First confession--yes, already there is a tangent before getting to the topic: I can't decide on how I want to present my blog titles. Proper APA? All Caps on All Major Words? #OrShouldIHashtagInCamelCase? I don't know. So there.
To get to it: A colleague of mine, Dr. Marie LeJeune, gave an ASSETT-sponsored presentation "Staying Connected: Social Networking and Digital Resources for Creating and Supporting Young(er) Readers” last Wednesday. One part of her presentation has been a sliver in my mind: reading epicenters. Now this is a good sliver, just to be clear, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. This happened when she asked us if we have people who influence what we read. I thought, "Sure. But which topic? Which area?"
Books and reading--hard copy and electronic and audible--are so central to my life that I think of books more in terms of contexts and uses than any other approach.
For example, if I'm interested in reading world class Nobel-laureates or Pulitzers, I look to my shelves. My partner's been collecting these authors for decades, so all I have to do is turn around. If I want to know about young adult literature with post-apocalyptic themes, I'll ask, and I have, Marie. If I'm trying to improve my grasp of feminism's intersections with Education as a field, I'll often drop a query on my Facebook timeline to tap the shared knowledge.
[I've excluded the replies because I did not ask, or receive, permission to include their names.]
Fortunately several people have responded with some great places to start. And starts are all I need.
When I write "start" I should be clear: I think of starts rhizomically.
[Image is from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Gingembre.jpg]
I do not see a single starting point and a single ending point. Instead, there can be multiple starting points in different locations all leading in a variety of directions. Some may cross. Some may not. The value is in having multiple starting points pulled from a community I respect. From there, I can do my own work--work that builds on their prior knowledge, experience, and advice--while also pursuing what interests me and works in my specific learning context.
Once I have suggestions or ripples from the epicenters, I then move to ScribD. I take those names or texts, in this case Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, and Donna Haraway, and run searches. Any document that interests me I download and save. I usually look through ten or twenty pages of results because ScribD's search engine is pretty loose. By loose I mean not terribly precise. Sometimes this can be very annoying if you are looking for a specific book by a specific author. Other times, the looseness helps because, like browsing in a library, the loose search results help you discover texts I might not have otherwise found.
Note: This post does not feel complete, but the research, reading, and writing process is never complete either. Instead, I'll leave this where it is and go forward.