By Sybil Baker
When I look at a blog such as Books Books the Magical Fruit, I’m ashamed and inspired.
Inspired because as a writer and writing teacher, I always love to see places devoted to books and book lovers. I start to feel optimistic about the world again.
But I’m ashamed as well. For even though I’m a book lover (as a writer and reader),I don’t do much of my own reading for the sheer joy of it any more, especially during the university semesters. Don’t get me wrong—I read, a lot. But what I read is not of my choosing.
For example, this semester I spent much of my time reading and commenting on student short stories, reading assigned published short stories, reading writing blogs and magazines such as Poets and Writers to stay current in my field, and reading demanding texts for my humanities classes such as The Odyssey, The Inferno, and The Aeneid. On the one hand I can’t complain (I’m getting paid to read The Odyssey, how cool is that?), but on the other when I see someone at a coffee shop or in the library reading just because they want to, I feel a tinge of envy.
For even when I do have time to read what I want, I’m still reading with my own career as a writer and teacher in mind. For example, I’ve been working on a novel set in South Korea, and as a result have been reading novels and nonfiction by Korean Americans. In the spring I’ll be teaching a contemporary Southern literature class, and will be spending much of my winter break reading the novels I’ll be teaching. And as a creative writing teacher, I find it’s important to stay current with the latest short story collections so that I can pass that information on to my students.
Again, I’m not complaining. I love to read short stories, Southern literature and Korean American literature. Heck, I’d probably read much of it anyway even if I didn’t feel that I needed to. But I am ashamed that I don’t carve a space for books that I want to read just for me without any pay off or purpose except for the joy of reading a good story. That’s why a blog like this inspires me to make sure I leave time to read and discover books that I want to read for me and no one and nothing else.
Elise understands her father—a Vietnam vet who abandoned her when she was an
infant—about as much as she does her church organist mother and the rest of their
suburban Virginian town. When even that thin thread of connection is suddenly
severed, Elise is flung across the world, to Southeast Asia. Tracing the steps her father took through the war, Elise searches for a connection —with his ghost, with other travelers, with the foreign culture and environment she experiences. In a series of linked short stories, Talismans follows Elise’s journey to learn what she must hold onto,and what she must leave behind
About the Author:
Sybil has always had wandering feet. First, she left her hometown in northern Virginia for Boulder where she completed her Master’s in English at the University of Colorado. She eventually moved back to Virginia but soon the wandering bug bit her again. This time she spent twelve years teaching English in South Korea and traveling the world. So far she has checked off over 30 countries, many in Asia. Her path did lead back to the United States where she received her MFA at The Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2005 and began teaching creative writing at the University of Tennessee in 2007. These days she satisfies her wanderlust by writing about exotic locales from the Chattanooga home she shares with her husband.
Sybil Baker’s website: http://sybilbaker.com/home.html
Sybil Baker’s Blogs: http://sybilbaker.blogspot.com/