It was my father who taught me to love books, although I confess I never learned to like The Hobbit, his personal favorite. It wasn’t until my A.P. Literature class in high school that I began enjoying great books – books like like Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Dickens’s David Copperfield, and Hardy’s Tess of the D’Ubervilles. That class changed the course of the rest of my life.
It feels like a lifetime now that I’ve been reading and absorbing the words of other people. As a French major at Wheaton College, I discovered great literature from the other side of the pond: Père Goriot, Journal d’un cure de champagne, Le Noeud de Vipères. In graduate school at Northwestern University, I studied other important works of literature and wrote a thesis on Foucault and Camus, which I’m quite sure I no longer understand.
But the best course I’ve taken in recent years has been Children’s Lit, not least because it was offered from the comfort of my own couch in the company of my five children. I have so many personal favorites of our last eleven years of reading aloud together: everything Beatrix Potter (who can’t love a children’s author who uses words like impertinent?), Corduroy by Don Freeman, anything by Kate DiCamillo (especially The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), and of course The Chronicles of Narnia.
It would not be exaggerated to say that I write because I read. It would also be true that I write only as well as the books that I read are written. It is to this unavoidable fact that I owe my incorrigible book snobbery.
Books are conversations – and I like to write about them. If you’re ever interested in seeing what books are on my shelf and joining that banter inside my head, just have a look around here.
Here are some recent posts I’ve written about books:
June 18, 2013 “The Books I’ve Been Reading”
March 15, 2013 “Writers on the Classics Series” at Englewood Review of Books
February 26, 2012 “Middle: Reading Lauren Winner’s Still”
February 11, 2013 “Book Blurb: Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler”
January 4, 2013 “Books to read in 2013”