Erica Jong, the boundary-breaking author of Fear of Flying, reads to understand life, love and her mother.
When I was a little girl, I used to kiss the pictures of authors on the backs of books that I loved. I remember my feeling of astonishment when my mother informed me that one of my favorite authors was dead. How was it possible that someone who was no longer among the living could affect me so profoundly? I decided then and there that I wanted to write books, too.
The most amazing thing about books is the way they patiently wait on the shelf for you to be ready for them. One day you open a book and your life is transformed. No wonder you want to kiss the author. The only word for the feeling of connection between author and reader is love. The process of reading has an intimacy other forms of communication lack. Usually I read with a pen or pencil in my hand to underline the thoughts that strike me. I write notes in the margins, and every book I've loved becomes a mini-memoir of the period when I read it. A book burrows into your life in a very profound way, because the experience of reading is not passive. It is a true collaboration between author and reader.
When readers of my books bring me dog-eared paperbacks to sign and I see that they have underlined passages and written exclamation points or asterisks in the margins, I am deeply moved. When they tell me they remember exactly where they were when they read a book of mine, I feel honored to have entered other lives.
What's on Erica Jong's Bookshelf? Read more!
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, March 9, 2014
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