“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin (A Dance with Dragons)
I’m a reader.
I’ve never been a particularly adventurous woman. But I’ve gone on a thousand lifetimes’ worth of adventures within the pages of my favorite books. I’ve traveled across dangerous landscapes, fought terrifying foes, cried tears of mourning over things lost and tears of joy over things gained, and learned enough to fill a book of my own about myself in the process.
I’ve danced with Angelina Ballerina, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and reached for the green light with Jay Gatsby. I’ve taken the road less traveled with Robert Frost, I’ve seen the Eden in America with Walt Whitman, and I’ve broken all the rules with e.e. cummings.
Atticus Finch taught me about human decency, and Daisy Buchanan taught me about human carelessness. The March sisters taught me about the bonds of family, and Ron Weasley taught me about the importance of a best friend. Romeo and Juliet taught me that love can sometimes burn too hot too fast, and Darcy and Elizabeth taught me that love can sometimes be a slow-burning flame that eventually warms your soul. Huck Finn taught me to stand up for what I believe is right, and Jane Eyre taught me to stand up for myself.
I’ve traveled to the Island of the Blue Dolphins, the Shire, and Hogwarts. I’ve grown up on Mango Street, in District 12, and along a post-apocalyptic road with a nameless father and son. I’ve journeyed through Westeros, lived at Thornfield Hall, and even spent a little time in Forks, Washington.
I’ve been to heaven and back with Susie Salmon. I’ve been inspired by Dr. Seuss. I’ve been scared by Stephen King. I’ve been on a lonely raft with a boy named Pi. I’ve been up way past my bedtime with Harry Potter. I’ve been onstage with the words of William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller.
I’ve fallen in love with Jaime Lannister and Peeta Mellark and a hundred others. I’ve admired Jo March and Janie Crawford and a thousand more. I’ve had nightmares about Professor Umbridge, and I’ve dreamt of becoming as strong as Professor McGonagall. I’ve played and learned and grown with Molly, Samantha, and so many other American Girls.
Hermione Granger showed me that it’s okay to smarter than the boys. Katniss Everdeen showed me that we all have power, strength, and fire inside us. Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist showed me that all people deserve the right to love who they love.
I’ve laughed over the misadventures of Bridget Jones. I’ve cried over the love story of Hazel Grace and Augustus. I’ve gone mad with Ophelia, too.
I learned about stories and authors from Tim O’Brien and Ian McEwan. I learned about the strength of the human spirit from a young girl named Anne Frank.
When I read, I’m brave and beautiful and bold; I’m free and fearless and formidable. When I read, I get to be things I don’t always feel I am in reality, but sometimes—on very rare and wonderful occasions—I take a little bit of those characters, those lives, and those adventures with me after I close the book. When I read, I learn, I laugh, I cry, and I grow. When I read, I live a new and different life with each crack of a book’s spine, with each turn of the page.
I’m a reader. My story is intertwined with a thousand other stories. I’ve lived a thousand lives already, and I’m excited to live a thousand more. I wouldn’t want it any other way.