Ever feel like getting away from life? But can’t afford a plane ticket?
We all have a place we go to when life gets overwhelming and if you haven’t discovered that place, I hope you find it. For me personally, when I’m overwhelmed, tired, and discouraged, I try to read something to distract myself. However, not just any book—I read a book about another world, another life, where chivalry still exists but women are strong and independent; a book where the characters are so human you believe they exist and are living amongst us. I try to think about the character’s life, the character’s difficulties, and understand how they overcome their troubles. As odd as this must sound, my sanctuary in books is not for escapist reasons but for relation, perspective, and wisdom. I’ve learned through books that even the villain has a story, that every character has some sort of difficulty—it makes me think of my life and the problems I must overcome. Sometimes, we are so consumed in our problems and our lives that we forget that a world of people exist around us, a world where other people may be experiencing the exact same troubles we are. Whoa, I know that was some deep stuff. What can I say? I like books.
A book that I hold close to my heart—or rather, a book series—is the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. This book changed my life—I know that’s epic, but it was written so beautifully, so genuinely; I believed that I was the main character and in some aspects we were quite similar.
“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships, I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me
In high school, I found it difficult to form strong ties with people—I felt odd and out of place and often felt like no one understood me. I pushed people away, like my family members, and pushed pieces of myself to the far corners of my mind. It wasn’t a great place to be. So one day I found this book and the main character was this broken, isolated girl that was scared of who she might be and who she would become. I was terrified of who I may become and if I would make it to university, so I read to look for relation, for some sort of understanding, for myself through Juliette’s eyes. I found that I should stop worrying and stop pushing people away to accept my life and myself. To be a little odd because I was a book nerd, and oddness surrounds us like oxygen. I learned that I should wake up, to “ignite”, to start living life with vigor and hope and strength. I accepted who I was after this book series, and until this day, my favourite word is ignite.
When I’m feeling sluggish and discouraged, I tell myself to ignite, to spark a wild flame, to open my closed eyes, to breathe in, to wake up, to live my life because life is so short, and I must make the most out of my time on earth. I love, love, love this book and have worn out the pages with my continuous reading of it.
Anyway, that is my sanctuary, and what I love most about it is that once I crawl out of my hobbit hole and face my life, I can admit where I have gone wrong and apologize for my sour behaviour. I have a moment of clarity of understanding and responsibility. I try to change myself after taking that needed break from life—I try to be better somehow, some way.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons