When I was a freshman in high school, I had a number of disagreements with my parents and teachers about the types of long-haired boys I idolized. For a final poetry analysis assignment, I chose to compare and contrast the poetry of Cream’s “Strange Brew” to Type O Negative’s “Black No. 1,” complete with footnotes about the Nosferatu references. My teacher reduced my grade and wrote at the top, “Good job although your choice of poetry is rather ‘dark.’” I was outraged at the censorship and the battle was on. The war ended with me getting a “D” for my final semester freshman year in English class.
The academic year was over, so my parents couldn’t punish me with an incentive system for increasing the grade. Instead, they devised a more constructive teenage rehabilitation program: 10 book reports over the course of the summer. They told me to drop the setting/characters/plot summary format from grade school and just write a couple of paragraphs analyzing the book or convincing them why they should read it. My mom showed me literary magazines and professional library journals so that I could see how librarians and academics were introduced to books.
I survived the most evil punishment in the world…
“Can I have a ride to Heidi’s house?”
“Sure, write a book report.”
…and turned it into job as a freelance writer and reviewer.
In February of 2008, Bill Warford of the Antelope Valley Press interviewed me about my career as one of the Top 500 book reviewers on Amazon.com. In the article, he cited my parents’ “creative punishment” for creating this book-reviewing monster. I’ve been having fun sharing my thoughts on books ever since the summer of 1995. Thank you, Mom and Dad.
Oh, and guess what? One of the students I mentor just finished her freshman year and her parents asked me for ways to keep her mind fresh over the summer…
Sturgis 2015 - we'll be @ Glencoe Campgrounds August 3, 4, 5 & 6th
7 years ago