I’ve always been a reader. My parents read books to me all the time as a child (favorites include Where the Wild Things Are, Morris and the Disappearing Bag, and anything by Robert McCloskey). My maternal grandmother was a librarian and a children’s literature professor, and she gave me books for birthdays and Christmases (she still does). Later, she’d ask me about them. So from an early age, I got used to reading a book and reporting on it.
I majored in English twice. At Meredith College, I attended lectures by Seamus Heaney, Lucille Clifton, and others. I started going to see authors at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, and saw Amy Tan, Kaye Gibbons, and others. I had to memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English. I wore a crown to read the part of Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my Shakespeare course. I delved into the books and biographical information of countless American, Irish, and British writers. My two favorites were Harper Lee and Willa Cather.
My second English degree is from NC State University. Here, I still focused on British and American literatures, but my interests shifted when I took a course called simply, The Memoir. We read what writers wrote about their writing and their lives, and it sucked me in. I followed that up with a creative nonfiction class and I began to focus on the memoir, autobiography, and oral history. I strayed from a traditional literature thesis and wrote my great-grandmother’s biography. It was the most fun project I’ve ever done.
Now, three years later, I’m living in Atlanta, having moved here after my wedding in 2007. During that first summer I was unemployed and didn’t know many people, so I read. I read so much that I added the book titles to a list when I finished each one. Even now that I’m working, I’m still reading an average of one book a week, and adding it to the bottom of that list. As of today, there are 110 books on that list, just shy of two years after I started it.
Now that I am out of school and free to read whatever I want, I still read memoir and autobiography, bestselling fiction and nonfiction, many things recommended to me by others, and yes, even chick lit. I watch movies that correspond with books, but I always read the books first. I get suckered into mega-bestselling series like Harry Potter (but I won’t watch the movies) and Twilight (I might watch the movies).
Just because I’m no longer in school doesn’t mean I don’t reflect on all I take in. I still think about one book in relation to another, and compare an author's early works to later ones. So consider this my new English paper in a format that works for me. I will talk about what I’m reading, where I’m going, and what I’m watching, all with regard to literature. I’m taking advantage of being a Metro Atlanta resident, where literary events abound, and there are several interstates to take me all over the Southeast as I do some literary traveling.
Keep reading and enjoy.