Friendship Found in a Book

Visiting my very first chapter as a consultant, Theta Tau, Kansas State University.
Visiting my very first chapter as a consultant in fall 2008, Theta Tau, Kansas State University.

When I traveled as a Leadership Consultant for Sigma Kappa, I fell in love with reading. I had read books on and off growing up, but I didn’t consider myself a “reader,” and it had never truly turned into something I loved.

I suppose it was the long hours flying across the country and the constant change in the places and people I was spending time with that made me learn to deeply appreciate the friends I found in my books.

It sounds a little silly to me now, but with as much as I was traveling, my books were one of the most constant things in my life. No matter where I was in the country, I could always open up my book and find a familiar place. Ever since, I have loved how books open up a new world with new people and new experiences to me just by turning a page.

I am drawn to the moment when a character or an author starts to feel like a new friend, and I always find I have richer conversations with people when I’ve spent time reading. It opens up new thoughts and ideas, gives me new words and phrases to use, and it’s always fun to share book recommendations with friends.

Last August, I was introduced to an author I have grown to love, and I can’t imagine a better series of books to recommend to my Sigma Kappa sisters!

For my 30th birthday, a friend gave me the book “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” by Melanie Shankle. It took me a few weeks to pick it up and start reading, but once I did, I was hooked.

Author Melanie Shankle
Author Melanie Shankle

I am usually drawn to novels because I love a good story, and while Melanie’s books aren’t novels, they are memoir style and full of great stories. She shares candid moments of her life along with lessons she’s learned, and they all come with a very healthy dose of humor that will make you laugh out loud.

Probably what I love the most about these books, and why I enjoy sharing them with friends, is that the stories make me feel normal.

So often as women we can feel isolated or like we are “the only one that feels this way” or the “only one who deals with this,” when it’s just not true.

For all of our differences, we are still so much alike. We all experience joy, loss, insecurity, hope, heartache, and everything in between. There is something about seeing someone else walk through these experiences that makes us feel a little more normal and a little less alone.

When you think about it, aren’t these shared connections part of the very reason our sorority experience is so valuable in our lives? I think of the friendship our Founders shared and how they must have gained strength knowing they weren’t facing life alone as some of the first women in college, and then I think about all the precious friendships Sigma Kappa has given me.

I love the way C.S. Lewis articulated our value of friendship when he said:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

As you read these heartfelt, modern-day memoirs by Melanie Shankle – in between your snorts of laughter – I think you’ll have many moments where C.S. Lewis’ words ring true in your heart, and you’ll find that you, too, have gained a friend through a book.

So do yourself a favor and pick up one or all of Melanie’s books. Better yet, pick up a couple copies and share the gift with a friend!

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