A little secret about me … one of my love languages is books. I am being totally serious. I absolutely LOVE books. Always have. I am an avid reader and a voracious learner, and I can never seem to read enough books.
In fact, I found myself the other day, when I dropped off an Amazon return to UPS, stopping into Half Price Books on Anderson Mill and 183, here in North Austin. Needless to say, I remember why I don’t allow myself to go in there often (unsupervised), as I left there with quite the haul.
I used to do the same thing as a kid whenever I would go to the library. Oh, how that was my happy place. I would spend entire Saturdays curled up in a corner in my favorite sections on the bean bags and pillows they had available, and just allow myself to get lost in whatever book grabbed my attention (sometimes that was even just encyclopedias).
I also remember being so excited whenever Scholastic Book Fairs came to school (remember those), I would save up my allowance for months in anticipation of what I would score … and, sure enough, I would drop anywhere from $25 to $50 each time. And, that was when I was only in grade school and junior high. I mean … I really, really love books.
What is it about books?
I love what books represent and how they provided a safe space for me as a kid.
Some of my finds would let me escape to magical places like Narnia (yes, one of my absolute favorite books. I even used to read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in my closet on many occasions pretending I would go through my own wardrobe to reach Narnia in all her glory), or take me on adventures through A Wrinkle in Time. Both CS Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle were two of my favorite writers back then. I can thank my 7th grade English teacher, Suzanne De La Cruz, for introducing me to them.
They felt like friends. Like they knew me. Something about they characters were relatable and I found myself being able to easily imagine I was the one engaging in those adventures.
She also introduced me to poets like Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, and some darker material like that of Edgar Allen Poe. I got my first taste (which lasted well into my American Literature class in college) of Emerson and Thoreau (oh, those rose-colored glasses as my American Lit professor use to tease about … how I loved the transcendentalist period). I later advance to the likes of Faulkner, Hemingway, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, and so many more.
Reading was my escape.
Things were tough for me growing up. They was a lot of volatility in my home, as my dad was clinically narcissistic and an alcoholic. My mom, on the other hand, suffered from clinical depression. So, the energy and emotions were always moving in my house, and often times I could be an easy target.
So, I hide out with my books. Sometimes in my room (either on my bed or in my closest). Sometimes at the library (especially on rainy days … something about that just spoke to me). Other times, you would find me under my favorite tree by the pond in town. In fact, that tree prompted a lot of my own writing, as well, particularly my poetry.
Books were my friends. I felt like I could connect to various characters, escape (as I mentioned before) to magical, far-off lands. I could pretend to be the hero in the story, and become strong and courageous. To fight demons or evil forces. To win victoriously against the everything I bumped up against. I often carried this “pretend” space into my real life.
I felt I could embody something that I wasn’t, or at least who I didn’t think I was in that moment.
By junior high, I started to seek even deeper reads. I wanted to know about things. Like how my brain worked, about mindset, how to better myself, how to manage my emotions, how to read people, how to lead … essentially, how to know myself more. I wanted to know how I could make something of myself. How I could go to college and leave my little town, and all my family dynamics.
So, I read … and, I read some more. I got my hands on every personal development and selfhelp book I could. I took notes (still do) with my trusty highlighters and post-it tabs (an addiction that has stayed with me). I studied. I had conversations with the authors. I would ponder questions (often times out loud, and then pretend the authors would answer me … and, many times they did once I dug into even more pages of their work).
I loved being a student (still do now). But, I wanted to be a student of the things that interested me, not the stuff I was “forced” to read in school. My honors History got on me once because I was reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara in his class instead of our extremely boring textbook. When he asked why I reading it, I responded: “Because I am learning far more about the Civil War from this book then I am from this class.” Let’s just say that didn’t go over well. [Side note: that was one seriously intense book … in case you were wondering]
When I tune into a book I find extra fascinating, I often have a hard time putting it down. There were many times where I would pull an “all-nighter” and find myself dragging my ass to class the next day. My mom would just shake her head, as she is the same way.
