June Book Haul!

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I’m posting this baby early because NO MORE BUYING BOOKS. I’ve said this time and time again, but this time I’m pretty serious. I’ll elaborate why in a later post but for now, I’m going to show off the books that I’ve acquired.

What’s really awesome is that four of the book in my haul came from the Book Riot Quarterly box. I subscribe to this and love it because it comes with loads of bookish goodies and it adds up to much more than what the box costs. So this is where I’d insert the thumbs up emoji.

Moving on…here are the books!

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah McLean- The theme of the Book Riot box was ‘expanding your horizons.’ They wanted to include books from genres that often get a bad rap or simply overlooked, and romance is definitely one of them. I’ve never read a romance title before, but I’m definitely going to try it. I mean, look at that title! Can it get any more romance-y than that? If I’m going to read a bodice-ripper, than I’m glad it’s this one.

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen- This is an ARC I received from the Quarterly box (ARC=Advanced Readers Copy) and it was a little bonus material. I have no idea what it’s about, but it looks like it’s in the vein of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King- I was pretty stoked to receive an A.S. King book from Book Riot since I feel like she’s the one YA author people love that I haven’t read.

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin-The final book I got in the Quarterly box. All I know is that it’s a fantasy novel. But, like the theme of the box says, it’s all about expanding your horizons.

The One by Kiera Cass- The final book in the trilogy that I have SO many mixed feelings about. The covers are gorgeous though, no?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio- A middle-grade novel that is the summer reading selection for my middle schoolers. I’ve heard nothing but good things!

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace- My first foray into the world of DFW. I’m nervous and excited. More on this later 🙂

That’s all from me. Until Thursday, I’m out!

Traveling Alone: A 30 Before 30 Update

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17. Go to the Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and Four Corners

It was pretty serendipitous that I was able to switch days with a coworker at the bakery and get a random patch of time off. Fearing that if I didn’t do something I’d go crazy sitting in my apartment while everyone was working normal jobs, I decided to go to a part of Colorado I haven’t really explored before.

The big thing about this trip was that I wanted to do it alone. Ever since I read this article on Huffington Post, I thought that I should do this. While I’ve traveled by myself before to see friends, and when I was London I spent days on my own wandering the city, I never went to one destination by myself and remained by myself.

I didn’t go alone in order to have some ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or ‘Wild’ type of experience. I don’t consider myself distraught about life or anything. I used to be a pretty independent young woman, and then last summer/early fall I got sick and I had to have help from my family and closest friends. It was awful. Before that I would go and do things alone, it never bothered me, but now I literally could not function on a day to day basis. I had little energy, I lost a job, friendships, and more. Anxiety and depression literally ate my life away. Loneliness, or rather, the fear of being alone, played a huge part in that.

Well, that was a depressing paragraph to type. But not to worry, I got the help I needed, I love my life again, and I function in the world once more. I moved out on my own a few months ago and so the next logical step seemed to be facing my fear of being alone was to travel alone. I would have no one to rely on but myself. It felt like a step I needed to take.

I packed up Matilda (the name of my gold GMC Envoy I’m “borrowing” from my parents) and borrowed some of the camping supplies I didn’t have and set off for southwest Colorado. It’s about a seven hour drive from Denver. I felt sort of bad as I was leaving the city. See, I told a little white lie to my parents. They thought I was going with friends. Truth was it was just me, and I felt bad about this, but I knew they would put up a big stink and I didn’t want to deal with it. Ah, maturity. (Sorry Mom and Dad, if you read this.)

Anyways, my plan was to stop in Durango for an early dinner and then set up camp in Mesa Verde National Park. I made it to the halfway point at nightfall and knew I wouldn’t make it in time. I was too far to turn back, so I just kept driving to Durango. I got to the town, had a quick bite to eat, and then debated my options.

I had my dad’s tent and vaguely knew how to set it up, as well as a head lamp, but I didn’t want to do it while it was dark. I quickly looked up hotels on my phone. They were all either a little expensive for a last minute booking or they looked either like the motel from the first season of Breaking Bad or like they had bed bugs. I parked at Wal-Mart to use the restroom and then I remembered something my friend Lisa told me on our road trip through Michigan: You can sleep overnight in your car in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

I mean, it makes sense right? In Where the Heart Is Natalie Portman’s character LIVED in a Wal-Mart! Still, I kinda turned my nose up at this. Isn’t sleeping in the parking lot for people who are broke or recently evicted or running from the law?

