You Are What You Read

English novelist Angela Carter once said, “Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.” Escaping into the pages of a book is one of my favorite ways to feel both relaxed and creative at the same time. As a reader and writer, getting lost in a novel is a very therapeutic experience for me. Literature comes to life more so when I am able to relate to the story that is unfolding. Just like when I listen to Taylor Swift, when I read about a character that goes through the same experiences I do, it feels personal and safe.

Taylor Swift once told a fan she loves the novel Normal People by Sally Rooney. After reading it and watching the series adaptation on Hulu, I completely understand why she recommends it. The main characters, Connell and Marianne, struggle to communicate their feelings to each other throughout the novel. Their words get lost in translation and they never truly know what the other is feeling. While reading Normal People, I imagined myself in the story because there are often instances where I assume how someone else feels instead of asking straightforwardly. This can lead me to overthink and sometimes create irrational scenarios in my head. A part of me knows this can all be solved by being direct about my feelings, but it is easier said than done. But as Rooney’s characters showed me, I’m not the only one who does this. And certainly Taylor Swift has shown she does this too, with lyrics like “I’d tell you I miss you but I don’t know how” and “Here’s to silence that cuts me to the core.”

When I first read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Swift’s song, “The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version),” instantly started playing in my head. The story goes into detail about the main character, an actress named Evelyn Hugo, who achieved great fame and success but lacks happiness in her life. Although she is viewed as “The Lucky One” because of her looks and wealth, she does not actually feel like it. “And they tell you that you’re lucky but you’re so confused ‘cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used,” is the Taylor Swift lyric I believe deeply connects with this character. Evelyn Hugo had to lock certain parts of herself away in order to maintain her public image, which is certainly a universal feeling among women.

Reading is inherently imaginative and expressive because we place our own lives and feelings within these plots. The way we interpret a story is what makes each person’s experience reading it individual. I feel lucky that I’ve read novels that give me the experience of being able to temporarily transport myself to a new, special world. However, I understand that this may not come easily to everyone. It took me a while before really finding a book that set off my love for reading, so here are a few tips to find the right book for you:

  1. Visit a local bookstore. Browsing through the displays, searching through your favorite genres, and asking for staff recommendations can lead you to the start of your reading journey.
  2. Social media. If you search “Booktok” on TikTok, you can easily find recommendations from so many different people and their unique opinions and perspectives. 
  3. Join a book club. Whether it be online, on campus, or in your city, this is a great way to integrate reading into your social life. Fun discourse can lead to deep and meaningful conversations.

Don’t forget to create a playlist of all the songs that remind you of the next book you’re reading to enhance this experience!

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By Jacqueline Rappa

Jacqueline Rappa is a rising senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology studying Advertising and Marketing Communications with a minor in English. You can find her aimlessly walking around New York City while drinking an iced coffee and listening to her favorite albums on repeat.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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