“My entire life is traced by the books I have read.”Alexandra Horowitz, The Velocity of Being
Ev Williams says that “the ideas and stories we consume affect us on multiple levels and have a profound impact on how we live.” Our story becomes the total sum of all the stories we have read; an index that outlines a literary lineage to which we owe our interior ancestry. The story of my life, then, would not be told as memoir or biography or autobiography, but instead as a bibliography, or more specifically, an auto-bibliography; a chronological list of the books that shaped the structure of who I am.
Perhaps that’s true for all of us. Alain de Botton points out that books “explain us to ourselves and to others”. They makes us make sense. They make sense of us. Perhaps, then each of us should come with our own Required Reading list; a syllabus of literature to aid ourselves and others in the efforts to understand who we have been and who we can still become.
Our lives are the appendices attached at the end of all the books we have read. A construction built by a conglomerate of collected works. Long, detailed derivations. Raw data too technical to include in the body of the text, somehow all become perfectly summarized within the pages of the books that are now integral to us.
We are like footnotes floating unattached and out of context, but the right books know exactly how to place us where we can become ancillary elaborations of the world and ourselves. Where we can be the embodied explication of something bigger. It is a double revelation. A mutual finding. A reflexive creating. The books we find, help us find ourselves. The moments we make with books, make us who we are.