It was my cheapest option though, so I decided to try it. I drove to the back of the massive parking lot, put my seats down, set up my sleeping bag and after I stopped judging myself, I fell fast asleep.

I woke up in the morning a little stiff and disoriented, but otherwise in good spirits. I put everything away and decided to drive the two hours or so to the Four Corners first and then settle in at Mesa Verde. The terrain on the way there is vastly different than what I’m used to in the rest of Colorado. It’s super flat, super dry, and has lots of random rock formations. It’s basically Arizona.

It looks like a real desert!

It looks like a real desert!

The Four Corners was super small and definitely out in the middle of nowhere. Also, it’s a part of Navajo land, which I found terribly interesting. I parked, paid my fee and went in. The area was different than what I was expecting. It’s basically a bunch of stalls with people selling things, then there’s a big circle with markers eloquently declaring this as the site where “four states meet.” I wandered around, took my picture in the center, and then I was on my way out until I saw a food truck with authentic Navajo fry bread. I bolted for the stall. Not only was I hungry but Navajo fry bread is delicious! I hadn’t had any in so long. The nice guy working the stall doused mine in cinnamon and then I went back to my car feeling like the two hour trip was worth it. That’s how good this bread is.

om nom nom

om nom nom

It was finally time to go to my intended first destination, Mesa Verde. I was supposed to be excited, but as I neared the park I started to get a little crabby. I was tired and did not feel like being out in the hot sun for my planned hike. I also didn’t want to do all the work of setting up a tent. I craved a nap. Plus, it didn’t help that when I got the camp site and went to fill my CamelBack that I discovered one of my containers of water leaked all over my cooler, soaking everything, including some of my food. Now, on top of feeling lethargic and fat, I felt stupid. It was definitely an amateur move.

I got to my camp site, which took FOREVER to get to, and only increased my bad mood. I opened the back hatch and promptly lay down on my dad’s folded blue sleeping bag. I thought about just driving past the cliff dwellings, hitting up the sand dunes quickly, and going back to Denver, even if it meant arriving in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to be out here “roughing it” anymore.

But no, I argued with myself, I am being dramatic. I told myself two nights and I’m going to be a woman of my word. I forced myself to eat some carbs and protein and then I start to feel better. I laid my soaking things out to dry in the car, praying that no one would break in and set off on my hike.

According to the information the lovely park ranger gave me when I entered the park, the cliff dwellings were supposedly built in the 1200s by the ancient Pueblo people, or Anasazi. They were definitely minimalists. The dwellings were simplistic and the lines surprisingly straight for an ancient civilization. Building their homes in the shade was a good call. I sat on some rocks a little ways off and it was perfectly pleasant.

Cliff dwellings

Cliff dwellings

Most of the dwellings were roped off. Apparently if all the visitors of the park were allowed to walk amongst them, they would erode away within a year. I was able to climb down a ladder into a below ground room that was circular and I imagine used for religious practices.

Close up of the dwellings.

Close up of the dwellings.

After chatting with the park ranger, I set off on my hike through the canyon. For the first mile or so, I was totally alone, which was nice. I felt energized by it. Along the second mile, I ran into two guys, probably in their late 20s, who went on the super extensive hike this trail was connected to. I can be a little shy at times, so I said the standard quick hello hikers always exchange and went on my way, but one of them, Endell (yep, that’s his name), kept asking me questions, so I finally relented and had a conversation with him.

He was tall with light brown hair stuffed under an Atlanta Braves hat that had the tiny white waves on salt on it. He had the most genuine smile, so when he asked if he could have my contact information, I gave it to him eagerly. He told me he was driving up to Alaska, and stopped here in Colorado to see a friend (his very quiet hiking buddy I’m assuming). Apparently he just left an incredibly high stress job and was going on this epic road trip before picking from a buffet of other demanding jobs that made him an offer.

“I’m impressed you’re doing this alone,” I said.

