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Zachary James
May 02, 2019
Books were once just words. Books were once nothing except trees stripped bare of life, stained in obsidian ink. Now they’re more. Books are more than a tightly-bound cover filled to the edges with pages marked in soul, love, and heart. Books are stories, adventures, friends. To me, books are everything, have struck a cord deep within me, echoing through my body with baritone color. Each novel I read is a calloused finger plucking the tip of a pendulum, setting the click, click, clicking into a never-ending back and forth which reverberates in my bones and skull. Books are the tick, tick, ticking of my mind, body, and life. I once hated books. I despised what each colorful gloss or matte cover withheld, what they entailed, and the assignments that would surely come along with it to burden my useless time of laziness. I believed that they were hindering my social life, disrupting my opportunities of being a teenager, and growing with the new wave of digital bottom-feeders. There was a time when I was them. I was a soulless, blind, and bored mind who found staring at a screen full of hate and narcissism more important than seeing what was beyond the digital world, beyond a glowing screen. I was a lost carp, floundering through the shifting tide, too worried about where my school was headed than where I chose to swim. In those depths, the dark deep blue, I didn’t see what hid on every page, between every line. Words create worlds, not destroy them. They inspire, explore, and elaborate the smallest and biggest things. They break down the big and build up the small. It only takes 26 letters, rearranged by different individuals in different ways, to inspire legends, adventures, and stories that give every reader a varying experience. Every novel is like solving a puzzle, evaluating the literal meanings and the underlying metaphors. The imagery in light and dark, soul and mind, beauty and ugly. I see what I couldn’t before. It’s like glasses have slipped onto the bridge of my nose, fixing my blurred sight. It’s like a candle has illuminated the dark, chased away the roiling shadows with flickering amber and gold light. Now I’m aware of what books do, what they mean to me. Now, they have become my everything. Books, novels, stories -- once nothing except ink splattered on skinned wood -- are now my muses. They are now my life. They have swarmed around me like a plume of krill, swimming through a glimmering tide pool. Books have taught me how to use 26 letters in my own way, in my own stories, and create something more for the people like me. The people who are lost, wandering in circles to find their group, and ignore the world, magic, and tiniest of details between every letter, word, sentence, paragraph, and story. They don’t know what books are. People -- who I was once like -- see those bound pages, piled and lined up like tiny legions of paper and ink, as nothing. They see them as dead trees covered in onyx stain, full of bland words, but I know better . It took time, it took exploring and swimming to find my home nestled in the sand, smelling the salty sea and thinking of the tidal breeze. I found my home in books. I found myself in stories. And I’ve found my everything in absolutely nothing.

Zachary James

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