30 Books for My 30th – Number 1

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img_4338Dear Lord of the Flies,

How are you? It’s been a while since we last spent any real time together. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten you. I appreciate that these days I only come round if I want something (more often than not, a worn or well-loved book for an Instagram post) but don’t think for one second that I no longer care. We’ve known each other for about 15 years and that means something. Like every other young person, we first met when I was studying for my GCSEs. Your pages were already bent and you were full of notes but that didn’t matter. My sister may have claimed ownership of you once upon a time but now you were mine. And, if I have anything to do with it, you always will be.

I’m always shy around people I don’t know so I was a bit wary of you at first. I was at an age where I was good at studying literature but I didn’t love it yet. I warmed up to you pretty quickly. You were intense and powerful. I’d read important books before, of course, but nothing that was quite so fiery. Nothing that was quite as beautifully written whilst being so devastating. I found myself enjoying working my way through your pages and analysing everything in front of my eyes. I was getting excited about your symbolism and your allegory. Every inch of your blank pages became a notebook of pencil scribbles. I wanted to discover who you really were: I needed to see you properly. And I believe that, during those GCSE years, I did.

But we’ve grown apart since. I’ve barely opened your pages since then and have left you languishing on a shelf. It’s scary, you see, loving a book so much as a teenager and, inevitably, stopping being a teenager. What would I do if you were no longer the book I thought you were? What if I’m no longer the reader I was back then? The young, naive girl with an insignificant personal library. What if I no longer deserved you? I couldn’t bear that. Not after you meant so much to me.

So, yes, you can call me a coward because I am. But you shouldn’t care for me any less. The thing about real friendship is that you can see each other’s flaws but it doesn’t matter. I see your flaws as I, probably, saw them then. You’re a little bit cynical, a little too on-the-nose. Your allegorical narrative is wonderful and painful but, you have to admit, it is anything but subtle. Your writing may be exquisite but it’s a little stilted at times. There are better books out there, many of which I’ve actually read but more that I haven’t.

But that doesn’t matter Lord of the Flies. You were the first book to show me the potential power of literature. You were making a real and important point and trying to teach us all something about ourselves. Something about myself. You made me care about studying literature. You made me fall in love with my subject. You made me fall in love with you. So, I’m sorry if I don’t call you much anymore but, never forget, that you’re always with me. We’re always together.

Maybe it’s only us

Laura

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