read more copiously than usual (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Barefoot were some of those that I at least started, and let me tell you, more than one of those is rather thick) and, at least for the first two days, when I was reading pretty much nonstop, I was being a bit “anti-social.”
But this post is not about my cousins and their negativity. This post is not about literacy and the role it plays in the lives of people around the world. This post is not about the obviously Romance-Centered reading list I inadvertently made for myself, and it is certainly not about the perks of being a wallflower. No, this post is about Henry DeTamble and how he brought me closer to God.
For almost a year now, I have openly declared The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (coincidentally, the wife of Jonathan Safran Foer) as my favorite book. Now, I am an incredibly loyal person, especially (and sadly) when it comes to inanimate objects–I used to keep pencils too short for the sharpener because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings–so for me to say here what I am about to say is a big deal:
The History of Love is now only my second favorite book in the world.
I cannot express in words how much I love that book, how much it is everything I aspire to as a writer, and how proud I am to have recommended it to a dear, old friend of mine, (who, to my delight, left a receipt for a CitySights NY bus fare between pages 80 and 81; I’m still trying to decipher the special meaning those pages have, because I’m sure there is one, whether he knew it or not). I still love that book and I will still tell all my close literary friends about it in hopes that they, too, can love it. But it has finally been overshadowed by another book.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is now my favorite book in the world.
I won’t tell you any of the details about the plot or anything, except that Henry DeTamble, the main character (and looks more like this than like this, by the way. What were they thinking?) is a “chrono-displaced person” who cannot control whether or not he stays in the present moment, and instead often finds himself elsewhen, naked, and alone.
I can’t really explain why this book suddenly means so much to me. I didn’t even buy it with a purpose; I was second-hand shopping with my mother and aunt a couple weeks ago and, while they were perusing skirts and blouses, I found this on the racks, forced uncomfortably between the likes of The Dragon Prince and Dare to Love like some poor, emotionally scarred book wedged in the jaws of life of an overly erotic thigh-master. I rescued it from its hot and heavy Hell, just out of my general respect for fiction and hardcovers, planning only to relocate it on the shelf after reading the prologue, which I assumed would be disappointing, only because the title was much too promising to actually lead to anything. But I was pleasantly surprised, and it was only five dollars (quite a steal for the condition in which I found it) so I indulged myself and bought the book before checking it out at the library, something I rarely do.
Books I like best are the books that change my life or perspective in some positive and daring way. The aforementioned Twilight Saga (of which I just bought the fourth book) I like, but only for entertainment, not really for deep, intellectual introspection or anything like that. Books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Hamlet, Metamorphosis, No Exit, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Welcome to the Monkey House, Catcher in the Rye, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, To Kill a Mockingbird, 10 Things to do Before I Die and The History of Love all did that for me, and I probably can’t properly try to describe the ways in which they did, mostly because I read them a long time ago, and whatever change they wrought is now so much a part of me I can’t remember what bought it. Sometimes, it’s not that the book is exceptionally written or that the plot is invariably unique; it’s just that they were in the right place at the right time.
With TTTW, I’m sure it was a little bit of both. Throughout the past seven or so days of me reading and immersing myself in the world of fiction, I’ve realized that (SAP ALERT) the main gift God has given me is my imagination. Once I start reading a book, if it is good, I can ignore everything around me and just read. And then, once I’ve finished reading a book, I spend the next several days thinking about it, reveling in it, reliving it, engraving its essence into my brain. I used to think this made me crazy, made me kind of a freak (because at times, like after I saw National Treasure for the first time, for instance, I was actually a veritable oddball) but now I realize it’s just how I am and that God made me this way for a reason. I’m glad that I’m not a freak, but I’m even more glad that there is a way for me to put this quality of mine to use.
I just have to figure out what that use is now. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Anyway, read TTTW post haste. Don’t let me get your hopes up too high, though; I hate it when people do that to me. It may not mean to you what it means to me, and you may not like it. It could just be something that speaks to me because I’m me and not you.
Forgive my strange verbage today: it’s been a long 48 hours.