I have a lot of friends. I am one of those people, divinely gifted, to have friends everywhere I go. I have all kinds of friends too. Friends I like to shop with, friends I like to eat with, friends I like to study with. There are friends who have sleepovers with me, and we share our deepest secrets, and friends who laugh at me when I do something ridiculous and love me anyway. I have energetic friends, pessimistic friends, sarcastic and hilarious friends.
But I also have book friends.
These friends are special friends, and hard to come by. In a sense, they understand everything I am saying without me having to say anything at all. They understand my obsession with Caleb Trask, and my fascination with India after reading both Elizabeth Gilbert and Jhumpa Lahiri. They don't mind when I tell them about my new favorite Anne Sexton poem and a tear slides casually down my cheek, and they don't judge me when I cancel my weekend plans to start the fourth book of the Sisterhood series. They have an unfathomable crush on Rudy Steiner and Gilbert Blythe too, and they wish that Cold Mountain had a different ending. They eagerly awaited the Seventh Harry Potter for literature's sake, and that book dominated our lunches for months following. My book friends and I may have nothing else in common - except our bridged obsession with characters, and stories, and villages and castles far away from our own. They understand Kafka when he said, "A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul." They smiled when Kate and Richard worked things out, and laughed at Rachel's humor in the Congo. They even cried aloud when Hans Huberman's accordion was found, and giggled when Ramona cracked the raw egg on her head.
They understand the canon, because they live it.
Every day when they open their books.