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Summer reading: Stephanie Anderson on Ernest Hemingway

June 10, 2010 | 12:28 pm


As summer gets underway, we've created the L.A. Times list of 60 books for 92 days. All of these are new titles, being released in time for summer 2010. At Jacket Copy, we're asking writers and other bookish types about their favorite summer reads of the past. Stephanie Anderson is the manager of Word Bookstore in  Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood and the very lively, much-followed Bookavore on Twitter.

Jacket Copy: Do you have a specific memory of reading a book during summer?

Stephanie Anderson: Yes. I clearly remember reading "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway the summer before I started high school. It was the assigned summer reading for my English class.

JC: How old were you?

SA: I was 14.

JC: Where were you?

SA: Suburban Pennsylvania.

JC: What about the book was significant to you then?

SA: It was the first time I ever really hated a book! I remember being really annoyed by it and complaining about it a lot. I found the simplicity of it offensive. Up until that point, I had pretty much read whatever I wanted. I'd certainly read books that weren't very good, but it had never occurred to me that one could really loathe a book or want to mock it. I also hadn't realized that not all the classics were good -- the ones I'd read before that, I'd loved, so I assumed they all were, and that's why they were classics. It was freeing to realize that I could dislike important books and that it was even fun to do so. "The Old Man and the Sea" was the book that changed me from being a passive, though voracious, consumer of books into an active reader who got involved with the whole shebang, for better or for worse.

JC: Have you re-read the book? Has it changed at all for you?

SA: I have, and it has changed very much. I had to read "The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo" before my freshman year of college; "The Old Man and the Sea" is crucial to that story. After reading it and seeing how much everyone in the book loved "The Old Man and the Sea," I felt compelled to try it again. I still had the same copy I'd read before. On my second read, I loved it. I read it all in one sitting. I've since read it a third time and still love it. I just pulled it off the shelf again to write this and got caught in it again.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Stephanie Anderson. Credit: bitchcakesny via Flickr

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