My mom modeled reading for me. I saw her read almost every night. I think, perhaps, it was her escape, too. Living with my dad often prompted the need for a quick and deep retreat.
So, how many books do I typically read a year (a question I get asked a lot)? I would say my average is usually somewhere between 45 to 70. I tend to read a book a week, though not always in a linear fashion like that. The manifesting generator in me tends to consume a lot in short bursts. Which means, I often read multiple books at once. On average, you likely will catch me reading around five or more at the same time. I move in and out of them, reading parts of different ones on different days. And, I do this in blasts.
And, I have this knack for being able to find the threads between all of them. even when, to most people, they wouldn’t seem to make sense to bring together. It’s one of my superpowers and one of the things I bring into my work. I love finding commonalities between seemingly disparate entities. it’s really cool how that works.
When the itch to read hits me, I will go all in on several books for a short period of time. I likely will knock out five or so books in a week or two, then maybe do another cycle of that. Then I rest and focus my attention elsewhere. Like I said, just honoring my unique human design!
I actually have put together a list of all the books I have read over the past few years. Click here for a FREE download of all my favorites from my curated library.
Why don’t I just get a library card?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good library card … did you miss me say how the library was totally my jam and happy place back in the day? I just tend to be a “keep my books” kind of person. Having a library in my house makes me so very happy. I get to bring that very familiar happy place into my own home. I love the smell and look of books. I love to feel them and organize them. I also tend to re-read many of my treasures and favorites.
Plus, I tend to mark up my books (sometimes, I even take notes in the margins). I am also addicted to highlighters and post-it tabs (make that pretty much all school supplies). Especially for books that help me sharpen my own saw. Those books that help me grow and expand.
These become reference books for what I teach, what I get to translate and make my own for the content and materials I create.
And, don’t worry, both my Kindle and Audiobook collections are pretty massive and extensive, as well. I’ve been known to have my favorite books in all three formats!
Again, I might just be a little obsessed … it’s a healthy addiction, right? Lol!
What do I do with my books once I am “done” with them?
I “recycle” them. Meaning, when I do decide I am "done" with a book, I either donate them to a local nonprofit emergency foster shelter I support here in Austin, or I donate them to Goodwill or Easter Seals. Every now and again, I might even sell them at a yard sale.
One of the reasons I love recycling books is I love to think about who had a book before me and where it might travel afterwards. I have vintage books where others wrote notes in them and dated them. I even got a steal of a find from a friend of my mom’s, where I paid $0.10 for a classic Tennyson compilation of work that has diary entries dating back to 1897. I mean, how freakin’ cool is that. Think about it … I am reading the same book that someone in the late 1800’s also read.
Talk about bringing generations and communities together.
Plus, for me, there is no better way to express love to another than to share a piece of work that moved your soul. Something that touched the deepest recesses of your heart, that truly spoke to you, and perhaps, even changed your life. To be able to share that with another is such a blessing and powerful way to create deeper connection.
My invitation to you:
If you’re an avid reader, like me, share your story. Which books speak to you, which ones changed you? Which ones represent your journey and who (and where) you are today? Which ones are you itching and eager to read?
If you’re not a reader, maybe I can convince you to give it another whirl. You don’t have to even touch an actual book. You could listen to one, or read it off your iPad even. What if you fed your imagination a little. Books open up access to a world of potential and possibilities. Imagine if …
The point is there is this beautiful, brilliant, magical world of stories, history, strategies, learnings, findings, and just plain old-fashioned fun and joy waiting for you between the pages, and among the words. If you are seeking a mentor or guide, a book can provide that. If you need a solution or insight, a book can provide that, too. And, if you need an escape from life, from reality, from the density in the world and all around us, a book can do that, as well.
Oh, how I love my books. I really obsessed. And, I just want to share a little bit of that with you. Again, it’s truly one of my love languages. Cheers to some happy reading!
With deep reverence,