If this past weekend had a moral, it would be: always be on the lookout for a good book. I stopped by a Dollar Tree (the store where everything’s a buck, they are huge down south). I see a book titled “Vampires” and my interest is piqued. The cover looks like the 1998 movie “Vampires” starring James Woods. Now, I’ve been bamboozled by flashy covers before, that’s why I own a copy of “Transmorphers” on DVD. What I had on my person, that I didn’t ten years ago when I was gung-ho to buy Transmorphers, was a phone; specifically, a phone that is technologically more advanced that the computers that landed Neil Armstrong on the moon. I was able to google the movie, find out that it was based on a book, and sure enough: it was the book I held in my hand. A book that I would have gladly paid $12.00 or more for, for one dollar. Take that capitalism, I won.
I rely on people’s opinions when it comes to discovering new authors; I take a lot of cues from mainstream media, kind of. One of my favorite books is “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, and I heard about this book on a movie called “Losers Take All,” and I couldn’t be more glad that I watched the movie and read the book. “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is a book that was recommended by Buzzfeed.Com, and it became one of my favorites. In the case of “Vampires,” it’s easy to check out books that were adapted into movies; despite being Young Adult, I absolutely consumed the “Hunger Games” trilogy.
Most importantly, my taste and preference had been shaped tremendously by the high school reading curriculum. I have my own issues with that administration that I need to deal with on my own terms, but credit is due: I read and was taught a perspective on some great novels. Let’s be completely honest with ourselves, young men and women of high school age are animals. It’s even worse in a small school, like the one I went to. At that age, people are still trying to figure out who they are, saying and doing terrible things to each other in the immortal battle of “who the hell am I?,” and you are off to other parts of your lives before you figure it all out. The way I see it, if I had educators that have left such a lasting impression on me, this far away from school and in this deep into my adult life, then they must have done something pretty damn special.
I might not have been their favorite student, but I would like to take a second to thank the following educators for introducing me to some of my favorite literary works, even if it was by force – Mr. Joseph Holencik (“the Outsiders”, by S.E. Hinton), Mr. Thomas Webb (“Lord of the Flies” – William Golding, among several brilliant short stories), Ms. Denise McCloskey (“the Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams), Ms. Kiersten Leitzinger (“Animal Farm” by George Orwell), Mrs. Joan Kephart (“The Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen), Mr. Lynn Gilham & Ms. Diane Houtz for creating wonderful opportunities to just read in the middle of the day, Mr. Stephen Liadis for letting me read comic books just as long as I was reading, Ms. Jill Irwin for always being supportive and encouraging, and Mr. David Wulderk – the first teacher I had that acknowledged that I might have a knack for writing.
If any of you have ever questioned if you’ve ever reached any of your students, I assure you that you have.