I remember the first time I connected with a book. The Pain and the Great One, a picture book by Judy Blume. It’s about sibling rivalry–younger brother, older sister. And it was just so much like me and my brother, it was scary. The girl played piano (I started taking lessons when I was pretty little), and the boy was kind of a rascal, always knocking over her towers of blocks, etc. If I remember right, in my edition, the kids even had a cat (we had two). It was my life there on the pages. Judy Blume got it. She knew exactly what it was like to be me. It was like she had been in my head somehow.
That’s what initially hooked me on reading: finding those books that seemed to tell my own life experience. It’s a powerful thing to have your own thoughts spit back at you. Makes you feel like there are all sorts of people going through exactly what you’re going through.
I find myself gravitating more and more toward people or situations totally unlike my own. I’m developing a real thing for classic sci-fi (Invasion of the Body Snatchers). And I really love anything by Kurt Vonnegut. I just really like spending time in his head. I like looking through eyes unlike my own.
I’m not sure if that’s a result of growing older or a result of the times. A need for escapism, maybe? Then again, according to what we see on the nightly news, it’s becoming harder and harder for us all to do just that–look through each other’s eyes, see from another point of view. It’s a skill I hope we never lose.