In a good book, the best is between the lines.
I am a liminal person. I guess to some extent we all are, but the past five years of my life have involved a substantial number of figurative and literal moves: between geographies, cultures, identities, jobs, languages. After completing my M.A. in English and teaching introductory writing classes for a bit, I took my teaching career to Ecuador, where I worked as an English professor and teacher trainer with the Peace Corps. That’s where this liminal state really began. Ecuador is a place of blurred lines, of two things at once, this and that, everything you thought and nothing like what you expected. For two years, I straddled the line between teacher and friend, casual and professional, American and Ecuadorian, English and Spanish, foreign and familiar, first world and third world, rich and poor, happy and heartbroken, logical and irrational. The list goes on and on. My life was an endless series of contradictions.
Then, I moved home.
After years of working in higher education and nonprofits, I got a corporate job. I moved out of my small town and into the big city, and I slowly, very slowly began transitioning back into American culture. (It’s true what they say; reverse culture shock is worse.) A few months after moving home, I realized that while I was happy to be near my family and although I occasionally missed my Ecuadorian friends and my Ecuadorian life, what I mostly felt was numb. Or perhaps shell shocked. I’m not sure. What I do know is that the person I was before leaving for Ecuador is not the person that I am now, and that’s confusing business. I tried writing about it. I love writing; I want to be a creator of beautiful and breathtaking things. But nothing was coming out. So mostly I just did all the things that used to bring me some fulfillment before—listened to NPR, talked about politics with friends, went running, sang at the top of my lungs, read a short story here and there—and I waited. I waited for a change. One that you feel instead of see this time. But, still, nothing came.
As a last ditch effort at recovering some form of my previous self, a self I knew better than the self I am now, I made a New Years resolution to read more books. I’m not a very fast or consistent reader, so I made the goal a bit more challenging: In 2014, I decided to read 52 books in 52 weeks, one book a week for the whole year. It was an ambitious goal, given my workload and my love for Netflix and trashy reality TV. This blog started as an account of my quest to not only honor a New Years resolution for the first time in my life, but to document my search for inspiration and my daily attempts to navigate this liminal state I find myself in. Ultimately, I read 37 books and discovered that a year of reading made me more curious, more hungry for knowledge, more creative, more passionate about the world around me, and more connected to myself than I had been in a long time. Thanks to a regular regimen of reading, my mind has been fully reawakened, and I have never loved reading as much as I do today. While I am no longer reading a book a week, the adventure goes on as I continue to read and connect the ideas, themes, and beauty of my books to my daily life.
Let’s see where this trail of pages leads, shall we?