My 'The Great Gatsby' Phone Case Changed My Life

Last year, I wandered into The Strand bookstore, and bought a literary-themed smartphone case, depicting the unmistakable cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby . Flash forward to a few weeks ago: I'm buying lunch from the bagel shop around the corner from my apartment, when the girl behind the counter suddenly exclaims, "I love The Great Gatsby!"

I go to this shop more than is probably healthy. I've seen the checkout girl a million times. I've seen her in various iterations of tired, bored, or stressed, and she's never said anything to me beyond asking me if I want a bag for my meal. But suddenly, we're talking animatedly about the Leonardo DiCaprio movie adaptation, our favorite John Green books, and the best (read: saddest) books about dogs. When I leave, she waves goodbye, and tells me that she'll see me later.

This phenomenon has happened to me more times than I can count over the past year.

Like most people, I my phone is basically glued to my hand, so sometimes, The Great Gatsby case is the first thing people notice about me. I've talked about The Great Gatsby (and books and literature in general) in job interviews, on dates, at parties, at the bagel shop. It's an emblem to the people that I meet — an invitation to connect.

I chose The Great Gatsby because it has meaning in my own life. Like many of the people I've met through my phone case, I first read it in my high school English class at a time when, despite being an avid reader, it was hard for me to stay academically motivated. Our unit on The Great Gatsby marked the beginning of a new phase in my academic life. It was the first time I really felt engaged by literary analysis. It was the first time I discovered the magic you can pull out of a work's subtext. The Great Gatsby opened my eyes to a richer, more satisfying way of reading.

It constantly amazes me how many people have connected with this book the way I did in high school. I can't express how much I love it when I see someone's face light up at first sight of my phone case.

Part of why I love reading is because it creates community, and I've seen this community come to life more than ever through my phone case.

In spite of all the statistics we see about adult literacy, and all the pervasive stereotypes (i.e. that readers must be serious, artsy types with black rimmed glasses and lofty attitudes), this phenomenon has given me hope. The literary world is expansive and diverse. It is everywhere you look.

Images; DariusSankowski/Pixabay;