A Year to Read

Mahogany Staff Image

I’ve been “reading” A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last by Stephen Levine for a little over three years now. I say “reading” because what I’m really doing is continuing a longtime habit of thinking deeply about my fear of dying unhappy and then picking up this book from my nightstand where it lives comfortably swaddled in a soft layer of dust. I read a few chapters for inspiration on living my life more consciously before I tuck it back into its place.

This year is different. This year, I’ve set intentions to finish this book, read much more than I currently do and engage in as many joyful experiences in my daily life as I possibly can. The catalyst for this isn’t the “new year, new me” resolutions that I normally make and break, but rather my experiences over the last 18 months working for the Library. This place is seriously joyful. When I need a quick break from work, I often walk through the halls and stacks of CLP – Main, quietly listening and observing what’s happening simply because it makes me happy.

Since I’ve seen what a mess can be made of things by narrow-minded people, I’m still traveling, trying to broaden my scope. -Malcolm X

Around every corner I see people of all ages learning, talking to friends and strangers or engrossed in their own worlds. They’re sewing, coding and transfixed on creative projects. At any moment you can watch someone finishing a puzzle while another patron asks a Librarian to help them with any number of topics. No matter what you’re looking for, the keys to discovering and learning are found in libraries.

For me, a joyful life is one that allows me the freedom to continuously learn and explore the subjects, places, people and experiences that most interest and challenge me. If you ever visit my office in the hidden hallway next to the Children’s Room, you’ll see my daily reminder from Malcolm X to try my best to educate and expose myself to the things I don’t know.

Since I’ve seen what a mess can be made of things by narrow-minded people, I’m still traveling, trying to broaden my scope,” is scrawled on a bright yellow post-it note stuck to my computer screen. Thanks to recommendations by two different staff members who, perhaps subconsciously, feel my desire and fear to live a creative and unapologetic life, I started my literary travels this year with Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Yesterday I started Philadelphia Fire by John Edgar Wideman, a local author and Homewood native who tells a fictional story based on the 1985 bombing by police of a West Philadelphia row house owned by the Afrocentric cult Move. From creative living to recent historical fiction, I have a long and exciting literary road to travel this year.

Cover for Crafting with Feminism

The reading list below includes some of the titles I plan to read this year (including the book pictured above). Some are new-to-me titles and others have been on my mind for years. Most importantly, they can all be found in the catalog so you can read along with me. Borrow a few items from this list and leave a comment below to let me know what titles we’re reading together (and suggest new titles for me to pick up!).

-Mahogany

woman smiling with book in the library

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Mahogany works at CLP – Main as the Manager of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for CLP. When she isn’t helping people invest in their community through the Library, you can find her striking up conversations with strangers, obsessively snuggling her three-legged dog, listening to political podcasts or daydreaming about life as a Golden Girl or Jessica Fletcher’s sidekick.

0 thoughts on A Year to Read

  1. Mahogany–Thank you for your beautiful post! “The Bell Jar” (life-changing, heartbreaking, poignant) is the only text from your list I’ve read before, but I will be sure to add the others to my life-list! As my mother is already urging me to read “Crafting with Feminism,” I’d also like to recommend “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay–just in case you need one more. 🙂

    1. Jill – you’re the sweetest! “Bad Feminist” is also on my list (highly recommended by other rad women like you). Please let me know what you make from “Crafting with Feminism.” I’m deciding between the puppets and the shero candles for a weekend project. 🙂

  2. This post is the best! I feel kindredness as I read it – and I’m excited about all of the great new reads you suggested! Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself sounds great, and so does A Year to Live – thank you!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Brianna! I’m glad this post helped you find some new books to check out. 🙂 “A Year to Live” is a really good exercise in awareness, reflection and gratitude. I hope it’s one of many good books you enjoy this year!

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