a reader lives one thousand lives

one thousand livesWhen I was in high school our homeroom met for about ten minutes and the students were divided up the same every year. We were in alphabetic order, so I always had the same person sitting in front of me, next time, behind me…it never changed.

There was a kid who sat in front of me who always asked me how many books I had read that day, or that week. He especially loves Monday’s because he would get to ask me how many books I read over the weekend. Sometimes it was only two, sometimes four. Once I was so excited to tell him I had read seven books between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

I think I started seeing it as a challenge. “I want to be able to tell him I read more.”

Near the end of our senior year, I finally had the guts to ask him why it intrigued him so much. Part of me was so afraid I’d find he had been making fun of me for four years, but the other part of me–the stronger part–wondered if it was just something to talk about. But his answer always stays with me.

“I’m such a slow reader. It amazes me that you can read so fast, and so many books at the same time, and soak up all those stories. I wish I could do that.”

I was floored.

Part of me felt proud. My older sister and I had times each other to see how long it took us each to read a page of a book since I was about eight. The other part of me wondered if he had a right to be amazed. Because I got to thinking, and asking myself: was I really soaking up all the stories?

Some of them, yes. I always go back to my favorites. But some of them were just fillers. Books to read to pass the time. Those books I couldn’t really remember.

Suddenly I began to panic. I’ve been reading WRONG. I should be slow…and steady…because that’s the true winner, right?

Well, I listened for a millisecond or so before I pulled out my book and started pushing through it. I wanted to finish it. To add it to my list. My ever-growing list.

Now that time and life have forced me to slow down, I’ve learned that I don’t mind having a shorter list. I know there are so many books out there, and truth be told– time and mortality will keep me from reading all the books that I’d probably enjoy.

Yes, that makes me sad. But I’ve come to terms with it.

Quantity isn’t quality. That’s how the saying goes, right? I’ve slowed down to picking new books with precision, and made sure to revisit books that I might have sped through. I revisit the timeless tales that are my favorites, and balance them with the new and exciting books I find on various shelves.

But I’m not reading for anyone else.

I’m not reading to brag about how many books I finished. I’m not reading to keep up with the literary crowd. I’m not reading to make a name for myself.

I’m reading to live one thousand lives. I’m reading to enjoy the beautiful words so many authors toiled over. I’m reading to go on countless adventures. I’m reading to learn lessons that can’t be lost in the pages.

I’m reading to, well, live.

“A reader lives one thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R.R. Martin

If nothing else, I will read one thousand books before I die. Just so I can live up to this quote.

Do you have a numbered list of all the books you’ve read?

 

 

 

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“Passenger” review

imageThere are many books that leave me wanting more.

And I mean that in the best of ways.

More time with the characters. More chances to know their deepest secrets. More adventures to share with the characters. More, more, more.

And PASSENGER left me wanting more.

This is the first book I’ve read by ALEXANDRA BRACKEN, but it won’t be the last. She has a way of taking a reader through history that leaves one feeling like it’s so many books in one.

The very beginning reminded me of Libba Bray’s A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, with Etta being thrown into an unfamiliar life with a surprising gift she had no idea she possessed.

I was transported with Etta and Nicholas through time wishing it would go on because I wanted to experience the era longer.I am a historical fiction guru, so the twist with the time travel was an all time win for me. I mean, America in 1776? Paris in 1880? London in 1940?? Um, yes, please!

Bracken’s descriptions and talent to voice each point of view kept me so wrapped up, admittedly I read well into the night on more than one occasion (and fought sleep because I didn’t want to miss what happened next).

With a surprising turn of events near the end, one I was grateful for because I was preparing to go on a spoiler rant, I am now in a lull just WAITING for the next book. To my dismay, I didn’t realize that PASSENGER just came out this year.

How much longer will I have to wait??

If you haven’t read this YA treasure, you need to. If I had the authority, I’d say that’s an order–but I hope you’ll just take my word for it.

snobby [young adult] reader

snobby ya readerAs a young adult I didn’t read young adult fiction. I looked at people reading “modern books” and wondered how they thought they could call it reading. After all, you haven’t READ until you’ve read the classics.

In college I had to take an adolescent literature class, and it wasn’t until then that it dawned on me that I was being hypocritical. I thought less of those who actually ENJOYED contemporary literature when I, me, myself wanted to write contemporary literature.

Are you seeing the problem?

The truth is, I used to hate reading just about anything that wasn’t historical fiction or close to it. I still love period pieces the most–it’s why I write them. Being transported to another time with different style and ideals and challenges intrigues me the most.

What would it have been like to live as a governess, or cross America in a covered wagon, or sailed the seas on a tall ship, or lived in the middle of nowhere when technology was a glint of the future?

Books take me to these times, reveal the impossible, and give me a sense of character, through characters, of the time. That’s the beauty of books.

I have since learned, that is the beauty of ALL books. Not just historical fiction.

While I’m probably shooting myself in the foot with this post, I’m sharing to be honest. I didn’t start off reading contemporaries– I started as a literature snob.

It started in first grade when I wrote my first true story: “The REAL story of Pocahontas, not the Disney one.”

It continued to fourth grade when I started reading Shakespeare. And in seventh grade when I read Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

I don’t know if these facts come across as bragging, but they’re not meant to. On the contrary, it’s to show that I couldn’t see past the classics stand at Barnes and Noble to open my eyes to so many other opportunities.

But now I have. And it’s exciting. And I’m ashamed of nothing that I read. Because I’m reading, and learning, and growing. And Stephen King really did say it best:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

I would add: Read a variety of things. Your writing (and knowledge and growth and creativity) depend on it.