Who Are You Reading?

As an English teacher, I tend to have imaginative relationships with authors. I dream up cross country road trips with some, dinner conversations with others, and my son’s middle name is Holden, borrowed from our “long lost Uncle Salinger.” Instead of asking you what you’re reading, I’m liable to ask who you’re reading. In this blog, I’m going to share who I’ve been reading—or in all three cases, listening to. Then, I’d love for you to answer these questions across social media platforms when you see them. Use the #AMLE and make sure you ask your friends too!

Author I’d love to go on a cross-country road trip with:
When I was 22, I took a cross-country road trip, and just like the good cliche that college students can sometimes be, I read Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and carried my beat up copy of Leaves of Grass with me like a security blanket. My backpack screamed “English Major,” and when I returned from Seattle, I brandished an ankle tattoo to solidify my rebelliousness. It was the mid-90s and this was what life was all about.

When I reflect how different the world was two decades ago, I’m amazed at how alone I was on that trip. There was no social media. There was no crowd of followers watching my every move. In fact, I don’t have a single picture from that journey, but it is one of the most significant events of my life, and I am so pleased that it will always be just mine.

Given my brink-of-existential-crisis trying to reconcile the Amber-of-then with the Amber-of-now, I’d certainly want to re-read my old faves, but if I were taking an actual author with me, it would be with Hank Green, the author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I just listened to it in two days, unable to stop myself from slowly enjoying the book. Hank Green is an American video blogger turned author, and I loved this book for its philosophically meta look at the impact of social media on our current psyche.

My favorite quote from the book, and why it would take an entire cross-country road trip to discuss: “I’d heard all this before, but I also knew that this line of argument worked. If you tell people that they’re being attacked for their beliefs, then suddenly they want to defend their beliefs, even if they didn’t really believe them before. It’s pretty amazing, really.”

Author I’d love to have dinner with:
Audiobooks read by the author are my favorite. Perhaps it is simply my desire to live vicariously, but it is just so cool to me to hear an author intonate his words just as they should be. Bob Goff, author of the best-selling book Love, Does and the even more radically positive Everybody, Always, has a voice that smiles. He calls his wife Sweet Maria, so I’d invite her too. I am astounded by his straight up rebellious love. He says, in his smiling and joyful voice, “We don’t need to spend as much time as we do telling people what we think about what they’re doing. Loving people doesn’t mean we need to control their conduct. There’s a big difference between the two. Loving people means caring without an agenda. As soon as we have an agenda, it’s not love anymore.” I don’t know about you, but I can always use a dose of radical positivity!

Author I’d love to have as a distant relative:
I listen to audiobooks with my son as he goes to sleep, and we are hooked on The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. Our family would enjoy an uncle with this wisdom: “USE COMMON SENSE. If somebody offers you a thousand dollars for this book, chances are their motives are not pure. Then again, a thousand dollars is a lot of money. Take the money and run.” A guy like this would always make family gatherings eventful, and anyone with a good nickname always sparks my interest, and a clever one like “Pseudonymous” is fabulous.

I hope this blog has given you a few ideas to round out your summer reading. Let’s keep the suggestions coming! Follow me @MsAmberChandler and use #AMLE to join our cross-platform conversation.