While reading is my number one way to escape all of the anxious, incessant ramblings of my inner dialogue, I also love having a mountain of books in my home for aesthetic reasons. There is something deeply comforting about a vast array of novels and stories surrounding you. It is almost like having people in the room with you minus the responsibility of keeping them entertained and content. Although it sounds horribly cliche, I keep books around me to feel less alone because I know that many were created to provide people with a comforting reprieve from their chaotic realities. At least the majority of the books I purchase do me this favor.
I fell in love with reading around the age of eleven when my sister loaned me her copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth. I remember sneaking the book under my desk during my Social Studies class because I simply had to know what happened next. When I finished reading, I threw the book across my room due to a rush of contradicting emotions; I had fallen in love with the story but was immensely upset that there was not more for me to read. Thus began my love affair with YA fantasy books. From Legend by Marie Lu to The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, I spent my days in middle school vicariously living through the heroines I so desperately wished I could be.
My library expanded due to the suggested and assigned books given to me by my AP English teacher, Ms. Handelsman, my junior and senior year. Classic novels such as Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas began to override my list of favorite books that originally consisted of the YA books I had loved in adolescence. Her love for literature only made mine grow, and I still text her every now and then for recommendations or to give her recommendations of my own.
As of now, my taste in books has grown tremendously. While I still have a soft spot in my heart for fantasy, my current favorite being Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson, I have branched out to non fiction, psychological thrillers, romance, mystery, etc. My most recent read was The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, and it was the kind of story that forces you to sit and stare at the wall for a while after you finish in order to digest everything you just read. My comfort book is actually one of Adrienne Rich’s collections of poems titled, Diving into the Wreck. The way she writes and what she speaks on makes me feel less crazy and more understood than any piece of writing I have ever consumed. Her work also reminds me of the reasons I chose to pursue English. The relatability and solace that can be found in others’ writing, no matter when or where it was written, is one of the greatest treasures I believe the world has to offer.
My hope for the future is to live in a place that contains a room where I can completely surround myself with all of the books and collections of poetry that have come to adore over the years. It doesn’t hurt that people who come to visit me will probably think that I am uber smart as well.
Anna-Quinn French is a junior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she studies English, with a concentration in literature and a minor in Philosophy, and works as a student tutor in the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center. She is a sucker for fantasy romance novels and romantic poetry and is constantly on the hunt for the next story that she can fixate on for months.
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