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August 10, 2016

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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

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Orson Scott Card Remembers TAB

TAB November is an embarrassment of riches, mainly because we have three (that’s right, THREE) Orson Scott Card books, which you can read about here (complete with Venn diagram!). A few months back, I wrote a post about meeting this sci-fi legend. Well, he was kind enough to write a little something for us about his memories of TAB Book Club.

The TAB order sat open on my teacher’s desk for a month. Day after day, I would open that little catalog again, searching for more books to buy with the money I had saved from my allowance or a couple of skipped lunches.

So great was my hunger for books that when all the books I KNEW I’d like were ordered and paid for, I started in on the books that were far outside my interest zone. A little medical romance called Candy Stripers. A racing story called Black Flag at Indianapolis. What did I care about racing? What did I care about junior assistant nurses? And I was completely uninterested in baseball—but I bought The Boy Who Batted 1.000.

Here’s the funny thing: I have no memory of the books that I knew I would like. I know they came; I know I read them. But the strange books are the ones that live in my memory.

From Black Flag at Indianapolis, I learned that you accelerate coming out of a turn; I also remember that they had front-wheel drive with the engine in the rear. I discussed it with my dad, and he said it made no sense—you lose the advantage of either one by having both.

Candy Stripers was my first non-historical romance, and I got my first glimpse of what girls my age were looking for in books aimed at them. It was a good story. I liked it. This made me capable of enjoying “chick flicks” and “chick lit” for the rest of my life.

And I flat-out loved The Boy Who Batted 1.000. I still didn’t love baseball, but I loved it when he wore down pitchers by fouling every pitch they threw at him, until they walked him every time.

So today I tell my writing students to read out of genre, to challenge themselves by finding out what’s going on in literary communities they don’t belong to.

I learned more, as a person and as a writer, from the books I “wasn’t interested in” than from the slam-dunk choices. Because I skipped meals in order to buy these books, I was GOING to read them and enjoy them if I could. I gave them a chance to change me, and they did.

In a bookstore or library I would never have picked up those books. Because of Scholastic’s TAB, I learned that I would rather read than eat.

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November 10, 2011