Pam Ott found reading 1,000 books during retirement not only enjoyable but also educational.

By Hayley Fedor

It all began with an adoration for reading. Upon the start of retirement in 2003, 77-year-old Pam Ott, a resident of Sun City Center, set a goal to read 1,000 books during retirement after being inspired by a fellow teacher who also had a lifetime goal of reading 1,000 books.

“I am a person who has always loved to read and I thought it was good to have this goal after retirement for something to really kind of work on,” said Ott.

As a teacher, for 16 years Ott poured her love of literature into fourth grade students by devoting 20 minutes of class time a day to simply reading and breathing.

After retirement, Ott moved from Illinois to Kansas, to Indiana and to Florida over the course of 15 years; however, she continued to read steadily throughout the process of moving, determined to one day finish 1,000 books.

In each location, “we had access to wonderful libraries and excellent librarians,” said Ott, which only added to her enthusiasm for reading and her discovery of some unexpected literary masterpieces along the way.

In addition, throughout her experience, she participated in five different book clubs that made reading more interactive, giving her a chance to hear different perspectives about the books and share her ideas as well.

During the process, Ott sought out books in a variety of genres, from fiction to biographies and everything in between. Being the avid reader that she is, Ott oftentimes gets asked for good book recommendations by family and friends, and some of her top endorsements are Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry and Plainsong by Kent Haruf, as well as works by authors Pat Conroy and Ann Patchett.

“I’ve learned that there’s a lot more to be read,” said Ott. “What a marvelous way to explore the world and never leave your easy chair or your couch or whatever, and you can get different points of views, different perspectives.”

At exactly 5:28 p.m. on March 6, Ott read the very last words of her 1,000th book. Her husband, Dale Ott, made the moment even more special by presenting her with a certificate of completion and a new Kindle Fire for all her reading still to come.

Since meeting her monumental goal, Pam Ott has set a new goal to read her way through stacks of magazines previously collecting dust in her home.

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