For as long as I can remember, I’ve identified as an extrovert, thriving on the energy of others.

But as I take inventory of my life and the times I’ve been able to truly refresh and relax, I have visions of my 8-year-old self locking my bedroom door and promptly shoving my nose in a book.

Since I was a very young kid, reading has served as a sort of sustenance, helping me dream and escape to places I could only imagine. Ramona Quimby was my first heroine. As I grew older, Jo March and Sylvia Plath followed.

I turned my childhood playroom into a library and still find my homemade catalogue cards in some of the passed down books on my kids’ bookshelves.

Not much has changed. Reading remains my escape from the stresses of everyday life—my one chance to truly unwind. Lemuria Books is my sanctuary and varying opinions on the same work of literature makes me tick.

Childhood Amanda would not be surprised that my grown-up adult(ish) career has been built on telling stories. I wholeheartedly believe that reading makes you a better writer and more importantly, a more empathetic person. (Give it a try and let me know!)

If ever there were a time to dive into a different place and time, this year is it.

Twenty-twenty is when reading became more than my hobby, but truly my lifeline.

These books are a handful of those that got me through.