On Reading: My 2015 Book Shelf

The new year is here and I can proudly say last year I treated my mind well. In terms of giving myself some time to be comfortably swaddled in literature — I think I did pretty well. I’m sure many college students can relate to that constant cycle of sleepless nights and deadlines that hinder your desire for leisurely reading (if you’re a reader, that is). Upon graduating, I found much more free time to read during my commutes in lieu of worrying about accumulating assignments.

I never set a goal for the number of books I want to read in a year. It’s just not something I ever feel inclined to do, but I do enjoy tracking my progress on Goodreads. And of course I’m impressed with myself every year I surpass the number of books I read the previous year, but I don’t feel the need to compare my progress to others’. For me, reading is a very personal and individual activity. I apologize in advance for the cliche, but it really is quality over quantity. It’s not a competition. (But seriously, look at how Goodreads has organized it all by clicking here. I just love it!)
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Let’s take several steps back for a moment and talk about my third-grade self. I didn’t particularly enjoy reading, I absolutely hated being called on to read aloud in class and I wasn’t a fast reader. Actually, I think compared to my peers, I was a slow reader (and I was for a long time and may still be). In school whenever we were assigned to read silently to ourselves, I was extremely self-conscious. I would hear my fellow students loudly flipping to the next page of a reading, practically exclaiming in my face, “I can read fast and I want you to know it!” It’s very possible that by that time I hadn’t even gotten through half of the reading’s first page. Sometime I would begin to skim the words, maybe even skip whole paragraphs to create the illusion that I was keeping up with the pace. You can imagine how that didn’t work in my favor.

It wasn’t until the fifth grade that reading became an enjoyable pastime for me — and it was thanks to the words and creativity of J.K. Rowling. It was also the grade in which I got encouraging feedback from my teacher on a poem that literally refused to allow me to sleep until I wrote it.

From that point forward writing and reading became very serious aspects of my life and identity. And it makes perfect sense. These two things had to come together for me to get the most out of their company. I also think, something about J.K. Rowling’s work must have inspired something in me. It was magical (pun completely intended). And it never ceases to amaze me how important and influential words can be.

They can evoke some of your best and worst emotions, inspire a night, week or even month of deep, contemplative thinking — and of course, indirectly call to those writers who are selling themselves short, unmotivated or just lacking a little confidence.

Reading this year was truly inspiring. I cannot say I was absolutely enthralled in everything I read, or that every book was the catalyst for me to see the world in a different light. I don’t think it always has to be that deep.

Even if I wasn’t too fond of the book, if there was a line, a quote, a combination of words crafted ever so carefully that resonated with me, the 200 pages of reading was worth it.

When I read Toni Morrison — and this is especially true when I read her debut novel “The Bluest Eye”– I feel simultaneously inspired and discouraged as a writer. It’s as if there’s some kind of call to action, but I know I can’t complete the task. Reading something that possesses such complex characters, a riveting plot and eloquent language was so impressive to me that it made me sulk — just a bit.

Almost immediately, thoughts slipped into my mind like, “Well, why should I continue to write if I’ll never produce something half as inspiring and artful as this?” But I can choose to let her talent and persistence inspire me to be the best that’s possible for me, or I can sulk about how Kori will never be Toni, all while not writing anything.

This year I hope to read more, expand the types of books I read and invest more time in my creative writing side.

Here’s to great literature in 2016!

Quotes From my 2015 Reads

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong, as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.

– “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran

The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.

– “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami

No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows the truth and wants clarity.

– “God Help the Child” by Toni Morrison

It seems we are responsible for everything we do, no matter how the chain of events began.

– “By The Light of My Father’s Smile” by Alice Walker

Goals have been called the building blocks of adult personality, and it is worth considering that who you will be in your thirties and beyond is being built out of goals you are setting for yourself today.

– “The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay

Now I understand one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you’ve believed in all your life aren’t true, and that nothing is what it appears to be.

