Your Thousand Lives
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin said that. As a reader and a librarian, I totally agree with it.
My real life has been pretty normal. I grew up, got married, had children, taught school, and now work in this small community library. We have experiences in books that we won’t get in real life, thank goodness.
I’ve never been an African American nurse nor worked in a neo-natal unit in a hospital, but in our Lunch Bunch book club, we read Small Great Things by Jodie Picoult. In this book we learn what it feels like to be a white supremacist, the victim of racism, and the nurse caught in the middle.
None of us has ever been used just for producing children for the wealthy, but The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood makes us know the feelings of entitlement the men have, and the hurt and desperation that both the Wife and the Handmaid feel.
Most of us haven’t had our lives become the subject of a best seller, but in Anne Patchett’s Commonwealth, two dysfunctional families have to come to terms with divorce, death, adultery, and guilt because of that novel. The lesson here is to be careful what you tell your partner; it might just end up in print.
I didn’t grow up in the Rust Belt of America, but J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy opens our eyes to the truths behind poverty and the legacy it leaves, even if a person goes into the Marines and then to Yale Law School. You just can’t escape your background, your family and up-bringing.
Even if we haven’t been wrongly convicted of rape, we can understand the horror of the victim and the accused in the memoir Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino. When a man is mistakenly identified as the rapist, he goes to prison for eleven years before a DNA test proves him innocent. I do have a hard time understanding the forgiveness and friendship Cotton and the author forge after he is released.
Move out of your comfort zone and into your thousand new lives. Just read!