Smugglers Ponderings

Emotional reading

I am an emotional reader.

I love to read. Which probably sounds like the most obvious thing in the world since I share a blog about book reviews but really, I LOVE to read.
I love the act of reading. Of sitting down with a book in my hands and get immersed in a story. I love the mere physicality of it. Most of all, I love the emotional side of reading.

I have been a bookworm for as long as I can remember and yet I still surprise myself with my reactions to certain books. I can have such guttural reactions to some stories – positive or even negative ones. I am not one for calm, controlled reactions. Some books can make me sob, some books can make me laugh until I feel pain on my side. Some make me dream, some send me into crazy Internet research about a particular historical event. Dear Partner, who is not much of a reader, much less an emotional one, is always picking up my pieces, bless his soul, but definitely thinks I am well, crazy.

The interesting thing though is that I can never predict WHICH books will make me want nothing more than to hug the book (yeah, I hug my books. The “crazy” theory is starting to sound correct now, isn’t it?) or to throw it at the wall. It’s like opening a Pandora’s Box, every time.

For example, I never would have expected to like Twilight so much and yet I did. I devoured the book and I was still thinking about it for days after finishing it. And I may be writing the understatement of the century but it still awes me how different people react so differently to the same things.

The first time I realised how I can react to a story in a guttural way was when I read Wuthering Heights. I was 15 and spending the weekend with my best friend at the time. We were both bookish teenagers and were going through a “gothic” phase – reading stories about Vampires (Anne Rice’s), Dracula etc. and we thought we should give Mrs Bronte a go.

We both read the book at the same time and when we got to the last scene between Cathy and Heathcliff – where she lays dying and they have a convo where he says she is dying out of her own accord and that she pretty much will carry his soul to her grave and that he can and will forgive her for killing him but he can’t forgive her for killing herself. And that after chastising her for choosing another man over him:

“You teach me how cruel you’ve been – cruel and false. Why do you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my kisses and tears; they’ll blight you – they’ll damn you. You loved me–then what right had you to leave me? What right–answer me–for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart–you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.”

It is one of the most powerful, gut wrenching scenes I have ever read to this date. There are people out there who don’t like this book at all but me and my friend? Sobbing through the whole thing. I am not talking about silent tears here, I am talking about doubling-on- your-gut, tears-streaming-down-our-faces gut wrenching.

Then we started to talk about said scene and to my utter and complete surprise, it dawned on us that we were both crying for different reasons. My friend was crying for Cathy, for all of the things she missed in life because she didn’t choose Heathcliff and his passionate ways, because she was dying and would never see her baby.
Now, me? I couldn’t care less for Cathy, good riddance to the ninny coward! I was crying for Heathcliff , because he loved her with everything that he was , because he was losing the only one that understood him. (I also realised then that I tend to side with the heroes, but this is a matter for another post)

I know it may sound naive but I do like when I am so absorbed in a story that my emotions are all over the place. I can feel uber excited or extremely sad or deeply satisfied after reading a book. I am trying to make a point here but I am not sure which. Maybe the fact that I love reading. Because it makes me so emotional.

Now, you tell me, am I crazy?

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  • Stacy~
    February 28, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Great post. I can definitely relate, though I don’t know if I’m quite as emotional as I used to be. But the emotion is what makes me love a book so much. I can read the same scenes over and over and still get caught up in it. And yes, I also hug my books!

    Ana, I sided with Heathcliff too. When I was younger, I never understood why he loved Cathy so. I found her weak and selfish and unworthy of Heathcliff. As I got older, I saw that part of it was that yes, she understood him and felt the same, much to her dismay, but also because we can’t always choose whom we love, and Heathcliff was much to passionate to “decide” to love her – he just did.

  • Thea
    February 28, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Ana, my emotional partner in reading crime! I love the escapism that fiction provides, although it takes a lot for a book to make me super emotional. Usually it happens with long series’ that I have been devoted to over the years (i.e. SK’s Dark Tower series–I was bawling all book 7; or Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori series–I can’t even bring myself to read Heaven’s Net is Wide because of how emotional I was after Harsh Cry of the Heron)

    It’s one of the highest compliments you can give to a book when it makes you FEEL so much, IMO. Completely love your post and agree with you wholeheartedly.

    And dude–we need to have the hero/heroine post soon πŸ™‚

  • Ana
    February 29, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Thanks Stacy. Good to know that I am not alone with the book hugging! LOL.

    Thea, Let’s!

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