Friends who recommend books are special
There is no better way to show someone that they are on your mind than to recommend a book you think they would love.
Friends who recommend books without being asked are special. Imagine this: they opened a book and strode right in, leaving their desk, their home, their city, their entire reality behind. They may have slipped on a ring and embarked on a precarious journey for Mordor alone; or hopped down Hogsmeade with new wizard friends to try the new Sticky Toffee Pudding; or walked down bustling streets of the coastal cities of Novyi Zem, wondering how peaceful it is compared to Ketterdam. They trekked through the lush forests of Bandarban and climbed its tallest peaks with Topon and his cousins in search of T-Rex. They doubled over with uncontrollable laughter when Himu shaved his eyebrows and inadvertently aided a young parent to discipline her child. They stood still on Daruchini Dip with aching hearts while Shubhro's vision slowly blurred into grey.
They trembled with anticipation, seethed with rage, shared the laughter and tears of the characters, fell in love with the landscape, mourned endings that did not deliver happiness, and rejoiced those that did. They finished reading their book, cover to cover, came out of the pages, and as they slowly reentered consciousness, they thought of you. Your phone bleeped with a notification from your friend. It read, "I've JUST finished reading this amazing book and I think you will love it too!"
Typically, when readers finish a really good book, it takes a while for them to recover. They look up and realise that while they were lost within the pages, everyone else carried on with their lives. The reader sits there, pensive: sad and grateful, unable to tell whether they have gained or lost a piece of themselves. They have travelled with the author and the characters and lived each of their lives. They take a deep breath, heart heavy yet full, their mind a whirlwind of everything real and unreal, their catharsis slow and elusive.
All these feelings experienced by a reader are private because reading a good book can be a very intimate experience; finishing it can lead to an intense, albeit brief, metamorphosis. And during these fleeting moments of confused awareness, readers look for someone to complete them and they reach out to those they know can empathise. This is when they look for you: someone to fill the sudden void in their hearts, someone to understand and feel as they have understood and felt. Someone with whom they can share the ecstasy and the sorrow, explore the world within the book, meet the people in it and know their stories too.
People who recommend books without being asked give away pieces of themselves without even realising it. When someone wishes for you to read a book that they loved, they are baring to you a part of their soul that transcends all temporal places, because it is within those strange paper-worlds where they are their deepest, truest selves. So the next time a book-loving friend gushes to you about a book that they love, and urges you to read it too, pay attention, because they are showing you what makes them feel, what makes them laugh, things that tear them apart, and the things that make them who they are. These are secrets given only to the best of friends.
Sameirah Nasrin Ahsan is a mechanical engineer and aspiring author based in Dhaka. For now, she is content with reading and sharing the stories that make her think beyond herself. Instagram: @booksnher.