These words, taken from my favorite book, speak to my soul. Reading brings me a contentment, an immeasurable joy, that I can’t quite articulate. My husband often jokes that I can’t be trusted in a bookstore by myself, or I’ll end up walking out carrying my weight in books. Used Book Stores are a kind of haven for me. I love the idea of experiencing the same story as someone else. Turning the same pages that someone else has turned, years, perhaps decades, before me.
That love of the shared story experience is what gave birth to the Lit My Heart Project. The purpose of this photography project is to allow people the opportunity to share their favorite stories. The stories that lit their heart on fire. Children’s tales that turned them into bookworms, nonfiction texts that inspired their careers, or simply those books that have remained favorites for decades; with worn pages and dented spines. Each person I photograph and interview will have added a book to my personal reading list, and perhaps inspired others to add a new book to theirs.
Holidays on Ice by: David Sedaris
“This book is Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. I got this book when, I think I was like twenty. So, I’ve had it for thirteen years. It’s very worn; there are stains all over it. I think it’s my favorite (book) because I didn’t really know much about it when I got it. Somebody just told me I should read it. It’s a bunch of short stories that are true. And it’s one of those things where I feel like it could happen to anybody, but he just has a way of writing about it that’s hilarious and it’s just one of those books that I will sit on the couch and read it and I’m legitimately laughing out loud, which I love. I just love the stories. I don’t have to read it in order. It’s not a sequence. You can just pick it up and read a random story. I take it with me every time I go on vacation; it’s always packed in my bag.”
A Walk to Remember by: Nicholas Sparks
“I was a very horrible reader in school. I never liked to read at all and my comprehension sucked…horribly. I never enjoyed it. My mom was a bookaholic. And so, my senior year of high school, I picked up this book, and read this book, and fell in love with this book. And then I became a bookworm I read a gazillion books all the time now. That’s the really short version. I also love this book because he (the main character) teaches her about life, and she teaches him about faith.”
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
“I mean, I always loved comics, you know? But Watchmen kind of…it changed everything. Watchmen was this completely…you know I read The Dark Knight Returns and that was…it was…amazing, but it was, I mean as good as it was, it was still kind of founded in the Batman world. And then…I think it was a gal at record store in the Old Market, she was like, “If you like Dark Knight Returns, you gotta read Watchmen. And it was just, I don’t know. I think it’s hard for people to read it now and appreciate it, because it influenced so many things. I don’t know if people reading it today can fully get that it was…I mean, it’s like seeing Pulp Fiction now. I don’t think you can appreciate what Pulp Fiction was at the time, because everything has kind of been influenced by it since. I mean, it was like The Stand with Stephen King. It’s this epic story across generations and who the good guy isn’t very clear and again, for it’s time that was new. Now, I know it’s like Breaking Bad and everything kind of has that ethos, but for when it was written, especially in the comic genre that was insane. I don’t know. I just remember I read it and it was like nothing I had ever read before.”
What Does the Fox Say? by: Ylvis, Illustrations by Svein Nyhus
“Why do you like this book so much?”
“Because it’s my favorite.”
The Indian in the Cupboard by: Lynne Reid Banks
“This is the book that made me a bookworm. We went on a lot of road trips as a family and every time we would, on our huge long trip, my mom would choose a whole bunch of books and that was how I read Harry Potter for the first time and Indian in the Cupboard was the first of that. And just so many wonderful books, I remember reading Pat McManus, there were so many different wonderful books. And it was just so…I remember my mom’s voice being hoarse she had read so much and we were just like, “No, no, no! You have to keep going! You have to keep reading!” And so we would pass The Indian in the Cupboard around our car so that we could keep reading.”
Sandman by: Neil Gaiman
“The book is Sandman by Neil Gaiman and a number of artists vol. 1, but the whole series really. I read it when I was leaving California for what I thought was the last time, turned out only to be the second time and it was given to me by a good friend. Introduced at an emotional period and it really resonated with me, for a number of reasons, which I think is interesting given the source material. It’s a story about mythos and creates new pantheon and shows a certain perspective of the world, but it’s also a very human story. And it shows that in everything there is duality, multiplicity. Everything has more than one dimension. And at the same time, it’s about one man making a single decision. I don’t know, something about that really got me at a time in my life when I had to make what felt like a very big decision, which turned out to be the easiest decision of all. Which is to just stay and do what I loved. So beyond that, you also the fact that it’s a comic book, but it’s not a superhero comic, which is what everyone thinks of. You have all these different conflicts going on that are more emotional, mental. There’s an action element to it, but it’s not about two guys punching each other until the end of the story. It showed me what comic books can be and it’s done by Neil Gaiman, the rock star literary figure of the modern world, so of course, it’s written beautifully. The art’s amazing. And just every single aspect of it called to me and I loved it. It just stayed with me to the point where I started making my own comics, and has affected the person I want to be and the path I want to take. It’s not the first comic I’ve read, it’s not the first book I’ve read, and it’s not the best I’ve read, but it’s probably the one that means the most to me.”