Connections Formed By Exchanging Books


(Courtesy of The Fordham Ram)

When I was little, my mom read me a book before it was time to go to bed. Every night, I pleaded for her to read just one more. Even if the last thing my mom wanted to do was reread a book she’d already read out loud to me dozens of times, she always gave into my begging and would read me, not just one, but multiple other books. Although I think my begging was just an elaborate ruse so I could prolong my bedtime, I think this is where my appreciation and love for reading stems from. At the end of each day, even if five-year-old me had a bad day at school or misbehaved at dinner and had my dessert privileges taken away, I knew I would still get to curl up in bed and listen to my mom read me one of my favorite books. 

Although I’m in college living hours away from home and I can’t remember the last time my mom read me a book, books are still something we bond over. We basically formed our own two-person book club. A few months ago I recommended that she read “Normal People” (which she hated) and “Where the Crawdads Sing” (which she loved). Whenever I read a book that I enjoy, I tell my mom about it. Plus, she appreciates the convenience of simply having to take the book from my room rather than go out and buy her own copy.

Whenever my mom finishes a book I recommended, I get texts like: “Finished ‘The Paper Palace.’ What should I read next? Maybe a book from your home collection?” Before I headed back to Fordham after spring break, my mom gave me her copy of “Foster” by Claire Keegan. 

Not only do my mom and I give each other book recommendations, but I send her a picture everytime I see one of my favorite childhood books. Whether it’s a copy of “Library Lion” in the dressing room of a store in Manhattan, a tattered copy of “Owl Babies” I spotted at the thrift store or a “Madeline” children’s T-shirt at The Strand. For a brief moment, we can bond over our nostalgia and reminisce about the simpler days when we’d read those books together. It’s funny how the literature I loved as a kid continues to pop up in my everyday life. 

Books can really bring people together; they can also strengthen relationships that were already existing to begin with. I’d like to share just a few other instances when books have brought me closer to my friends and family. 

While lounging on the beach this summer, I read “The Summer I Turned Pretty.” My friend’s little sister sat in the beach chair next to me, eyeing me every 30 minutes to see if I’d finished the book yet so it could be her turn. Once I’d finished, I gave her my copy. By the time we left the beach, she was more than halfway through; we talked about the book on our drive home that night. 

In my English class this semester, I read “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen for the first time. I knew that my little sister had read it, so, of course, we exchanged our thoughts and opinions on the book over text. Although she thought I was dense because I was shocked by the ending and hadn’t expected it at all, I was just grateful that I found a point of discussion that would get her to respond to my texts. 

When my roommate Grace read “Normal People,” I read a good chunk of the book out loud to her. I even created different voices for the characters (even though it sounded pretty ridiculous). Once we’d finished the book, we watched the show together. 

Just as reading initially brought my mom and I together, books continue to connect me to the people I love. So if you’re ever feeling down, reread one of your favorite childhood books. Oh, and call your mom.