domingo, 14 de junio de 2015

Come join my secret society

 I should start by revealing I am part of a secret society. I am one of the lucky few who know, who really and deeply understand, why Bastian Baltasar Bux stole that book. I can feel, as I dive deep line after line, how he must have felt. The irresistible attraction of the cover. That old smell that’s both sweet and seductive and enough to make you drunk. The unmistakable feeling of love at first touch as you glide your fingers carelessly and turn over the first page of a book that you think, no, that you know, will become a part of you, will become you, as you start reading.

We have no headquarters in our secret society, although libraries and coffee shops are common places in which our members coincide. We are easily recognized by a simple yet significant fact: we will carry around, under sunshine or rain, in long waiting hours and in brief empty minutes, a small or large, light or heavy, delicious, exciting, intriguing, loving book.

Just like Tereza recognized Tomas as part of this nameless, shapeless crowd, I too recognize others when walking down the street, or having a meal, or riding the bus. I particularly love to see them while browsing through the window or the shelves of an old bookstore, looking for treasure. I know what they feel when they touch a dusty cover who’s title is long gone. I know the excitement that comes when they turn to the first page hoping to find meaning, love, adventure. I also understand the deception that drowns them like a wave when they realize it is an old medicine text book, or a manual on taxes, or an indiscoverable mystery in a language they can’t read.

You see, I read because I need to make the world disappear. I read because when I find that one book, that one treasure that will engulf every free moment of my day, and that will then take over every other moment, and that will shape my dreams or nightmares at night, I come alive.

I read for that sense of drunkenness and lightness that overwhelms me when I need to put a book down for a moment because my eyes hurt, or my back hurts, or because it’s finished, and I look into the world with new eyes. Eyes that are not mine, but rather the eyes of a character, or of a different universe. Eyes that will look upon everything I have ever looked at before and make it brighter, more defined, as if I had, for one moment, made sense of the universes around me and could see the world for what it truly is. Magic. Transcendence. Fervor… life.

I read to live. I read to feel life sweeping into my eyes, through mi skin and nose, up my spine and into my ears as I hear the crackling noise of a turning page.  I read because it makes me come into being.

Whenever I’m at that stage of awe, whenever I’ve been disembodied by words that flow like wine through my head, I feel a longing. I long to look upon the face of another member of this secret society and say: “I’ve seen… I am.”

 I know that you too crave for that moment of pure rapture. And maybe, like me, you want to show the world why our secret society should not be secret anymore. You too might want to tell everyone how easy it is to join. To be carried away. Like the good Doctor said: “We’re all stories, in the end…”.  Let me tell you why books make mine a good one...