The books that saved me.

2 Oct

Due to Cassie’s most recent post, Dear Fear and Judgement:, I’ve been inspired to discuss the books that have changed my life. I’ve been reading for as long as I have had the ability to hold a book in one hand and a flashlight in the other. After all, all of us who love books know that even when darkness falls, we don’t necessarily put down the books that have grabbed us so strongly out of our reality. Sometimes the arrival of darkness forces us to grab a flashlight, get under the covers and escape into a world that seems just as real as the world in which we are living.

Pippi Longstocking is one of the first books I remember reading from cover to cover countless times. I don’t know if it was the independence Pippi portrayed due to being a nine year-old girl who lived without the constraints of adults or her red hair that she always wore in pigtails that caused me to be so drawn to her. Either way, I remember a particular summer in which Pippi went everywhere that I did. Even when I went on a week-long trip to Edisto beach with my family, Pippi came along for the trip. Though I didn’t take the book with me everywhere, it sat patiently on my nightstand every day, waiting for night to come so that the pages could be turned once more, causing Pippi’s world and my own to collide through something as simple as words.

 

Even though Halfway to the Sky was introduced to me much later than Pippi Longstocking, it was yet another book that became very well-worn in a relatively quick amount of time. Halfway to the Sky tells the story of Dani, a 13-year-old girl who runs away from home in order to escape the recent death of her brother and the break-up of her parents’ marriage. However, Dani doesn’t run just anywhere. She runs to a place that she believes her parents will never find her to do something amazing: hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Even now, I know why I loved this book so much. It involved hiking, which I did a lot of with my family growing up, and it involved the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is a place that I haven’t been able to fully appreciate until coming to live in Asheville last fall. However, Halfway to the Sky created the strong connection I’ve had to the mountains for so long. Even though I have been coming to the mountains ever since I was little, I definitely think that Halfway to the Sky is one of the main reasons that I have felt the desire to fully experience the mountains. There are days that I find myself driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway looking at the overlooks or hiking up to Max Patch Summit, which is an hour above Asheville, just to simply feel the mountain air in my lungs, and ultimately, feel alive.

 

It may seem strange that I’ve included The Bell Jar in the books that have saved me due to the fact that it is a very dark and depressing novel. However, I believe that it saved me in the sense of helping me realize that we all have our own inner struggles that we are battling, and therefore we shouldn’t be quick to judge others because we don’t know what they have to face on a daily basis. Also, since The Bell Jar is essentially the autobiography of Sylvia Plath’s plunge into madness, I think this book may have been one of the first examples of my desire to be a counselor. Even though I may not have realized how much I wanted to be a counselor during the time that I was reading The Bell Jar, I know that if I were to read it again now, it would most likely affect me in a completely different way due to my new-found passion for psychology and counseling.

 

John Green’s newest book, The Fault In Our Stars, came out in January of this year, so it is probably the most recent book that has deeply affected me. It is the story of Hazel, a 16 year-old cancer patient, who is forced to attend a support group where she meets and falls in love with 17 year-old Augustus Waters. Even though it would be easiest to say that this book saved me because the writing is simply amazing, that only scratches the surface of how this book has impacted my life. Through reading The Fault In Our Stars, I have learned what it means to love. However, more than that, I have begun to realize that a huge part of allowing yourself to be loved by someone else is by placing yourself in a vulnerable position. The concept of vulnerability has scared me my entire life because in my mind, it places you in a prime position to be emotionally hurt. However, over the past few months, I’ve realized that the road to love involves being vulnerable. It’s scary, but it’s the only way to truly let someone love you fully. The concept of vulnerability also applies to writing as well because the truest and most raw pieces of writing are those in which the writer is completely 100% vulnerable.

Even though these books may not have necessarily saved me, they each have helped me realize something new about myself that has helped me get closer to who I truly am. For as long as I can remember, books have been the one place where I can go to escape. However, I never realized that they’d end up helping me find myself. Yes, I’m the girl who reads all the time, the girl who always has a book with her no matter where she is, the girl who would rather curl up in bed with a book instead of going to a party. Words have taught me about love, strength, hope, pain, and adversity. However, they have also been the way that I have expressed all of those emotions as well, giving me a way to be as authentic as possible. They are something so simple. And yet, for me, words have always been enough.

 

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12 Responses to “The books that saved me.”

  1. photosfromtheloonybin October 2, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    Great post Amelia!! I feel exactly the same way about books :).

  2. 4amWriter October 2, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    I feel the same way about The Bell Jar. It’s one of those novels that really gets you thinking twice about your life in comparison to others. A very sad, telling book.

  3. Cassie October 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Swoon The Bell Jar. Me too, darling, me too. : )

    • ameliaclaire92 October 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Great readers think alike. 😉

      • Cassie October 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

        Oh yes, yes yes. Have you read her diaries? YOU MUST.

      • ameliaclaire92 October 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

        I found The Unabridged Journals of Slyvia Plath last semester in a used bookstore in downtown Asheville. Is that the “diaries” you are referring to? If so, no I haven’t had the chance to read them yet. So many other books are on my TBR pile at the moment. 🙂

      • Cassie October 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

        Yes those are the ones! Skip everything and read them. She’s unbelievable. It makes me feel like my journal is a complete dud. : )

      • ameliaclaire92 October 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

        Haha. Okay, well if you insist, then I must. 🙂 I’m sure it’ll make my blog writing (which is essentially my journal/diary) feel like a dud too.

  4. Lisa W. Rosenberg October 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    Great choices, Amelia, and beautiful descriptions, though I don’t know The Fault in our Stars–I will certainly check it out. I remember a hard time in my life, living away from home in Seattle, when books saved me too. I read anything I could find and just lost myself in it. The one I remember most for some reason is Persuasion, by Jane Austin. I don’t know why it resonated so much then. Maybe because the time and place was so very far removed from my life.

    • ameliaclaire92 October 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

      Definitely check out The Fault In Our Stars. It has changed my life.

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