My summer reading list: Gilliann Hensley

Gilliann Hensley
Creative nonfiction, 2nd year

The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food by Matthew Gavin Frank — I’m quite a fan of MGF’s work, and this is his latest — in which he takes a strange and lyrical journey through various regional dishes and their history and cultural significance. Each state has its own dish, and each essay comes with a recipe for the dish being essayed on. Technically I started reading it toward the end of the semester, but things got busy, so it’s first on my list to finish this summer.

After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays edited by David Lazar and Patrick Madden — Montaigne continues to be an important influence on the personal essay, and so I’m interested in seeing how modern writers put their own personal spins on the essays.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion — I’ve been slowly trying to make my way through as much Joan Didion as possible — mostly because I just absolutely love her. I’m also gearing up to tackle the big biography that I picked up during AWP, but I’m not sure I’ll get to that over the summer.

The Future of Nature: Writing on a Human Ecology from Orion Magazine (The World As Home) — This is one that I picked up during the NonfictioNow conference last fall and haven’t had a chance to look at until now. It’s a collection of contemporary takes on nature and eco-writing and the like. Since nature writing is my big thing, I think it’s important for me to keep up on this stuff and see where the trends are going.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace — I’ve only ever read the title essay of this collection, and so I’m looking forward to diving into yet another collection from DFW.

I’ll also probably re-read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay since I plan on teaching it in the fall, just to have it fresh in my mind. I’ll also likely be pouring over other texts for things I could use in my teaching as well.

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