– the words that made me –
Words have always been funny to me. They have this capability to lead you to the most wonderful of places and make you feel whole in the process. They can create a false sense of reality that becomes one of life’s greatest teachers. They define us as human beings and set the limits upon who we can become. The words I have read have made me.
My life has always been filled with reading. From the simple sentiment in Goodnight Moon, to the sensational adventures of Narnia, to the timeless classics spilling from the pen of Hemingway and Austen, the books that I have read consume me. When I look in the mirror I see many things, some of which I have taken and learned from reading. Here are 3 of the books I have read that have shaped me.
The Giving Tree: Only consisting of 64 pages in its entirety, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is constantly topical for me. I see myself, sometimes, beaten down by the world. Taken advantage of, lonely, and often forgotten, I am the tree. It saddens me to think this, to face this as my reality. But then I remember that even in the moments when the tree had nothing more than the stump he had become, the tree always gave. The tree was always generous and kind. The tree was always happy. The Giving Tree has taught me not to wait around for someone else to make a situation good but to always make the best of any situation. For one can find happiness in anything.
The Series of Unfortunate Events: This series of 13 books written by Daniel Handler under his pen name of Lemony Snicket creates a universe both whimsical and cynical in a perfect blend. The Series of Unfortunate Events has inspired my sense of curiosity. It has allowed me to question things and instilled my interest in mystery. I finished all 13 books within a matter of months and became completely enthralled, leading me to reread them with my dad. It was the first full series I completed and is one that I still hold onto today. However dark and evil the novels may be, they have allowed me to expand my curiosities.
When Breath Becomes Air: Of all the books I have read, this one has affected me most. I read it last summer on a long plane ride. I was sobbing by the end yet filled with thoughts I had never had before. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, made me question the meaning and purpose of life. The book tells of the tragic, but ultimately beautiful life of himself, a neurosurgeon. Nearly complete with his residency, Paul is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, causing the tides of his life to change for good. In this time he questions what his life had meant up to this point. Why he had made the decisions he had made and followed the path that he did. It is at this moment that Paul fears, both his future and his past. I see myself in Paul. Not that I am dying or near the end of my years, but that I question the meaning of life. As I am getting ready to go out into the world someday and choose a path to follow, I am reminded by Paul that you should make the most of life and enjoy every day. Your next day is not promised. Your plans are never solidified. Your dreams never escape you.
The best books… are those that tell you what you know already. – George Orwell