Every semester I hold preliminary conferences with my writing students. I ask normal teacher questions–what do you hope to work on, what do you feel you’re good at–and take notes to help me comment on their work when it starts coming in. In my first years of teaching, I also asked, “What’s something you read and liked recently?”
“The Great Gatsby,” they’d say, or, “We read As I Lay Dying last year.”
It’s perfectly possible to like either of those books, although I’m more of a Tender Is the Night girl myself. But the way they watched me as they said the titles showed me that I needed to be more precise. “What do you read for fun?” I ask them now. “Like, actual fun. What do you read when you’re sick?”
They murmur something shy about Harry Potter or the Hunger Games, or glance sideways before asking, “Have you ever heard of Naruto?” And once that started happening, I saw the chance to do something more important than learning about their “taste” or their “influences”: I could help them see that no pleasure is guilty. Talking with my students helped me to respond both truthfully and proudly when someone asks, “What’ve you been reading lately?” These posts will imagine that you’re asking me that question about once a week.
Seven Citadels, a four-book series by Geraldine Harris (Prince of the Godborn, Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, The Seventh Gate), is a quest story.