Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Higher Learning #1

Welcome to our very first Higher Learning interview. In Higher Learning, College Guys talk about what they're reading, what they read in high school, and what books are important to them now. Today I sat down and talked to Matt (aka Tiny) at Saints Rest Coffee in Grinnell, Iowa, about books and reading.

Matt graduated from Grinnell College in May 2007 and is headed off to Law School this fall. He was a Political Science major at Grinnell and plans on studying Intellectual Property or Corporate Law in Law School. Matt played football in high school and in college, and lived in Ohio until seventh grade when he moved to Wyoming. Thanks for talking to Guys Lit Wire, Matt!

Kelly Herold: What are you reading at this very moment, Matt?

Matt: I'm reading 1421: The Year China Discovered America, by Gavin Menzies. It's historical Non Fiction by a former submarine commander in the British Royal Navy. He uses his knowledge of physical evidence from the oceans to prove the Chinese discovered the world.

Kelly: Is 1421 typical of the books you like to read?

Matt: Yeah, I tend to read historical Non Fiction. I especially like reading American history through the Civil War. I'm also reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, right now. It's about how Lincoln transformed his political opponents into allies after he was elected. Also, I just read Joseph J. Ellis's Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation which reexamines America's historical myths.

Kelly: Okay, let's go back to Middle School. What were you reading in, say, sixth or seventh grade?

Matt: I was in honors English in Ohio and we got to choose our books as a group. I remember reading The Hitchhiker's Guide the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) which was cool. I was reading a lot of Science Fiction at the time. Going into the seventh grade I read The Time Machine and 1984 over the summer.

Kelly: What was the first life-changing book you read? A book that made you think 'Wow' for the first time when reading?

Matt: Probably The Time Machine. It was the first "real" novel I ever read and it made me want to read good stuff, real books, not like the books we read in elementary school.

Kelly: What about High School? What did you read for school and what did you think about required reading?

Matt: I went to a small high school, so they stuck to the basics: lots of Shakespeare, Brave New World, the Inferno, Kenneth Clarke's Civilization (English was part of a Humanities course). As with all required reading, some of it was good, some of it wasn't.

Kelly: Did you do much reading for fun when you were in high school?

Matt: Between football in the Fall and Speech and Debate in the Spring, I didn't have much time for fun reading. I did have to read a lot of articles for Speech and Debate, so that's what I read outside of school.

Kelly: What do you read for fun now when you're not reading historical Non Fiction. You don't take those to the beach, do you?

Matt: Um, yeah. But I've also been reading Terry Goodkind's fantasy books forever. Those are my fun reading.

Kelly: Okay, last question: Young Adult literature--ever heard of it? What is Young Adult literature?

Matt: For some reason it makes me think of Romance novels. Well, I know there are some sports-like books, like Bleachers (John Grisham), but I've never really read Young Adult books.

Kelly: Thanks, Matt, for taking the time to meet with me.

See you all next month for more Higher Learning.


geoffwade said...

Matt might like to have a look at:


geoff wade
national universty of singapore


Kelly said...


Thanks for the link. I'll make sure he gets it!

Little Willow said...

Hey Matt! Thanks for hanging out at GLW.

Oh, Kelly, we need to get him some good YA books!

Melissa said...

Great book Matt, "The Year China Discovered America". Historical NF are a fave of mine as well. Right now I am reading "Return to Middle Kingdom" by Yuan-tsung Chen. As engrossing as any historical novel I've ever read, this book is a must for anyone who wants to understand the origin of modern China.