She’d always wished she was the kind of girl that inspired stupidly heroic acts and badly written poetry.
She’d spent her childhood peering into cloudy shop-windows, wondering if she’d grow up to have the kind of smile that explodes; showering you with tiny bits of glitter that fluttered into your hair and stayed with you for the rest of the day. Would she be the kind of woman that people couldn’t resist? Her charm, her vivacity, her utter genuineness drawing them to her without the slightest bit of effort on her part. All it would take, she knew, was perfecting that one slight raise of an eyebrow or the corner of her lip lifting at exactly the right angle.
People would flock to her. And oh my! would she entertain!
At some point in her teens she stopped looking out for her shop-window reflections and began peering in. She remembered the first time she touched the spine of an ‘adult’ book- you know, the heavy; hardbacked tomes you would see your parents read on Saturday afternoons, their faces so serene, so placid, so at peace that only the call of tea-time would break it.
It was a revelation. Surely these books whose spines she was tickling, surely these weren’t the same as her paperbound school-books. Surely not! Imagine reading Dickens if he was clad in a blue, hard-spined cover with gilt gold lettering. She’d never bend a page or sully the edges with her cramped Literature notes. Why, she’d even hesitate to say she hated Dickens with a passion she’d never felt before.
If books looked and smelled and breathed and lived like these, she couldn’t ever imagine a world where she wouldn’t be surrounded by them.
She stopped dreaming about boys in her form room that would someday come calling at her door and beg her to give them a moment of her time, a flash of her smile, her patience with their words. She lived for the badly-written poems that had been dedicated to someone else, the stupidly heroic acts of someone else’s love stories, and the personalities that only lived in pages and imaginations of long-dead authors.
By the time the summer of her twentieth birthday had arrived, even tea-time wouldn’t lift her head from her latest fancy. Her brother teased her, her father smiled indulgently and her mother carefully placed cups of warm tea by her propped-up feet. The cups were always empty when she returned hours later, but the eyes never lifted from the page.
She graduated with a Literature degree. What else would a book-lover do, but read?
Her thesis adviser introduced her to an old publisher friend. She took the job.
If you’ve ever picked up a book and wondered who wrote the excerpt on the book jacket; wondered if they’d ever read the book or if they even liked reading or questioned their taste and knowledge- well, if you’ve ever wondered about the person that did that or if it was an actual job; she wanted you to know that she was that writer, that it was her- she was that person. Recommending a book, sharing the story, forging a connection with you, intriguing you and making you want to believe in someone else’s story.
What else would a book-lover do but read?
It had been a number of years since she’d first discovered the touch of an old hardbound book, but even now and even at tea-time, her eyes never left the page. Not even when there was a cup of warm tea placed by her propped-up feet.
“Achlys!”, said the voice; breaking her concentration.
She looked up, brushing her hair out of her eyes; and promptly dropped her book.