Name: Megan Prokott
Where you live: Chicago, IL, baby!
Insta handle: @the_spines
Current read: The Secret History by Donna Tartt (also very.very.slowly. Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World by Thomas F. Madden)
What has been your favorite read of the past year?
Either Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton or Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. I had such strong reactions to both of these books and both made me sit and have a moment of extreme gratitude for life and an existential dreamscape, respectively.
What is one book that you think will (or should) become a classic in the next 30 (or 50) years? Why?
This is kind of annoying of me because I haven’t even finished it yet, but The Secret History is a wonderful piece of fiction that should be utilized as a learning tool in school. It’s both dense and dark, certainly, but it is also wildly entertaining and beautifully written. There is a plethora of themes to discuss, literary devices utilized, and I think reading something like this in high school or college would have had quite an effect on me.
Imagine this. You and a celebrity of your choice are becoming friends. They have asked you for a book rec. Who is the celebrity and what book do you recommend?
I am currently obsessed with Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, so I can imagine he and I becoming friends. I would lend him a fictional epic because he reads quite a bit of factual, hardcore non-fiction and I think he’d love a book adventure that would take him out of this world and into another.
How do you choose your next read?
I usually weigh both the mood I’m in and how much time I have to pull a book out from the bottom of one of my teetering stacks. The latter can sometimes turn into a fifteen minute game of real-life Operation.
What book meant the most to you as a child?
Where the Wild Things Are because my dad does a wonderful rendition and I have very fond memories of being terrified but delighted as he read (performed) it for my siblings and I. And, naturally, Harry Potter. My mom read it to me before I could really read it myself, and then my love of reading took off when I could pick them up for myself.
What is your favorite adaptation from book to film, theater, or television? What book do you wish would be adapted?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the ultimate book to film adaptation.
What’s the one book everyone loves that you just cannot stand?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I found it gratuitous and in desperate need of an editor. Don’t @ me. More recently, Ghosted by Rosie Walsh and The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. (I believe I summed up my thoughts on the latter with “Check pleaaaaase!” on my blog.)
What is your favorite book set in or around the area where you live?
I am more of an escapist reader. I love to read books set in Paris and, on the exact opposite side of the spectrum, books set in the middle of nowhere. Because I can look around and see the things around me every day, I’d rather go somewhere new in my imagination.
What is one classic you think is not overrated?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Edgar Allen Poe. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. All spectacular and well worth the assigned reading.
If you had to declare yourself an expert in one extremely specific genre, what would it be?
CHEF MEMOIRS, obviously. Anyone who follows me on IG is rolling their eyes and thinking WE GET IT, YOU LIKE FOOD LIT. But, it’s true. I can never read enough stories of women drop-kicking the restaurant world’s metaphorical, patriarchal doors open, chefs learning and rejecting classical French cooking, or Anthony Bourdain instructing me never to eat restaurant fish on a Monday. I am a fount of unearned culinary wisdom.
What is your go-to book recommendation?
I always recommend The Martian by Andy Weir, since lots of people ask me for book recommendations to help them get back into reading. That book is a party and a half, so it’s a good place to build the habit of picking up a book when it has been temporarily lost. I also frequently recommend Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.
What book changed your worldview in some way?
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I read this book a few years ago when I lived abroad. At that point in my life, I wasn’t totally sure where I was going in my career and I was feeling a bit homesick besides. Reading that book made me feel so grounded and in touch with the world of literature that it was what eventually pushed me to look into careers in the publishing industry.
If you could inhabit the life of one fictional character for a day, who would you choose?
Voldemort. I love a villain and the idea of being temporarily and fictionally evil and all-powerful sounds like a very unusual way to spend a day, as long as I can go back to my very good, real life.
Who do you think is the greatest female author?
Reading is my happy place. It calms me, it excites me, it sparks my creativity. It gives me new words to express myself, it brings me like-minded confidants, it shares new world-views. It is everything to me and I am very blessed to enjoy reading as a hobby, to work in publishing as a career, and to have a community of friends on Instagram to share books with.
What’s at the top of your TBR or wish list?
Fox 8 by George Saunders and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, at the moment.