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Stories from BOA Readers: #BOATurns40

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Rebekah Connell | Rochester, NY

I can’t always predict or anticipate my ideal reading experience, but when it happens, it’s unmistakable. I’ll read a phrase, a line, a string of images, even a single word––and for a few seconds, the world stops. Sometimes this manifests as a shift in the pit of my stomach, like a small bird stirring in my ribcage. Sometimes it’s my breath catching in my throat and clinging there, or my vision going bleary when I look up from the page. Sometimes it’s a feeling like I’m drifting upwards, as if my bones are air. In some ungraspable way the words take me out of myself and deeper in at the same time. They affect me in several ways at once––tangibly and intangibly, knowably and unknowably.

I value writing that works as a mirror and a window––casting light on myself and on the world I live in. My favorite books are always those that wake me up, whether to new things or to old things I’ve somehow forgotten. Books like that are unforgettable to me. They stay with me and continue to shape who I am long after they’re back on the shelf.

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