“Yeah, well, I figured, why the hell not?” he replied. He had plans to go kayaking the next day and he asked if I wanted to go and I told him yes, if it fit in with my schedule. We parted ways with his silent friend patting him on the back…whatever THAT means.

Mesa Verde displayed its full beauty on my hike through the canyon. For the uninitiated, ‘mesa’ means ‘table’ and it literally looked like one giant table on the drive up. Who knew it had canyons and cliffs and so much greenery? I was by myself for the rest of my hike, which was perfectly fine with me, and I took my time.

I went back to my campsite, a little out of breath but in good spirits, and set up the tent without swearing once (to me, that is a true sign of accomplishment). I settled in for the night, tired from the sun exposure, the hike, and my tiny meltdown earlier. I read the book I brought with me, The Bell Jar, while tucked in my sleeping bag with the golf club I found in my car right next to me for protection. It occurred to me that there might be bears, and although if a bear did stumble upon little ol’ me in this green tent a golf club would do me no good. But it’s all about peace of mind.

I finished the book and lay there, waiting for sleep to take me because surely it would after that exhausting of a day, but it didn’t.

And then the loneliness crept in.

Like I said earlier, one of the big reasons I went on this trip was to learn how to combat the loneliness, since it’s a problem in my life. You could say it’s my harmatia—my fatal flaw. It makes me do royally stupid things. I started wondering if this trip would fall into the ‘royally stupid’ category.

I didn’t have good internet reception on my phone, but I could still text. Earlier in the evening I sent my friend Susie a text in a panic because I couldn’t remember if I’d ever been kayaking or not and she kayaks and I had no idea what to do. Almost as if she could tell I was feeling a little lonely, she replied and we had a nice conversation. I ended up falling asleep right after that.

The thing about camping is that you don’t need an alarm clock because the sun is your alarm clock. When it gets up, I get up so I tore down my tent and piled back into Matilda. By this time I’m feeling a little gross since I haven’t showered since before I left on Tuesday (it’s Thursday morning), and I hiked the day before, but I know showering would be silly since I was about to go and play in a giant sandbox. Before I set off I put on an album I hadn’t listened to in a while, Of Monsters and Men’s Little Talks, which turned out to the be perfect soundtrack for my scenic drive.

I stopped in Alamosa to recharge and then I drove to the Sand Dunes, another national park that I wanted to go to, basically to see if it was true that there were giant sand dunes in the middle of Colorado. It was maybe the most beautiful drive I’d ever been on. I was surrounded by gorgeous mountains. It was still early enough that the clouds were low, draped and stretched over the purple formations like wisps of cotton.

Then came the sand dunes. Every picture I took just makes them look lame. Seriously, it doesn’t do them any justice. While I drove I stared at the green fields leading up to the massive mountains and then out of nowhere, some tiny beige blobs appear, and those are the Great Sand Dunes. It’s so out of place that it looks like someone just dumped a huge pile of sand there. It’s hard to believe it’s not man made!

See?! It's kinda random!

See?! It’s kinda random!

When I got to the park, the ranger at the gate told me that I could explore anywhere I wanted on the dunes. This also surprised me, since, in Colorado at least, they are particular about people staying on designated trails. Sand has no trails though, or at least not permanent ones, so I quickly drove to the parking lot, put on my trusty CamelBack and headed towards the towering dunes.

What also surprised me was the creek that greeted me right when you stepped through a small stretch of forestation. It was almost like being on the beach. The place was crawling with kids making sand castles and adults walking through the stream with their shoes off. I dashed across, anxious to get the dunes.

The "creek"

The “creek”

It’s hard work to run in sand and it’s even harder work to climb in pure sand. I was out of breath by the time I made it past what I thought was the second row of sand dunes. Lucky for me, as I stood sipping my water, a group of guys who had to be no older than twenty were descending from the highest dune, laughing loudly. One of them decided to roll down the dune and did so. He didn’t just do the thing where you’re on a grassy knoll and roll down like a burrito. He tumbled down, head over feet, with limbs and sand flying everywhere. It looked painful…and hilarious. I could not stop laughing. The cherry on top was the conversation when the guy lost momentum at the bottom:

Dune Tumbler: Dude, there’s like a lot of sand in my mouth.
His Friend: You didn’t close your mouth?

