I wanted to read everything.
I searched out reading lists from friends, from authors, from celebrities.
(David Bowie’s was the most interesting.)
I wanted to be knowledgeable in the classics.
(I can tell you why I hate Shakespeare and why Les Misérables has endured.)
I wanted to know the references and the history.
(I can argue that Holden Caulfield was a spoiled brat and Scout was wise beyond her years.)
I wanted to walk on the cutting edge, take in the experimental texts, consume the weirdness.
(Sonja Ahlers and Harmony Korine walked the line between book and zine while I discovered the rhythms of Gertrude Stein’s excess of consciousness.)
I wanted to discover unknown authors.
(Kim Addonizo will always be my favorite poet you haven’t heard of.)
I read poetry, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, sci-fi, history, academic.
(From Emily Dickenson to Charles Bukowski to Langston Hughes to Ken Kesey to Anne Sexton to James Baldwin to Philip K. Dick to Maya Angelou, to Chinua Achebe never knew any boundaries.)
I wanted to read stories where I could identify with the villain, or didn’t really know who the villain was.
(Who was the bad guy in Geek Love? Seriously, I am not sure.)
I wanted to read stories where I cheered when the villain died.
(We all cheered when Bob Ewell fell on his knife.)
I wanted stories where I was embarrassed to be the villain.
(We should all read The Giving Tree regularly to keep ourselves humble.)
I wanted to read stories where the narrator was like me.
(Francie Nolan could have been modeled after my soul.)
I wanted to read stories where the narrator was nothing like me.
(I would never be as impulsive as Raskolnikov or as proper as Cherry Valance.)
I wanted to experience all the walks of life I knew I could never live.
(I become addicted in Junky, lost all hope in, Requiem for a Dream, chose life in Trainspotting, relapsed in Fear and Loathing, saw into the Hells Angels, freed my mind in the Acid Tests, was unhomed in This Side of Brightness.)
I wanted to experience cities I knew, but in a time capsule that I could never access.
(Hughes’s Harlem and Nerissan’s east village were lost to history.)
I wanted to experience countries and cities I never knew.
(Joyce’s Dublin, Hemmingway’s Spain, Achebe’s Africa, Márquez’s Columbia, Ciscneros’ Chicago.)
I wanted books that told a history lesson, even if they were fiction or poetry.
(Bettie Smith showed me the Irish immigrant stories, Amy Tan let me into her strong group of Asian women, Tim O’Brien showed the human side of war, Jonathan Safran Foer revealed the histories hidden in our family stories.)
I wanted to see my culture and subculture elevated to academic studies and discussions.
(Jon Savage illuminated the growth and power of being a teenager while Greil Marcus gave the Sex Pistols more respect than they ever earned when they were still a band.)
Every book, has captured a unique moment in time, in a place, with characters that is forever documented in those words on those pages and can never truly be recreated. Every book, really is magic.