Featured Illustration: Grace Easton
Unboxing new books is a marvelous experience. First, you await the package for days, meticulously reloading the Canada Post website. Then, when the package finally arrives, it must undergo the pandemic-screening process which involves Clorox wipes and social distancing from the box. Finally, the box is opened and the books are cherished prior to stacking them on the To Be Read shelf — mine is currently sky-high with classics, fantasy, and memoirs.
Ordering new books, listening to audiobooks, and smelling crispy old pages from the thrift store are the ways I will remember quarantine; not the lonely nights longing to see friends or meeting strangers and not the days of claustrophobia where each family member seems to tick another angry box. This love, however, has not always been constant.
From grade school, I was the girl who signed out ten books from our tiny library. I indulged in all of Roald Dahl and Eric Walters’s work, never missing a book from series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Harry Potter. I slid my book on my lap during class, carried them with me to family functions, and excitedly watched any screen adaptation, comparing each scene, character, and line to its literary form.
I am not sure what changed in high school. Maybe the endless assignments I was just learning how to juggle, my Instagram-scrolling addiction, or the annoying teenage mood swings… but my library visits reduced, and my book stack waned.
The advent of e-Books and audiobooks has made literature more accessible for millions and rebounded my own long-lost love.
It started with finding PDF books online (I’m still not sure if this is totally legal). I read Americanah, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and other literature I had never been exposed to, cultures I’d never experienced, and people I had previously misunderstood. Slowly but surely, my passions in other areas trickled into literature: celebrity memoirs, medical stories, and classical romances.
Sharing your interests with others is quite difficult when your entire family and socially-distanced friends are anti-reading and yet, this void was filled with YouTubers. Noelle Gallagher, joyful and unfiltered, has been a comfort. Her monthly TBRs, reading vlogs, and recommendations provide an intimate book club feeling. Jack Edwards, still escaping from the clutches of literature student life, creates immaculate book marathon videos subjected to anything from self-help to Harry Styles. They have inspired me to read 100 books this year, make a Goodreads account, and start developing my own literary collection.
Literature allows readers to incorporate their own imagination that differs from the blatant visuals cast on a TV screen. I can become a 17th-century woman flipping through Jane Austen, a smelly Hobbit trekking through The Lord of the Rings, or a surgeon dissecting my patient with Atul Gawande.
In my few years of being an MIA reader, I missed endless stories I may never catch up on. So, head into your local thrift store and pick up a book. A story awaits you.
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