I played on the dunes some more, which included an attempt at snowboarding. Like it was an actual snowboard, only it was harder than real snowboarding. In fact, it was kind of a pain, so I ditched the snowboard on some other unsuspecting tourists and went up to what looked like the third highest dune and then walked back, out of breath and out of water. I took off my shoes and walked through the sandy creek, enjoying the clear water weaving it’s way through my toes.

My footprints after walking down a dune.

My footprints after walking down a dune.

I had a long drive a head of me, and though I had no deep, soul-defining revelations and I got back to Denver and back to my little apartment feeling like the same girl who left it 48 hours earlier, I felt rejuvenated and reminded that I can handle most anything. I can drive long hours. I can sleep in a car. I can camp by myself. I can explore and dream and witness. I can do so much on my own. After last summer, where I lost the ability to do so much, it felt good to remember that it wasn’t really lost all along, just misplaced.

With that I leave myself with a simple reminder:

I can.

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Unpopular Opinion Time: I Couldn’t Finish ‘Outlander’

It sort of pains me to write this post because on Goodreads, so many people I know and respect love this book. They gave it five out of five stars. People in a book club I used to belong to rave about it. The trailer for it’s television adaptation on Starz looks sexy and fun. I love historical fiction, time travel, and I heard the heroine was feisty.

I picked up Outlander at the library and got about 300 pages in before I put it down. I just couldn’t read it.

(You’ve been warned! Spoilers ahead!) 

Outlander is the story of Claire Randall who was a nurse in WWII and gets sent back in time to the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century. In order to protect herself from the constant danger of the British, Claire marries a Scottish clansman, Jamie. Now, at first, Jamie is a total stud muffin. He’s compassionate and kind and thoughtful, as well as super sexy despite the scars of torture. Claire becomes friends with him and then they fall in love and have a lot of steamy sex. It’s a face paced adventure and then Claire decides she wants to return home to the 20th century, and who can blame her really, so she runs away. Trouble finds her when the nasty Captain Randall shows up and tries to rape and torture her. Never fear though, Jamie to the rescue! He saves her and they return to their lives in Scotland.

Except at this point Jamie has to prove to the clan that he’s still in charge, that he’s still “a man” so he straps Claire.

I was reading this and wondering ‘wait, is he beating his wife?’ and Claire protested but in the end she took the beating. It’s justified as being a cultural thing with the Scottish clans. However, I was really uncomfortable reading it.

By this time I felt like I was making no progress in this door stop of a book and I’m sensitive to instances of abuse, so I put the book aside. I wanted to know what happened in the end so I got on Wikipedia. According to the article on the book, Claire ends up deciding she loves Jamie more when he presents her with a choice of returning home or staying with him. She also rescues Jamie when he’s kidnapped by the bad guys. The book ends with Claire’s realization that she’s pregnant.

I know lots of people like these books and Jamie. I mean, it’s quite the act of love for him to take Claire back to the scene of the time travel and give her a choice. He loves her and desires her and it’s all very sexy but I still couldn’t get the whole beating your wife to save face thing out of my mind. I could never love someone who hit me, no matter what the reason. Hitting your wife is inexcusable to say the least. So how come he gets to be, in a way, excused?

Am I the only one who has a hang up with this? I feel like I am since I haven’t seen much about it on the internet. Am I overreacting because I’m sensitive to this subject? Should I give ‘Outlander’ another chance? Does the whipping incident get addressed and resolved later? Was it all some sort of terrible dream? Granted, I didn’t finish the book so I can’t say that I hated it entirely…I just didn’t feel comfortable with reading any further. I also will give the TV show a chance. It seems like something I would like and feel sort of bad about.

Let me know in comments or tweet me @EmHof to discuss my unpopular opinion. Until next time, I’m out!

Cross it off the list! A 30 Before 30 Update

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4. See a baseball game at Wrigley Field

There’s this adorable little onesie floating around on Pinterest that reads ‘I’m told I like baseball.’ Had this item existed back in 1987 and my parents were able to get their hands on it, they probably would have dressed me up in it until I was able to fit into a child’s sized- Reds uniform, which they did later (as evidenced by the picture below).

