FROM HAVING A WINTER AFFAIR WITH BOOKS

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“Another thing I need to do, when I’m near the end of the book, is sleep in the same room with it…Somehow the book doesn’t leave you when you’re asleep right next to it.” ― Joan Didion

If you need me during the winter, I can be found at one of two places: swallowed between the velvet cushions of my darling couch, or at the Kipps Bay library. I’m telling you this because I don’t want to end up like one of those missing people on the back of a milk cartoon or have my face plastered on a “Have you seen this girl?” flyer hugging on to light poles and the strong, dark, trunks of trees, accessorized with a picture of me in jean shorts and a flowered top laying gracefully on my sun-kissed skin.

I look nothing like that now, anyway.

From December-March, I blend in with my pale canary yellow sheets and even more, to the white plaster on my walls. Friends start calling me Jen D. Salinger, for my recluse ways—refusing to dance around in the cold weather with them, remembering me as the girl who they last saw sipping a glass of iced tea, in the fall, joking about how silly leaves are for changing colors.

I’m the one who looks silly now.

And so, to my friends and family members who haven’t seen me since October’s sun rays turned into December’s ice storms, instead of wrapping my down comforter around my torso and pulling my leg warmers up to my neck to gallivant around a dark bar, seeking body heart and brown ale, this is what I’ve been up to—reading an ungodly amount of books. Below are the top five that have been able to keep me warm.

1. This Is Where I Leave You (By: Jonathan Trooper)

Read this if you ever thought your family would make a good sitcom or a stellar reality show on E!

“Even under the best of circumstances, there’s just something so damn tragic about growing up.” 

2. No One Belongs Here More Than You (Miranda July)

Read this if you dare to flirt with characters and prose that are more awkward than you are.

 “If you are sad, ask yourself why you are sad. Then pick up the phone and call someone and tell him the answer to the question. If you don’t know anyone, call the operator and tell him. Most people don’t know that the operator has to listen, it is a law. Also, the postman is not allowed to go inside your house, but you can talk to him on public property for up to four minutes or until he wants to go, whichever comes first.” 

3. This Is How You Lose Her (By: Junot Diaz)

Read this if you’ve never been in love because then it will all make you laugh. If you have, ever, been in love, you’ll fumble over short stories that will remind you how one day you could be stroking someone’s split ends and the next, find out that they were stroking someone else’s the whole time.

“Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.” 

4. Tiny Beautiful Things (By: Cheryl Strayed)

Read this if you’re in the mood to sulk in other people’s problems only to find out that though you might not be the main character struggling, you’ve struggled before and you will struggle again. Find yourself staring at a page of the book as if you were looking at a white-headed pimple in the mirror, admiring how odd it seems that this thing is now so attached to you. Feel so close to the problems on the page that you wonder if you possibly you slept wrote one of these entries. Feel ashamed and embarrassed and after palming your forehead in regret, understand in that in the end, the only advice we can ever agree to follow is the grumbling of words that we work so hard to mute in our gut.

“Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill…Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” 

5. The Year of Magical Thinking (By: Joan Didion)

Read this if you want to find yourself sitting in a puddle of mascara stained tears only to then lunge onto everything and everyone you ever desperately, remotely, loved and pull them in close to your knitted heart and beg them to never leave you.

“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”

One day, I’ll write a book and I’ll dedicate it to all of my passionately loyal readers, like you!

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I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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