When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that when she had a good book to read, it was like having a good friend. And when she finished a good book, it was like losing a good friend. It took me a long time to understand what this meant. I've learned it doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it can be magical.
This past weekend, I finally got around to reading a book I've been wanting to read for quite some time -- Markus Zusak's The Book Thief . As soon as I got into the first few pages, I knew I was about to make a good friend. That feeling of an instant connection, a shared experience, a moment of laughter that comes from the same humor, and an overall tapping of that place deep within you.
I was compelled to keep reading, putting off all the chores that a weekend is made for, so I could get to know my new friend. When I did put the book down to tend to necessities of life, I had a sense of missing and wanting to know more. Very much like the feeling you have toward a flesh and blood friend.
I didn't stay away long, I kept finding my way back to the The Book Thief, to be a part of the lives of Liesel Meminger, Rudy Steiner, and Max Vandenburg. I developed a genuine fondness and caring for them. I felt the pain of their trials. I cheered them onward through their small moments of triumph. They stayed close to me during all the days of my reading, and when I came to the last page, a sadness washed over me. Not only for how their lives turned and ended, but also for the loss of more time with my friend.
When I put the book back on my bookshelf, I looked upon all my other favorite books. All these good friends of mine, each touching my soul and impacting my life in a special way. I thought about how and when they came into my life. Was it serendipity or fate?
The answer is fate. They came to me when I needed to be reminded of love, loss, loyalty, hope, faith, and the meaning of real friendship. And they linger with me still, returning to me in quiet moments of contemplation.
My mother was right. A good book is a good friend.
So what's your good book, that's become your good friend?