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I was raised to love baseball, taught the rules, learned what a strike zone was, and how to keep score all before I entered junior high. Of course, when high school came around I decided I didn’t like sports as my form of rebellion, which was ridiculous because it was in my blood to like sports. You can’t fight genetics! I’ve since given up and embraced all the sports (except the NBA, which is still a total mystery to me).

A lot of people have those life goals of seeing a baseball game in every stadium. It’s an admirable goal, but I’m more interested in seeing games in the big name stadiums, the ones that are historic. Does it get more historic than Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois?

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Wrigley Field perfectly represents the city which I’ve really grown to appreciate. There’s that infectious energy, the feeling of something historic and special that rides the waves of change as the years go on. I was so excited to go to a game that I’m pretty sure I skipped circles around my friend Andrew at one point.

The baseball game was nothing special and out of the ordinary. The Cubs won. I drank some beers and laughed with friends. I listened to Danny’s off-key singing of the Cubs song (I also didn’t know there was an official Cubs song until this game). However, it was unique to be in a place that summed up one of my favorite cities and favorite sports so perfectly.

When I got back to Denver (home, sweet home), I tacked my ticket up on my bulletin board by my desk like a teenager who just went to see her favorite band in concert. Maybe I’ll look up at it and channel some of that Chicago-brand energy into my work, or it’ll remind me that when I set goals for myself I can accomplish them.

Mostly though, I’ll probably just remember it as the time I saw a baseball game at Wrigley Field. It doesn’t need the dressings of metaphor or sentimentality. The memory existing in it’s pure Chicago goodness is enough for me.

May Book Haul!

It’s a little late, but here’s my book haul for May!

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From top to bottom they are:

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton-I loved Age of Innocence and have been meaning to read more from her. I got this at the Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago, IL!

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood- One of my favorite writers wrote about writing? I just had to have it. This is another book from the Unabridged Bookstore.

Kindred by Octavia Butler- I purchased this because it was our selection for book club! Butler is a famous sci-fi writer, and though that is not my genre of choice, I’ve always wanted to read something by her.

A Lady Cyclists Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Johnson- I recognized the title from my book recommendations day by day calendar. I got this copy at the Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor, Michigan.

Open City by Teju Cole- I just love following this guy on Twitter, so naturally this was calling my name when I was at the Unabridged Bookstore.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- I FINALLY bought it from a bookstore in Traverse City, Michigan.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles- A nice hardcover for $6 at my local B&N? It’s hard to resist!

 

Ringing All My Bells

There’s this series on a website I love, Book Riot, called ‘genre-kryptonite’ where someone talks about the genre of books they love. They could be reunion stories, tales of long lost love, books about old Hollywood or turn of the century America. Reading these posts got me thinking on what genres I like to read, so I made a list of three…which turned into a list of four…and then I added two more for good measure. What can I say? I guess I read pretty widely.

Here’s a list of the genres that ring all my bells:

Books about the following countries/places: India, Russia, South Africa, Eastern Europe (especially during Bulkan Wars), Austrailia and New Zealand, England, Iceland, and New York City.

Apparently I like to read books that take place in the really cold parts of the world…also ones that are either considered “wild” or “tumultuous.”

Books with Time Travel

Ever since Hermione Granger used her time-turner, I’ve been a sucker for stories that send our protagonists forwards and backwards through time.

Book within a Book! (book-ception?)

For a while, I never really liked this genre, until I wrote a story within a story. Now, I just love them. To quote Britney Spears, “gimme more.”

Fairytale Re-tellings

Snow White as a drug dealer? Cinderella, but a boy in rags instead of a girl? The Little Mermaid from Ursula’s perspective? The tale of Sleeping Beauty as a stand-in for the Holocaust?

Why yes, I will read it.

Books set in the Roaring 20s

It’s super trendy to like the ’20s, but sometimes trends are trends for a reason.

How about you, lovely readers? What’s your Achilles heel, genre-wise? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @EmHof!

Reading in 2014

This morning I finished a book. That’s not new news, but when I went to mark it as read on Goodreads I saw that I have read 60 books so far this year. That’s as much as I read in all of 2013, and we’re not even halfway done with the year yet.

