Letter about the joy re-reading books

10th of January 2020

Dear no one, or someone, or whoever is reading this.

I am not sure how I am going to keep writing with no one to write to. But then I think how is that different from before. And I know I have to keep writing.

A and I went to see the musical Hamilton in London last year, and there is a line in the song “Non Stop” that says: “Why do you write like you need it to survive?” And that is the line that made me realise that I have to start writing again. I need writing. I need whatever it is I feel when in am typing out words. And that’s why I asked A to start this blog with me.
I have been very hooked on Hamilton since I first started listening to the album. I relate to Hamilton’s drive and his need to accomplish things and make his mark on the world. Songs like “Non Stop” or “My Shot” have proven very useful in my battle against depression, suicide thoughts and apathy. I listen to all the songs a lot. I have never really listened that much to music. So I am surprised at the effect this has had on me. I am so thankful this exists, that I have found it, that I am able to find strength in the words and the way they are delivered. And I am thankful to have a friend like A who was willing to buy us tickets to a musical she had never heard of and that I had a very hard time explaining to her in an coherent way. And I am thankful she enjoyed the musical as much as I did, since she had paid for the tickets and I was terribly afraid she wouldn’t like it.
I have been thinking about writing something about my thoughts on Hamilton and what it means to me. But I haven really found the words. Maybe I will someday. Maybe I don’t need to and just playing the album on repeat is enough.

So as I wrote last week I need to read too. Books. The love of my life. The only things I refused to compromise on when I moved to a smaller apartment. All my furniture could go, all my things. But not my books. I needed my books. I told my family that my new home needed room for my books and my bed and everything else could be talked about. And if there was any problems after that we would have to figure out what to do with the bed, because the books were not up for negotiation. And now I have them all here. And I haven’t had the mind to read. Not a lot at least. So I am starting this new year desperately trying to do something I have wanted to do for several years now. And that is read a book a week. I only work one day a week, I don’t have that many other obligations except taking care of myself and my mental health. I have plenty of time to read. It’s just that I don’t always have the concentration.
But since I am lonely and desperately miss interesting conversations and new ideas, book seems like a good solution. And I need to invest time and energy in it. Not just wait around for the mood to strike. I have to make it a priority. Just like writing has to be a priority. And maybe I could try to keep myself going by promising to write a few words about last week’s book. Since I have to write my letter for the blog on Fridays and I deadline for finishing a book is Sundays I will likely write about the book I finished last week and maybe mention what book I am reading now or maybe which book I plan to read next week. That way I’ll have a way to express my thought on the book and be a little obligated to actually keep both the writing and the reading going. I do not believe that tactic will be a success. But it is a thing I could try, and if it fails I won’t be disappointed in myself, because it didn’t really seem that realistic in the first place. And if I succeed just a few times this week I’ll be really impressed with myself. And that sound to me like a fine idea, that can’t go to wrong, and that will at least give me something to write about if I can’t think of anything. So maybe 2020 Letters to Here will be a blog about books I read and if reading a lot makes me a little less lonely. It’s an experiment worth trying and documenting.

And of cause I’ll write sad letters about my depression. It isn’t going anywhere and I need an outlet for the thoughts and feeling that would otherwise suffocate me. And I’ll write about my frustrations with my parents and how difficult it is to get help with all my diagnonsens. And maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a lot of hopeful stuff too about good days and progress and stuff like that, if those things happen to show up. You never know, a lot can happen in a year.

So. Last week I read “Book of Dust I: La Belle Sauvage” by Philip Pullman. I first read “His Dark Materials” when I was 14. The book series was a Christmas present from my parents who didn’t know anything about them, I had just wished for them because I liked books and the covers of this specific book series in this edition was so beautiful. And I have never read anything like it. These book made me question. I’ve always questioned almost everything, but these books opened my mind to so many more new questions. And when I later heard that a new book called Book of Dust was being written I was so excited. And then I had to wait. For almost 15 years. I got it as soon as I came out, but then my concentration failed me and I had to wait a few months to actually be able to read it. But when I finally did it was so amazing! And it was wonderful being back in Lyra’s world and think about Dust and dæmons and all that. And I loved re-reading it last week. I have always loved re-reading books. I know that many people wish they could forget a book so they could read it again for the first time an not know what it is about and be surprised by the plot. But I love re-reading. I love going back and meeting the characters again, I love going on this journey that I know and discover it again and discover how much I missed the first time, or how much I have grown as a person. I never think I wish I could forget and experience it again for the first time. I love returning. Like meeting an old friend again or like finding my way home.

I visited Oxford for the first time in May of 2018, during my interrail trip. It was amazing to see the place I have only ever read about. I visited the Bodleian Library and the Botanic Garden. I had a picture taken on The Bench. I walked the streets and imagined this as Lyra’s Oxford. And I went to the Trout in Godstow where the first part of “La Belle Sauvage” takes place. I saw the ruins on the other side of the river. And I remembered that trip re-reading this book. I remembered the streets, I remembered the Trout and the ruin. And the book and the story came alive in a whole new way. And I missed Oxford and want to go back soon. I have never experienced anything like the feeling I had in Oxford. I got of the train, walked through the train station and five steps outside the station building, I felt like this was the best place I have ever visited. I felt at home and at peace. I love London and have done so since my first trip there when I was 16. It was a school trip and I was nervous going because I had no friends going on this trip. But the trip was great. The city amazing. And I have return to London so many times I am losing count. At this point I feel at home when I arrive in London, I know my way around, know where to go and how to get there, I barely even think about the route when I glace at a tube map. Last time I was there I even gave some one directions and felt confident doing that. I love London. And yet Oxford took me by surprise. I won’t say I love it better. I just fell instantly in love in a way I cannot compare to London. And I hope my future brings me many reasons to return to Oxford and lots of time there.

I think I’ll stop writing for now. But for the first time in a long time I fell ok writing a new letter next week. Next week I’ll write about reading “Book of Dust II: The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman for the first time. Maybe I can contrast reading a new book with re-reading an old one. Maybe I’ll write about dæmons. One thing for sure, I’ll have the book finished on time.

Whoever is reading this, if anyone is. Take good care of yourself, whatever that means to you. I am sending you good thoughts and thank you for being there, for your time and your attention.