Why I Read

 Photo by  Masaaki Komori  on  Unsplash

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

That is exactly why I read books when I cannot travel. They are for me an endlessly reliable source of new skies and new stars for my daily horizon. They are warm, accessible and always surprising.

Books enable us to find and lose ourselves at the same time. What is a work of art if not the gaze of another person? Not directed above us, nor beneath us, but at the same weight as our own gaze. Art cannot be experienced collectively, nothing can, art is something you are alone with. You meet its gaze alone.

The act of reading a book is the best example of distance learning possible because reading not only triumphs over the limitations of space and co-presence but of time as well.

Sometimes I find in myself this superabundance of energy and it doesn’t let me settle for a quiet existence, at least not yet. I read so many books because I belong to those people who have something eating them inside constantly. It’s like my brain is a monster that never keeps quiet and my soul is always longing for something greater. It’s a course and a blessing because I never stop but I am also never truly satisfied. It feels as if it was all too much and not enough at the same time. Do you know what I am talking about?

Some of my friends see me as a time bomb, constantly ticking, ready to explode, and they, always collected and rational, are trying to figure out how to defuse me. I picture myself as a suspicious package on the road, and them as bomb-disposal experts, dressed in flameproof suits and helmets, approaching me circumspectly.

I have so many questions for writers that burn me with an urgency almost unbearable:

 

Dear Haruki Murakami,

Do you believe in soulmates and the one irreplaceable love that lasts no matter what and hunts you forever if you lose it? When those things happen - when people leave us and they don’t love us, and we don’t understand them, and it all feels like when it suddenly starts raining hard and you look around and find no place for shelter…Do we all have this dark and scary corner in our souls?

 

I love you the way people can love only once, the old-fashioned way, with the whole soul and without looking back.

Dearest Elena Ferrante,

Are all men always using us and is it all about instincts? If all male human beings are really unfaithful, at times repulsive and disgusting, and they always take so much more than they give, what is the point of it all? 

…maybe, in the face of abandonment, we are all the same; maybe not even a very orderly mind can endure the discovery of not being loved. 

Dear Karl Ove Knausgård,

Where is the place in your soul that you go to to find such a terrible depth behind such a grey daily existence? Are we all as miserable as your characters in our struggle to find happiness, love, fulfillment, but in the end, just to survive? Your protagonist wants only to be a good, decent man, and yet it seems almost impossible. Are there so many things that seem normal, so much that we miss, are we humans so complicated? We love each other but cause so much pain, we want to write and create but end up sitting there on a sofa. We want children but then they are not enough to give our life the meaning. So what is it that we are ultimately looking for?

What I Would Ask Them

I would love to sit down with them and sip a milky coffee, and ask:

  • Where is the line between fiction and their personal beliefs?

  • What is the purpose of their writing?

  • How do they feel when they hold their own books in their hands? 

Manuscripts don’t burn, said Dostoevsky. I do hope he was right.