As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
My love for this book dwindled with its increased popularity. I don’t know why that happened even though I know I’m not the only one to experience it, that fateful lessening. It had, of course, nothing to do with the book itself and everything to do with the fact that when I first read it, it felt like this delicious secret shared only between myself and the author. Even the author was an afterthought, as if the book had materialized fully-formed from the ether. Once every other lovelorn teenager went gaga over it, it fell in my esteem. If the masses also saw it the way I did, could it really be that special?
I guess the answer is both yes and no. There’s an impulse that exists when you love something or someone to both keep that love to yourself and to proclaim it loudly from the rooftops. Sometimes these impulses, opposite though they may be, exist in tandem. Dichotomous and fretful, they war with one another. Do I whisper or do I scream? Do I hold on or simply let go?
Now, after several years of living, I can see that I was wrong to let anything interfere with my own experience. It is possible to have your own relationship with a work of art that is separate from the rest of the world. It is not easy, mind you. Only possible. And I’m glad I came across today’s quote because it reminded me of when I first read The Fault in Our Stars sitting in a lawn chair in Kroger and ignoring the rest of the world. I made it through about 40 pages before my parents found me and told me it was time to leave. I bought the book and brought it home with me, anxious to soak in more. Those were good times.
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