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Friday, June 27, 2014

Read!!! (Please.)

I saw a picture of a girl today, that I don't think was intended to be provocative...

Thanks to Makis Siderakis for this image.

Nestled in between columns of other pictures: Cozy home libraries, old European bookstores, quaint American ones. Books, books and more books. Comfy and inspiring places to read and reflect. Think.

As the United States approaches our favorite independence marking holiday, 4th of July, I'm keen to the idea that one luxury Americans enjoy on a daily basis is the ability to seek out, acquire and read content they personally deem appropriate, for whatever reason. Entertainment, education, enchanting escape.

I know...that's a lot of "e" words. How about exciting, energizing and enabling? Other equally impressive "e" words that apply to people when, while or after they finish reading a piece of any length work. Fiction or non-fiction. Because this is where books lead you. Unfamiliar, desirable and adventurous ideas float through the mind while reading and afterwords, while savoring, the memories of the story.

The girl in the above picture appears [to me] to be masking the fact that she's reading. She seems tucked into a stone wall, as if searching for a private physical space to read her book. In all fairness, she could be sitting on her family's balcony at their home, I have no idea. Still the idea that a person feels compelled to hide (in any capacity) her desire to read, embeds deep in my heart.

Books save people. From themselves, their daily life circumstances, things that have come to pass but not necessarily been emotionally or psychologically dealt with or accepted.

What is this young woman reading and why is she essentially reading it on a rock?

Sometimes I put off reading a book. I don't know why? I picked it up hoping that after finishing it, I'd be a smarter or more aware or sensitive or humane person. And then I let the book sit there on my stack and get buried beneath equally wonderful, inspiring, revealing stories or information.

I think this means I'm spoiled. Spoiled and take for granted one of the beautiful gifts bestowed upon me because I was fortunate to be born in a country that believes free speech is paramount to human sustenance. For all the gripe and trite comments forever publicly made by bloggers, online media, newspapers and some individuals just looking to vent whatever for whatever reason, regarding the dire status of daily life in the United States of America, I say, "settle down."

Truth be told, Americans are fortunate. Things we take for granted every day, like reading what we choose, are activities that children in foreign countries must burrow into stone walls, nooks and crannies of abandoned establishments and buildings to catch a mere glimpse of the same reality.

Don't believe me? Check out this book for yourself and see how lucky you are. Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi. 

And then after you finish that book, create a stack of books filled with other stories and accounts in any room in your home. It doesn't take much space. A corner, or hallway, cubby under the stairs, balcony or ventilated shed in the backyard. Read, read, read. For yourself and all the people existing in the world who weren't fortunate enough to be born into a society or culture that believes making reading materials available for public consumption, at the discretion of each individual reader, is a valued endeavor.

Who knows? Maybe you'll change your life without even intending to do it.

Here are 7 wonderful independent bookstores to buy your books at:

> Strand, Manhattan, NYC
> Book Spot, Austin--Round  Rock, TX
> Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds, WA
> Tattered Cover, Denver, CO
> Bookman's Corner, Chicago, IL
> Landmark Booksellers, Nashville--Franklin, TN
> Carpe Librum, Washington, DC

If you don't live locally, check them out online.

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