How Books Make Us Feel Less Alone

How Books Make Us Feel Less Alone from Read It Forward:

An existence without stories would be flat and dry, a road with no scenery or off-ramps. Well before I became literate, books infused my life with dimension and, more importantly, companionship. Little Bear, Frog and Toad, George and Martha—these were my earliest friends.

I can vividly picture the Miss Piggy and Yoda READ posters that hung on the walls of the Brooklyn Public Library, and the crinkly sound the vinyl floor-cushions made when my mother and I lowered ourselves with the piles we’d pulled off the shelves.

How Books Make Us Feel Less Alone
Photo Credit: Jovanadventures/Twenty20

How Books Make Us Feel Less Alone

As I got older, my mom waited in the adult reading room on the ground level while I browsed the second-floor teen section on my own. The paperback carousel would squeak as I spun it and helped myself to new Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High installments and titles from Judy Blume and Paula Danziger.

These stories complemented my New York City childhood; I fantasized about a suburban utopia where kids could roam free after school and spend their Saturday nights watching football games or slow-dancing. I knew the recurring characters as well as if not better than any of my friends. They were more reliable, more loyal. I could trust them not to switch allegiance or write hurtful things about me on the wall of the bathroom stall at my tiny school.


Back on familiar terrain with a familiar cast of characters, everybody could keep an eye on me. That was not to say they wanted to talk to me. The kids in my class, now in eleventh grade, had watched me drift away from them and change into an unrecognizable version of my old self.

Read on for the rest of How Books Make Us Feel Less Alone on Read It Forward.

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