– “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes

Armed Police, Unarmed Civilians

Reverend Al Sharpton hosted the National Action Network's Saturday Action Rally on Saturday, November, 22, 2014. He addressed the killings of three unarmed black men by police officers that occured only months a part. Eric Garner was choked to death in Staten Island in July, Michael Brown was shot in August and Akai Gurley was shot in November. "It is time for us to stop duckin the issue. And dealilng with the issue of police conduct, police training and the right of citizens," Shartpton said on Saturday. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Reverend Al Sharpton hosted the National Action Network’s Saturday Action Rally on Saturday, November, 22, 2014. He addressed the killings of three unarmed black men by police officers that occured only months a part. Eric Garner was choked to death in Staten Island in July, Michael Brown was shot in August and Akai Gurley was shot in November. “It is time for us to stop duckin the issue. And dealilng with the issue of police conduct, police training and the right of citizens,” Shartpton said on Saturday. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Thousands protested at the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13. K. LaMonte Jones walked in chains in front of tons of protesters who chanted "Black lives matter." The Millions March began in Washington Square Park and ended at One Police Plaza. Many left One Police Plaza and continued to march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Thousands protested at the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13. K. LaMonte Jones walked in chains in front of tons of protesters who chanted “Black lives matter.” The Millions March began in Washington Square Park and ended at One Police Plaza. Many left One Police Plaza and continued to march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Hassun Banks and Askyla Bennett-Banks were just two of the thousands of protesters who came out to the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13. The protesters reacted to the recent non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as other deaths in the black community due to police brutality, including Akai Gurley and Tamir Rice. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Hassun Banks and Askyla Bennett-Banks were just two of the thousands of protesters who came out to the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13. The protesters reacted to the recent non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as other deaths in the black community due to police brutality, including Akai Gurley and Tamir Rice. Photo by Kori Tuitt

As protesters marched during the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, Shaedon Blackman held a sign that said "No justice no peace doesn't mean marching within barriers." Demonstators chanted, "They say get back," and Blackman responded, "We say fight back." Photo by Kori Tuitt

As protesters marched during the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, Shaedon Blackman held a sign that said “No justice no peace doesn’t mean marching within barriers.” Demonstators chanted, “They say get back,” and Blackman responded, “We say fight back.” Photo by Kori Tuitt

Protesters flooded West 31st Street and Sixth Avenue chanting "I believe that we will win" during the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. The march continued to One Police Plaza, at which point many went on to march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Protesters flooded West 31st Street and Sixth Avenue chanting “I believe that we will win” during the Millions March NYC on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. The march continued to One Police Plaza, at which point many went on to march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Millions March NYC demonstrators flooded Manhattan streets on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, protesting the recent non-indictments in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. Both men were unarmed and victims of police brutality in Staten Island, New York and Ferguson, Missouri, respectively. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Millions March NYC demonstrators flooded Manhattan streets on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, protesting the recent non-indictments in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. Both men were unarmed and victims of police brutality in Staten Island, New York and Ferguson, Missouri, respectively. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Millions March NYC protesters participated in a die-in on East 21st Street and Broadway on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Demonstrators held up sings saying things like "Stop Killing Us" in response to police brutality and the recent non-indictment of officers in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Millions March NYC protesters participated in a die-in on East 21st Street and Broadway on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Demonstrators held up sings saying things like “Stop Killing Us” in response to police brutality and the recent non-indictment of officers in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. Photo by Kori Tuitt

Day Two of Eric Garner Protests in NYC

The second day of protests in New York City for Eric Garner happened on Dec. 4 into the early morning of Dec. 5. Thousands of protesters turned out in various parts of Manhattan showing their disgust for the non-indictment of officers who have killed black men over the years —  including, most recently, Michael Brown and Akai Gurley. Here are a few photos and video from the protests in lower Manhattan that begun in Foley Square.

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Photo by Kori Tuitt/Dec. 4, 2014

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Photo by Kori Tuitt/Dec. 4, 2014

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Photo by Kori Tuitt/Dec. 4, 2014

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Photo by Kori Tuitt/Dec. 4, 2014