This Is Why I Read — And Write

I’ve just surfaced from spending several days in a state of rapture — with a book. I loved this book. I was transported into its world. I composed a dozen imaginary letters to the author, letters I’ll never write, much less send. I wrote letters of praise. I wrote letters relating entirely inappropriate personal information about my own experiences with the author’s subject matter. I even wrote a letter of recrimination when one of the characters died and I was grief-stricken. But mostly I wrote letters of gratitude …

Litte Sara Crewe in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic A Little Princess was my alter ego. Oh, how I wanted to be an orphan! I read The Nun’s Story, and oh, how I wanted to be a nun! I wanted to be shipwrecked on a desert island and stranded in Krakatoa! … Cut to a few years later. I’m reading The Godfather by Mario Puso, a divine book that sweeps me off into a wave of romantic delirium. I want to be a mafioso! No, that’s not quite right. Okay then, I want to be a mafioso’s wife!

Each minute I spend away from the book pretending to be interested in everyday life is a misery. How could I have waited so long to read this book? When can I get back to it? Halfway through, I return to New York to work, to finish a movie, and I sit in the mix studio unable to focus on anything but whether my favorite character in the book will survive. Every so often I look up from the book and see a roomful of people waiting for me to make a decision … and I can’t believe they don’t understand that what I’m doing is Much More Important.

Nora Ephron, excerpts from the essay On Rapture, in I Feel Bad About My Neck, pp. 117 – 121

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