I am a bibliophile. This I will not deny. The written word printed and bound is a special treasure. The words are placed there by one man or woman with the purest intent: to share a thought or a story or a life with another. The words may have been written yesterday or two thousand yesteryears ago. The gift is that the words have been written to be read. The words have been written to share something profoundly unique. The words have been written to communicate, to promote thought, to inspire growth. The words have been written.
I am a bibliophile. This I will not deny. I like to collect books. I like to pick them up first hand and at used bookstores. I like to place them on my shelf as trophies displaying what has inspired me, what has shaped me, what has made me realize who I am in this sea of humanity.
I am a bibliophile. This I will not deny. I like to collect books. I like to place them on my shelf in hope that one day I will read them. This has gotten me into some trouble. When I moved last year from one residence to another I realized how many books fell into the category of hopeful reads, collecting dust and ignored as more books joined the real estate of my growing shelves.
Inspired by this realization, late last year I began a quest to begin reading all those books that were ignored for so long. However, in my haste to complete this quest I found that I was cycling from book to book in haste, hardly taking a moment to reflect on what it was that I had just read. So, with the new year I made a resolution for 2011: to begin blogging a reflection on each book and to restrict myself from purchasing new books until I had completed all the books on my shelf.
Eleven months and forty-four books later, It is finished.
The books I read throughout this year were an eclectic mix. Some were a great disappointment, that I labored to complete. Others that had been gifts or sleepers that turned out to be pleasant surprises. Some I looked forward to reading. Others I dreaded.
I finished every single one to the last page.
In reflection, it was both a challenging and rewarding experience. I feel as though I have reeducated myself, exploring concepts that I would not otherwise have explored. I’ve always read a lot to enlighten myself, but there are many subjects that I have avoided such as ancient Greek poetry and philosophy, world history, or linguistics. In reading these dusty books that have just been sitting on my shelf I’ve learned that keeping an open mind can prompt continued growth and a renewed perspective.
I learned a lot about my tastes too. I know that I am not very fond of memoirs, however sometimes the autobiographical essay can be a pretty good read. I learned that I should refrain from purchasing a book unless I really plan to read it, otherwise it will just sit there ignored without any value other than taking up space on my shelf. I also learned that I shouldn’t pass judgement until I’ve completed the book in full, because sometimes, the second half is worth the distance. There are some authors that I am hungry to read more of, while other heroes I am ready to lay to rest. The experience has taught me to be discerning in what I buy and to trust the recommendations of my friends.
I’ve also learned to appreciate that reading will always be part of who I am. I thirst for a juicy novel that inspires me with profound introspection or one that merely pokes fun and all this overzealous braininess. Be it literature, poetry, or non-fiction, I will always have a book at my side to nurture my life-long love for what is out there beyond myself but capable of becoming part of who I am.
So, now that I have met my challenge, what lays ahead for me? I think that I’ll relax a bit. I’ve been a little anxious at arriving at this place with each book I finished and it is a welcome respite to meet my goal. I may read a few of my old favorites again. One thing I know I’ll be doing, buying a third bookshelf to open up space for for fresh reads! Although I wasn’t totally strict with my rule to refrain from buying books I didn’t cross the boundary line more than three times. Despite Borders closing down and plenty of new releases that piqued my interest, I was persistent with my rule. The gates are now released and who knows what book will find a new residence on my already crowded shelves!