Kelly McMasters; Reader, writer, independent bookstore owner
I actually I had a crazy aunt who always gave books, and I still remember, and I still have one; it was from my high school graduation. At that point I had no plans of being a writer. I mean I won my high school poetry award or something like that, but I never thought of being a writer as a career, because I thought, “Well, who can do that?” But she gave met this giant hardcover book called “The Big Book of Women Writers,” and at the time it did feel a little like, “Oh, really? That’s what I get for graduation?” But I’ll tell you, it’s one of my all-time favorite gifts that I’ve ever received because she saw something in me that I didn’t see. And I’ve retuned to that book again and again; it’s been really inspiring, so that was a fantastic gift. And also don’t just [consider] novels, but also something like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”—something that might not be the best thriller, or a love story, but there are some really beautiful and classic books like that that will stretch your brain and also be a beautiful read.
TRR: Do you worry about children not reading enough?
KMcM: It’s terrifying. Maybe about a year and a half after my book was published, I read at this college in Brooklyn, and I visited one particular class… It was for kids who were trying to catch up to college level. This one teacher who invited me thought that because [my book] was a Long Island story, that they might see themselves reflected because [they were] the same age. Actually we had a really fantastic discussion, but I would say that a third of them said that this was the first book that they’d ever finished, and I can’t even fathom that.