Sophia Kriegel: Hi!! I’m Sophia, I’m an intern at Voyage and a Creative Writing major at Emerson college.
Catherine Kenny: And I’m Catherine (also an intern here at Voyage) and an English major at New York University!
SK: I think I’ll start by saying, as I’ve gone through college and had to do more and more academic reading it’s been difficult carving out the time to read for pleasure and really find the space to discover new books or writers that I really love. I’m the kind of person who reads my favorite books on a loop. I know I’ll always feel creatively inspired after reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides or On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. They just never fail. Do you find yourself searching for new favorites or do you tend to return to the ones you love over and over?
CK: I have one whole bookshelf dedicated to my top favorites! If a book gives me “that” feeling (whether that be love, inspiration, sadness, etc) I have no choice but to return to it over and over. I too feel the tension between academic and personal reading! When I have to read 100+ pages per class per day, reading for pleasure becomes low on the priority list. Growing up, I read at least a book a week, and I have recently realized that it is okay to focus on quality, and not quantity when it comes to my love affair with reading. I have re-fallen in love with reading this way, and have found some of my favorite writers without forcing it! I’ve recently poured over Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, and Persuasion by Jane Austen (I can’t believe I hadn’t read that last one sooner)! I like to devote my weekends or less busy days to wandering around The Strand Bookstore in NYC or scrolling through Tiktok for my newest pleasure-read- you never know where you’ll find your next favorite. Sophia, where are some of your favorite places to read or write, and why? Do you associate anything you’ve read with a certain place?
SK: I’m also a big fan of a bookstore stroll. I got the greatest piece of advice from a guest speaker (who’s name I, regrettably, can’t remember) who said to go to a bookstore you love, walk to the section of your preferred writing genre, and find exactly where your book would go on the shelf. I do it every single time and it’s a magical, little tradition that I guess isn’t much of a secret anymore. I like spending time in places like that because they make me remember how, despite reading/writing being a mostly solitary activity, it’s not isolated. I think it’s important for me to remind myself of that. I’ve read Normal People and Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney and, while I don’t have a concrete place that they remind me of, they feel so distinct to an era in my life. I can’t read either without feeling like I’m back in the summer after my senior year of high school and before the start of college, all afraid and excited and full of feelings. A lot of what I read at a certain point in time feels like a very clear depiction of where I’m at emotionally, or even physically. Are there writers or books you feel like have defined different eras of your life? Or are there certain ones that have followed you through every era?
CK: Oh, absolutely! I believe that we consume the stories that are meant for us at a specific time, and there are reasons why a book falls into your lap at a certain point in your life, mental health journey, political climate, social standing, etc. The first era that feels like a pillar in my literary journey would have to be the Emily Windsnap Series by Liz Kessler. As I tried to navigate young adulthood, Emily did too! That series not only sparked my love for YA fiction and fantasy, but a love for reading in general. I can remember the feeling of unbridled pride when I read and understood the word “facade” for the first time- all I wanted to do was read more so that I could continue feeling accomplished. Then came a bit of a darker period in my life (middle school, shocker!) and I fell in love with the dark poetry novelist Ellen Hopkins. Her stories were very complex in character, format, and theme, and I craved that in order to distract myself from where I was in “real” life. Would I recommend Crank or Tilt to every 7th grader? Definitely not, but I still feel the effects of those stories in my personal and academic life now, and I don’t regret it. If I try really hard to find common threads amongst each era, I would say that poetry, emotional, and language-heavy stories always land in my TBR list. I’m happy to say that my writing and reading style has ebbed and flowed as I’ve grown up, and I can open an old book and not only remember who I was when I first read it, but fall in love with the story in a new way. So, I have to know, how would you describe your writing style, and what are some writing tips that have worked for you?
SK: I love the idea of having books that made such an impact on us at a certain age but ones that we wouldn’t necessarily recommend to other people of the same age. It feels like a very human, empathic way of looking at reading and the effect of books. I have a lot to say about my writing style, mostly because I’ve had to grapple with it for what feels like forever. But, I think we’ll pick up on that in the next installation of Writers on Writers. See you there!!
Let us know if you have any questions, discussion topics, or literary woes you’d like us to chat about in our next Writers on Writers newsletter!
By Catherine Kenny & Sophia Kriegel