Twenty years later I can recall the gist of my two schedules and the particular agitation I felt at their disparity. I was working at a "job job" when I wanted to be writing full-time. But already at 24 I understood two simple things I could do every day that would make my life, well, better: I could run and I could read. (The third and putative "R," writing, would be the hardest to do and only slightly less crucial.) Running allowed me to appreciate the incremental seasonal changes of the physical world. Reading grounded me, then as now, reminding me who I was and who I wanted to become. Reading—not occasionally, not only on vacation but every day—gives me nourishment and enlarges my life in mysterious and essential ways, as each of these eight books has done.
Mona Simpson is the author of the novels A Regular Guy and Off Keck Road.
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