Podcasts are a help and a hindrance to my reading life. A hindrance because the time I could and used to spend listening to audiobooks I now spend listening to podcasts. And a help because some of those podcasts are about books. My latest bookish podcast discovery is What Should I Read Next, where host Anne Bogel interviews guests about their reading lives and then recommends books to them. The show follows a structured format that I thought I’d borrow for a slice.
Three Favorite Books:
I admire people who can rattle off their three favorite books, but ask me to name my three favorite books, and I’m stuck. What genre or format are we talking about? What time of my life should I focus on? Is favorite the same thing as influential? Are my favorite books the ones I’ve reread the most often? I suspect three totally different favorites would occur to me tomorrow, but for today, here are three of my favorite books:
I Capture the Castle. First love and sister love and money trouble and making do and writer’s block and that crumbling castle and diary keeping and a bull terrier named Heloise and perhaps the best first line in fiction (“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”).
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Did any writer ever observe her life and her world as carefully and thoughtfully and generously as Amy Krouse Rosenthal? I pick this book up sometimes intending just to read a page or two, and an hour later, I’m still reading. The best kind of memoir–about nothing at all and everything.
Page by Paige. Exquisitely drawn graphic novel about a teen who is trying to live the life of an artist by following guidelines given to her by her grandmother. A book about creativity and daily practice and finding where you belong.
One Book You Hate:
I thought at first that there aren’t many books I hate. I am an active book abandoner, so I just don’t finish what I don’t like. But then I looked back at my Goodreads one-star ratings and discovered quite a few books I really hated. (And a whole bunch I don’t remember at all. Was it really a one-star read or was I just having a very cranky day?) Since I try to be positive-ish on my blog, I decided to choose a book that has a safely dead author whose feelings could never be hurt by my words should they foolishly have Google Alerts set up for themselves.
Miss Hickory. The most traumatizing children’s book ever written. I’ve written about it before, back when I was trying to complete the Nerdbery challenge. There is so much wrong with this story, it’s hard to know where to begin, but I think we can sum up this way: What kind of children’s book ends with the main character’s head being eaten by another character?!
What You’re Reading Now:
Provenance is my bedtime read right now. I chose it because the author, Ann Leckie, wrote one of my very favorite novels, Ancillary Justice.
The Prince and the Dressmaker is a new graphic novel I’m reading very slowly, just a few pages a day, because I’m enjoying it so much and don’t need to have it finished until Tuesday, when I’ll book talk it in my Children’s Literature class.
The Having of Wonderful Ideas is my current professional development read. I have dozens of PD books I want to read, so I’m not sure what led me to pull this one off the shelf last week, but I love her definition of intellectual development and learning as the having of wonderful ideas and the feeling good about yourself for doing so.
What’s One Thing You’d Like to Change about Your Reading Life?:
I’d like to read more books for grown-ups. I love picture books and informational books and middle-grade novels, and I always have an endless list of titles I want to get to. Because this kind of reading feeds my work life and classroom, it’s hard to prioritize the personal reading that doesn’t necessarily get recommended or book talked in my classes. But I am always seeking a more balanced reading life where I also read books just for me.
What about you? What are your favorite books? What are you reading right now? What would you like to change about your reading life? And, in the spirit of the podcast, what should I read next?