I turned the final page last night on my third book set in South Carolina, and now I am in the home stretch of my Andrea Reads America tour of the United States. I’ve read three (or more) books from 40 states and the District of Columbia so far, and I’ve got these states left to read:
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
I think I might actually finish in 2019. Thirty books in nine months is totally doable. Even if I take a break now and then to read Anna Karenina or books our 15 year old son recommends to me, like Challenger Deep, which I’m reading right now to celebrate this milestone of only ten states to go, I think I can finish this year. I want to aim for it.
I once speculated it would take me a decade to read three (usually more) books from each state. I’d be delighted to finish this year. I’ve read remarkable, eye-opening books, excellent new-to-me authors, and a broad spectrum of landscape, provincialism, privilege, and oppression. The more I read — especially when I throw the occasional non-US-set novel into the mix — the more it crystallizes for me that humans are the same everywhere, throughout history, no matter where they live. This is weirdly comforting to me in the same way that thinking how small and insignificant we are in the vastness of the universe is comforting. I don’t know why. Maybe because it gives a sense of proportion.
Despite the deep experience of the US I’m getting from reading all this American literature, I’m eager to read these final ten states, write them up, and be free. I have a TBR stack of “I’ll get to this when I’ve finished my project” I’ve been building up these five years. I know I want to read more Tolstoy, and I’ve got a books-recommended-as-funny-charming list I cannot wait to get to. But mostly I’m looking forward to the freedom of picking up whatever book I want, whenever I want, without the unfinished business of this reading project looming in the background.