Today is Easter and we’ll be spending most of the day with J’s family and/or driving back to Boston, so I’m going to be lazy for this post and plagiarize my good friend and colleague Kim, who inspired me to Slice it this March in the first place, and who herself stole the New York Times questionnaire format for her blog, also.
I’ll be sure to Slice tomorrow all about this Jew’s annual Easter dinner with her Christian in-laws, and K’s first egg hunt, don’t worry! Now, on to the questions…
What books are currently on your night stand?
I’m finishing up Mary Roach’s Bonk, about the science behind sex and the researchers who study it. It’s hysterical! My school book group, with other teachers and librarians, is reading science and math nonfiction this month (our choice within the genre). Now, this is not my favorite genre, to be honest, but I’m really enjoying Roach’s irreverent voice. Plus, the topic is OBVIOUSLY fascinating! Also on loan from the library right now are Me Before You, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and The Book of Unknown Americans.
What’s the last great book you read?
We the Animals by Justin Torres was just amazing. It’s a series of (perhaps borderline) fictional reminiscences of growing up in a very hectic family in the 70s or 80s, and the young man who narrates it goes through such an intense upbringing. It’s slim, and I read it quickly, and I even taught some of it in my Creative Writing class. It was lovely.
What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
Young adult literature, for sure! Perhaps that’s why I’m a high school English teacher? I love fantasy, dystopian sci-fi, thrillers. I also spend a lot of time with “chick lit” (I hate that title, it’s so dismissive) and memoir. I think because what I teach is literature, my tastes in my personal writing run toward the pop fiction end of the bookshelf, but I’m trying to be more heterogeneous.
Lately, I’ve tried to avoid anything that is too heavy, anything that features bad things happening to children. I don’t read a ton of nonfiction. And nothing military or war-related; if I’m going to read historical fiction, there has to be a good solid human interest story there.
Who are your favorite writers?
A lot of classics: Chinua Achebe, Harper Lee, Margaret Atwood, Zora Neale Hurston, Scott Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath.
For contemporary authors, I love mid-career Stephen King, Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult, Danzy Senna, Alice Sebold, Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and a whole host of YA authors.
What’s the last book that made you cry?
Ummm, I don’t remember? It might have been Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. That book has BIG FEELINGS. It was wonderful.
The last book that made you laugh?
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. I went to her book signing when she came to Boston and I was so. excited. to meet her. Definitely a fan-girl freak-out.
Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?
My childhood hero was Anne Shirley. I wanted to be her; her life had the kind of romantic mystery and drama that boring little me wanted, and I so admired her spirit and heart. I just loved her.
My favorite antihero is definitely Dracula. I finally got around to reading Stoker about five years ago, and I loved it! Better than any movie adaptation.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
When I was maybe eight or nine, my parents had to ban reading from the dinner table because I would read instead of talking to them. We lived on a rural road with no nearby neighbors, and other than my younger sister, books were my nearest and dearest friends.
I remember bawling my eyes out at Where the Red Fern Grows, devouring the Redwall series, loving Bridge to Terebithia, all the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables books, A Wrinkle in Time, Catherine Called Birdy. And a lot of series: Babysitters’ Club, Goosebumps, Fear Street. I was prolific. I definitely won a lot of gift certificates to Pizza Hut during our Book It! school-wide reading competitions!
What book read for school had the greatest impact on you?
One: Romeo and Juliet, because it was seventh grade and it made me fall in love with poetry and want to put words together for myself.
Two: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It was like the complete opposite of Shakespeare’s verbosity: spare, enormous echoes of ideas between the words. But also, if I’m completely honest, it was the first time that I read (what I perceived to be) a critique of Christianity, and for whatever reason, that meant a lot to a young Jewish teenager in rural New England.
What are you going to read next?
Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, because Kim (the inspiration for this post!) recommended it so highly, and because the movie trailer made me want to see if I can predict what will happen before the end.