I feel like you are allowed in fiction to embrace imagination and try to enter other worlds. And I feel like you should push yourself to try to persuade your reader that you have the authority to engage with people who, you know, lived in the past, who live in the future, other genders, other places, other cultures.
When people ask for book recommendations, I say this: Do some math. If you read one book every week for the rest of your life, and if you're lucky enough to live for 50 more years, you're only going to get to 2,600 books.
I subscribe to the theory that reading a book is similar to walking a trail, and I'm most comfortable walking when I can see where I'm going and where I've been. When I'm reading a printed book, the weight of the pages I've turned gives me a sense of how far I've come.
I originally got very interested in memory in high school when my grandmother came to live with us. She had been diagnosed with dementia. It was the first time I had heard the word 'Alzheimer's disease.'
My mom was a high school science teacher for decades. She just never made it feel like we had to choose between the arts and the sciences. We had bookshelves full of novels, and she also had Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold and Carl Sagan.
I had the little Radio Shack crystal radio, and then my aunt Judy bought me a shortwave radio. It was amazing to me: like on these really clear nights - I lived in Ohio - I could get Texas or Florida. You felt like the world was a smaller place.
Every artist wants an audience, and it's incredible to me how books take on a life of their own and reach people whom you could never meet. That's what got me interested in writing in the first place.
We live in a culture that venerates scores. We affix numbers to how much fat is in our mochachinos, how quickly our telephones suck information from the air, how much pain we're in. Reading, too, has become a skill to quantifiably assess.
Without always meaning to, I write really long short stories, 60-pagers, 90-pagers, pieces of fiction that are too long for all but the bravest magazines to print, and too short for all but the bravest book publishers to publish.