On writing, summer reading, and Irish spelling

Yesterday, in the mail, I got my author’s copy of Reality magazine (yay!).  The June issue features my article “Loving Mary,” but what makes this especially exciting is that Reality is an Irish magazine, thus marking the first time I’ve ever been published across the pond.  It’s trippy to have an article in a periodical whose cover price is given in euros (and in pounds sterling!) instead of dollars, but it’s also extremely nice; it satisfies, in some small way, the passionate Europhile that still lurks deep inside me.  Plus Ireland is one place in the world I’ve always desperately longed to visit and somehow never have, so I’m thrilled to have this little bit of connection.  (This is also the first time, in seven years of writing for publication, that an editor has changed the spelling of “realization” to “realisation.” I love that.)  Plus the magazine has some great-looking articles, including one on HIV/AIDS and human rights.   And now that I am on summer vacation, I actually have time in which to read them!  (Mental happy dance here.)

Speaking of summer vacation, I’m starting to get my reading wish list in order.  Like most of my reading lists, it’s pretty eclectic; not wide-ranging as much as free range, wandering off wherever the heck it wants.  Here are a few highlights:

1) The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure.  I’ve just started this one, actually, and it’s a great way to kick off the vacation.  McClure writes about her childhood obsession with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, an obsession which trails her into adulthood and leads her to do things like try her hand at churning butter, figure out which parts of the Little House books were fiction and which were reality (the answers surprised her, and me), and visit various Ingalls homesteads, from Wisconsin to South Dakota.  Like McClure, I loved the Little House books enough to dress up like Laura for at least one childhood Halloween, so I’m finding the book to be enormously entertaining.

2.  Ah, what summer would be complete without Mary Stewart?  I’ve read my way through nearly the entire oeuvre, sadly, but there are a few titles remaining for my summertime escapism.  I think I can best describe her books as the print counterpart of a James Bond film, but with female protagonists, a lot less sex (well, okay, no sex — most of ’em were published in the sixties), and a less liberal use of firearms.  But the suspense, the nailbiting finishes, the exotic locales — they’re all there for the drooling.

3.  I’ve never read any David Foster Wallace, and some conversations with an editor friend have convinced me that the time to do so is now.  To be honest, I’ve wanted to for a while; he was a professor at my alma mater (after my time, alas), and I feel a sense of kinship on that account.  I’m not sure whether I should begin with  Infinite Jest, or whether I will train my way up to  it by starting with his short stories.   (But hey, I have weeks to decide, don’t I?).

4.  My mother just lent me Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages, which as far as I can tell is one of the earliest “momoirs” out there.  I know the genre pretty well, and I’m psyched about diving into the grandmother of them all.  Mom also lent me The Forgotten Garden, which she says “kept me awake nights — but in a good way.”  Apparently it bears some connection to The Secret Garden, which is still one of my ultimate all-time favorite books from childhood.

5.  Okay, and I have a few re-readings in mind, namely Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (one of the most important books in shaping my consciousness as a woman, and as a writer), and perhaps Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  It is part of a hefty, textbook-sized volume of Lewis’ works that Scott gave me for our first married Christmas, following my off-hand comment that someday I would like to read “a little C.S. Lewis.”  “You mentioned that you wanted to read a little C.S. Lewis.  I guess you’ll have to settle for a big C.S. Lewis,” he wrote inside the cover.

So that’s my list!  Am I missing anything? What do you think I should I add?   And while I’m asking, what’s on your summer reading list?

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