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. 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.
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 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 don’t love the movies)
and Twilight (I only saw the first movie and didn't like it).
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 this is my new English paper in a format that works for me. I talk about what I’m reading, where I’m going, and what I’m
watching, all with regard to literature.