Every year I read at least 25 books. That's been the benchmark for I don't know how long now, and I've managed to meet my "minimum reading requirement" every year since I set the mark. It keeps me thinking, it keeps me happy, it keeps me sane. If I go more than a week or so without reading my head tends to get a bit muddled and my dreams become downright dreary.

Some people drink, some people smoke, some people shop. I read.

Lately, I've been a bit non-committal with the books though. I've been reading a chapter or two every day, but right now I've got three going at the same time: one for it's message, one for it's style, and one for it's fluffy distraction.

It's no surprise then that I'm a bit behind from the month of July, not having finished a one of the three. So, today I decided I would finish The Book Thief, which is honestly one of the most beautifully written novels I've picked up in the last 5 years. Two pages in I was completely taken with the language, but for that same reason, I've been working my way through it at a snail's pace.

Now I'm down to the last 50 pages, and I have a feeling it is going to take a strong will to finish it. In the midst of the staggering imagery and masterful verbal gymnastics, I have also come to love Liesel, and Hans, and Rosa, and Rudy, and I am not ready for all of them to die. And it's not like it isn't expected, since pieces of the end are scattered throughout the novel, and the thing is set in Nazi Germany during WWII, and the narrator is Death, for cryin' out loud. I mean, I knew what I was getting into, but I'm still not looking forward to the how and why of it all.

I mean, I know everyone dies eventually, but that doesn't mean I want to watch all the people I love go, right?

And that's how I know that this was a good book: the fact that I am dreading the ending.

Last week, at the conference I attended in Boston I was told that 75% of all college graduates will never finish another book for the rest of their life after their graduation. I literally dropped my head into my hands and sat there dumbfounded for a minute. I can't imagine not having read anything in the last 11 years, and as a teacher it saddens me to think of all the stories and ideas those people are missing out on.

So, now I am going to allow myself the delusion that all 75% of those graduates had the great luck to pick up a book like The Book Thief, and it's not that they are too lazy, or too busy, or too illiterate, or too uninterested in books that keeps them from finishing one. I'm going to let myself believe that they simply found themselves so invested in whatever they were reading they simply didn't want it to end.

It's all in how you look at it.