How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones.1
When I was home with my newborn baby (after previously working full time), I began to crave something mentally enriching. I started reading compulsively, whatever I found at the library. I never felt full. And then I saw my husband reading East of Eden and so I picked it up too. I loved it. It was beautiful, it was sweeping and epic, it was thought-provoking, and yet it was still entertaining. I sought out other books like it, and I stumbled upon the world of book blogging. I wanted to share my thoughts on the epic novel with others, and so my reading circle widened as I opened up Rebecca Reads.
Reading East of Eden opened a new era in my reading. I found myself reading more classic novels, more nonfiction, and plenty of literary books, rather than the not-so-literary books I’d been consumed with before. (I’d enjoyed them, but as I said, I never felt satiated, even as I read a lot of books.) And of course, East of Eden and the subsequent events brought me into the world of book blogging which has broadened my personal sphere immensely.2
And then, shortly after that, I read The Old Man and the Sea, which for some reason reminded me of the childbirth I’d recently struggled through. As I read of the old man’s struggle with a giant fish, I couldn’t help (internally) rooting for him to make it. “You can do it!”
I felt, as a new mother, that my struggle was now a universal one. Reading Hemingway’s novella helped explain the miracle in my life: that of childbirth. It gave me confidence in myself as I reflected on that miracle.
What books have opened up new eras in your reading life?
What books have explained the miracles of your personal life or revealed new miracles to you?
- from “Reading at Walden” by Henry David Thoreau, quoted in Reading in Bed: Personal Essays on the Glories of Reading, edited by Steven Gilbar. There are some more controversial things in this essay too, but this quote really resonated with me. ↩
- That sounds so trite. What I mean is, you all rock. Thanks for reading. ↩