Throughout 2016 and in the months into 2017 I have said that 2016 was the worst year of my life. Even though there were bright spots of beauty and life that happened that year, it was also a year full of loneliness and trauma. Really, the only way I was able to deal with all that I was going through, was reading.
Books have always been a crutch of mine, a source of stability and escape that I’ve sought out ever since I was kid. My mom always nurtured my love for reading and never censored the content that I read, which looking back on, was a huge blessing. Growing up, my family moved around a lot and as cheesy as it sounds, I found my home in the books I read, and the characters I grew up with. There are books that I read as a middle schooler or high schooler that I’ll still reread today because it takes me back to a sense of comfort and familiarity.
Last year though, reading became a lifeline, or a drug. I had dropped out of college and moved home at the beginning of the year, after a traumatic death happened in my family. My mental health was the worst it had ever been, and I was really overcome with depression. It was a struggle to get out of bed every single morning, and as soon as I would get home from work I would crawl right back under the covers.
I was depressed and numb, and extremely lonely. So as always, I turned to books. I read with an intensity that I have never felt before. When I read, I became so enthralled in the world I was reading about that the characters were able to make me feel the full spectrum of emotions that was missing from my every day life. I would read in every spare moment, riding in the car, while eating, on breaks at work, and until I went to sleep. I filled every moment I had to myself with words, as if I was afraid to be alone with my own thoughts.
My go to genre was fantasy novels, worlds so unlike my own, with characters that had amazing powers and strength who would have to overcome ridiculous obstacles in order to survive. I love the “chosen one” concept, and romeo and juliet type love stories. I love warring kingdoms, and magical battles, I devoured it all.
There’s probably a conclusion I could draw here about the strength of the characters I read giving me the strength to overcome my depression but that’s not really the conclusion I want to make.
Reading was the healthiest way I could escape my life. It was a door that was always open to me, and I don’t think I could’ve survived 2016 without walking through that door every day.
When I tell people that I’ve read 100 books in a single year, they’re so impressed and say things like “wow I wish I could read like you do, or had the time.” I usually say something like thanks, I love to read so it wasn’t a big deal. Really though, I want to tell those people that I hope you never get to the point that you need to escape your life as much as I needed to. I hope you can live with your thoughts without seeking someone else’s. I hope you can find strength in real friends, and not fictional ones.
But if you do get that point, let me know, I have plenty of book recommendations for you.