In middle school my uncle gifted me The Catcher in the Rye while mentioning that I probably wouldn't understand it for awhile. It sat untouched for years until out of boredom I one day opened the book with no expectations.
Back then I didn't read for fun. But these words read like my own thoughts and feelings inked onto cheap pulp sheets. I couldn't fully understand the plot, couldn't understand what the moral was, but the feeling inside... it felt like me.
Immediately after, I wanted something similar. After searching around the internet, I found The Catcher in the Rye frequently associated with The Great Gatsby. My english class was assigning it for next year, but I couldn't wait.
The novel hardly resembled my high school life in rural-suburban America, but I felt inside their melancholic shoes. The Great Gatsby became my favorite novel for years. It changed the way I consciously viewed the world, which is funny because it didn't present any new ways of thinking or seeing, but rather just the way I already thought and felt so relatably. And just like with The Cather in the Rye, I couldn't actually understand what was happening. All I knew was that it felt like me in those pages.
In retrospect I finally understood what lay within those novels that allured me. It was for me a permission to be what I've -- against much denial -- always been. An outsider.