Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

The Well-Readheads Write an Acknowledgments Section

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

RJS: Well hi there, my little cabbage! I’ve been reading a bunch of ranty-pants articles about how authors write acknowledgments sections lately (and how they are basically just circle jerks-slash-name-dropping opportunities), and I figured, since neither of us has any plans to write a book right now, that we should just dump our acknowledgments out onto the interweb. You know, we should publicly thank the books, authors, and individuals who made us the fine, upstanding, well-adjusted readers we are today.

LH: Um… you know you’re talking to me, right? The ‘reader’ part fits, anyway.

RJS: Girl, you know the ‘fine’ part applies too.

LH: Suddenly, I have stage fright. You go first.

RJS: Okay. I’d like to thank Judy Blume for guiding me through adolescence, making me wish for boobs the size of tennis balls, and causing me to be totally confused when it turned out, in 1994, that pads no longer came with belts attached. Also, thanks to my parents, for not letting on if they thought it was weird that I re-read a book about a girl getting her period at least twenty times in one year. I like to think my interest in women’s studies goes back to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

LH: Okay, I think I’m getting the idea: I’d like to thank Mr. Kelly, one of the English teachers where I went to school. He was also the track coach, and had the most amazing thighs. And if I had not been admiring those very thighs as he passed me in the hall one day, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the copy of A Confederacy of Dunces laying in the top of his bag. The cover looked so crazy that of course I had to read it. No, I did not steal it from him – I checked it out from the library. MIND = BLOWN.

RJS: My teacher shout-out goes to Mr. Hunsley, who first assigned me Fahrenheit 451 (mind = blown) and taught me the word “proboscis.” I don’t know if he had nice thighs, but he was awesome nonetheless. Also to the super-hot newly-minted Ph.D. who taught Chief American Writers of the 20th Century my senior year in college. He said smart things about Faulkner, and I totally made up excuses to visit him during office hours, and he is the sole reason I don’t outright hate reading Philip Roth. I, sadly, don’t know about his thighs, either, but not for lack of thinking about it!

LH: I would like to thank my classmate, Jenny Cutts, who was never very nice to me, even when she was being nice to me. One day in study hall in eighth grade, I asked her what she was reading, and she refused to show me, so I looked in her bag when she got up to go to the bathroom. The book was The World According to Garp. This was my introduction to John Irving, and I then read all the books he had written. They made me blush in study hall. I remember reading a group sex scene behind my math book during class, and looking around, thinking, “None of these people have any idea what we are really in store for when we grow up.”

RJS: *blush* I did that with Alice Hoffman’s Here on Earth, which has a steamy banging-against-the-kitchen-sink sex scene. So I guess I should thank Oprah for making it a book club pick during the year that I wanted to read grown-up books but didn’t know where to start and thought that surely Oprah was an expert. And I’d like to thank my friend Kate, who lived a few blocks away, for sharing her abundant Baby-sitters Club collection–and her chips and salsa–with me the summer after fourth grade. We spent countless days reading and eating on the screened-in porch at her house, and the good times were enough to make me stay friends with her even after she insisted on referring to her boyfriend as her “lover” in high school.

LH: Did she say it like Molly Shannon on Saturday Night Live?

RJS: Er, no. Wait. Maybe. Actually, the only thing I know that Molly Shannon said was SUPERSTAR! Maybe she said that? Like, if it was really good?

LH: More like crazy-obnoxious. Speaking of crazy-obnoxious – I’d like to thank the Dungeons and Dragons club at the library where my mother worked when I was little: Because they wouldn’t let me play (because I was a girl), I instead spent the summer before third grade curled up on a whistle seat, reading all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Choose Your Own Adventure books that the library had. Two words: Formulative, bitches.

RJS: Ooh, you know, my granny is mean, but she did give me the Nancy Drew full set. So I guess I’d like to thank her. Also, I’d like to thank the high school boyfriend who thought reading was a waste of time. He made the decision to break up easy and obvious. And a big thank you to Major League Baseball for occupying the television in my house from April through October and giving me thousands of hours of found reading time with the occasional 7th-inning-stretch “Sweet Caroline” interlude. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Daylight Saving Time for fucking up my sleep schedule and giving me unplanned insomniac reading hours once a week or so, all the way through summer. It’s such a joy, being awake in the wee hours for no reason.

LH: I’d like to thank Ellen Raskin and E.L. Konigsburg for getting me through elementary school, Agatha Christie for being my gateway drug to grown-up books, and Katherine Dunn for encouraging me to fly my freak flag high. Any final kudos, mon cheri?

RJS: I want to thank John Irving for being my first real author crush, and James Salter for being the man who got me over John Irving. Also,  Pam Houston, Cheryl Strayed, Terry Tempest Williams, and most of all Toni Morrison, for helping me realize what kind of woman I want to be and what kind of life I want to live.

What about you, reader-loves?


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