The Stories We Read


Zoe Watts

The Conifer High School library

     “I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction,” (Tahereh Mafi, New York Times Best Selling Author). Books shape our minds and our hearts. They are portals to other worlds and doors to new ideas. We are shaped by what we consume, whether it be media, books, or food. Our standards for life have become warped by the stories we pick up. We come to expect impossible things. 

     In school, we read books like ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Both are truly amazing stories, but sometimes we forget that they are works of fiction. Gatsby was based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life, but only the parts he chose to share. He left out the aspects of his life where things were unraveling. His wife went crazy, he ran out of money more than once, and he couldn’t keep up with the demand for his books. Though his story gives us a look into a life full of parties, adventures, and long-lost love, Jay Gatsby is far from someone to idolize. Yet, a small part of us wants to live his life. 

     Even in stories that are clearly fiction, where heroes have prophecies and fight dragons, we see ourselves in the characters. It manifests when we take tests to figure out our Hogwarts house, or we read fan-made stories of our favorite characters after the main story is long over. 

     Something wonderful (or more likely, terrible) happens when we read a book that allows us to lose ourselves. When we stop reading, there’s a pit in our chest as we come back to the ground, occurring the second we realize what reality is again. The magic fades, and we’re trapped back in this world. 

     We end up longing for worlds that don’t exist. We want to be the ‘chosen one’ or go on a grand adventure with a group of unlikely friends. We want to leave it all behind so we can write our own story. 

     As much as I hate to say it, stories like those in our favorite books don’t happen in real life. There are no prophecies or villains to overthrow. No damsels in distress to save, or dragons to fight. 

     But our stories are unwritten; this is not a bad thing. If there are no prophecies for you to fulfill, everything you do is because of your own merit. You record your own adventures and share them with those you care about. Yes, you may not save the world or fight evil magic. But you might save a friend. You may overcome your challenges like stage fright, anxiety, even depression.  

     You are your own author. Go write your story.