Books have saved me so many times. As a child they gave me role models of strength and ingenuity. Books expand my mind and I can concentrate on reading in a way I can with few other activities. They help me sleep. My favorite books calm me like a certain smell from childhood. From books I learned to see patterns, to hear the music of syntax, to evoke memory and emotion. In books I of course escape, but books also make reality more real; they help me understand my life, to distill experience into sentences. Books trap memories, not only the margin notes I wrote at age ten or the flowers I pressed between pages at sixteen, but the places I was when I read them, the smell of saltwater or the chill of winter. Many times, books have kept me up until a strange, quiet hour of the night when magic seems inevitable. I wouldn’t be me without books, wouldn’t be as brave, as intelligent, or as kind. I owe myself to reading, not just my happiness but my humanity.