Friday, December 10, 2010

What Is Your Bookprint?

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim’s Daughter Longstocking. Lucky Pippi lived with a horse and a monkey—and no parents! I wanted her independence, her amazing strength, and her stash of gold coins.

To continue the Bookprints discussion my blogmates began, I tried to think of five books that struck me and stuck with me, especially at turning points in my life. I changed my mind several times. Here are my current five in the order I read them.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
With six sisters of my own, I felt at home with the family in Little Women. I found their situation romantic and their struggles a comfort. After I read it, I told people to call me Jo instead of JoAnn. I guess I had inklings even then of being a writer.

I would not have survived high school without Mr. Hosler’s Advanced Biology class. With Bryan, Ricky, Helen, Carol, and Mark, I hung out in the classroom before school, at lunchtime, and after school, took care of the frogs and snakes, and learned how to identify trees. I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, went to Trees for Tomorrow conservation camp, and vowed to take care of the planet.

In college, my world opened up. I loved discovering connections between subjects I’d thought of as mutually exclusive. An American Literature class introduced me to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, probably the book I’ve reread more than any other since then. I’m still awed and inspired by the poetic, thought-provoking way she weaves nature, science, philosophy, and spirituality together.

I read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron at a time when I needed a change: I knew I had to find a way to be more creative. With help from friends and family, I worked my way through the rigorous and rewarding M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. Ten years after graduation, I still study the highlighted pages for inspiration, write Morning Pages, and remind myself to fill the well. As my teaching semester draws to a close, it's time again to immerse myself in my own work. I'll keep my well-worn copy nearby.

JoAnn Early Macken

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