Emily Levine says that “Reading [doesn’t] just offer escape; it [offers] connection”; connection to others, connection to the world, and a deep and a clear connection to ourselves.
This profound sense of connection is what continues to draw me to and into books again and again. It is what makes me fall in love with a particular text and a particular author. It is the clear connection that occurs when we recognize the seemingly miraculous tit for tat mutuality of an identical yearning between ourselves and the person poured out upon page. When we see “not just the intensity of the longing” reflected back at us “but the specificity” as well.
When, in a mystifying moment, we are given a gift by a stranger; a stranger that has found a way to transcend the arbitrary bounds and perfunctory distances of separation that we have come to call space and time, and reveals themselves as a kindred spirit; a soul friend. When a writer offers an extreme close-up of their closeted self and we discover that it is an act of intimacy; an ekphrastic description of the closed-off, secret corners of our hearts. It is a clear connection.
It is “as if [the writer] looked deep inside [us] and knew [us] in the way [we] wanted the world to know [us].” They teach us to show our belly to the world, to invoke a quiet but powerful trust; a trust in the wideness of a community that can stretch across even the greatest of chasms like a net to catch us.
When it happens we come to the shocking realization that we are not alone, and that what we thought made us peculiar or obscure actually demonstrates that we belong to a tribe. Nestled somewhere in between the pages of a book is a nation of people we never knew existed, waiting to welcome us home.
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