Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 Summer Blogger Promo Tour: Bibliosmiles

The 2015 Summer Blogger Promo Tour is hosted by the wonderful bloggers at The Book Bratz, Amber and Jessica. It works like a summer-long blog tour, but instead of promoting books and authors, we're promoting other bloggers!

This week, I'm featuring Danielle from Bibliosmiles, and she's here today to tell you all about her favorite books from when she was a student.

Danielle Reflects on School-Assigned Reading

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been in school (yeesh, I feel old), but every summer I can’t help feeling nostalgic for English class. I was one of those kids who, for the most part, dove into my required summer reading each year. I have fond memories of sprawling out on the couch with my summer reading book, sometimes highlighting or making notes, but mainly just inhaling the beautiful prose.

I went to college for creative writing and now I work in publishing, so it’s an understatement to say that books are important to me. The books I read in high school helped shape me into the reader and writer I am today, and I’m so thankful for that.  Today I’m pleased to be on Erin’s blog sharing some of my favorite school reads with you. Let us know what your favorite school reads are below!

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 


In my eleventh grade British Literature class, we were introduced to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I was familiar with the Hollywood horror versions of Frankenstein’s monster, but I didn’t know much about the original text. Did you know that Shelley wrote her novel after a rainy summer trip prompted her pal, Lord Byron, to challenge them all to a ghost story contest? Frankenstein is written in a frame narrative, meaning it’s a story-within-a-story. The prose is beautiful and not too difficult to understand (heaven-sent in English class), and it raises a lot of interesting questions about humanity, appearances, and good versus evil.

 The Dubliners by James Joyce

I’m so happy I read The Dubliners, a short story collection, in high school. It prepared me for
the semester-long class on James Joyce’s Ulysses I took in college. The Dubliners is a collection of short stories about various townsfolk in Ireland. Some stories are incredibly short, while others are a bit longer in length. There’s a lot to discover about life and history in these pages. If you’re going to pick it up and read a story, I’d suggest “Araby.”  That’s the story that stuck with me!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

I took an elective my senior year called “Pulp Fiction,” where we read popular, contemporary novels. Reading Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident was such an incredible experience because I was reading a “non-school” book in school. It made me realize that it’s really possible to have conversations about books that aren’t all stuffy and literary, and that was exciting. The protagonist, Christopher, describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties.” After he is accused of killing a neighbor’s dog, he decides to embark on an investigation, coming into contact with people and visiting places he might not otherwise have visited.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Reading this book during the summer before ninth grade was an eye-opening experience for me as a writer and reader. At the heart of the novel is John Singer, a calm, mute man who becomes the unlikely confidant of four townspeople. While the narration is third person, the focus shifts between these characters throughout the novel, and I learned how voice and tone can affect a reader’s experience. This was also one of my earliest exposures to Southern Gothic as a genre, and its focus on deeply-flawed, eccentric characters has had my heart ever since. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking read, and I would love the chance to read it again for the first time.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

With all the excitement of Harper Lee’s newest book floating about, I of course need to recognize her famous first (and for a long time, her only) novel. I read this in my ninth grade English class, and it stuck in my mind thanks to its charming characters and simple message. I reread it about two years ago, and it was such an enriching experience! 
I think that’s the take-away from me. Seriously: reread the books you read in high school. You will learn so much more the second time around.  Books are beautiful because we experience them differently each time. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Danielle Villano is a New Jersey native and a graduate of the SUNY Purchase creative writing program.  She lives in New York City and should be working on her YA novel instead of going to brunch.  She blogs at BiblioSmiles, and can be reached on Twitter as @daniellevillano

I certainly enjoyed reading about Danielle's favorite books from school. I'm surprised that only two of these books - Frankenstein and To Kill a Mockingbird - were required reading for me in college and high school.

Be sure to let Danielle know if you've read any of these books in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by The Summer Blogger Promo Tour today!

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