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  • Writer's picturePerry Robinson

Words to Live By: Bronwen Dickey

Words to Live By features exclusive interviews with authors, artists, and community members.

Bronwen Dickey is the author of Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, POLITICO Magazine, Esquire, Outside, and Garden & Gun, among other publications. She teaches journalism at Duke University.


Is there a book or genre that stands out in your memory from your youth?

The Secret Garden

I loved adventure stories and mysteries as a kid. Lewis Carroll's "Alice's

Adventures in Wonderland" and "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett were two of my all-time favorites, as well as "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell and "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen. By the time I got to middle school, I was obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. In many ways, I still am!

What kind of reader were you as a child?

I pretty much had a book in my hand all the time.

What are three children's books you think should be on every child's bookshelf?

"Where the Sidewalk Ends," by Shel Silverstein, "The Lorax," by Dr. Seuss, and a big book of fairy tales—take your pick!

Book Harvest is proud to practice Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop's theory of "Mirrors, Windows, Sliding Glass Doors," which states that in order to become avid readers and reap the full benefits of lifelong literacy, children have to see both themselves and worlds beyond their own in the stories they read.

Is there a book that you saw yourself reflected in as a child? Or one that opened new worlds for you?

I benefited greatly from books that focused on the courage of young girls,

especially the ones who had to transcend self-doubt. "Anne of Green Gables," "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," and "Number the Stars" all made a big impression on me for that reason.

What kind of books are on your bookshelf?

Anything and everything, but there's always a lot of poetry.

What are you reading currently?

I just finished "The Fisherman," by John Langan, which was spooky and imaginative and perfect for October. I'm also re-reading "The Liars' Club," by Mary Karr, which is even better than I remembered.

What is your favorite place to read?

Curled up on the couch, in front of the fireplace.

Who is your favorite all-time character from a book?

It's hard to beat Thomas Cromwell (as imagined by Hilary Mantel).

If you could have dinner with three authors from any period in time, who would you pick?

Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, and James Baldwin.

What are the children in your life currently reading?

I don't know many children these days — they've all grown up!

Do you have a favorite quote from literature? If so, what is it?

"In the end, we'll all become stories." —Margaret Atwood


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