Discovering the Relevance of Words
I find that I have a very wide expanse when it comes to what authors I enjoy, or what type of literature truly gets me going. I have a background in 17th-19th century British poetry, but I also have a passion for the Harlem Renaissance, as well as modern American realism. I find comfort in the world of structuralism, but love the abstract feel of E.E. Cummings. When people ask me to name my favorite book, there’s no hesitation when I say Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, but I also want to talk about Adam Mansbach’s Angry White Black Boy, or James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, or Jane Eyre, or The BFG, or Frankenstein. I’ll take the poetry of Whitman, Kooser, Halliday, and Langston Hughes’ in one hand, while grasping Dickinson, Browning, Donne, and Coleridge with the other. I love a book that makes me so angry that I throw it against the wall when I’m done, like JM Cotzee’s Desire, or Francine Prose’ Blue Angel. But I also want a book that makes me cheer like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, or The Awakening.
I grew up in a house full of books, and with a wont desire to devour as many of them as I could. I needed literature because it was a pure escape from the world around me – not that there was anything wrong with the world around me, but I wanted to find new worlds in books and words and the feelings of others. I learned from my dad that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to what genres to read. He collected the works of Sherlock Holmes, but fed off Vampire novels, and books about serial killers, and whatever else looked good on the shelf. My mom’s favorite book is Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but she loved reading The Adventure’s of Winnie the Pooh just as much.
All in all, I just want a book that will make me feel something. Robert Frost once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” The idea that when reading a book, you feel as if the author had less control than that of the characters, is one of the most powerful feelings you can have. If a text doesn’t do that to you, then it wasn’t worth writing, let alone reading, in the first place.
So, I’ll leave you with today’s Question of the Day:
What do you want out of a book?