“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
I surely grew up in a setting and circumstances very different from Charles Blow or James Baldwin, but I can certainly relate to feeling like your life, your situation is totally aberrant from the norm promoted by pop culture. But as you read and think and learn, you find connections, not only with others like you, but also with people, ideas, writers, stories that are very different from you on the surface, but that bear some fundamental commonality with your experience. That for me is a great summary of the magic of reading.