“What are you reading?” He asks, but it’s something too sacred to tell. These pages are mine and to share them is sacrilege.
“Oh, you know, just a classic.” I shrug absentmindedly hoping he’ll leave me alone with the words and the world in my head that has captured me so. The characters, my friends, my enemies, mine. And this isn’t my first visit to this vast paper plane, it could be my fourth, my fifth, my sixth.
“Oh, Which one? Maybe I’ve read it.” Maybe you have but you wouldn’t have read it like me, nobody reads them the same. I don’t want you to tell me your opinions, your interpretations, your critiques. I want this to be my own world for this time and the time after. A retreat untainted by reality, by your words.
But I don’t want to be rude, or seem weird, or make myself uncomfortable. So I close the pages gently, reluctantly and place the paperback in the sanctuary of my lap. “The Great Gatsby.” It’s a blunt response, I hold back my enthusiasm, the despair, the elatedness, the devotion. They are mine too.
“Ah, Read it back in school. Gatsby’s a bit of a melt isn’t he? Never really understood him. It’s all lovey dovey crap. And the end…” He stops himself with a quirk to the lips “…well I won’t ruin that disappointment for you.”
“I’ve read it before, I know the end, I admire the end. I admire the whole story actually, despite the ugly characters. If you read deeper you’ll uncover a whole lot more than a love story.” The worlds trip over themselves in my haste and the burning in my cheeks betrays me so loudly. He’s laughing softly now and I can feel the eye roll he’s holding back. My heart is in my throat and there’s a nagging behind my eyes. The confrontation was uncharacteristic of me but I’d been riled by the ignorance. Critique of anything is just blatant self indulgence. There was no counter argument here, just his word against mine, superior to mine.
I walk away from the challenge, from the battle he is so obviously keen to muster. Instead I calm myself and retreat to my world, hurt by the anger tainting the words now, loathing the way I let them in when I knew what was coming and should have prepared against it. It’s a lonely thing to read so heavily, to rely so much on a world beyond this. But I’m elevated by the reward of it. The places I see, the people I meet, the suffering I share and the victories too. My emotions are in the hands of the author, susceptible to his manipulations and sorcery. And I hand myself over to the escape of it all, willingly and desperately ready for the turmoil.
I’m really digging these little projects, they’ve become my favourite to write and I hope you enjoyed reading it too. Especially my enchanting little bookworms out there. I compiled a list of my favourite classics too. I find so many of them boring (sacrilege I know!) but this list boasts all of the literary works that have really gotten to me. All of the tears and tantrums and that awful lost feeling as I turn the final page. Any recommendations?