Reading to Write

I remember the day I began to understand what a thesis statement was, not with a vague understanding that it tells the reader what my essay is about, but a more specific understanding of its form and function. It was my senior year of college, and, ironically, I was taking a course that would teach me how to teach students to write.  Continue reading

Reading Life Series: Kindred Spirits

Most educators, especially those teaching English, have at least one teacher that inspired them to learn, to read, and to follow in their footsteps. For me, that person was my seventh grade English teacher. She was warm, passionate, kind, and engaging. And her love for life and literature was contagious.  Continue reading

Reading Life Series: Books for a Time

Jesuits in space. A young girl coming-of-age in the middle of an apocalypse. And a girl growing up in Brooklyn who finds beauty in the strangest places. What do these things have in common? Me, apparently.

Recently, I’ve listened to a few episodes of a new podcast, “What Should I Read Next?,” which is hosted by Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy. Each week, Bogel’s show features a new guest, and she does a little book matchmaking for them. In order to recommend appropriate books, she asks her guests to list three books they love, one book they hate, and a book they are currently reading. One of the things I find fascinating about the show is that for most guests, the books they love reveal something interesting about their psyches and their lives. The guests  often don’t make the connection themselves until Anne remarks on the connection between the books they list and what those books reveal about the readers.

I also appreciate that Anne doesn’t ask her guests that most dreaded question: What is your favorite book? While naming my favorite book is difficult, I feel like I can safely list three books that I love (with the understanding that these are not the only three). Since I first listened to the show, I have been thinking about which three books I would list if asked to do so.It’s harder than it sounds. Once I decided on three books I love, I thought about my reasons for choosing these three and what these books say about me and the kinds of stories that speak to me. Without further ado, here are the three books I love (now). Continue reading

Reading Life Series: Bend it Like Buckwheat

buckwheat

For a while now, I have kept a journal of quotes and passages that are important to me. These quotes are not just memorable lines from books I’ve read and enjoyed; they are words that I cling to during hard times, during times of grief, and even times of celebration and success. And sometimes, they even come from books I didn’t enjoy. As I looked back at some of these quotes, I realized that my life almost could be charted through the books I’ve read and through the quotes that have become an indelible part of me. So, I thought a good way to begin my blogging journey would be to write a series of posts (published every Friday for the next six weeks) that focus on these favorite passages and the most influential books in my life.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading, so I can’t point to one particular book that “hooked” me. I do, however, remember the first book I ever read on my own (Little Witch’s Big Night), so I guess I could count that. When I was a child, reading was an escape, one that allowed me to travel without leaving home and to experience adventures that weren’t possible in a single-parent household. We didn’t take vacations, and I often spent a lot time alone, especially during the summer. So, I read. Reading will always be a sort of escape for me, I think, but as I grew, I began to gravitate toward books that dealt with issues I faced in my own life. I wanted books that provided words for things I couldn’t yet describe, and I wanted books that allowed me to explore the complicated and confusing ideas I had. Then, when I had enough of the real world, I would look once more to those grand adventures and fantasy. Ultimately, I realized that the books I read (the ones that really stick with me, anyway) reveal something about my life at the time and what I needed from my books and even the world around me. I was dating for the first time. I had a fight with a childhood friend. I was a graduate student. I was recently married. I was grieving. I was hopeful. I was teaching four classes and managing an overwhelming service load. All of these phases of my life are represented in the books I read. In a way, someone could read me and the significant moments in my life by looking at the books that were most relevant to me.

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