Friday, February 28, 2014

Confessions of a bibliophile

You can blame Charlotte’s web for my lifelong passion for reading.  I can still vividly remember sitting in my bedroom crying because Charlotte died.  After reading that, I was hooked on reading for life.  I have always considered books to be among my most prized possessions and I am extremely happy to say that both of my daughters have followed in my footsteps.  Although in the case of my older daughter, I do have to apologize to her fiancé for instilling this love of books into her, she insisted she had to take dozens and dozens of books with her as she moved – so helping her move was a very weighty experience for him (to be fair she also loves to collect rocks – so it wasn’t all books).

I love bookstores
There is nothing quite like going to a bookstore.  I simply adore just browsing the aisles, reading random jacket covers, picking out two or three or ten and finding somewhere to sit and look through the treasures I have picked out, to see which ones I cannot live without.  My fiancé and I make special dates to go browse bookstores, but not too often, because he reads as much as I do and we are running out of room in our house for the books we collect. 

I have literally thousands of books at my house.  There are bookshelves in almost every room.  There is a huge pile of books on my night table – in the coveted ‘to read next’ pile.  It is an eclectic pile of books ranging from history & biography to contemporary fiction and an occasional thriller or romantic comedy.  My kindle is just as eclectic and varied, with hundreds of books downloaded onto it. 
Goodreads is a wonderful place to hangout
Last year my older daughter introduced me to Goodreads, and my life has not been the same since.  Goodreads is absolute heaven for us bibliophiles.  It is this incredible online sharing site for lovers of books.  There are book reviews for almost every book written and lots of lists of most popular books in almost every genre, and even the chance to win ‘free’ books – yes free books!  It really is a wonderful place for book lovers.  I have won several books through their ‘first reads’ program – where authors give away one or more copies of their books in the hopes that the winners will read and review the books for them.
Another fun opportunity on the Goodreads site is the reading challenge.  This is a great tool to help you set reading goals and keep track of your reading.  Last year I set a goal to read 52 books, one book per week was my idea.  Sadly, I fell short of my goal and only managed to finish 46 books (to be fair I started the challenge two months late).  I think it was a very ambitious goal for someone also working full time as a teacher.  This year I have scaled back my goal to reading at least 26 books, that way I am hoping for at least one book every two weeks, and so far I am on track.  With the reading challenge, as you go on Goodreads and mark that you have read a book, it adds that book to your total for you. 
You can see how Goodreads is nirvana for us bibliophiles!
Reviewing Books
I have also been having fun reviewing the work of fellow authors lately.  I think of this as positive writing karma.  While some of the work is…umm…interesting, I think it is really important to support fellow authors.  I hope that when I release books there will be people willing to read and do reviews for me.  I have always made a point of posting reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and now that I am working on being a full time author, I can see how valuable those reviews really are.  Let’s face it – when you go to purchase a book online, you like to check the reviews first, to see if others liked it.  Reviews are like gold to authors.

Reading is a huge part of my life
I try to include some time reading into my life every day (which is more than I can say for housework).  As I continue my journey toward full time writing, I know that reading is an essential part of growing and improving my skills.  Every famous author extols the virtues of reading.   Stephen King stated, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  William Faulkner explains, “Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”
Perhaps Dr. Seuss said it best, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

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