Award-winning writer and teacher Sally Allen knows that good books don’t just draw us in; they talk to us, shape us, and transport us to times, places, and minds different from our own.
In Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, Allen deftly weaves personal stories with fifteen thematized, annotated, and illustrated reading lists for what to read next. By sharing some of the treasures in her library and the secret lives they reveal, she gives us permission to embrace the shameless book lover inside each of us. Unlocking Worlds is a testament to how reading passionately—and compassionately—can unlock the world beyond our back yard. Celebrating books and those who read them, Allen shows how the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection. Thought-provoking and eloquent, Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is a must-have for anyone who can’t leave the house without a book in hand.
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Guest Post by Author, Sally Allen
Three ways to unblock, for the reader by Sally Allen, author of Unlocking Worlds
Much ink has been spilled exploring the problem of writer’s block. Though actually, I prefer to think of it as getting stuck rather than blocked. It may be semantics, but somehow, the idea of being stuck feels more surmountable than being blocked. Where “blocked” suggests gigantic, ominous boulders I’ll need to dynamite my way through, “stuck” invites adorable parallels with Winnie-the-Pooh laboring to get his belly-full-of-honey through a slightly too-small entryway. He’ll push through, with the help of his friends.
Where was I again? Ah yes, writer’s block. It can be a problem. It’s true. But I ask you, what about reader’s block? As a writer who writes about reading (try saying that five times fast!), I find reader’s block as scary as writer’s block. Reading block is what I call it when I can’t settle into my next read because I’m anxious about my Olympic-sized to-be-read list. I’m eyeing new releases while also eyeing my groaning bookshelves. I’m reading these words in this book but thinking about those words in that book. And … overwhelm sets in.
In my book Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, I share some of my favorite strategies for getting unstuck as a reader. Here are three of my favorites:
Reread a favorite children’s book. When I was a kid, I didn’t worry about all the books I hadn’t yet read because, well, I was a kid. What did I know? I had no idea about new release Tuesday. I just read the books I loved. And then I read them again (and again). When I’m feeling stuck, rereading a book I loved as a child reconnects me with why I became a reader in the first place: Because books are awesome!
Read the classics. I love how Italo Calvino describes them: “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” That about captures it. Reading (or rereading, as the case may be) classic novels reminds me that great books hold up over time. I find this comforting. It means that, if they are great, the books I’m missing out on right this moment will wait for me to discover them … just as soon as I finish A Tale of Two Cities.
Read a book referenced in another book. This is a fun way I stay connected to characters I loved: Read the books they’ve read or referenced. Currently, I’m toying with reading all the literary works referenced in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. It’s a daunting project, but exciting!
Award winning writer and teacher Sally Allen holds a Ph.D. from New York University in English Education, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and a M.A. in English Language and Literature. She teaches writing, literature, and communications, leads book group discussions, and is the founder and editor of Books, Ink at HamletHub.
5 winners will each get a copy of Unlocking Worlds & a copy of
Book Life: A Book Lover’s Journal