Reading Nostalgia

When I was little, my parents were very involved with making sure I had a love of reading. I even completed the Hooked on Phonics program (and yes, it worked for me.)

I stuck these on the sides of books I’d read.

One morning Kevin and I went down a rabbit hole of our genealogy after he revealed he was related to Davy Crockett’s brother, and I revealed I was related to Pocahontas/Matoaka– not the Disney one, the real person. (Sidenote, this really shouldn’t be hard to believe. 17+ generations back, and with families having ten+ children, there are probably quite a number of people who are just as related to Pocahontas as I am.) As I dug through my file box for the stapled packet tracing my family back to Jamestown, Virginia, I found a file of my old reading incentives.

Evolution of my favourite pen for the day.

Reading incentives? Yes. With my sister and I reading ravenously, sometimes it was hard to remember who had read which book. We started keeping track with long lists of which books we had read. The incentive was pennies for each book, as noted by the “$3! Good job!” notes from my Mom at the bottom of the pages. These few dollars meant the world to my sister and I, and we’d often save up together to pool our money for trinkets, or carnival games at the Ocean City boardwalk.

I don’t know how after all of my moves and organizing and donating that these few pages from the late nineties made it to my file box, but I am glad they did. I like my use of milky pens, showing off my cursive, and of course, struggling to assign a genre to the Beanie Baby catalogue. (My mom wrote in non-fiction).

I did find my genealogy pages shortly afterwards. Kevin and I discovered that our families were in Virginia at the same time but in different counties, and that Davy Crockett spoke against Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act, which Kevin was very relieved about. But, in Crockett’s memoir he claims some violent acts against Natives. History is never straightforward, it seems. Even in our memoirs.

Summer reading list

During my first year of grad school, I took a lot of notes. I realized that in many of my classes, professors had suggestions for things I (specifically) should be reading.

This felt different from the random person who is all like, “you haven’t read X, omg, you are a horrible uncultured person, but just kiddinggg but seriously, drop whatever you’re doing, call off work, and go read X.” Okay, I get it.

Here’s the thing. Have you been in a library lately? There are a ton of books. More than I could ever read in my lifetime. That is the reality, I cannot read everything. For most of my life I read things that interested me, following certain authors, or discovering interesting looking covers in the library (a spaceship on the cover?? I’d better find out what happens!) Now I am switching over to reading things that will help my writing, through content, craft, or inspiration.

We all secretly like to be judgmental, mainly because it’s more fun that way. So, I thought I’d share my summer reading list. I made this list solely for myself, based on suggestions from professors for the types of stories *I* want to be writing, as well as books I’ve been meaning to read because I think they will inspire my writing somehow. Below are a mix of novels and short story collections. Some are just authors I’ve been encouraged to check out and I haven’t decided what works of theirs to read yet. There are also a few fiction craft books in there (as in, ‘how to write fiction’ type books). If you have suggestions for magical realism, minimalist, strange, genre bending, dystopian, and/or feminist stories, I would love to hear about them!

“Red Moon” Ben Percy
“Refresh, Refresh” Ben Percy
“The lie that tells the truth” John Dufresne
“Is life like this? A guide to writing your first novel in 6 months” John Dufresne
“Bird by Bird” Anne Lamott
“Willful Creatures” Aimee Bender
“The Color Master: stories” Aimee Bender
The Complete Collection of Calvin and Hobbes
“Reservation Blues” Sherman Alexie
“Indian Killer” Sherman Alexie
“The Way to Rainy Mountain” N. Scott Momaday
“House Made of Dawn” N. Scott Momaday  (re-reading)
“Suddenly, A knock on the door” Etgar Karet
“Reasons to live” Amy Hempel
“Jesus’ Son” Denis Johnson
Margaret Atwood
“The Power and the Glory” Graham Greene
George Saunders
“The Road” Cormac Mccarthy

Oh, and a lovely middle school student I tutor suggested I check out the YA series “Divergent” even though we agreed it seemed like a rip off of the Hunger Games. Got to stay up to date on my youth culture though!
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