When it seems like everything has changed and nothing will ever be the same, books can be a welcome constant.
When I am emotionally, mentally, and physically worn out, I turn to books and words. As everything changes around me, I take comfort knowing that the words and the stories will never change. So as we rebuild and take refuge, here are some of the books I will be thumbing through for a little joy.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
I have a soft spot for Dr. Seuss, since that's what I grew up reading. I was especially fond of Yertle the Turtle and The Sneetches, but The Lorax was always my favorite. The Lorax warns the Once-ler against cutting down all the beautiful Truffula trees, saying that he speaks "for the trees." I always think of my mom when I read The Lorax, because she is always trying to put nature first in her life. And while this story can seem grim, it ends with hope, and I always feel better after giving it a read.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
I was obsessed with Roald Dahl in elementary school. I watched James and the Giant Peach on VHS till I wore the tape out and checked out Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory every time I went to my library. When I finally read the source material, I was blown away. I wanted to read everything. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is still my favorite Dahl story for a couple of reasons. First of all, the factory itself is everything. I wanted to go there as a kid and I still want to go there as an adult. Second, unlike other Dahl works, the adults aren't as atrocious. Wonka is a questionable dude, but Grandpa Joe is given a lot of love. And finally, every time I read it, I think of my grandparents, watching the movies with me and taking me to the library to check out stacks and stacks of books.
Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
I read an incredible amount of Chuck Palahniuk in high school. Choke was the first book I read on my Kindle, and I cried so hard at the end of Invisible Monsters. I have old notebooks that are probably filled with Chuck Palahniuk quotes, but nothing shook me like the line from Diary: "The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will." Diary is about a talented young artist who gets married and slowly forgets about her art. When her husband goes into a coma and she suddenly begins painting again, you know something fishy is going on. The twist hits hard and leaves you wanting more from this psychological thriller.
Ulysses by James Joyce
I've talked about Ulysses at length, and I will do so again (looking at you, annual Bloomsday post), but I can't talk about books that bring me comfort without mentioning it. Ulysses reminds me to choose life and to choose love in the everyday. I strive to walk through life as Leopold Bloom does, with love, joy, and acceptance.
Nashville, stay strong. I send you all my love and comfort.