Summer is the perfect time to get lost in a new page-turner. But for some people reading is not only a form of relaxation and entertainment but also a way to build relationships with other people.
Carmen Glenn always knew she wanted to be a writer. In college she chose the uncertain path of an English major because of her love for literature, eventually switching to physiology, but never losing her love for words. After graduating, she found herself with jobs that forced her to write in formal styles. She continued to write fiction on the side for her own enjoyment until her sister gave her the nudge to publish her first book.
Today, she has published numerous novels. Her newest book, Glass Houses, takes place in a small town in Ohio.
Glenn is also a member of the Go On Girl book club, where she has met many other literature lovers that she can spend time with and discuss her love of novels. Go On Girl book club is the largest national reading organization in the U.S. for Black women.
The book club has more than 30 chapters across the country, including the Indiana chapter that Glenn is a part of. Every month the national organization proposes a book for all members of each local chapter to read. This month's book is titled Live Again and is a horror/fantasy story about a man who wants to bring back his dead wife.
Glenn thinks that Black people can gain a lot from reading books by African-American authors.
"You get a sense of being able to relate to the characters fully when reading about African-American characters. It relates to our experience or the experience of someone we know," said Glenn.
She also believes there might be a false impression involving African-Americans and their reading habits.
"A misconception that the mainstream media has about the African-American community is that we are not educated and don't read, or that we only read certain types of books. But African-Americans write and read about so many things. Being involved with Go On Girl, I've read things I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own, including science fiction," said Glenn.
In addition to book clubs being beneficial for adults, reading is especially helpful to young people. Parents may find it difficult to try and convince their youngster to read for fun. To help with this issue, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library hosts a reading program every summer aimed at motivating kids to read. Students can still sign up for the program, which ends on the first day of August.
"The goal of the program is to motivate children to maintain reading habits throughout the summer and improve their reading skills. Kids earn points for each book and depending on the amount of points they accumulate, they can win little fun toys like bouncy balls to larger prizes like passes to baseball games, the IMAX and a museum," said Jon Barnes of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library's communications department.
Barnes says there are many positive things people take from reading, and "depending on what you like to read it can be a form of adventure, escape, learning or discovery. You can learn about people who are different from you or parts of the world you haven't seen."
Glenn agrees that you can learn a lot from reading. "One thing I realized as a writer and reader is that there is a wealth of fact in fiction. As a reader and a writer I enjoy the fact in fiction along with the fantasy."
Summer reading suggestions
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett Now a major motion picture, The Help is about a young white woman in the early 1960s that becomes interested in the mistreatment of Black maids. Breaking social norms, she writes a book about their struggles.
- Dope Stick by Walter Dean Myers For teenage readers, 17-year-old Lil J is hiding out, believed to have shot an undercover cop in a drug bust, when he meets Kelly, who gives him a look into his future and proposes the question, "If you could take back one thing you've done, what would it be?"
- My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due Research for a newspaper story turned book proposal causes Jessica to realize her husband sold his soul for immortal life on earth.
Overdrive by Carmen Glenn Victoria lives in Indianapolis with her husband and strives to become the first Black CEO of her company. Will money, power and developing feelings for a new co-worker take away this dream?