I have one critical requirement when it comes to buying a new purse: it must be big enough for a book. Yes I want it to be cute and durable and not too expensive. But all of those things come after the need to fit a set of bound pages inside.
I started carrying around at least once book in middle school as my nerdiness grew and my coolness shrank. I was constantly bouncing between a few different stories, and a few different worlds, as I escaped the struggles that was the early teenage years. The popularity I had in elementary school apparently got stuck on the monkey bars. While the cliques and slang eluded me, I always found my place between the covers.
Reading stayed a top escape that became a strength when I got into college. Being able to juggle multiple textbooks each semester was essential for my course load and hopes of being something important when I grew up. I didn’t know what the job would be; I just wanted to be someone who got to be in the history books.
Skip forward to the end of a few more degrees (remember that nerdiness growth) and the only reading I was doing was for assignments or work requirements. After spending hours a day reading for work, the thought of reading for fun seemed impossible. My brain was full. My eyes were tired. And my purse was still large but now filled with a tablet for grading papers.
It was about a year ago that I started to reclaim my lost love of reading. I was still reading several hours a day for work, but those words were all academic and nothing about worlds or stories far away from this one. I signed up for an online book club to get out of my own ruts. The Mockingbird Book Club met once a month for a few months, then every other month (due to longer books to get through). Most of the books were fiction and none of them were ones I would have chosen on my own.
With the end of the club (for the year) this week, I can look back and say I am grateful for the challenge of these works. Most of the books were okay, with one really great (Lit by Mary Karr) and one really bad (Godric by Frederick Buechner). And thanks to the group I’ve found myself wandering to fiction sections of the book store much more often. Right now the purse has a set of short stories about food tucked into it. And next up will be the newest book by Michelle Obama. And then… I’m not sure yet. In a good way.