It only seems natural to end this journey with the novel that spurred my goal into life - "To Kill a Mockingbird." Every year, I type the first chapter, just to feel what it was like to write those stirring, magnificent words. It reminds me of greatness, and how few achieve it.
I started this project as a way to lose weight. I had forgotten that until I read the archives. My weight has remained the same. My appreciation for literature, however, has multiplied.
I realize that I gave some authors a hard time. It is my instinct to delete those entries or erase names or critical passages. But I think that would be unfair, not just to me but to those who relish change. So, to Nicole Helget and James Frey, I was wrong. You can write non-fiction without making it dry or tasteless. Just cover your ass by putting "composite characters" somewhere in your introduction.
Averaging one book every 2.43 days, I've read everything from horror to history. Often I made the choice to carry a book around with me through the day. The minutes added up while waiting for kids to get out of school, sitting through long waiting room visits, and literally half-watching the water boil (it's amazing how much pasta we eat). I've read in bathrooms and public bathrooms. I've read while my children did their homework and while my students worked on their assignments.
I'll admit I've been flaky. My husband would make a comment and I'd look at him blankly, my hand permanently creased so thumb and pinkie can support a five pound tome. I didn't participate in any work-related committees, which may or may not have influenced whether I was hired (I wasn't).
But once a week, I walked into my local library to smiles and greetings. "What number?" the librarians whispered. They chose thin novellas for me when I was getting toward the end. They pumped me up when I felt like I could not possibly read another book about women who've lost their husbands.
So, I owe them thanks, every one of them who made this road smoother. Also, the countless e-mails from Haiti, Canada, Japan, China, Greece, Turkey, etc., etc. You didn't believe in me. Or, you thought I was a goddess. Either way, you motivated me to open the dusty pages of an old book instead of tuning in to Thursday Must-See TV.
I have advice for anyone who wants to try this experiment, but you'll have to take me out to hear it. I've been a shut-in for too long. My favorite watering hole sent my husband a condolence card. Not true, but I know they've missed my business.
There are two quotes that represent how I feel: "Don't join the book burners. Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book..." ~ Dwight Eisenhower. And: "Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." ~ Albert Einstein.
I've read widely. Now I'm going to read deeply. On the list are the top 100 American books of last century (at least according to this). Hand in hand is reading the banned or challenged books. I've found in the past that they are often my favorites.
I'm also going to finish my own writing projects. My first deadline is March 20th for a novel. I aim to option my screenplay in 2007 (Brad Pitt, if you're still interested, give me a call - and, oh, I wish I were joking). Whether I share the process of writing is to be seen. It may be too dull: "Sat in front of computer again and played b-b-b-b with my lower lip for the required four hours." But, for now, I'm unemployed. Lemonade from lemons.
The blog shall remain "Books for Breakfast, Drinks for Dinner." However, I'll finally have time to try some of these cocktails.
Peaceful wishes to you in 2007,