I have vivid memories of books I never laid eyes on—books I never held in my hands. Instead a parent or teacher read aloud while I curled in a lap or rested my head on a classroom desk, the reader's voice transporting me into another world.
This summer my reading all related to curriculum development, but in moments snatched here and there, I listened to stories on the radio. My favorite programs are "This American Life" and "Radio Lab." On "Fresh Air" I fell in love with an author whose responses to Terry Gross's questions were filled with humor, insight, and humility. I was struck by his honesty, his willingness to reveal himself. Listening to his voice, I longed to be his friend.
I did not attend the 2012 Summer SCBWI Conference in LA, but I recall reading a quote from Arthur Levine's speech. Arthur spoke about a book from childhood he kept returning to because it is “infused with authentic feeling and creates an intimacy between author and reader that is timeless.” Arthur delivered his speech on August 9th and was quoted in social media within moments. I listened to that Fresh Air interview on August 10th. It hit me that a kind of intimacy was exactly what I was feeling with this author. Unfortunately, Terry Gross's interview was a rebroadcast of an earlier interview. The author, David Rakoff, had died from cancer the night before, the same day Arthur delivered his speech. Though I had only just discovered Rakoff, I felt as if I knew him and now I experienced a real sense of loss.
Rakoff's most recent collection of comic essays, Half Empty won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor. It's on the top of my reading list. Until you get your hands on the actual book, treat yourself and listen to the Fresh Air interview and then some of his many, many stories on This American Life.