Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Am Born

Most of the names I tried to use for this blog were not available--others had thought of them first, and Blogspot suggested I use the same name--just add my initials or some other alteration that would individualize the name.  Didn't like that idea.
I decided on "Dawn Reader" because that's how I start almost every day--reading at dawn.  Up by 5 or so each morning, I head for a local coffee shop, where I spend the first couple of hours reading.  Most of the reading I do that early is of the "professional" sort: I'm a freelance book-reviewer, though I publish almost exclusively in Kirkus Reviews and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  I start my days with 100 pages of the book I'm reviewing--taking notes--thinking about what the writers are trying to do and how well they achieve it.  I've done nearly 1000 reviews for Kirkus, more than 100 for the Plain Dealer.

I write more than reviews.  I've had essays published in newspapers and magazines of all sorts--and for quite a few years enjoyed being part of the Plain Dealer's "Board of Contributors," folks selected to write op-ed pieces about once a month.  The "Board" eventually died a slow death as journalism in general and the PD in particular began changing formats and content to accommodate the cyber-age.  I've also published a YA biography of Jack London, annotated editions of The Call of the Wild, and am awaiting publication of a YA biography of Shakespeare due sometime this year. On the floor, a pile of unpublished work stares at me reproachfully.

I read many other things, of course.  Currently, I'm finishing the complete works of John O'Hara and Thackeray, as well.  By my bed I always have a stack of 6-7 books, from which I read a chapter or so each night.  On my current pile: Thackeray's The Adventures of Philip, Sue Grafton's V Is for Vengeance, Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil All the Time, Candice Millard's The Destiny of the Republic, Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot, Tom Perrotta's The Leftover, and Jim Harrison's The Great Leader.  I'll be writing about them--and other works as my eyeballs roll through them.

I'm also a retired teacher--with experience in public schools, private schools, state universities, liberal arts colleges.  I've worked with students ranging from fifth graders to graduate students.  But most of my career I taught English at Harmon Middle School (7th and 8th graders) in Aurora, Ohio; I loved it.  After I retired, I enjoyed another wonderful ten years at nearby Western Reserve Academy, where I taught juniors.  Because the school is only blocks from our house, I walked or rode my bike every day--driving only on those days when lightning was dancing in the air, looking for a pedestrian or cyclist to zap.  From time to time, I'll post about education and public schooling and higher education--for I am alarmed at the homogenizers who are now in charge in so many places.

Family: My wife, Joyce, teaches writing courses at Hiram College, where she holds the John S. Kenyon Chair in English. Her most recent book is a memoir about growing up in Akron: Goosetown.  Our son, Steve, an attorney and former journalist and former state representative (2 terms), works for Innovation Ohio, specializing in education issues.  His wife, Melissa, teaches nursing courses for Kent State University.  Our grandsons, Logan (almost 7) and Carson (almost 3), rule our universe.

Looking for an image for this initial blog, I searched Google images for "dawn"--and got a screenful of scenes from Twilight: Breaking Dawn.  Decided not to use them. Soon, I will take and upload a picture of dawn in my part of the world.

Be patient: I'm starting slowly here, trying to figure out what to put on this site.  What to say.  I hope I'll be what I've always been: informed, annoying, entertaining, annoying, and annoying.


  1. Dawn Reader, Jimmy points out that you are one T short of an allusion to CS Lewis. Lots of cheesy movie and other images to go with that (mis)interpretation.

    We are looking forward to reading your posts!

  2. I lead a book club, and on our list of reading for 2012 is, The Marriage Plot.