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.
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