Monday, May 28, 2007

Each Time You Read a Book, You Are a New Person

Each time you read a book, you are a different person. The cells in your body have replaced themselves, so that your skin has a sheen and newness unlike your former self. Each word written on the page has a different shape. It will affect your soul in an entirely new way, because just as you have transformed, this book you are choosing to re-read is a new narrative in the context of this day – now.

I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood. Ever since transferring to a Canadian University in my sophomore year of college and studying Canadian authors for the first time, I have been an avid reader of Atwood’s fiction. I remember studying a multitude of American and British writers in high school, but there was a distinct lack of Canadian representation in the curriculum. This is something I would like to see change. Perhaps it has since 1989.

I have read every novel Ms. Atwood has written, thus far, except Oryx and Crake. (For some reason I just had a hard time submersing myself in that one – perhaps it was the apocalyptic vision of the future offered in the narrative.) One of my favorite novels is Lady Oracle. I used to adhere to a personal tradition of re-reading this novel every year, usually in September. I loved the journey this novel took me on, and it was different every time. The protagonist is a writer who takes a trip to Italy by herself after faking her own death. She rents an apartment in order to finish her novel with no distractions. She tells no one of her travel plans (of course). She vanishes from her own life in order to go on a journey from within for the first time, while she writes this book. As a result, she launches herself on a quest of self-discovery.

By re-reading one of Margaret Atwood’s books every year for five years, I was embarking on a journey of the soul – a writer’s soul. I was searching for myself right along with the main character and was never disappointed. Getting to know one’s self is a life-long journey, and so too is the journey to becoming a good reader, or a skilled writer. Never stop searching for truths – whether they are universal or personal.

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