Do you have a guilty pleasure book?
Charlaine Harris’s entire Sookie Stackhouse series.
What is your favorite genre? Which do you avoid?
Fav for escapism: Paranormal & Science Fiction (especially comedic like Douglas Adams); Fav in the academy: Indigenous, diaspora, and post-colonial fiction Avoid: Haven’t been interested in histories or biographies.
What is a book you dislike/hate that everyone loves?
Not sure anyone loves it, but it managed to be dubbed a classic: Moby Dick. Wretched book.
Do you remember the last time you put down a book without finishing?
Happens all the time – most recently 2 weeks ago. I’ll try out a stack of new authors and if the first few chapters don’t hold my attention, down they go.
What’s the last great book you read? The last book you recommended to everyone you know?
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is one of my all-time favorites, both because it’s just fantastic and hugely quotable, but also because I vividly remember listening to the original BBC radio broadcast on cassettes on a long family road trip, in the back of the station wagon with my siblings on the seats laid flat (before seatbelts were a thing we did in backseats).
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, what, where, how).
The space is quiet, my dogs are flopped out on the floor, and I’m laid out either on the couch or, weather and bugs permitting, on the back porch hammock.
Do you have a favorite book no one else has heard of?
Solar Storms by Linda Hogan. Hopefully not “no one else heard of” but probably unlikely most have heard of it. My master’s thesis was written on it and I continue to be impressed by her interweaving of the human and natural world, the damage and trauma done to both, and the importance for healing for indigenous communities and individuals to be inclusive of both. It’s historically accurate in the indigenous experiences on the US/Canada border with the damming projects.
Which writers – novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets – working today do you admire most?
Brené Brown – she’s blown up the divide between the academy and humanity, she demands laughter and tears co-exist and vulnerability is required for strength. And she curses. And she’s fifth generation Texan which defies misperceptions many hold about our state.
What’s the most interesting thing that you learned from a book recently?
Werewolf children are tremendously precious because human women seldom survive were-childbirth and werewolf women can’t carry a child to term due to the need to shapeshift. Patricia Briggs has all kinds of helpful information like this.
Do you prefer books that reach you emotionally, or intellectually?
They have to do both. I have little interest in stories that don’t catch my intellectual interest (even those with werewolves and vampires), but I have little patience for intellectual pursuits that don’t resonate with me emotionally. I can be engrossed in a data heavy article if I see how it can transform an aspect of education to help disenfranchised students thrive.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you the most?
I loved to read as a child. The first book I felt actual heartbreak when it ended was Jane Eyre. Reflecting my own development as an adult, I later enjoyed Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, the Caribbean, post-colonial response from the lens of Bertha, the “crazy” wife. Shel Silverstein’s books of poems were precious treasures throughout my childhood. The black and white line drawings are etched in my memories.
Have your reading tastes changed over time? Do you think they will change in the future?
Absolutely they’ve changed and I would expect they continue to change. There have been consistent threads that reflect elements of my core identity, but what shape they take and what role reading plays for me varies throughout different times in my life. With my masters in literature and gender studies, I had such intense immersion into so much generational and multicultural, global trauma, that I couldn’t read anything related for years afterwards. At different times in my career, I’ve been so focused on leadership or transformation in education that I’ve had spells afterwards where I had to take a break from work-related reading. Comedy is like a genre gold thread; I need just enough of it sporadically to keep life brightly colored.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
I’m no good at party organizing and even worse at cooking…so the odds are slim of this happening. ;)
What do you plan to read next?
Not really sure yet – kind of on the hunt for the next author to fall in love with and read everything they’ve published. I’ve walked the local library shelves a few times, so I’ll probably check out a different HCPL next. I love libraries, always have. As a high schooler I was able to use the St. Louis Downtown Library for my research projects which is a huge, classic stone library with beautiful wooden shelves in use since before the turn of the last century. While I love digital books for work and school – recreational reading has to be paper.