This morning, I attempted to explain to my co-worker how to tell if I'm reading a good book.
At first, I said that you could tell because I couldn't stop talking about it.
But then I realized that I could also get very, very quiet.
Both are responses to the themes the book developed: blabbering about it in an effort to come to terms with it, or staying silent and keeping the battle an internal one.
For the book I just finished reading, my response isn't quite either.
I started reading it a few days ago, after searching frantically to find it. I didn't start right away: in the way of treasure hunters, for a while I was mostly content to see it sitting on my library's bookshelf, knowing it was there. But the day finally came when, on my lunch hour, I took it off the shelf, and began to read.
I didn't finish it in one sitting, lunch hours being exactly an hour and this book being 318 pages long.
I didn't stay up until two in the morning to finish it either.
This evening, however, I sat in the front seat of the car I took to get home… and, after days of this book at turns whispering and screaming through my head, I read the last words. Read the author's thanks. Read the little summary of his life. Closed it. Wiped away the tears I thought I'd gotten under control. I didn't speak. I still can't… talk about it.
Even now, the tears are still coming. I feel… burdened, in a way. But it's a good load. The knowledge of things learned and lives unfolding and that slight shift that always comes when you meet something or someone that you know will change your life.
I'm not about to sell all I own and donate it to good causes. I'm not going to start some foundation, either. It's not that kind of life change. It reminds me of how I felt after reading A Child Called IT by Dave Pelzer: I feel…. open.
The funny thing is that it's just a story. The author himself reminds readers at the start that it's just fiction. Another author within the book reminds us that stories are just words on a page, without a life outside of it. But the power of a story lies not in its oddly suspended existence, but in its power to create in its readers the desire and ability to change their own.
This book told a story at both simple and complex. A story about a boy with one leg and a girl whose lungs suck at being lungs. A story told by a man with the most unassuming of names: John Green. A story told within the pages of a book called The Fault in our Stars.[link]