Tales From A Hungry Life

August 10, 2016

Every Day is National Book Lover’s Day

by Maria Schulz

Yesterday was National Book Lover’s Day. I don’t really need a special day designated for this, since it’s almost like saying: “Today is National Get Up and Breathe Day.” Since I was a young child, every day is National Book Lover’s Day.

Tales From A Hungry Life A Memoir with Recipes cover

Available on amazon.com

Reading inspires me every single day. When the memoir category got hot, I read every single book: Glass Castle, Running with Scissors, Angela’s Ashes. It even inspired me to write my own book–Tales From a Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes. I wanted to write a book about a happy family. Yes, a memoir topic that seemed harder to find than a Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, and Sasquatch all rolled up into one.

My mother started me on my love of books by reading “Sleeping Beauty” to me every night before bed. I loved the beautiful illustrations and enjoyed the power of that classic fairy tale. I wondered what happened to Maleficent to make her such a meanie…I mean, not getting invited to a party is hurtful, but come on! It’s not like it was Aurora’s/Briar Rose’s/Sleeping Beauty’s fault.

sleeping-beauty and maleficent

I struggled with reading on my own until my third grade teacher, Mrs. Grille, kept me after school every day for a month and helped me. She pointed me towards the box of biographies and got me started reading about John F. Kennedy, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Once she realized I had mastered the mechanics, she set me free to read anything I liked, and I’ve never looked back.

When I hit high school, I was lucky to have some awesome English teachers. They encouraged my curiosity and nurtured my love for reading and writing. There was Mr. Reines, who had us read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, and The Great Stories Collection featuring University Days by James Thurber, Willa Cather (Paul’s Case), D.H. Lawrence (The Rocking Horse Winner), The Waltz (Dorothy Parker), The Jilting of Granny Weatherall (Katherine Anne Porter), Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth (John Updike), Everything That Rises Must Converge (Flannery O’Connor), and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, among others.

Great Stories

Yes, I still have my copy!

As a book lover himself, he enjoyed talking about the many themes, plot lines, and historical contexts that influenced the stories. The authors and their characters became like distant relatives or friends as we discussed their motivations and flaws. Why did Leora love Martin so much in Arrowsmith? Did he deserve her? Why did Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye complain so much? What was his problem? Why was Paul from Willa Cather’s “Paul’s Case” so desperate? How did James Thurber use himself as a comic foil?

Props to Mr. Reines for engaging this snarky teenager and making me want to keep reading, turning the page, and finding out more about every character I encountered.

I was an English major geek through and through, and even though high school and college are far away in the rearview mirror, I am still a book lover. I read over the short stories that inspired me to go on to an undergraduate and graduate degree in Creative Writing, and every time I re-read them, I understand a little bit more about myself–and how to make my stories better.

I still read every day. Here are some of the books I’ve read in the past that I love and I hope you’ll enjoy too.

12 Great Reads and Must-Reads for Book Lovers Everywhere

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride and prejudice

Read the book. Then watch this version

Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

Molokai by Alan Brennert


Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Recipe: Creamy Rice Pudding

creamy rice pudding

Guess what? Not only was it National Book Lover’s Day, it was also National Rice Pudding Day! I have had an intimate affair with rice pudding since working as a deli cook back in my teen years. My former boss taught me how to make rice pudding that was legendary, but then told me that if I shared the recipe, she’d have to kill me. So enjoy this recipe from allrecipes.com. Read a book, eat some rice pudding, and while you’re at it, read all about my tragi-comic life in my book (of course, my favorite of all): Tales From a Hungry Life: A Memoir With Recipes. Enjoy!

So, Hungry Lifers: What’s your favorite book? Who inspired you to read? Do you like rice pudding? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!







  1. When I was a kid sports books, like the History of The Brooklyn Dodgers or The New York Yankees were on my list. And of course anything about Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig or Joe Dimaggio would get my attention. But my favorite grammar school novel was “Captain From Castile” which was made into a movie starring Tyrone Power. High School made me read books like “The Pride And The Prejudice” which I hated and which I finished by buying Classic Comics. History was something besides sports that held my reading interest. But College introduced me to D. H. Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” which we dissected and I still love. Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” and Victor Hugo”s “Les Miserables” got my attention for historical novels. My reading is becoming more eclectic and I love true family stories such as the memoir, “Tales From A Hungry Life”. I like all the characters but in this memoir I especially was drawn to the father. I would love to read more but at my advanced age my eyes tire quickly and I find myself closing them to give them a brief rest and wake a few hours later. I am glad you had English teachers that were so good that they helped you to continue your love of reading. One of them graduated Flushing High School with my class of course we hung out with different crowds so we never knew each other. He was a good guy!

    Comment by bglou — August 10, 2016 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

    • I’m not surprised that you like the father–you’re just like him (only older). Yes my English teacher was a great person and had a big impact on my writing. Whenever I wonder why I chose this path, I blame him! Thanks for reading and plugging my book.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — August 10, 2016 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  2. Maria, The evil witch in Sleeping Beauty has a back story movie that explains why so was so bitter (Angelina was great as the witch, and it puts a human spin on what she did as told by her). Anne Rice’s books capture my interest. Interview With A Vampire and The Witching Hour series are written so well with the back drop of Paris, New Orleans, and other parts of the world so vividly that I feel when I read them that I see the places. The book that got me in High School is The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. I could not put it down then. Rice pudding is great, but I don’t like it when it is crunchy.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — August 12, 2016 @ 11:15 am | Reply

    • I loved The Heart is a Lonely Hunter too! That and The Member of The Wedding by Carson McCullers are great reads. Note to self: no crunchy bits in Tony’s rice pudding!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — August 12, 2016 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

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