C-SPL March Reader of the Month

March Reader of the Month

Meet March Reader of the Month: Amy Gilligan

Check out Amy’s Favorite Books
Be the next C-SPL Reader of the Month!

About Amy:
I have been a journalist at the Telegraph Herald for more than three decades. As a young reader, I wanted to write books when I grew up. My mother said, “Writers starve. You should be a journalist.” Always listen to your mother.

My husband, Michael Shubatt, and I have four kids, and we loved the years of reading aloud to them. One of their names came from a trashy beach read. Not saying which one.

I have never been invited to join a book club, which I find weird because I think I would be a good book club person. I’m good at reading on deadline, I love to talk about books and I make excellent snacks. Retirement goals. Instead, I discuss books with my husband, my sisters and my daughters, all of whom can attest to my insights and my snacks.

I’ve read a lot of classics, but those were never my very favorites. I love to see classic theater like Shakespeare and Ibsen and Chekov, but I sometimes struggled with the books. I don’t like sci-fi or fantasy. But there’s a lot that I do love, from historical fiction to literary journalism to beach reads and murder mysteries.

Q & A:

Q. What is the best book you have read within the last year?
A. . I think my favorite of the past year was “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger. Something of a Huckleberry Finn tale of four orphans traveling the river in search of a home. Another recent favorite was “The Great Circle” by Maggie Shipstead. An epic, set in two different eras, the modern one of which is hilarious and brassy. “Crying in H Mart,” a memoir by Michelle Zauner, is definitely the one that most influenced my cooking. (And if you haven’t discovered Hornbill Asian Mart in Dubuque, you need to. Amazing. Practically an H Mart.)

Q. What is your ideal reading environment (location, sound, snacks, etc.)?
A. . I really only read for pleasure at night before bed. And I listen to books on the Libby app when I walk for exercise and while driving. I love, love, love this app. I hope when I retire I can while away afternoons reading books, but that doesn’t happen in my life right now, except when I’m on vacation.

Q. What book are you most excited about reading next, and what about it is most exciting?
A. I am excited to read Heather Gudenkauf’s new one; I always like her books, and I love a good thriller. I’m also trying to read books representing more diverse perspectives, and I have several on my list I’m excited to try, including one recommended by my daughter — “Everything’s Trash, But it’s Okay” by Phoebe Robinson, who is hilarious.

Q. What book do you think more people should read, and why do you think they should read it?
A. I just read “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, on the recommendation of a TH reader. The Pulitzer Prize winning author writes about how an unspoken caste system continues to shape America, drawing parallels to race in America from the caste system in India as well as Nazi Germany. It makes so much sense and unpacks so many long-held biases, it should be required reading.

Q. Do you remember when your love of reading began?
A. I started reading at age 4, and my older sisters would also read chapter books aloud to me, which I loved. We would take the bus to Carnegie-Stout Library, and I remember racing down the marble steps to the children’s section in the basement. I had a number of favorites I checked out over and over – “Sam, Bangs and Moonshine,” “Bread and Jam for Frances,” “The Snowy Day” and any and all “Winnie the Pooh” books.
In grade school I would ride my bike to meet the bookmobile, check out my allotted 11 books, and pedal home with them in my basket, deliberating over which one to read first. My sister Susie gave me books, including “Harriet the Spy” and “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” which became lifelong favorites.

Check out Amy’s Favorite Books
Be the next C-SPL Reader of the Month!
See past Reader of the Month posts here.

2 thoughts on “C-SPL March Reader of the Month

  1. Loved your blog, Amy, and the way you inject humor into your writing (when appropriate). I would love to join a book club with you, as I also love to talk about books and am intrigued by your claim of “excellent snacks”. We have some “likes” in common and I, too, have always been a voracious reader (from Nancy Drew mysteries in grade school to Agatha Christie mysteries in high school, always with a side of poetry for balance). I appreciate you sharing the list of books you have read throughout the year in your column and often add a few of them to my reading list. Congratulations on being the March Reader of the Month!

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