In Fear of Beauty, the ability to read just one book transforms an Afghan woman's life. She is determined to read the Koran after the death of her son: "I became determined to learn to read the Koran on my own and keep a record of my thoughts. Not that anyone in Laashekoh cared about what I had to say. This project was for me alone.... I wanted to preserve the fondest memories of all my children..."
Reading simultaneously thrills and comforts her, even though she must work in secret. She contrasts her interpretations of the religious text with those of her husband and is amazed at discovering differences. And she wonders if reading the words of other books can lend the same power.
a book that had changed my life and that was difficult because so many books have expanded my heart and spirit and curiosity. But I described a delivery of books shortly after my mother's death when I was eight year old - her last order from a discount book club. Inside was a cookbook, the complete works of Shakespeare and Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar. The cookbook and Marjorie Morningstar still sit on my shelves, and about the latter, I wrote:
"The book examines the contradictions confronting women in the 1950s, as suggested in the Salon essay by Alana Newhouse, 'Marjorie Morningstar: The conservative novel that liberal feminists love.' For me, as a child, the book’s message was clear: We lose a part of
ourselves when we part with our dreams. And writing is one of the more
effective ways to savor our dreams and memories."
All our reading and writing and daily routines have strange, beautiful connections.
Photo D Olsen