I tell people I read.
What I should really say is, “I used to read.”
Don’t get me wrong. I buy books more often than I buy food. I hit used book sales – especially bag sales – like some people thrift shop. Some people take thrift store clothes and make them new. I take thrift books with the intent of reading something new.
But I never do.
The number of books I have read in the past year is shameful – probably in single digits, which disgusts even me. I was a voracious reader growing up (says the girl who still has a lot of it to do, but that is a different blog post), and somehow, I got away from it.
Perhaps I found other (better? doubtful) ways to escape. Perhaps I convinced myself there was no time. Perhaps I busied myself with other recreations.
All I know is I all-but-stopped.
And that is a tragedy.
Not just because I write for a living, and we all know that the way to become a better writer is to A) keep writing, and B) read good writers. And bad ones.
Perhaps one of the most meaningful pieces of writing I’ve read in my life is, all too clichély, “How to be Madder Than Captain Ahab,” an essay from the love of my life Ray Bradbury.
“To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.
You must write every single day of your life.
You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.
You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.”
(I cannot find the full text of the essay online, which is sorely disappointing, as it is a brilliant piece of writing. Like most things Bradbury. Look it up. Read it in bits and pieces across the interwebs, if you have to.)
(If someone can find me the full text online, I will owe you all the favors ever.)
(Well. Maybe like, three.)
But no, not just for that reason. Because I miss it. I miss reading and sharing ideas and book and getting lost in stories and thinking about things that do not necessarily have anything to do with my job or my life or anything in reality.
So I’m going to read 100 books next year.
Because why the hell not?
I got the idea from a blog I recently discovered – a journalism professor with a blog who is every single thing a good journalism professor should be. And she’s not an old white guy who hasn’t worked in the industry in several decades, which is, you know, refreshing.
Anyway, in 2013, she challenged herself to read 100 books – she still being the voracious reader I used to be. She did it, with books to spare, which is ridiculously admirable, because I’m scared to do it and I don’t have a family to care for – just my job and my dog. And Maggie has no qualms with curling up under my electric blanket with me while I read.
(Yes, I sleep with an electric blanket, because I am 60 years old on the inside. I don’t go to bed at 8 p.m., but I do enjoy hot tea and “Frasier” reruns, so…)
So I’m going to read 100 books in 12 months, which is an intimidating task.
That’s roughly eight books a month plus four more somewhere in there.
A little less than two books a week.
A book every 3.65 days.
That last one makes it sound scarier.
I have approximately 15 shelves across four bookcases, all full, so it’s not like I’ve got a shortage. Plus ALL THE USED BOOK SALES EVER in April and May.
Here’s the thing, though. Someone should do it with me.
I don’t care what books you read. Just read 100 with me.
I’ll never do it if someone doesn’t hold me accountable. Just like I don’t vacuum unless there’s someone coming over. I mean, wait…what?
Come on. None of you will be my running buddy/pacing partner, so at least read with me, huh?
I’ve picked out eight books for January. Trying to start off gently as I ease back into being an avid reader. Trying to keep a balance of trashy fiction/fiction/non-fiction. I buy mostly non-fiction, but I find it takes me longer to read as I try to digest everything. And I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t harbor a secret love for trashy chick-lit.
So. Find me on Good Reads. Read with me. Open invitation.
May we live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories.