There are many authors who have one or two books that I can count among my favorites. Margaret Atwood is not one of those authors.
To me, and many others, everything that she’s written is fascinating and worthy of a spot on my list of favorite books.
As a teenager, her gripping plots, masterful storytelling, and relatable characters had me pulling all the Atwood novels that I could carry off the library shelves. I’ve read everything that she’s written since then with equal gusto.
It’s safe to say that I’ve always been a fan of television and movies. According to my mom, I had The Wizard of Oz on repeat when I was a child. When I got older and smarter (and a lot more devious), I would sneak out after bedtime to catch as much of The Sopranos as I could before my parents caught me.
It’s no surprise that two decades later, I’m living in the movie and television capital of the world, attending one of its top film schools, and working my butt off to write movies and television that measure up to those that inspired me as a child.
When Sarah Ramsey published her article on how watching television can make you a better writer, I beat myself up over not thinking of the idea first. And damn, she wrote a good article.
There are few writers who are touted by pretentious readers more than James Joyce. Maybe David Foster Wallace? Or William Shakespeare?
But when I first came across Joyce in my high school senior year English class while reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I had no idea that reading this guy’s work was considered pretentious. I didn’t even know who he was, what else he had written, or why anyone studied him at all.
Heck, the very first line of that book is “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo ….”
How could pretentious people get behind a guy who writes the word “moocow” or about a “baby tuckoo” (whatever that is)?
Isn’t that essentially gibberish?
There may be no fiercer turf war in literary society than the preservation of a book’s pristine quality.
Seriously, those Oxford comma folks have nothing on this debate.
To write in, dog ear, markup, and annotate the books you read and love—or to carefully respect and honor the delicate spine and pure-white paper … that is the question.
I personally have been, and will always be, a contributor to the art of marginalia. Comments, symbols, highlights, underlines—they are all in there. Being able to mark important areas and note brief thoughts on what I’ve read are an essential part of understanding and interpreting what I’ve read.
That isn’t the case for everyone, though. In fact, some people get downright feisty about it.