Kerry Millar- Guest Post
I am so happy today to be featuring a guest post from Kerry Millar. Kerry Millar’s Instagram name, linesiunderline, was one that I kept seeing floating around. The words paired with it often conveyed kindness and positivity and creativity and finally I decided, “why have I not looked at this account?”. It’s all true. Kerry has such a gift for connections and her passion and thoughtfulness are inspiring. Her reviews are beautifully written and carefully thought out and she asks questions that make me actually pause in this world of quick scrolling to really consider what she’s saying and asking. Kerry takes the time to talk and make everyone feel heard and we’re all lucky to get to “know” her on here. Kerry, thank you so much for being a guest on Imaginary Book Stack!
‘I think I could be inspired to be far more daring if I asked myself now and then, “What would Jo do?”.’
I like to think that I have more than a little of Jo’s nature in me. Isn’t she the March sister that all of us most wish to be? She is so spirited and romantic and a deep thinker. I relate to these qualities and wish that I would embrace my spirited/romantic side as fully as Jo does. I think I could be inspired to be far more daring if I asked myself now and then, “What would Jo do?”. Jo inspires me. She seizes life without fear and she makes me laugh. That’s a winning combination for this reader.
Jo’s Book Stack
● The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwicks is often suggested as a modern day readalike for Little Women. I can picture Jo March enjoying the adventures of the four Penderwick sisters. I think she would see many parallels between her relationships with her sisters and those of Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. There’s a similar sense of tenderness, fun, and love about The Penderwicks to what I’ve always found in Little Women.
● Almost Everything by Anne Lamott
When I thought of Anne Lamott as a match for Jo March, the first title that came to mind was Bird by Bird, her much-loved book full of advice on writing and life in general. Shockingly, I don’t own a copy! But I do have Lamott’s latest work, Almost Everything, on my shelves and the more I think about it, the more I am sure that Jo would love this book just as much. Anne Lamott is such a truthful writer. She is honest, funny, and profound in a way that is never showy. While Jo begins her writing life penning incredibly melodramatic works, she eventually finds that the stories she most wants to tell are those rooted in her real, ordinary life. Anne Lamott believes in the wisdom we can find in the everyday. This book is all about how to be hopeful even when around us, the world is full of reasons to lose hope. Jo is a hopeful character. I imagine she’d feel like Anne was a kindred spirit.
● Felicity by Mary Oliver
Jo and the March sisters have plenty of memories of time spent together in nature. Jo enjoys the seasons and natural beauties of her sweet New England home. I can absolutely see her heading out for a walk with a copy of Mary Oliver’s beautiful collection, Felicity, in her pocket. She’d wander to a perfect spot by a woodland stream, pull off her socks to dip her toes into the cool water, and get lost in Oliver’s perfect poems for an afternoon.
● Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
This classic is all about finding your voice as a writer, and Jo begins this journey in Little Women. Jo is such a deep thinker. She wants to grab hold of her life and feel all of its meaning. Rilke’s famous advice to the young poet to whom he is writing seems made for Jo: “Have patience for everything that remains unsolved in your heart…live in the question.” Rilke encourages all who read his book to do the work of knowing themselves. Jo is certainly up to that task.
● The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
I feel like Jo would pick up Kate Morton’s book for fun. Kate Morton’s novels are so lush, and this one has a delicious blend of ghostliness, romance, and tragedy. Even though by the end of Little Women Jo had become a writer whose personal work was rooted in her real life experience, I have a feeling she would always be a reader who enjoyed more dramatic stories for pleasure.
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A Little More About Kerry
Please tell us a little about yourself and your reading life
I’ve been a reader since before I could read. Through the years, my mom and dad have often told me the story of how when I was maybe three years old, every morning they would wake up to the sound of me babbling in my bed and when they would go in to get me up, there I’d be, with a whole slew of books piled around me on my blankets and one open in my lap. No better way to start the day, right? I couldn’t even talk yet, let alone read! But I understood that having a book open in front of me meant that there was a story to be told, and I was ready to tell it. Fast forward fifteen years or so and I studied English Literature in University. After that, I worked for an all-too-brief, magical period, as a children’s bookseller. These days I’m a first grade teacher, so I still spend a lot of time around children’s books and reading aloud to my students. They love it and I do too. My personal reading life got a whole lot richer when I joined Bookstagram last summer. My TBR has never been longer, but I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more excited and fulfilled as a reader.
What are you reading right now?
At the moment I’m reading a bunch of things. I can thank (blame..?) Bookstgram for shifting my reading routine completely! I used to be a tried and true, one-book-at-a-time girl. Maybe occasionally I would have picked up a nonfiction title at the same time as a fiction read, but it always felt like such a balancing act. Oh how far I have come! Now it’s typical for me to be reading 3-5 books at a time. I’m still figuring out how to manage that and savor each reading experience as fully as possible. At the moment, I’m reading I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott on audio, Edinburgh by Alexander Chee for a Bookstagram bookclub, Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. A mix of fiction and nonfiction seems to be working pretty well for me these days.
What’s a book you wish everyone would read?
I could press The Diary of Anne Frank into just about anyone’s hands. I see her book as essential reading for so many reasons. Reading her words takes you so much into the mind and heart of another person, and isn’t that where the power of stories – real and imagined – is found? You can’t read her diary without thinking about what it means to be human. Anne’s perspective makes me consider my own answers to the questions, Why are we here? How can we live worthy lives? To me she is an inspiring example of how to live with courage, creativity, and hope. I think everyone could learn from her words.
Kerry, thank you so much!
What memories do you have of Little Women? I feel like it’s one of those classics that the majority of us grew up on and I love hear the experiences that different readers had. Did you want to be Jo or relate more to another character? How did Kerry do with this book stack?
If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!