For the new Novel Gazing, Electric Lit’s personal essay series about the way stories shape our lives, we’re asking: What’s a book that made you fall in love?
Of course, “love” doesn’t have to mean heteronormative flowers-and-candy stuff. It doesn’t have to mean romantic love at all. Take a look at The New York Times’ Modern Love column if you need inspiration: you’ll find essays about marriage, dating, and divorce, but also about intense platonic friendships, familial bonds, and no-strings hookups. What do we talk about when we talk about love? That’s up to you.
Whatever you decide it means, I want to hear about a book (or movie, show, game, or other story) that made you fall in love — with someone, or something, or even the book itself if you can make that an interesting essay. Maybe you became obsessed from afar with the author or the protagonist of a novel. Maybe someone else’s memoir made you realize that a partner you’d felt lukewarm about was actually right for you. Maybe a film made you suddenly smitten with your hometown for the first time. Maybe you looked across a subway car to see the cover of the same book you were engrossed in, and then the beautiful eyes above it, and the rest was history. If a story gave you a rush of oxytocin, made colors look brighter, raised your pulse rate, altered your self-concept and your relationships — you know, all the things love does — then it’s fair game. (A word of warning, though: There are a lot of cliché pitfalls for this one. You can do that one about the identical novels and the subway car, for instance, but you’d have to make it really bang. Might be better to look slightly to the side of the beaten path for your ideas.)
You may want to read some earlier Novel Gazing essays to get a feel for the series. Some recent favorites include essays about reading the Song of the Lioness series as a closeted young gay man, about losing faith in Mormonism while reading a Jon Krakauer book, and about turning to A Clockwork Orangein order to feel like the “right” kind of abnormal.
Essays should not be longer than 4,000 words or shorter than 800, and payment is $60 per piece. Submissions will remain open through January 26.