Happy birthday, reading in the wild! – electricity transmission costs

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It’s been a year since L.L.Barkat started this Reading in the Wild journey, so we thought a small birthday party was in order. In that first post she wrote that books matter at Tweetspeak, “so, of course, we’re interested in how literacy happens and how it’s sustained.” We’re still interested in Literacy for Llife.

Writing this monthly feature has transformed my reading. I’ve always read wildly, in a variety of genres, for a variety of age groups, but now that’s kicked into a higher gear. Each month my list becomes a small gift to share with the Tweetspeak community, and then you, in turn, share your lists and more wild reading follows. It’s a circle of life.

These posts began with Donalyn Miller’s 5 Main Characteristics of Wild Readers. We’ll continue using those characteristics as guideposts, but we’d also like to know what other traits you see in wild readers. What reading signposts should we notice? What reading trails do we need to explore? 5 Main Characteristics of Wild Readers

This month has been one of reduced reading, and May will probably be similar. I’ve been back and forth between my house and my dad’s, 81 1/2 miles apart. I thought of LW Lindquist’s post on reading poetry when you can’t read anything else and ordered a collection by Tweetspeak regular Laurie Klein titled Where the Sky Opens. Turns out it’s true — poetry is the perfect thing to read when you just can’t.

A few months ago I downloaded Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine on Audible. I didn’t get into it until I was spending so much time in the car, and now I’m relistening. You may know the UK appointed a Minster of Loneliness; that action was taken because of real people like the character of Eleanor, who leaves work every Friday and sees no one until Monday. I fell in love with this character, part Elinor Dashwood, part Jane Eyre. Despite its moments of horror, this story has a strong undercurrent of kindness. (I strongly recommend the audio version, as the story is set in Glasgow, and you need to hear it with a good Scottish accent.)

My dad shared Elizabeth Crook’s new book, The Which Way Tree. (In The Joy of Poetry, I wrote about her previous novel, Monday, Monday.) Crook’s new book tells a simple story — basically, Moby Dick with a mountain lion — yet it feels new. The story came from an experience one of her sons had with a mountain lion not far from where I live. She writes in the Acknowledgments, “But a writer can never anticipate where stories will come from. The eyes of that mountain lion held me for years.”

One of my general reading plans is to read more books by people of color. One that has been highly recommended is We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. If you’re not familiar with young people’s lit, you might think it’s all the same — all funny or all sweet or all apocalyptic. You’re missing a lot of reference material that is both well-researched and beautiful. Such is Nelson’s book, complete with a bibliography, filmography, and endnotes, as well as full-color paintings, some of which span more than one page. This is one to read in hardcover. The book won the Coretta Scott King Award and The Robert Sibert medal.

I almost always prefer fairy tales. In the Through the Looking Glass workshop, we read Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, who passed away in 2016. She died as one of her grown children read her The Princess and the Goblin, a 19th century fairy tale by George MacDonald. In it, Princess Irene is brave, wise, and truthful — that’s how you know she’s of royal blood. I also love the ending, which is an author aside. (This part of the story is written in italics.)

A short-term work project that’s nice for the income but playing havoc with the writing and reading schedules rose and peaked during April. It’s beginning to slow down a bit, so I’m hoping the time for reading will be picking up. Read during April:

Earlier this week, I did finish reading “A History of Pike County Mississippi 1789-1876.” Odd, I know; not exactly a bestseller, even when it was published in 1909. Some of my ancestors came from Pike County; my great-grandfather was born there and my grandfather was born in Lincoln County, just to the north of Pike. History is embedded in these county names – Pike named after James Zebulon Pike (he of Pike’s Peak) and Lincoln after the President. As a political control move during Reconstruction, part of Pike County was split and combined with pieces of a few others to form Lincoln County. So my great-grandfather and grandfather were born in the same place but officially in two different counties.

This reading is part of a writing project. I had something of a breakthrough this week in finding the next oldest generation. The family could only be traced back to my great-grandfather – it was as if a wall existed to block anything earlier. And then, after persistent digging, a click on a web page revealed the great-great-grandparents, born in 1771 and 1782 and married in 1800. Family lore has always associated the ancestors with Georgia and being dumped off the boats from the debtors prisons in England. There was a Georgia connection, but it was tenuous and lasted only a few years. The real story was in Kentucky; both of my great-great-grandparents were born in what eventually became Louisville and moved to Savannah, Georgia, for a time after they married. And they seem not to have been English but Scotch-Irish.

He died in 1819; she returned to Kentucky and lived there the rest of her life, never remarrying. Their son moved to Pike County Mississippi. He would have been 16 at the time of his father’s death. Did he return to Kentucky with his mother for a time? Did he move directly to Mississippi? No one will likely ever know.