1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.
I just finished reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I've seen it on so many lists of must-read books for science fiction fans, feminists, and just readers in general, and Banned Books Week seemed like a great time to finally read it since it's #88 on the ALA's list of most frequently challenged and banned books in the last decade. For those of you who haven't read it, The Handmaid's Tale takes place in an alternative present in which, following several nuclear disasters and a drop in fertility, our government has been assassinated and replaced by an extremist Christian group called the Sons of Jacob. In the new Republic of Gilead, women are treated as property and divided into the ranks of Wives (the most coveted position, reserved for women who have never been divorced or otherwise sullied), Marthas (basically maids), and Handmaids (whose only role is to bear powerful men's children). I've never read a dystopian novel that wasn't YA, so it was interesting to consider how an oppressive, conservative regime would monitor and control the parts of life that aren't always appropriate for YA to address! I kept thinking about a memoir I read earlier this year, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which was about the Cultural Revolution in Iran. Though The Handmaid's Tale is fiction, I think Atwood's gift is in writing about something that is plausible - particularly with some of the conversations about marriage, religious freedom, and women's reproductive rights that are currently taking place in our country.
2. If you were a writer, what kind of books would you write?
Definitely YA! I think that even if I wasn't a middle school English teacher, I would still read young adult literature. I am a big believer in the mantra that "children learn what they live" and I think that our characters are defined by what happens to us during adolescence and how we react to it. I do enjoy writing fiction in my free time, and my writing tends to fall into the fantasy category - I love introducing an element of magic into an otherwise realistic setting. Unfortunately, I'm way better at making playlists, inspirational Pinterest boards, and elaborate family trees than I am actually finishing the stories in my head.
3. Are there any favorite books you like to go back to when the weather starts cooling down?
The Harry Potter series definitely feel like fall and winter books to me, even though they cover the span of a whole school year. I also like to read a little Gothic literature around Halloween - Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray, or something by Edgar Allan Poe. It's the best time of year to start teaching a short story unit, too!
4. If you could have a chat with any author, past or present, who would it be and why?
I'm going to be the stereotypical English major here and say Shakespeare - after all, he was responsible for many of the words and phrases we use in English today, and his plays and sonnets are still captivating. I'd love to be able to actually get answers to all of the questions scholars have about his life.
5. What book are you looking forward to reading this fall?
I'm getting ready to start reading Jen Hatmaker's For the Love for Booklook Bloggers. My September Scholastic order arrived today, so I've got The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Unlikely Warrior: a Jewish Soldier in Hitler's Army, Seraphina, and Out from Boneville to read before I add them to my classroom shelves (hooray for bonus points!) I can't wait for the next book in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, Winter, which comes out November 10th. And I'm sure I'll be diving into my next book in the Outlander series, Drums of Autumn, before too long - I mean, autumn is right there in the name.