It’s no secret I love books. I love reading them. I love looking at them before I’ve read them, wondering about their secrets. I love looking at them after I’ve read them, because I know they are a physical representation of a story that I’ve lived in some way, and that now lives within me.
As we approach the new year, I wanted to look—literally—at the books I’ve read all year. So, I took a picture.
If you want a complete list of the titles, it’s at the bottom of this post. The “list” isn’t really what this post is about—it’s more about how we, as readers, become part of the stories, and how the stories become part of us. There is scientific research to show this literally happens, and I’ve blogged about that before. But the research isn’t what it’s about, either. It’s about the pure joy of reading. The pure joy of escaping—just for a little while—the slings and arrows of daily life, and being someone else for a change.
It’s about the joy of learning, not just new words, but also new things, as I did from Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State, and from The Favourite and The Book of Broken Hymns. One can, after all, learn as much from fiction as nonfiction. Of this I am certain.
You see, for me, reading literature proves the quintessential truth of human existence: life is an adventure.
Someone else has lived an experience similar—if not identical—to one that I have. Someone has written about it. Someone has immortalized it through words so that I could read it, and feel heartened, and know that living to confront another day is possible.
Someone has also written about something I have only dreamed of doing; and in so doing, they have given me a glimpse of something that might one day be possible.
Someone has written a story with a moral all people need to learn, and that story is there waiting for just the right moment, just the right amount of openness in someone’s heart and mind.
Someone has imagined a world in which I would love living—something that constantly leaves me feeling awed and, frankly, grossly unimaginative. Authors create worlds. I get the privilege of visiting those worlds, and recreating them in my head.
Someone has written a cautionary tale that is just close enough to reality to be absolutely terrifying.
And so, I love losing myself in books. I love disappearing.
Yet I also love coming back. I love seeing the world—and my life—through a different perspective. I love being reminded, again, that trial and adventure are as important as comfort and joy.
I love going back, again, to those worlds and places and characters at different times in my life, and learning something new from them.
I am grateful to have books, and to have the ability to read. After all, as Albus Dumbledore (yes, I am quoting him, because I love Harry Potter, and I also love finding amazing quotes in books) said to Harry, “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.”
Happy New Year, and read on!
Books I read, in the order I read them in 2014:
1. City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
2. City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte
3. Austenland by Shannon Hale
4. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
7. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
8. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
9. The Favourite by Mathew Lyons
10. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
11. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
12. Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth
13. We Were Liars by Emily Lockhart
14. The Lodger by Louisa Treger
15. Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro
16. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
17. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
18. MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
19. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
20. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
21. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck
22. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
23. The Book of Broken Hymns by Rafe Posey
24. Suspicion by Alexandra Monir