Like every middle school student in the great state of California, I was forced to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Of course at the time, I did not appreciate the Pulitzer Prize-winning notoriety of the 280-page classic, but I remember my teacher diving deep into the novel’s subtext. It was my first indication that there was more to a book than the words on the page. Instead of just the simple ink type on the pages of my worn and torn hand-me-down copy, there existed subtle clues scattered across the pages pointing to more, if only I was looking for them—metaphor, allusion, simile, foreshadowing.
One such more-than-meets-the-eye section that I still call upon from time to time lay in Chapter 2. Here, the spunky, young protagonist and narrator, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch admits, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
Reading as breath. In and out. In and out. Yes.
Today though, I’m a writer and thereby, an admirer of books. When people ask me why I continue to type type type my way through life, I always point to catharsis. I write because I have to, though not in the same way as I was required to read To Kill A Mockingbird in junior high and then again in high school. I write because I’m compelled to, that I may somehow move through my life’s ebb and flow, process, and learn more about myself by the conclusion than I ever expected to.
You see, if reading is breath, then writing must be also. Read in and write out. Inhale, exhale.
Here are my most recent breaths reads:
- Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff
- And Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering by Kate Merrick
- Grace (Eventually): Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott
- Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
The Square Peg