At Tweetspeak, books matter. We host a book club, we review books, and we publish them at TS Poetry Press. We’re dedicated to literacy — for life. And we want to learn from each other about reading in the wild.
Do you want to be a wild reader? Are you reading wildly already? We’re using Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits to explorewhat it means to be a wild reader, someone most likely to embrace literacy for life. Read through these 5 characteristics and see which ones fit your reading style and which you might incorporate this month. And please let us know what you’re reading. We need each other’s suggestions!
5 Main Characteristics of Wild Readers
1. They dedicate time to read.
This month has been a busy writing month, filled with interviewing. My reading brainpower felt diminished, so I’ve been reading at meals, especially at lunch and my afternoon snack. It’s a better use of that half-hour than scrolling through social media.
How do you change your reading when your brain is fried?
2. They self-select reading material.
A couple of reading selections came from Twitter. (Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.)
May would have been Gwendolyn Brooks’ 100th birthday. In celebration, Poetry Foundation has been doing lots of fun things to honor her, including this video inspired by her poem We Real Cool. I learned about the celebration through a tweet to this piece called Chasing Ms. Brooks, by Randall Horton. That led me to rediscover the poetry section of my local library, where I found The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Elizabeth Alexander.
I’d like to share one other Twitter find, a profile of Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali by GQ magazine. A good profile is difficult to write because it needs to feel like it could only have been written at this particular moment, which then makes it timeless. A really good profile also has a sliver of the writer, to show that there are two humans conversing. Kudos to you, Carvell Wallace, for a job well done. Also, speaking as someone who has edited many a fashion shoot, the clothes are fabulous.
3. They share books and reading with other readers.
Once again, I borrowed a book from a family member, Johnny Cash’s Forever Words. Cash is the only person ever to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. If those accolades don’t convince you the man could write, then read the introduction by the book’s editor, Paul Muldoon. He called Cash a “psalm-singing preacher.”
Also, I mentioned last month that I was having lunch with a friend who always has good book recommendations. She was appalled that I’d never read any of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries. My library only had one collection, Father Brown and the Church of Rome, so that’s the one I checked out. I am better for having read sentences like this one: “He could only be compared to a tidy whirlwind.”
4. They have reading plans.
Last month I mentioned using awards to choose a book. So when I saw on Twitter that Rick Riordan had won the Stonewall Award for Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, I downloaded it.
I first read Riordan’s Percy Jackson series years ago, when my kids were into them, and I’d forgotten how funny Riordan is. Like when the hero of this book, Magnus Chase, defines the slang word “chillaxing” this way: “(which is like chilling, except with battle axes).” Since I just finished Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology last month, I’m up on my Norse myths. It’s genius of Riordan to create a gender fluid character who is the child of Loki, shape shifter extraordinaire.
About a year ago I read my first Stonewall-winner, Benjamin Aliere Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. (Actually, I let Lin-Manuel Miranda read it to me on Audible over several bike rides.) That’s how I knew I wanted to read another book that had won the award.
Are there awards you take into account when choosing a book?
5. They show preferences.
On Wednesday, June 28, I awoke to the news that Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear, had passed away the day before. The theme for my son’s nursery was Paddington. So after reading several tributes, I went to the library, grabbed all the Paddington books, and sat down in a high-backed chair to read and take notes, while little kids read aloud and stacked pillows into towers and sandwiches. I planned to only write a little bit, but I ended up writing a lot.
Do the words you read ever spark you to create more words?
The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Elizabeth Alexander
Forever Words: The Unknown Poems, Johnny Cash, edited by Paul Muldoon
Father Brown of the Church of Rome, G.K. Chesterton
Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?, Dr. Peter Kreeft
A Collection of Poems, Lorraine McPherson (My great-aunt. Her daughter put together this collection and gave me a copy.)
Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney
Upper Elementary to Middle Grade
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, Rick Riordan
None this month.
Started (The Jury is Still Out. Will I Finish?)
Teacraft, Charles and Violet Schafer (a gift from a friend, can’t bear to give up on it yet)
Abandoned (Not My Cup of Tea, It Bogged Down Quickly, or Others Beckoned)
None this month.
Share anything about you and the 5 main wild reader characteristics. How do you display them, or wish you did, or plan to in the future?
Share your June pages. Finished, sliced, started, and abandoned are all fair game.
Browse Reading in the Wild
“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro