Recently, I finished reading a lovely book by Nina George, a celebrated, prize-winning author out of Germany, who has over 25 books and hundreds of short stories to her name. The book, The Little Paris Bookshop, was so immersive that I’ve been motivated to pen a letter to Ms. George…

Dear Ms. George,

I loved your book, couldn’t put it down, missed work, ignored my children (only a little), stayed up too late and now that it’s over I’m having what I call, “the book blues”. The book has ended and it feels a little like something is missing in my life.

There are places in which I underlined and have reread a number of times now, your language and thoughts so rich and entirely inviting. Being what I’d call a student of love, one of my favorite passages is in chapter 32 where Perdu and Samy are talking about love.

Perdu nodded, “The trouble is that so many people, most of them women, think they have to have a perfect body to be loved. But all it has to do is be capable of loving—and being loved,” he added.

“Oh Jean, please tell that to the world. Samy laughed and passed him the onboard microphone. “We are loved if we love, another truth we always seem to forget. Have you noticed that most people prefer to be loved, and will do anything it takes? Diet, rake in the money, wear scarlet underwear. If only they loved with the same energy; hallelujah, the world would be so wonderful and so free of tummy-tuck tights.”

I’ve been thinking about this statement. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or not but I wonder if most people are actually afraid to be loved? Maybe that’s why they (men and women alike) spend so much time sculpting themselves to be “someone worth loving” when in fact, it wouldn’t take any change whatsoever. We are already lovable but allowing ourselves to be loved is a little further into the conversation. To me, loving someone else is the safe place. We are in control of how many ways we show our love for them…hold them when they’re sad, be a good listening board, buy flowers, fix their toilet, kiss them…the list is long. But what about when we open ourselves up to be loved? To be the one who needs the hug, the sounding board, the flowers, the toilet fixed, the kiss…

For many of us, it’s much easier to be the one doing those things than the one waiting for them, and then perhaps being disappointed when they don’t happen. I think the potential pain of not being loved the way we need is far deeper than never opening up in the first place.


Kristen Keenan