Image by Giacomo Zanni from Pixabay

Hi, and how are you?

If you’re well, I hope you’re reading. If you’re reading, maybe you want to consider your reading arc. I never really had before. But, a Twitter contact, @MattWeinkam, associate director of Lit Cleveland, proposed a fun exercise for us reader sorts:

Chart your reading arc from childhood to present day in 10 books. After a bit of thinking, here’s mine:

A Very Young Dancer>Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret>Their Eyes Were Watching God>Come to Me: Stories>The Innocent>The Fortunate Pilgrim>Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir>Bel Canto>Magdalene: Poems>The Book of Delights: Essays

Of course, there are so many books I love that I had to leave out. If I had 11 slots, I would have added a craft book: maybe Stephen King’s On Writing, which was probably the first craft book I read; or maybe the classic, Donald M. Murray’s The Craft of Revision, which I return to again and again, of course; or maybe the recent Meander, Spiral, Explode (I talked about that one here) by Jane Alison, which upended so many writing “rules.”

What does my reading arc say about me? A lot you already know.

I was a dancer, myself, and a Catholic, drawn to the story aspects of both, I suppose. At 19, I moved from Ohio to Virginia–I left out my Tom Robbins obsession (remember Jitterbug Perfume?). College days brought courses like African American Autobiography and opened my eyes to stories outside what my mom had on her bookshelves from college in the 60s.

Short stories were my entry into the craft of writing–and Amy Bloom is one of my favorite story writers. (Good story collections are great writing teachers.)

Grad school left little time for pleasure reads, but when I could, I liked early Ian McEwan and books that informed my own writing.

If it’s not dance, song in story is a running theme. And for this writer who managed to get an MFA without writing a poem, I read a lot of poetry these days–and essays and hybrids of all sorts. And I think, you could say, I’m arcing toward joy in my reading habits.

I hope that means I’m arcing toward joy in life. I need it now more than ever.

So, show me your reading arc–in the comments or on your own blog. You might be surprised at what it reveals about your reading and your life.

Let’s read together. Check out my categories above, with Rust Belt author and photographer interviews, essays, stories, book reviews, writing advice, and more. Are we social? Find me at FB and at Twitter @MoonRuark

31 thoughts on “What your reading arc says about you

  1. This is a fascinating read…I shared 7 books that influenced me recently, which is somewhat the same while being totally different….it’s interesting to see what impacts you at various stages of life!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Writing it down, recording the books that influenced us, is so valuable. You’re right, John, it is very interesting. Are your 7 books on your blog? Certainly, a psychologist could probably get a lot of insights by looking at our reading habits at different stages of life. Thank you for stopping by–and for sharing. I appreciate it!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah, of course I did see that post. I’m impressed with all your memoir-reading. I think that shows a lot of empathy. I haven’t even read that Bourdain yet–so much to read, so little time. Even now, the TBR just grows and grows! Thank you, John!

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    1. It is a good exercise, isn’t it? I haven’t read Station Eleven, but need to. Matt is doing some really cool things–you’re so lucky to have in-person access to Lit Cleveland! Do you get his newsletter? http://tinyletter.com/BackstoryCleveland It’s wonderful–he’s “reading” Cleveland by reading books set in and around Cleveland through the last century. The last one was a novel published in the 1930s. Super interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alice in Wonderland > Diary of Anne Frank – Adrian Mole > The Amber Spyglass > To Kill A Mockingbird > The Time Machine > High Windows > 1984 > The Enchanted April > The Man Who Fell to Earth.
    I don’t know if this is an arc, or going around in a circle?!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought about it for maybe a minute and those were the books which came to mind! Maybe I didn’t need any longer, as they must be the most memorable for me. I’m glad you are heading towards joy! I think I’m still heading towards strange worlds and dystopias more than anything?

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  3. Strange worlds and dystopias are excellent fodder. Tilting toward joy is good for my soul but not for world-building and conflict. Got to bring out the weird for that. Thanks for playing!

