In the past week, I've read two books.
One became a favorite of mine.
The other turned into ash and scraps of paper as I ripped it up and threw it away, burning the rest taking the form of quotes on journal pages.
A quick aside: I love literature, and because of this deep admiration, never really condone the burning of books. I mean, Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorite books and I can assure you it is not, in my case, a pleasure to burn. I've only ever thrown away one other book. However, in this moment, I could not ignore the shaking in my bones. Maybe you've been there? There are countless reasons, one of which I would be willing to say it was nonfiction and written as truth. I won't release the name of the book, or include it in my Goodreads as one I couldn't finish. I believe in people finding their own way with words and books and if you're really curious about it, shoot me a message. We can chat more about it.
A couple years ago, I was at the STORY conference when Andrew Klavan began speaking of his experience reading Crime and Punishment. It was his conversion story, set in between the pages of a plot ripe with grace and beauty.
I thought of this story as I watched flames lick the cover of the book I had been so interested in reading. The one I purchased seven months ago, almost to the day. The other half of Klavan's tale includes a book that's dark and twisted and revealed to him the path he was taking. He too had read two books, with one shaking him to the core with the evil and darkness apparent.
Put simply, he didn't want the narrative of the second one. He wanted the grace and beauty, even in moments of discomfort and darkness.
I don't often write about my spirituality, mostly because I've grown to believe the relationship I have with God is inherently intimate, and therefore not meant to be put on display. However, in this moment all of those intentions went rogue.
I bolted out of bed.
I grabbed the book.
I started ripping out the pages, whispering prayers and curse words alike.
You can attribute this reaction to the firm lineage of righteous indignation pulsing in my blood. There was no fucking way I would allow those words in my home any longer.
I can't tell you how viscerally I reacted to this second book last night. I can try, pointing to posts written days after receiving it in the mail. I can attempt to mention the synchronicity of those closest to me speaking truth.
Or I can explain the conversation I had with my sister on the phone, when I once again realized the power of words placed with intention. It reminded me of what I wanted my words to create: hope, second chances, redemption, love, the beauty of small yet breathtaking human moments.
And the realization that I can't fill my own story—the one I'm living—with hope and beauty when I'm reading words built around lies and darkness and the power that feeds off the very truth I'm trying to share.
So I build my list slowly, with intention. I'm done taking the words of others as gold. I know what Gold is, and I recognize the moments her name is plastered on tarnished brass. I don't want the words of trite suppositions filling the space meant for belonging and restoration. I've pondered this for a few months now, how as a writer, reading serves as filling up that internal reservoir.
I will be fierce in my execution of good reads, because I want more. I want the words that leave me hanging on for dear life. I want the stories that leave me breathless and aching to write. My life—my story—my words deserve nothing less.
This means something for this space: an addition of sorts, a series tried about twice over and probably three years past its time: Elora Reads. The goals being specificity, honesty and ingesting words that make me want to turn around and create.
Because I'm done with the words that stifle that fire. They're now ash in my disposal. They're burning in the rancid dumpster heat.
First up and later this week: The Goldfinch—the book that became a favorite.