Library of My Life

Erin Lynn Nau, PhD, LCSW
3 min readSep 14, 2020

When someone moves on to something new in their lives, good or bad, people call it the end of a chapter or the beginning of a new one. This feels like the wrong analogy to me.

I love to read. Reading has always been one of my most favorite activities. The summers of my childhood were filled with swimming and reading. When we would come from the pool in the afternoons, we would all go to our reading spots. Reading is what we did, it’s what we do. As an avid reader, a lover of books, I don’t think I usually feel happy or sad or excited about a book chapter ending or beginning.

I do feel happy or sad or excited about finishing books and starting new ones. Starting a new book means something to me. It means learning new things. Traveling to different places. Being inside a new life.

Some of the books are filled with short stories where I long to find the connections between them. Some books I feel like I may never finish. Some of my books are so sad that I have to work hard to shake off the sadness. Some books stay with me for a long time, while others I don’t remember if I read them. Books are subjective.

Some of the many books in my library

I become engrossed with the characters. They become my friends for a short period of time. Sometimes when I am really into a book I think I see the characters out and about in my real world. For instance, a few years ago I read The Power by Naomi Alderman. The women in this book gain power and it shifts the power in the world (it is a great book). I would walk around NYC and wonder which women had the power. The characters were that real!

This is all true for different periods of time in our lives. I recently left the job I have been at for a long time, the longest of my life, in fact. This particular book of my life changed who I am. This was supposed to be a short book, but it turned out to be a reference book for the kind of social worker I have become. It became a book on grieving. A book on feminism and anti-racism. The book changed over time because I changed over time. I will miss the characters from that book, but I know I will revisit them often. Some have become old friends, like Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time.

My next book is the book that has been sitting on the nightstand that I have been reading for years and will probably be there forever. It is a goal book. A dream book. The kind of book you pick up and think, “This is the book for me.” Like a wand in Harry Potter. It is the kind of book you think, “Just one more chapter and then I will go to bed,” and suddenly it is 3 o’clock in the morning. The kind of book where you wake up and think, “Oh I get to read my book today.” Of course, some chapters are more fun to read than others but I am so excited to spend my days living in my new book.

I wonder if we start thinking about parts of our lives as books instead of chapters how we would feel when we get to the next book. Finishing books are accomplishments to be celebrated. They are what you talk about when you are done. We look back on them with pride, with sadness, with relief.

I hope we all have libraries full of books.

To get a glimpse into my new book visit www.erinlnau.com

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Erin Lynn Nau, PhD, LCSW

Feminist. Social Worker. Researcher. I am a PhD candidate whose research focuses on self-worth and early adolescent girls. www.erinlnau.com