People will be writing posts about one year of the pandemic. I will be writing a post about one year of reading at least a book a day. And I’m damn proud of that. As a school librarian, Friday, March 13th wasn’t about teaching, it was waiting to see what New York State would say about schools come Monday. By 5pm, they told everyone to stay home. By Saturday morning, I challenged myself: read a book a day. It would keep me focused on a task when the future was unknown.
I didn’t make any specific rules other than that I would share what I read on my bookish Instagram account reserved for my reading life (and dresses). It wouldn’t matter whether it was a picture book or audiobook, a graphic novel or poetry. Whatever I finished that day would be ‘the book’ for the day and if I read more than one, well that was a bonus; there were plenty of bonus days.
The formats varied. I downloaded galleys from Edelweiss and Netgalley and I borrowed digitally and brought home books from my public library and school library. There were stacks of graphic novels and digital holds for popular picture books. Audiobooks were in abundant supply and listened to while housecleaning, baking, or walking. I participated in my favorite readathons. Reading was never in short supply because the books were never in short supply. On any given day I have a stack of physical books at least five deep. And there’s an equal if not larger number waiting on my devices.
Some planning was necessary (at least in my mind) because I wanted celebratory reads for specific days. For instance, recently I waited to read The Three Mothers: How The Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs until my sons’ birthday. Or Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall on International Women’s Day. Or the need to finish the book I was reading, My Life in France by Julie Child with Alex Prud’Homme, on August 15th, Julie Child’s birthday.
When others couldn’t focus on reading, I celebrated the victories each day varying the formats and audience since I read widely anyway. It kept me from getting stale and it certainly saved my eyesight. I learned about American buffalo and Stoicism, but entertained myself with horror fiction and Dorothy and her friends Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow. Often one book would lead to another– Philbrick was telling me about the Essex survival tale when I decided I would finally read Moby Dick.
Challenges are an internal motivator be it making every sandwich in Deering’s book or reading twenty-four hours in a forty-eight hour weekend for a reading event. And this is what I learned:
- I love books!
- I appreciate the authors that write those books and the illustrators that create the artwork
- Audiobooks are a gamechanger and I prefer listening to nonfiction rather than fiction in audiobook form
- If I had to buy every book I read, I wouldn’t have a roof over my head or food in my belly- thank God for libraries (and it’s not only because I work in a school one, but that helps)
- George R.R. Martin’s quote “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one” is truth. My life has been fulfilled in ways that can only be felt for the adventures I’ve been on and the things I’ve learned through books
- It was as much about the books as it was about finding a purpose during pandemic
- Everyone should read what gives them pleasure be it celebrity biographies or fairytales simply because it gives them pleasure. Plus that passion is infectious and a model for others to do the same and never feel shame for it
- It doesn’t matter the time of day, the beverage you’re drinking, the outfit you’re wearing, or the location itself, reading is always fashionable, timely, and necessary and therefore goes with anything