Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bookstore Therapy

Bookstore Thearpy

I'm an anxious person. Chalk it up to bad genes or what have you but basically I don't accomplish mundane tasks without at least a little bit of anxiety. I wouldn't say my anxious tendencies have ever controlled me, but they definitely played a roll in shaping my life. 

In high school, I used to crave primetime television and a home cooked meal. These were two things that helped mellow me out at the end of a long day. But these weren't a cure, they were a sedative that put the nerves at bay until 6 o'clock the next morning when I would wake up nauseous and worried all over again. 

In college, friends and the cafeteria became my means to chill out. And fortunately college has no shortage of people or comfort food. But that still left me with the times when I was alone. And as someone who craves alone time, during these periods, the anxiety was invited back in. 

Then today, 25 and a half years (to the day) later, I have truly found my real therapy. A bookstore.

Books, stories and writing have a magical quality. And here is why, as a quiet person, I don't like sharing my feelings. I'm not good at it. Thus when I'm stressed, unlike most people, I don't vent. And even the thought of saying personal things out loud is a source of anxiety. But in written words, all that exists within, is allowed to spill out. Writing purifies me. Writing doesn't numb the anxiety, it banishes it. 

So when I'm feeling tightly wound, the place I love to go is a book store. I love looking through all of the racks of books, knowing ultimately, I will wind up in the young adult section. While surrounded by the quiet peace of millions of written words, I am at my most calm. I can hear my heart instead of my head. I can process. And then, I can write.

I don't hate life as an anxious person. In fact, it has its perks. There is nothing like the moment that the nerves are alleviated and all that is left is an unparalleled content. The highs and lows play off each other. Like Lauren Oliver writes in her beautiful dystopian novel, Delirium, “You can't be happy unless you're unhappy sometimes.” As a writer and a reader, the hurricane of emotions is so pertinent. They are what allow a story to transcend the page and to penetrate beneath the surface. They are what take a book character and make them real. These emotions are the reason why people cry while reading fiction. 

While in a bookstore, I don't just see bound pages with black ink. I see the emotions and heart that went into creating those stories. I see the possible worlds waiting to be discovered. I see the writer at their desk, pounding at the keys as they too seek a way to calm the storm of emotions inside. 

It is like the books in the store are seeping their power into me, and I can feel the stories inside of them banging against their bounds. They scream at me to buy one, to experience one (which I always do). And like the wolf in the wild, their howls awaken the words inside of me. And all I can think of is how much I want to write them down.  

This is what a bookstore does for me. 


  1. You and I are quite alike, cuz. So maybe it is in the genes, but I wouldn't chalk it up to BAD genes.

    And, also, happy half-birthday to you. And happy un-birthday to you as well! And me! A happy un-birthday to most all of us!

    Also, write more. It's a wonderful read while i'm not working at work.



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