I have a confession: I’m not in a monogamous relationship… with books. I read everything—often simultaneously: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, piles of literary journals, and I have a zillion tabs open on my computer.
I walk to the library several times a week (the librarians at the Thunder Bay Public Library know all of my secrets) and I try to buy books as often as I can. Recently, I read Bunny by Mona Awad, which is a delight: dark, funny, and twisted, in the best possible way. And I also really enjoyed Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman is in Trouble. Having read and admired the celebrity profiles she’s written, and as someone who also writes a lot of non-fiction (I’m the assistant editor of The Walleye—an arts & culture magazine), I was excited to see her foray into fiction. It blew me away. If there were a Temple of Taffy, I would worship.
Currently I’m reading R.O. Kwon’s The Incendiaries. Kwon and I share a similar history in that I also left organized religion many years ago. She’s been vocal about the grief and sense of loss that comes with that, which I can relate to, so I’m eager to get inside the heads of her characters—I’m drawn to any story that has a spiritual component to it.
“I really admire people who can plan out their entire project. I always have to sneak up on it sideways.”
I’m also reading Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison, which looks at the connections of patterns found in nature. I grew up in a small rural community and spent a lot of time walking through fields and down dirt roads, climbing trees, and swimming in rivers. Since I’m working on the first draft of a novel, I’m hoping it will help me shape it in a way that speaks to my wandering mind. I really admire people who can plan out their entire project. I always have to sneak up on it sideways.
And, what I read every day without fail is a blog: laineygossip.com. I’ve been a faithful reader for over a decade. I love it for the pop culture, fashion, and the Show Your Work podcast, but I’m also there for the gossip. Gossip allows me to figure out what motivates people. What they try to hide and what they choose to reveal. It’s easy to have confirmation bias when it comes to reading: we read what we think we will like. So if I’m learning about someone or a situation that is so far removed from myself and my life, I’m forced to consider where they’re coming from in real time. In that way, I could probably argue, it has made me a better writer. And it’s a major reason I read.
I’m looking forward to digging into new fiction by Cherie Dimaline and Emily St. John Mandel, but I also want to re-read everything by Toni Morrison. Oh, and I just won a book by filling out an online literary matchmaking quiz from Kerry Clare of picklemethis.com. Who doesn’t love getting books in the mail?
I’ll read anywhere: in my backyard, at the doctor’s office, on the couch. When I was a kid, I stayed up well past my bedtime with a housecoat slung over the lamp and a towel wedged under the door so my parents thought I was asleep. Now, if I try to read for any length of time in bed, the only thing that I’m reading are my eyelids. So I get up early and read in the morning. It feels like stolen time. At night is when I sift through my stack of The New Yorker’s and literary journals on my nightstand including the latest issues of Grain, Room, Prairie Fire, The Malahat Review, and The New Quarterly.
Reading saves me from myself. You know how in Scrabble when you decide to exchange your letters so that you can start fresh? Every time I read a book, it gets me out of my head—I feel like I’ve been given a new set of letters and I know how to make words again.
Rebekah Skochinski has been published in various literary journals and recognized in contests both in Canada and the United States. She is working on a collection of short fiction and a novel.
Photos courtesy of Rebekah Skochinski.