On Loving Books (And Them Not Loving Me Back)




Loving books is the most difficult kind of relationship the bibliophile can have. It's akin to a romantic relationship but with no prospect of finding The One.

You may read the most brilliant book that makes you practically catatonic with longing, joy, sadness and rage and then you reach the last page. That's it. You could just stop reading there but you can't. You have to go on to a new book. And of course it'll be no where near as good as the last.

On the flip side, that paralysis-inducing book might be a friend at a tough time and its words might spur you to change what needs to be changed, let go, make amends, throw down roots. You love it and it loves you back, its words continuing to resonate in your soft tissues, breathing life into those long days.

And then one day, you realize that the book has left your blood. You don't care for it anymore. It no longer resonates. You're left alone. And you start dating books again for real, looking for the new One that's going to know you, as the last one did.

That's what happened with Lady Chatterley's Lover and me. It shattered my world when I read it back in 2002. I hungered after that book, page after page, and when I finished it, its ideas gnawed at the root of myself. I had never read a book that knew me better than I knew myself and it just blew the lid off my idea about what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be.

Then a year or two ago, I realized that I now thought the book a bit trite, a lot misogynistic, and just lacking the spark that I used to worship as my own. I'd changed too much to relate to the book any longer.

So here I am, back from a brief flirtation with House of Leaves, reading drivel that speaks of false emotion, ill confidence in ability, and advances paid. Sometimes I hate reading but like human love, love of reading is fueled by the desire to be understood and to know and that is something that can't be easily chased away.

What do you think?

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