Jottings: I'm a book addict
"Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere."— Jean Rhys
It's not uncommon to find me reading a couple or more books at a time. An audiobook on a walk, an e-book on an airplane, a print book while snuggled in bed. Currently I'm in a three-book mode, all e-books though: "Easy Beauty" by Chloe Cooper Jones, "10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World" by Elif Shafak, and "The Complete Works of Rabindranath Tagore" (a year-long goal since it's massive). In my circles, conversations rarely conclude without a query about what I'm reading or what's my latest book recommendation.
I love a riveting storyline, great character development and strong sense of place and time. I inhale information, and I'm a complete sucker for intellectually stimulating and witty prose. But more than anything, I love how reading fiction and nonfiction helps me gain a better understanding and opens up different perspectives of the world — of history, events, people, places, cultures. I'm challenged to open up to new voices, authors, and viewpoints.
I'm often asked how I suss out my reading material, which tends to be wide ranging. Besides book recommendations from friends and others, and the usual book lists and media reviews, my go-to resources are Goodreads and NetGalley.
Goodreads is the largest site worldwide for readers and book recommendations. It's close to book heaven. I'm an avid member and reviewer. You can search for books by titles, authors, settings, genres, awards, etc. You can create personal bookshelves such as books you've read and books you want to read, write reviews and peruse others' reviews, join online discussions and get recommendations. You can rate books and check out book ratings — all reader driven. I've gone down countless rabbit holes and come up with finds I may never have come across otherwise.
My other resource is NetGalley, the website that helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies and audiobooks to book advocates and industry professionals. With thousands of books to browse, it can initially feel like you're a kid in a candy store. But based on one's interests and with a bit of discipline, you can overcome the sugar high. Members send in requests, and if approved by the publishers, receive copies to read and write/post reviews. Publishers also reach out with read/review requests. If the books sound interesting, I accept knowing it's a time commitment, which I hope brings book pleasure. After all, I want to do justice to the books by investing quality time to read/rate the books, and write honest reviews for publishers, authors and the community.
We are fortunate to live in Lake Oswego with access to many amenities, including the Lake Oswego Public Library. I'm an LO library superuser. Last year I read/listened to a total of 136 books, the majority of which were accessed at the library. In 2020, the number was 134, and in 2019 it was 168. Among the numerous programs the library offers is one that was launched last year — Story Line, where you can listen to poetry, short stories or book excerpts. A big shout out to Rachael Hyde, LO library's reference librarian! To listen anytime, dial 503-636-7628 and press 6. New content is introduced every Monday. I love the concept and I'm an enthusiastic Story Line volunteer. I hope listeners discover new reads and enjoy the content, which is curated and recorded with passion and enthusiasm by its volunteers! My latest recording is running this week, so be sure to check it out.
Caribbean-born British novelist Jean Rhys said it best: "Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere."
I love reading books set in and about countries from around the world. My goal is to read a book set in every country but given how easily I get distracted — epecially by bookish rabbit holes — I'm not sure I'll get to it anytime soon. But I think that's a good thing. After all, I'm a book addict, no two ways about it.
Lilisa Hall is a member of the Jottings Group at The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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