I just built a fire in the fireplace. What a sense of accomplishment it is to stack the wood exactly right (pyramid-style) and have the flames shoot up, without using a fire starter log! I don't know why that's so rewarding for me, but it is—as a young girl, I dreamed of being a Girl Scout but could never afford the uniform. Outside, it's pouring rain. I've worked out, checked my BlackBerry, turned it off, and I'm ready to read.
I'm halfway through a remarkable memoir I first heard about in this magazine—If the Creek Don't Rise. Everything I've done all day has been in preparation for this time—I get to rejoin Rita Williams as she comes of age in the poverty and splendor of her aunt's ranch in Colorado. Every page allows me to live in her thoughts and marvel at how all of us who grew up poor and female are bonded, regardless of where we were raised or who raised us. I not only feel I know this person, but I also recognize more of myself. That's just one of the great joys of reading. Insight, escape, information, knowledge, inspiration, power. All that and more can come through a good book.
I can't imagine where I'd be or who I'd be had reading not been such a fundamental tool in my life. I wouldn't have gotten my first job in radio at age 16 (which led to TV three years later). I was touring the radio station WVOL in Nashville when the DJ asked, "Do you want to hear how your voice sounds on tape?" and handed me a piece of news copy and a microphone. "You oughta hear this girl!" he exclaimed to his boss. There began my broadcasting career. After years of reading everything I could get my hands on, reciting poetry to whoever would listen, someone was going to pay me to do what I loved—read out loud.
Books for me have always been a way to escape. I now consider reading a good book a sacred indulgence, time alone to be anyplace I choose. It is my absolute favorite way to spend time. What I know for sure is that reading opens you up. It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading—It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. A world of possibilities awaits you. Keep turning the page.
From the July 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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