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Words to Live By: Reed Murphy

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




Reed Murphy lives in Wake Forest, NC, with his wife, Beth, his 8-year-old daughter, Lily, and his crazy puppy, Ziggy. Reed grew up in Durham, NC, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied Spanish. He loves spending time with his family, goofing around with Lily, and collecting typewriters. Lily started losing her hair at the age of three and was eventually diagnosed with alopecia totalis. Ever since, she has had a strong hat game, living carefree and hairfree. Reed is enthralled with Lily’s creative mind, contagious positivity, and imaginative perception of the world. Her question about a dinosaur’s butt (or lack thereof) inspired him to write his recent children’s book, Dinosaurs Don’t Have Butts.

Reed Murphy

April 1, 2023

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

I’ve always loved stimulating books that grab my attention quickly. I’ve also been a sucker for good character development. In elementary school, I remember being extremely fond of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. The short chapters and excitement were very friendly to my short attention span! Later on, Stephen King books really captured my imagination, as he is the best ever in my opinion as far as developing characters that the reader can relate to. I’m hoping that somebody, somewhere, reading this can relate to me and is inspired to buy my book. That would support my typewriter collecting habit and also make my day.

What kind of reader were you as a child?

I loved and still love to read or watch the same thing over and over again. If a book had characters that I could identify with, get to know, and befriend, I would read it several times. I can tell you that I did have one instance where in middle school, right when I got through reading The Stand by Stephen King, I picked it right back up and started the 1,000 page book over again. To this day, I’m more likely to pick up a Vonnegut book I’ve read 5 times than a fresh new read.

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

Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas, and my personal favorite children’s book of all time: The Nighttime Book by Mauri Kunnas. It’s a book about what all the people do who are up working at night while we sleep. My mom held on to the original copy of this book and I eventually was able to read it to my daughter, Lily, who enjoyed it as much as I did. This one fell in to the over and over category much more than your average children’s book. The Nighttime Book was literally what we read at night time for a long time. It was so cool to be into the book while I read it to her as much as she was. Truly magical memories for me.

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?

Enders Game was a game changer (pun? slightly intended) for me. I could relate to some of his social problems and then eventually to his finding his niche, etc. That book really captured my imagination and was the first of many in my love affair with science fiction. I love that stuff.

What kind of books are on your bookshelf?

Any and everything by Kurt Vonnegut. I collect Issac Asimov in Spanish. I speak fluent Spanish, but don’t read those. I just really like having Issac Asimov Books in Spanish, OK? I smile every time I see them. Stephen King books galore in English and Spanish. I love historical nonfiction. All of my old Calvin and Hobbs books. Horror, adventure, science fiction, historical nonfiction. Having many, many books on shelves makes me very happy. If I had my way, I’d have books on many shelves in every room. Luckily, I married a smart woman that keeps me on planet Earth. She also makes sure we have things in our house other than books and typewriters. I’m super grateful for that.

What are you reading currently?

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

What is your favorite place to read?

I read in bed. I am world famous for reading the same paragraph over and over again and then falling asleep. I find that extremely relaxing and love it. Just thinking about doing that is making me sleepy right now. I’ll be right back.

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

Larry Underwood from Stephen King’s The Stand, hands down.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1972 By WNET-TV/ PBS Public Domain

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

Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Julius Caesar

What are the children in your life currently reading?

My daughter, Lily, is currently reading Anne of Green Gables and Matilda. At night, we are reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together.

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

“This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper” -T.S. Elliot

“This is the way this interview ends This is the way this interview ends This is the way this interview ends Book Harvest totally rocks” -Reed Murphy

We are grateful to Reed for answering our questions! You can learn more about him here.

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