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How Reading Saved Me

They never told me that growing up to be an introvert in the middle of the hustle and bustle of London would be as difficult as it has been. Having been surrounded by secure, opinionated extroverts my whole life, I’ve always been the sore thumb. I always despised feeling lost as a kid and yet ironically never minded losing myself in a novel. In fact, as cliché as it may sound, it really was my escape; my escape from certainty and inevitability. I felt that reading novels almost gave me the power to decide my own ending to any piece of text I would read. Coming from a black-and-white culture and a family who’d already decided my life would be academically oriented, reading compensated for the lack of control I possessed in many aspects of my life. Watching J.K. Rowling’s ‘A Year In One Life’ documentary, I realized that when an individual discovers a book of which resembles so many concepts and perhaps absent relationships in their life, they need answers. It is perhaps the reason why Hazel travelled half way across the world to find out what happens to the characters after the Imperial Affliction had finished (or should I say, not finished.) She found herself relating to the protagonist so dearly that she needed to seek validation from the only person in control of the character’s (and essentially her own) fate: the author. It is also possibly the reason why Rowling felt the need to plan out the destiny of each Harry Potter character despite her reluctance to continuing the Hogwarts series. It leaves us craving this unrealistic, impossible need for immortality, continuity and ironically closure; despite their never wanting it to come to a close. It is the reason we as readers are never satisfied with the termination of a novel – maybe it is not the ending to the plot itself that was disappointing but the mere fact that it ended in the first place. Nevertheless, I’ve always sought after comfort in the unknown. I think, despite our evolutionary need for security, I’ve always liked the idea of limbo and endless possibilities; a novel which is open to different interpretations. ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’ is the one novel that taught me that it’s okay to be different whilst Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet’ taught me to also love myself for it. Whenever my journey venturing with Anna Karenina on a sad, lonely train, or Holden Caulfield’s ‘phony’ ways would come to an end, I told myself this: if I were ever able to write a novel and make someone feel the upset I do when reluctantly flipping the last few pages of any literary excursion then that would be it. And so that is what I decided to do. P.S. I do hope that someone does decide to bring the made-up novel Imperial Affliction to life (not only because I think it would make for an awesome novel) but mainly because there are many Hazels out there who depend on endings of novels such as these to get them by.

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