"Books are uniquely portable magic."—Stephen King
You guys, I love to read.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. I can actually remember the exact moment when I learned (it was during Mrs. Young's first grade morning story) and my life has never been the same. I went from a person who could be read to, to a person who could read on her own. Never has there been a greater freedom.
From "Ramona and Her Mother" as a little girl to Stephen King's "It" in 8th grade to "A Separate Peace" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" in high school, to the countless titles I've read since, reading has been a constant.
I'm an avid reader, but I'm not an especially well-read avid reader. There are an embarrassing number of classics and 'must-be-read' books that I simply haven't gotten to yet. And while I do have a loyalty to books, I'm what you might call an equal opportunity reader...blogs, news, magazines, cereal boxes, as well as a variety of genres...I read them all.
Short of actually finishing the writing of a book, I have worked with books and the written word many times throughout my life—as a librarian, a bookseller at a book store, at a publishing company, and as a freelance writer for newspapers.
At times, I admit, reading seems like it's taking up too much of my life, and I've been reminded of the lyrics from the Blindmelon song, 'No Rain:
"All I can do is read a book to stay awake, and it rips my life away, but it's a great escape."
But more often, I'm reminded of the notion from Julia Cameron in "The Artist's Way":
"Filling the well involves the active pursuit of images to refresh our artistic reservoirs."
For me, reading isn't just something I love. It's something that helps me fill my artistic reservoir, helps me be a better creator, a better writer, and gives me a better understanding of the vast lives I cannot live, lives that are not my own. It's an escape. It's educational. It's often ridiculous. Or silly. Or scary. Or devastating.
As a kid, and then as an adult, I wanted to be an actress. And while I can't put into words all the reasons I wanted to be an actress (at least not in one blog post), I know it had a lot to do with portraying different people. Having the opportunity to experience different lives, different careers, different choices. I feel like reading gives me that too.
And so, this year, my goal is to read 52 books.
I'll need some luck and time because last year, my goal was to read 60 books but I fell dramatically short (partly because I agreed to read an insanely long science fiction series without knowing what I was getting into). (Click here for the list of books I did manage to finish in 2016).
But guys...I need suggestions. I don't mean to be morbid, and I realize this sounds at least slightly dramatic, but I'm thinking that, at best, if I live to the age of 100, I have 58 reading years left. 58 years of 52 books a year is 3,016 books left to read. I know it sounds ridiculous, but of the hundreds and hundreds of books I've read, I haven't loved a great many. As Beulah Maud Delaney mentioned in this article, "I’ve got xyz books left to read, at best, and I intend to be ruthless in choosing them."
I'm hoping to squeeze in a few of those never-been-read classics like The Great Gatsby, The Secret Garden, and Sense and Sensibility, but like I mentioned above, I'm an equal opportunity reader when it comes to topics, and I'm looking for good—really good—stories, biographies, memoirs, and more stories. So please, send me suggestions! And if you're a book-lover like me, I've got a pinterest page dedicated to quotes about reading!
Danielle Davies (@daniellendavies) is the creator of the internet sensation, My Life with Bradley Cooper, as well as a writer and artist living in New Jersey. Read more...
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