Made of Books is a monthly column (partly inspired by hero Roxane Gay) where Christina discusses writing that has been meaningful to her, in one way or another.
I first read Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet at a time of transition. I had recently finished college and scraped together two part-time jobs to pay rent. Other kids had ambitions to go to grad school, or they were moving in with their partners, or getting jobs in their field. I had no field—only a undesirable history degree—and without school ahead of me anymore I felt myself floundering.
I wanted to make some kind of decision about my new adult life, to actively choose to do something to move forward instead of getting a job at a mall because I needed money and working with my friend would be fun. So I sought advice in book form. The page allows time and space to open up, and it was easier to feel vulnerable with a book because a book doesn’t know you, has no expectations for what you supposedly are, or for how you should be.