I don’t know about you, but I read every day. Sometimes it’s just sports news, but I usually read books daily as well. I mean that; if I’m not busy, I can easily get through one or more full books in a day! I prefer physical books, but there are also advantages to reading on my Kindle or Kindle app on my phone. From “Tiger is a Scaredy Cat,” the very first book I remember calling my favorite, to meeting one of my favorite authors a few years ago, I can’t remember a time where reading was not a major part of my life, and I have my family to thank for that. My parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles often gifted me with books, and I still own many of my favorites from childhood, including the full (and very heavy) set of all seven “Harry Potter” books.
One of my grandmas was a librarian for many years, and she introduced my brother and me to the world of Hogwarts long before Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger became household names. Her friend lived in England, where the books were quickly growing in popularity, and passed them to my grandma to share with us. We were instantly hooked. Many of my favorite memories involve “Harry Potter,” including my mom reading the long chapters to us as a bedtime story and listening to the audiobooks on long road trips (but not allowing my parents to talk, even to give directions, in case we missed anything – even though we knew the stories intimately), and the midnight release parties at Borders bookstores. When I got home from the final release party for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” I immediately started the book and finished it – I still remember the exact time – in five hours and 40 minutes.
I’m lucky that I’ve always been a fast reader, and I try to sneak in reading whenever I can – while in line at a coffee shop on the Kindle app on my phone; while traveling; during commercial breaks when I’m watching sports on TV; or on my lunch break from work. I credit this, plus the need for distraction from a global pandemic, to helping me read the previously elusive amount of 200 books in 2020. I usually end up reading over 100 books each year, but the more, the better!
You may think this means that my house is overflowing with books, but this isn’t the case! I am very proud of my book collection, but I am very picky about the books I add to it. When I do buy books, I mostly shop at independent bookstores, especially when I’m visiting a new city or state – I want to go to at least one bookstore in every U.S. state, every Canadian province, and every country I visit.
Most of the books I read are from my local library. Whenever I move somewhere new, one of the first things I do is get a library card. I’ve been lucky that every place I’ve lived has had a massive interlibrary loan catalog, which means that it’s pretty rare that I won’t be able to get a book I want to read through the library. I have loved the different libraries in each town I’ve lived in, but my favorite will always be my hometown library.
My hometown library helped deepen my love of reading in many ways. As a kid, I remember leaving with stacks of books that threatened to topple me over and participating in summer reading challenges that rewarded us with food if we read enough books (I always did). In middle school, the bus would drop off me and my friends for after-school Cocoa Club meetings – our book club – where our discussions were fueled by sweet hot cocoa and buttery microwave popcorn. I have Cocoa Club to thank for introducing me to one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, who I finally got to meet in 2019.
Book clubs are such a fun way to get exposed to different authors and genres and doing virtual book clubs are great ways to stay connected to family and friends across the country. Discussing books, even outside of book clubs, is such a fun way to connect to others as well. Even though reading is usually a solitary activity, it can bring people together in so many ways.
Reading is still my favorite way to pass the time on a long flight or with my morning cup of coffee, and my favorite way to learn as much as I can about any vague interest I have. I have a pretty eclectic reading taste; my favorite books range from contemporary or literary fiction to sports biographies and memoirs and non-fiction books about mountain climbing. The wide variety of books in existence today means that reading is truly for everyone. If you have been hoping to get back into a reading habit or try a new genre, I hope this post inspires you. Although March 2nd is designated as Read Across America Day, I think every day should be dedicated to reading!