The other day, I read this blog post that mentioned a New York Times essay discussing a “36-question interview devised to make strangers fall in love.” The author of the blog post revised the questionnaire with the intent of making specific people – readers – well, if not fall in love, at least “have an interesting conversation about books.” In this post, the first in a three-part series, I will answer that blogger’s questions. (more…)
The life writing course I signed up for this semester isn’t what I expected. I was looking for a “book club” class where I could sit around and discuss books with my classmates. I didn’t realize the course would focus so heavily on pedagogy (a word I can’t even pronounce) or that my classmates – even the undergraduates – would be using so many big words that no one ever used in my graduate writing program. This course is really pointing out the gaps in my education.
You see, I got my undergraduate degree in business, not English. I took several writing courses as an undergrad, but I did not study literary criticism to the degree that so many of my classmates seem to have. OK, I admit it. I didn’t study literary criticism at all. And there are so many books – the “canon” – they all seem to have read that I haven’t.
I don’t know about you, but when I imagine a potential audience for my novels, this guy is not who I have in mind. (more…)
I love it when people leave surprises in library books. Last night, I opened a recently checked-out library book and found this cute little hundred dollar bill bookmark that someone had left in its middle. Did someone leave it there on accident, or was it a gift? I wonder how many treasures I have accidentally left in my library books when I’ve returned them?
Once in a while, I will purposely leave a real dollar bill in a book before I return it. Imagine the look on the next reader’s face when she finds money in her library book! I think that moment of excitement you feel when you find money, even if it’s only a dollar, is worth so much more than the dollar itself. I don’t mind investing in someone else’s moment of happiness once in a while. (more…)
One of the greatest tragedies of my childhood was not having access to a public library. I grew up in a rural area in south-central Illinois. The closest town, which boasted a population of around 350 people, didn’t have a library. The closest public library was about a twenty to twenty-five minute drive. Since we didn’t live in town, we weren’t entitled to a free library card. My parents didn’t think the library membership was worth the $50 a year considering how little we would get to made the trip.
My parents always made sure we had books to read. We had a full set of encyclopedias. I’ve been told my father used to read to me from the encyclopedia when I was a baby. As I grew older, whenever I would ask my dad a question about the world, he would say, “Let’s look it up.” He would make me figure out for myself which book would have the answer I was looking for, and then he would make me find the correct entry so I would learn how to find answers on my own. Then we would read it together and talk about it. My dad taught me to look for answers and think for myself. (more…)
I have a complicated system for deciding what book I want to read next. First, I constantly keep my eyes peeled for books I might want to read. For example, this morning I read a blog post interview with self-publishing author Aimee Kuzinski. She caught my attention when she mentioned that the hardest part of writing her latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was realizing during the editing phase that she had a major plot hole that needed to be fixed. The fact that she took the time to go ahead and plug that hole rather than rushing her book to publication made me want to read her book.
I should probably mention that the premise of Kuzinski’s novel sounded promising as well. Seriously, what is wrong with me that the writer’s effort to produce a quality product is more likely to catch my attention than her story telling? Maybe I need to work on that. But I digress. (more…)
Hard benches line hall, buzz of machinery – maybe the heat system? – behind locked doors, one woman alone at the end of the bench by the door, checks her Facebook on her phone. Spotted, filthy gray carpet.
Woman gets phone call, talks loud. “Yeah, everything is all about him, it always i (more…)
I like to read a book that makes me feel uncomfortable. For example, I found the chapters of The Hunger Games that covered the actual games themselves to be absolutely excruciating. So, when I found out a couple of chapters into Catching Fire that Katniss was going to have to go to the Games again, I was mortified.
But they can’t make her go to the Games again, I thought.
I can’t go through this again, I thought.
They can’t do this to US. (more…)