As part of my weekend routine, my husband and I went to Target to pick up some things for our house. Something I can never resist while I’m there is perusing the book section. While the selection there is small, it is calming to me to walk through and note newer books. As I rounded the corner, I saw The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. I paused at the book, and thumbed through, looking at some of my favorite lines again. My eyes watered a little bit, as I remembered the story, the characters, and the message it left with me.
This book changed my life. It isn’t the next great American novel, but I connected so much with the characters and the interesting world the author built around them. The writing is intimate. There were lines that cracked my heart and some that cradled it. It left a lasting impression on me.
This year has been one of profound change for me. For better or worse, I’ve kept a promise to myself to stop hurting. 2015 drudged up things that had been previously buried. That year took me backwards, dragged me down a path I had already walked and thought I had locked behind me. It seems though, that unresolved things don’t last in the past for long. It is easy to wish them away, but sooner or later, they’ll make you listen. Even when resolutions aren’t readily available, the mind has an interesting way of dwelling.
I sought medical help for the intensity of it all. My counselor was willing to listen to me, something that hadn’t happened in my life before. Their kindness helped me to understand how much of my life wasn’t working for me. Something that became apparent was how much I was hiding myself. The resulting consequences were causing my mind to feel a crisis of self and of my worth. I still struggle with this. There are times when my confidence wains, and I can’t stand for myself. I retreat within myself, and hold on desperately to books to give me worlds to explore. Books grant me time to see a thousand lives lived, and even more stories that take place in my mind. They help me straighten out the wrinkles of my own life, while sending positive vibes that I can get through it.
The power of The Book of Speculation resonated farther than the story. Passages on the water as a force for life and death were felt deep within, as if I was simultaneously cleansing my heart while consuming Swyler’s words. I identified heavily with the main character, a man who was stuck in a life that didn’t feel quite real, and knew little about his parents, who seemed like ghosts even when they were alive. Swyler is delicate but deliberate about how she unfolds the story, and the truth behind the facade around the family. By the end, the characters felt renewed, like an ugly truth had been cleansed. When I closed the book at the end, I felt my own life had been purged of a sadness that had weighed on me.
In life, I continue to seek clarity for myself, and by whatever means I must use, I am thankful for those who write and create what helps me find peace.
Have you read The Book of Speculation or any other book that made you feel refreshed after reading?