Reading—the act of understanding written words and symbols. I searched the definition of the verb “to read,” and they were all the same; understanding and following written words or phrases, to speak aloud the words in a book or magazine.
Nowhere did I find the true meaning of what it means to read, or what happens to a person when they dive into a story they love. No technical definition will show that. It’s a connection between reader and author, reader and characters, reader and words, that is intimate and unique. No two people read the same book.
I developed my love for reading at an older age when I came across books that resonated with me, that made me look at myself and the world differently, whether they were fiction or nonfiction, because they were my thing. Or maybe I developed it later because I wasn’t ready to look within myself and explore what I’d find there. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I finally found this gift.
I believe we read books, which for the most part resonate deeply within us, with characters that mirror us. Whether it’s the main characters, just one quality of them, a secondary character, the hero or the villain, some part of their character development strikes us as familiar. The emotions, the actions, whatever it may be, allow us to form a deeper connection.
I’ve been thinking about characters a lot. The characters I create in my books and those I come across by chance when I pick up a book and allow it to consume me. These characters have impacted me one way or another, each and every one of them, and I thought it was time I wrote them a letter. I felt the need to communicate with them my feelings, and as soon as I started writing, the words poured out from somewhere inside of me that I know I don’t let the world always see. Lately, I have been much more romantic than my usual ways. Instead of thinking how to break-up my couples or kill off a character, I have been focusing on how to create the most happily ever after.
I have read and loved books that range from The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet to Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. Yes, it’s a wide range of genres but I have learned something from each book that has wrapped me up in its world—accept myself and my journey. This is a lesson I have struggled with for a long time, so it is only appropriate that I learn this lesson over and over again in literature, something that I do for pleasure and not to “learn” from. The joke’s on me because there is always something to learn from everything we do and come across. Right? We gotta love life’s lessons.
I have come to meet characters like Jack Jackson from The Pillars of the Earth, who is known as the odd boy or “village idiot.” What I admired the most about Jack was his persistence in reaching his goals and, although it was not easy, how he maintained true to himself. It was his true version that got Aliena to fall in love with him. It was his compassion and quiet soul that achieved the building of such a cathedral.
Anna in Fifty Shades of Grey is one of those characters that has such low self-esteem that I immediately understood her. She is the epitome of the mousy character we hate to love because we want to shake them and yell for them to open their eyes and look in a mirror. But how many times have I looked at myself in the mirror and not really seen me? As we read her story, we see her confidence growing and how strong of a woman she really is when she releases her own self-doubt and embraces the person she was born to be.
Then, I come across Santiago from The Alchemist. Oh, Santiago, you are a man after my own heart. He is a wise boy who follows his dreams; doubts and hesitation included, but does so regardless. Santiago goes in search of a treasure that is within him the entire time. Sometimes we need to go on the journey so it can teach us how to look within and listen to ourselves. The universe is inside all of us because we are one with it, and we hold its secrets in our soul.
These books and many more taught me to continue being who I am regardless of what people think of me because I am unique. There is no other me to fulfill my purpose in life and accepting that opened my eyes and heart. These characters have become a part of me because I am each and every one of them. I have lived what they have to some degree. I may not be a mousy girl falling in love with a dom or a “village idiot” but at one point in my life I have hidden myself from the world.
Yes, at one point I may have been ashamed of who I was, but I have learned to embrace my true essence and share it with the world. Books can teach us many things, and it is the lessons and characters that resonates with us that make these stories magical. Let your hair down and run wild with yourself. Be-you-tiful.
What better way to communicate with a dear character than by the same way they came to you, words.
Or me. Because we may be one in the same.
Who would have thought that fate would bring us together, wrapping us in an intimate cocoon of affection when we are worlds apart. I thank the Universe for bringing you into my life, because although people think you are not real, you very much are so.
You are me—a part of me I have yet to discover or a part of me that I have hidden from the world. Through you I have found that part of me and built the courage to show myself.
I have fallen in love with you, many times, over and over again because I have fallen in love with myself. And I thank you for offering your hand in guiding me through life’s lessons and teaching me what I need to learn. Although you are part of a story created by someone else, you have impacted my life and woven yourself into my threads because we are one. We are connected.
Thank you for coming into my life and teaching me to love and forgive, to laugh and cry. Thank you for teaching me that it is okay to show my emotions to the world and to feel the world around me completely and honestly. You have wrapped me up in your world for the short time I get to spend with you, but no matter how short our affair may be, it is forever remembered in my heart.
My fictional character, the one that brings out the best in me and proves to me that it is required to dream in life and to fall in love. If you were here, in a physical form, we would be soul mates dancing in the moonlight. Instead, I live with you through the pages of a book, memorizing your scent and your words.
Until we meet again, keep me with you as I will keep you with me.