Books have marked me since I was first aware of language. They were so much a part of my life that I sort of learned to read by osmosis before I ever started school. My mother thought I had just memorized all my books until we were visiting friends and I started reading their kids’ books that I had never seen before. Spending time in the school library in elementary school was a gift; the occasional trip to the Big Library in Charleston was huge for me, and I have very vivid memories of sitting at the end of a stack with sunlight coming through the windows, fully engrossed.
Books have been a huge part of my life as far back as I have memory. They have always provided escape and education, and I truly believe they have helped me to be a more empathetic person than I would otherwise have been. In an American Fiction course recently, one of our first assignments was to write about why we still read the classics, and if we found ourselves in the material. For me, it’s the letting go of myself that holds the appeal: I don’t look for myself in fiction; I look for the Other, that chance to live lives and see worlds I never would otherwise. I love slipping into someone else’s life for a little while and taking a look around. And sharing books? Getting to make recommendations or give warnings to other folks looking for a good read? Terrific. To that end, I’m going to add a book review section to these pages. They will all be called Bookmarked, with the title of the book.