We Read to Wake Up and Live

If you’re reading this blog, you probably remember you favorite English teacher, that one central figure in your high school experience who ignited or fueled your appetite for books, poetry, novels, plays—ah, you name it.

Hailing from Chicago’s own Whitney Young HS (whoop! whoop!), there was no shortage of prime English teachers at my high school. My freshman English teacher was pretty dope, perhaps because he was the first to introduce me to literature. Required Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” for other people became the discovery of a new, rich, elegant planet to me. Especially since my own planet was quickly becoming unfit for life.

Yet, it was not until my junior year of high school that the favorite came descending from the clouds (cue doves and harps). Ok, no, he wasn’t an angel, but he helped me understand why reading had always been so important to me.

Why do we read? It’s one of the most important questions that us literature people in the community ask ourselves and each other. He had an answer that rang true for me. “To know we are not alone.” What a Mr. Antolini moment.

For an introverted geek with moderate to severe family issues, the break in loneliness couldn’t come from anywhere else at that time. It was the way to receive understanding, acceptance, even happiness and passion. The worlds in books became my worlds, my life.

Ok, guys. At some point, it stops being beautiful and it becomes pathological-like.

At some point in the past year or so, I realized that I would have to be alive to be a good writer, or even a happy, productive person. I didn’t know how this would occur, but it had to happen. It was no longer enough to live vicariously, because I would be betraying the authors that had raised me, in a way.

No, these worlds were not meant to replace life, but they help us recognize life, “know we are not alone.” Once we learn this, we go out in the real world and join it. Live with the knowledge that we are all connected.

This is why I read. This is why I started this blog. To live and document how all of the knowledge I have accumulated from classical literature really touches on life, brimming beautiful life. Welcome to the journey!


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