Posted in Reading Habits

Reading Habits: Nicole McDaniel-Carder


Nicole McDaniel-Carder, Assistant Professor in the Department of English, is one of the campus’ newest professors, but based on comments overheard from students in the library she is already a rising star.  For those interested in the modern novel, her office is a treat to visit.  She has a great collection of books (all arranged alphabetically) and you are sure to see one of your favorite novels peeking out at you.

As part of our Reading Habits series we sent Dr. McDaniel-Carder a list of questions to find out more about what she likes to read for fun.

Do you enjoy reading?  How would you describe yourself as a reader?

I adore reading, and I always have.  I’m a voracious reader who delights in finding all kinds of new things as well as revisiting the old things, too.  I love to read for class, for fun, and as widely as I can.

What kind of books do you read for pleasure/entertainment?

Many of the books I read for pleasure I also read for work, which is one of the many reasons I love what I do!  Even though much of my research is about life writing, I especially enjoy contemporary fiction.

Have you read anything recently that you would recommend?  Who do you think would like it?

Several months ago, I read Nicole Krauss’ Great House, a novel about a desk that has a fascinating and important history of its own.  It was lovely and haunting, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  I also recently finished Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Mistress of Spices, and Don DeLillo’s Underworld, which I highly recommend.  Now that I’m seeing the list, these are all novels that focus on objects: a desk, a baseball, a hotel, and a spice shop.  Each of these has the potential to interest a wide readership.

Do you have any memorable stories about reading that you can share?  For instance, was there a book that changed the way you read or did you struggle with reading as a child.

As a younger reader, I adored Nancy Drew books and read them quickly.  I remember when I was seven, I caught my fingers in the car door and, to appease me, my mother bought me a shiny new Nancy Drew book.  It did the trick!  It was, and still is, a singular pleasure to read a good book.

Where do you get your books from?  Bookstore, public library, Agnes Scott Library, download to an eReader, etc.

Many of my books come from bookstores, although I prefer used books.  I like to make marginal comments and rarely am able to read without a pen in hand.  It’s fascinating to see how my observations line up (or not!) with those that other people have made in these books!  I often find myself engaged in long marginal conversations with the book’s previous owner.  I’m not yet convinced that an e-reader is for me—probably because I so appreciate the materiality and heft of a book.

Additional thoughts? Comments on how your reading habits connect to your FYS class?

My FYS students are so brave!  They’ve really been game to read the seemingly incongruous things I’ve assigned, and undoubtedly my desire for them to read a variety of contemporary food writing has influenced our class.  We’ve already got Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Bich Minh Nguyen’s Stealing Buddha’s Dinner under our belts, and are currently making our way through the collection of essays from Best Food Writing: 2010.  I enjoy seeing how this potentially disparate collection of texts is in conversation about food and foodways, and I love how it illustrates the myriad models for writing.

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