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    1. I love that post of yours! (And you’re right–it’s easy to become so enamored of our favorite authors that we become intimidated instead of inspired to write. I like your advice to relax and enjoy it!) The local library is definitely one of the first places my boys and I will go when things start opening up again. We miss it so much–and e-books just can’t compete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! That seems to be the prevailing opinion about that memoir. And then there was the dust-up after its publication, when the author’s brother (also an author) said some of it wasn’t true. Anyway, I’ve never found it depressing, and it’s a book I’ve read over and over. Maybe because I’ve always focused on the musicality in the language rather than the plot??? I even took the Frank McCourt tour when my husband and I were in Limerick, which was so interesting. It was raining even–so perfectly, depressingly appropriate!

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  4. Rather than books, I’d have to cite genres. Of course the childhood classics, but especially ones involving ghosts or the supernatural. Then some horror. After that cop stories and historical fiction. Romance adventure. Then history and more historical fiction. Travel and non-fiction. Barbara Kingsolver. Writing craft. Essay collections.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your genre take on this writing arc thing, Eilene! I would imagine the genres dovetail with different phases of your life. I’d love to know your favorite book on the craft of writing! Also, I think we gravitate to genres we need at the moment–since you’re writing your histories, it makes sense you’d read a lot in that genre and also essays, which show writers how to explore on the page. (Love the Barbara Kingsolver phase! Mine was as a young adult, living very briefly in Arizona, when I devoured her early books set in the SW, including The Bean Trees.) Thank you for responding, Eilene. I hope you’re well and writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmmm. I’ve seen something similar with memoir titles. I found the link it’s from @pieladybooks on IG and it’s a quarantine memoir: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_fl723gE0W/

    I like the idea. I might turn it into a blog post or something… // wheels are turning // smoke from ears // drums fingers…

    😀 Thanks for the share!

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  6. Ooh, fun exercise. Like you, I’ve got way too many to choose from…but I’m going to try!

    The Cat in the Hat>How to Eat Fried Worms>Encyclopedia Brown>Call of the Wild>The Hobbit>Cujo>The Firm>Catcher in the Rye>Harry Potter>In the Dream House.

    I, too, would add “On Writing” in there somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic arc! One of my guys devoured all the Encyclopedia Brown books. I definitely see an escalation in adventure through the middle there. I haven’t read _In the Dream House_ yet, though I’ve heard wonderful things. Thank you for playing along!

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  7. I would have to think about it! It would probably start with The Bug Club book. LOL! I took it out from the public library so many times. The last book I read was Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House, a Pulitzer finalist. A pretty great distance between!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This exercise definitely took some thinking for me! The Bug Club–that probably got you off to a great start as a lover of nature. I’m dying to read The Dutch House, need to add that to my quarantine TBR. Thanks for commenting, Susie!

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    1. Thank you for being here, Shelley! I love that we have those books in common. Can you imagine girlhood/teenage-hood without Judy Blume? I can’t. And I’m always embarrassed to admit it, but not being a horror fan, On Writing is the only King book I’ve read. I really should fix that! And I’m thrilled you took my advice on The Book of Delights and gave it a read. I figure, even if Ross Gay and I notice entirely different delights in a day, establishing that practice of noticing the small stuff is so valuable–it was for me, anyway. Happy reading and blogging to you, Shelley. Looking forward to reading your words, today!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you too for being here! When Judy’s book came out in 1970, I was too young to read it, but when I was in 5th or 6th grade and the librarians went into a tizzy about it and pulled the book from the shelves, all of our parents got together to discuss how inappropriate it was for girls to read. We all read it anyhow. I’ve read a few of SK’s books, Mr. has read almost all of them. Some are good, some, well … I didn’t finish reading them. I enjoy Stephanie Plum adventures written by Janet Evanovich for light-hearted mystery/murder reading. I laugh out loud at those books.
        I look forward to reading your next post!

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