I set a goal at the beginning of the year to read 100 books in 2014. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be done around October. One one hand, it’s pretty cool. I’m lucky that I can read at work and listen to audiobooks while running errands and commuting. A lot of people can’t do that. So I’m definitely not complaining.

However, I don’t think I’ll set such a high goal for myself in 2015. No way. It’s not that it takes away from my social life, which is pretty lame to begin with, but it’s been taking away from my writing. I’ve been so focused on the goal, so into reading that I neglected my writing. I know, it’s a bummer. Also, kind of a stupid situation, really. “I have no time to write because I’m reading too much.” Wow, just typing that makes me hate myself a little more.

I’m all for reading. It’s the best way writers learns how to write and improve their craft. But when that, or anything else, takes away from writing, I know it’s time to take a step back. I just get in a groove and can’t stop!

So lesson learned: set a mild reading goal. If you exceed it, great, and if you don’t, well, it’s not the end of the world.

On a happier note, I read some very, very good books. Nothing that would make it onto the sacred ‘Favorites’ shelf, but definitely some great reads. Below are the books I gave five stars to and why.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch 

image courtesy of Goodreads

Why I gave it five stars: I loved the writing and the truly amazing journey Astrid went on, even if she made some dumb decisions. I loved the conflict in the book, too. The mother as the antagonist? I haven’t read much of that. I also like the very symbolic ending.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

image courtesy of Goodreads

Why I gave it five stars: It had the whimsy and mysticism of books I liked when I was younger, and the deep metaphor and allegory of stories I grew to appreciate when I was older. It was a lovely take on spirituality and growing up.

St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell

image courtesy of Goodreads

Why I gave it five stars: You either hate or love Karen Russell and I fall on the love side because everything is just so wonderfully bizarre and it opens up all new avenues of thinking. Plus, she’s such a fantastic writer and a whiz at the short story.

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

Why I gave it five stars: I found Lindhout, though a flawed protagonist, to tell a very interesting story. It amazes me that it’s true and she survived to tell the tale.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 

image courtesy of Goodreads

Why I gave it five stars: This book was just a delight; funny, sweet, and well-crafted. I loved Cath and I loved that she clearly has anxiety, but still manages to have interpersonal relationships with people. I also loved the story line about her writing.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Why I gave it five stars: I found the plot, even though I already knew it, enthralling, and the themes of fate and free will came across in such an enjoyable way. I also loved the bits with the witches and the gruesomeness that comes from wanting power.

Well, that’s all from me! Until Thursday, I’m out.

My Writer Tree

Happy Monday everyone!

Mondays can be kinda dreary, even in summertime, so I decided to do a little writer-inspiration craft to hang in my new desk area. With out further ado, I present to you my writer tree!

Yes, I know, it looks either like something from a science lab or a Dr. Seuss book. And yes those are my fingerprints. I stole the idea from my friends Ben and Joey who did something similar to this at their wedding. Don’t worry, theirs turned out much cuter.

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In case it’s hard to see, I cited my six influences as Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, John Green, Dave Eggers, Jhumpa Lahiri, and JK Rowling.

A writer tree is just a little idea I stole from Austin Kleon’s book ‘Steal Like An Artist’ which I read and re-read all this week. I basically wrote my six favorite authors that I would consider influences on my writing life and then, with the help of Google, looked up their respective influences and made a little visual about it. It’s like a weird family tree, although not dealing with genetics exactly.

I decided to do this because often I don’t think about my favorite writers as artists themselves who were once influenced by other writers. Doing this little tree is like looking at my ancestors and how they’ve shaped my personal history as a writer. I figured it was a good starting activity for my summer of learning about myself again, as a writer.

Also, I noticed three authors as standouts when I was putting this together; Kurt Vonnegut, Emily Brontë, and Mavis Gallant. I’ve read the first two, but I have only listened to one Mavis Gallant short story on a podcast. I’m thinking reading more of Mavis would be wise, just to see the kind of impression her writing made on two of my heavyweight favorites.

On a final note, I included the tombstones of my two favorite dead authors, Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. Respect.

How about you? Who would be on your writer tree?