Process Note: I got the idea for this piece from Trina’s post about obsessive reading.
I like to survey my readers at the beginning of the semester to find out a little more about them and start getting some ideas for books to recommend. Sometimes I ask them, “If someone could write the perfect book just for you, what would it be like?” Every so often, a student will describe a book that actually exists, and it’s wonderful to be able to place it in their hands. (Like my student a couple of semesters ago who basically described G. Neri’s Yummy and couldn’t believe it when this book he thought he was imagining showed up on his desk at the next class.)
If someone could write a book just for me….
It would be about a big, quirky family.
It would be about a young artist trying to find her way.
Or an older artist reflecting on a life spent making things.
It would definitely be someone’s journal.
It would be a novel about robots gone rogue.
Or about sentient dragons.
It would be full of white space.
It would be a collage text with illustrations or lists or encyclopedia entries or photographs or recipes or maybe all of the above.
It would be a spare story, slightly underwritten.
Unless it happened to be the first in a series of lushly written fat fantasy novels about sentient dragons.
It would definitely be nonfiction.
Unless it happened to be a novel about Victorian magicians.
It would be a book about writing.
Or teaching writing.
Or reading writing.
It’s probably about mindfulness and motherhood.
It’s a travel narrative to a country I’ve never visited.
It’s a travel narrative to a country I’ve been to many times.
It’s about teaching social justice.
It’s about living an activist life.
It would be a new book of poetry by Billy Collins.
It would have to be a picture book with spare text and lush illustrations.
There have to be cats. Hundreds and hundreds of cats.
(But they don’t have a big catfight and—all except for one—die!)
There might be dogs. If they’re pit bulls.
Unicorns and sparkles are always a plus.
What’s in your reading wheelhouse?