Jacqui Bridges scanned a row of books shelved at the Greenbrier High School library. She pointed to the books she has read, nearly all of them, while a bracelet engraved with the word "Princess" jingled on her right wrist.
Greenbrier High School freshman Jacqui Bridges says it is her goal to read all the books in 10 libraries, including the one at Greenbrier, before the graduates. She claims to have read her way through eight libraries so far.
Photo by R.C. Rique
Indeed, if the 14-year-old Greenbrier High freshman accomplishes her goal of reading all the books from 10 libraries before she graduates, she could promote herself to the queen of bookworms everywhere.
"I'm a dork," Jacqui said. "I didn't have a whole lot of friends when I was little, so I read, read and read some more."
On average, Jacqui said, she reads two to four books a day and estimates she has read about 6,300 in all.
"I started reading when I was 3," she said. "I started off with Dr. Seuss books and loved it. I've been hooked on it ever since."
The libraries she says she has already conquered are those at Greenbrier Elementary, North Columbia Elementary, Brookwood Ele-mentary, Greenbrier Middle, two school libraries in Utah and two public libraries in Utah, where she lived before moving to Columbia County at the age of 8.
She said she is attempting to read the books at Euchee Creek Library and the Greenbrier High library to meet her goal of 10 libraries.
"I'll be able to do it," said Jacqui, who said she now has plenty of friends and a boyfriend, is active with the Greenbrier High JROTC and intends to join the drama club. "I think it's a realistic goal."
Some people doubt the likelihood of her claim.
"There's no way she could have read all the books at this library," said Toni Fishburne, the media specialist at Greenbrier Middle, which has about 10,000 books. "That's unbelievable."
Fishburne said she had no records of Jacqui's library activity while she attended school there. She did concede that Jacqui came to her library nearly every school day to turn in and check out books.
Jacqui said many of her friends don't believe her, either.
"They don't have to believe me," she said. "I know it's true, and that's what matters."
Except for books she particularly enjoyed, Jacqui said she didn't reread books from one library she already read from another. Existing on little sleep helped speed up the book-reading process, she said.
"I'll read until 1 o'clock in the morning," she said. "Sometimes I'll wake up at 4 and start reading again."
The A-B student evens reads in class.
"Jacqui's mother would sometimes ban her from the library, because she was reading in class when she should have been listening," Fishburne said.
Jacqui said her parents often prohibit her from reading as punishment.
"I get grounded from reading," she said. "I remember my mom punished me once by not letting me read. She took away all the books out of my room. It took her 20 trips."
Not only does Jacqui want to read all the books in 10 libraries but she also hopes to one day add to them.
"After I meet my goal, I'd like to write a book of my own," she said. "I already write poetry. I think a book would be a good new challenge."
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