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How to unlock powerful emotions by reading a book

  • Books

I have no problem with rereading a book I love. And this was the fourth time I read Call Me By Your Name, by André Aciman and someone asked me: “Why would you read the same book 4 times?”.

So I decided to write this post to share my thought on the matter.

How would like to live in 1980s Italy, summertime? We meet Elio, a 17-year old boy, who spends his time reading and studying music. This book is his recollection of the summer he met Oliver, a 24-year old graduate student, who’s about to have his book published and is going to stay at his house as a guest for the summer.

Do you remember what is it like to be 17 and in love? The doubts, the butterflies in the stomach, the doing everything for your loved one to notice you – well you get to relive that in a very profound, beautifully written, and very real way.

This story struck me as very human and very down to earth. Most love stories in fiction novels could feel a bit too staged to happen in real life – at least for me. But not this one. I caught myself multiple times relishing in some memory that paralleled what Elio was going through.

And my absolute favorite part of the book, which was beautifully captured in the movie as well, is at the end when Elio has a conversation with his father, who, being a father knew exactly what was going on with his son.
If I may, I’ll share a direct quote of the most enlightened, lucid, mature dialog I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing (should I call spoilers alert? Anyway consider yourself warned).

“You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special, what you two had was.”

“Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot. Just remember: I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not with me that you’ll want to speak about these things. But feel something you did.”

“Look,” he interrupted. “You had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, or pray that their sons land on their feet soon enough.”

“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything —what a waste!”

That last line gets me every time: “But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything —what a waste!”

Because to me, it speaks volumes. How many times have I tried to shut down my feelings to feel nothing? Countless! And I’m sure I am not alone in this.

Our emotional nature sometimes gets the best of us.

And by reading this book multiple times I was able to sort through many emotions that were sort of locked inside. I got to unlock them all, enjoy the nostalgia for a bit and then move on.

I can say that every time it made me lighter somehow. And I’ll never miss an opportunity to feel like that again. So I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time I hang out with Elio and Oliver.

Liked it? I would love to know your impressions. 
Share them with me in the comments

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