Cindy La Ferle
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English and American literature were my favorite classes in high school and college. I've always loved to read (and hang out in bookstores), but I doubt that I'd have finished as many classics had I not been required to write critical papers on them.
I believe I developed a better understanding of our country's roots and politics in my American Thought and Language classes, which covered novels and nonfiction by some of our greatest writers, including Emerson, Thoreau, Twain, and more. Their work still inspires me today.
That said, I've never been a literary snob -- and I'm turned off by folks who claim to be.
When I was on a Ray Bradbury kick several years ago, I learned that Bradbury read, in his words, "everything I can get my hands on every single day" -- including ads on cereal boxes, magazines, comic books, pulp fiction, and classic novels. I loved that. The author said that his eclectic reading material informed his writing style and improved his craft.
Sue Monk Kidd (another favorite of mine) was right when she advised new writers to establish a regular reading routine. But even if you're not a writer, reading a wide variety of books and periodicals will open your mind, improve your cognitive skills, and even change the way you look at everything around you. ~Cindy La Ferle