Megan Cummins is the managing editor at A Public Space. Her reading life is a great (and often frightening) adventure, full of medieval heroines, World War II survivors, and 20-somethings in Manhattan.
Though he didn’t begin reading in earnest until college, he’s made up for lost time. As a graduate student at Duke University English Department, Ken Ilgunas lived out of a van so that he could (and did!) graduate without incurring debt. You can read about it in “Walden on Wheels,” his first book, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary.
From Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” to Rick Moody’s “Demonology,” Janice Y.K. Lee covers a lot of literary ground in her conversation with host Gail Marie. Reading, for Janice, was “like ice cream” in that she couldn’t get enough. But reading was always her private pleasure: Because her parents read books in Korean, she still doesn’t know what kinds of readers they are.
The award-winning writer Allan Gurganus discovered the library later in life than most writers. “All of the imagination that a lot of people use in reading I used to read the woods.” But he made up for lost time quickly, finishing 1,200 books (and writing book reports on each one) in under four years. He says it saved his life, and after listening to his story, you’ll understand why.
Elizabeth Cox is an award-winning author of several collections of poetry, short stories, and four novels. Her most recent is called “A Question of Mercy.” Long before she won the Robert Penn Warren Award for fiction for her entire body of work, she grew up 100 yards from a library with two older brothers who became poets — Herb Barks and Coleman Barks. You can only imagine the kind of reading life she’s had! Or you can listen to her story right now.
Krista Bremer is the author of “My Accidental Jihad: A Memoir” and editor at The Sun. She shares with listeners of The Spine how she became a reader (including “the thrill of browsing” she still experiences at the library), how her reading informs and affects her writing, and her all-time favorite book (by Virginia Woolf). “I think fiction can be truer than nonfiction,” she said.
Her greatest reading achievement? Being the first first-grader to read 100 books and sitting in the birthday chair even though it was not her birthday. But it was the $75 gift certificate to a West LA feminist bookstore that changed poet Lynn Melnick the most as a reader. In its stacks, she met Alice Walker, Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Adrianne Rich, Rita Dove, and other women writers. She never looked back.
Writer and reader Michele Filgate credits her grandmother for generating her love for books; for Michele’s 10th birthday, she even paid Michele’s $100 library fee. Who does she consider “the patron saint of book worms”? What kind of fan fiction did she write as a kid? And what was her role in Paul Harding’s “Tinkers” winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature? You’ll have to listen to find out.