What is a Story that has "Changed Your Life"?
Yesterday, I talked with a friend about our favorite stories. "I want to read my favorite story again for the first time!" she shared. As a bookstore owner, that is a tall order and as a fangirl, I totally get it.
What is a story that has changed your life?
I've had a few in my five decades. When I was a teen, it was The Outsiders. Even though it was a story about young men, I strongly resonated with the pull between being a Soc and being a Greaser as I attended the same high school as the Governor of California's daughter, but lived "on the wrong side of the tracks". Money and class mean a great deal in high school. But both Ponyboy and Cherry loved poetry and that helped bridge the gap even though both sides lose so much in their struggles to prove their value.
Then I let Les Miserables work its magic on me. From 21 years old when I saw it performed in San Francisco to the release of the movie with Hugh Jackman in 2012, I resonated with the story at a place inside of me I didn't know existed before. I think so many of us live with something or someone in our lives that we feel has the power to take us down. The older I get, the greater I find the temptation capable of making me throw in the towel and say, "Forget it. What's the point of trying? I'm no longer convinced love wins.". This is a theme in Les Miserable. Who wins? At the end, even the dead await their happy ending.
There are only a few stories that change our lives so profoundly. And when they do, for me it can feel like being caught in the waves and body surfing at the beach or riding the roller coasters at amusement parks. Do you remember being a child and still being able to feel the movement as you lay down to sleep that night? I do. That's what a life changing story can be like. It lingers. It doesn't differentiate between our feelings, mind, and body but moves through them all. It's something we don't forget. It becomes part of who we are.
Part of what I do as a bookstore owner is to help us discover another good story. My reader friend last night called me a drug dealer! But there's truth there. Customers apologize for needing their fix in my store often. "It's okay!" I tell them. "Reading is not a destructive addiction."
But as a fan girl, I get it. People call my current passion with all things Outlander a fantasy. When I hear that, I can almost feel the tears prick. Good stories, stories that affect us so deeply can feel like treasured friends. We learn from them, they comfort us, and they understand us. This is a gift. For me my favorite stories are like my most intimate relationships. I don't talk about them with just anyone but hold what I deeply treasure close to my chest.
What is a story that has changed your life? How? We readers understand each other. Your treasure is safe with me. If you were to share it with me, I promise to treat your beloved with the respect it deserves. And when you're ready, let's see what I might have on my (apothecary) shelf for your next deep drink.
By the way, are you following me on social media yet? You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Would love for our stories to intersect there. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter for readers here.