The reality of books

My 13-year-old daughter and I were wasting away Saturday morning, and ended up discussing the books we would take with us if we ran away from home (don’t ask).

My list included the books from my adolescence, with my Vikram Seth and Timothy Findley books thrown in.  I found it interesting that the older books seemed more important than the newer things which I regularly re-read.  Should I ever be expected to go without these books, my heart would break, I’m sure.

My daughter’s list included none of those from my list, despite the fact she’s read them all.  Hers included:

Sweetblood, by Pete Hautman

Blood Brothers, by Marilyn Halvorson

Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

She also debated taking favourites by Judy Blume and Deborah Ellis.

When I asked her why she would take these books in particular, she answered, “Because these books are reality.”  I, in a stupid moment of parenthood, tried to suggest these books may be an escape from reality, or a preferred reality, but she just gave me one of those withering looks and said, “No.”

When I think about it, I would have answered the same way when I was her age.  The books were what I lived, and the rest of my life is what I survived.

I see my books a little differently, now.  They’re my escape, pure and simple.  They’re no longer formative to my personality (which is forged in steel, damn it).  They’re no longer an optional way to live (even if I have a fleeting moment of wanting to be a vampire).

It made me a little sad, like I’d lost something.  But the conversation also inspired me to write things for her, so she’ll have a wide selection of realities to choose from.  If I have my druthers, she’ll see the books as reality for a long time to come.

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