From Left to Write: A Literary Medicine Cabinet

It’s been so long since I touched this blog…literally, six months…but this month’s From Left to Write book club pick brought me crawling back. I just couldn’t stay away, which is nothing short of a miracle considering I barely had time to read with everything going on in my personal life.

But here I am, and this book, frankly, literally couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment for me. I found this quote from the Washington Post that basically sums up the power of novels:

Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some…well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void.

It makes me think about the hundreds of books that fill my bookcases: some have been with me since childhood (Louisa May Alcott and Christopher Pike, I’m looking at you!); some have shocked me to my core (the most recent of which being Marieke Nijkamp’s This Is Where It Ends, which I may or may not be dying to write about but can’t because the book isn’t available to the public until January); some just make me ridiculously happy (and one in particular, Adriana Trigiani’s latest, All the Stars in the Heavens, which I don’t even have yet — it’ll be here next week — but which already has a long-reserved spot on my shelf!); and some, as Monsieur Perdu described it, give me that temporary cotton-candy sugar high and then fall off the edge of my memory (which, to preserve a sense of decorum around here, shall not be named). But every book I own, regardless of the color of its cover or how fluffy or rock-solid its contents may be, serves a purpose to me. Certain books raise interesting, sometimes controversial questions, while others simply put a smile on my face. Some make me want to scale a volcano just so I can be rid of them, while others tie themselves so strongly and thoroughly to my heart that it might actually cause me physical harm to let them go. I want to force people to read some titles, while I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve read others (like I’m fairly certain that there’s a special place in hell with my name on it just for reading the garbage prose that is Fifty Shades of Grey). I like to think of my books as medicine. They’re my cup of comfort, my apple a day — though being able to read a book a day is nothing more than a pipe dream! — and I like to keep my bookcases, my personal literary medicine cabinet, stocked at all times. A book really can cure just about any ill if the reader lets it.

Disclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu–a literary apothecary–finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.