The Covers Project
Song - Artist - Album
Johnny Utah - The Kandinsky Effect - Synesthesia
Summer vacation is about halfway over, and chances are whether you are in school and summer reading is required, or you just find yourself with absolutely nothing to do one day, you are probably going to at least attempt to read a book this summer. I was originally going to make this big list of books I’ve read lately to recommend to all you readers out there, but I feel like everyone does that in the summer, so instead I’m just going to talk about one book in particular. From speaking with a bunch of my friends, and from having worked in a high school the past year, I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t enjoy reading because the books they are assigned either aren’t very relatable, or they don’t really make the reader think about the world in a different way afterwards. Granted, I am going back to school in the fall to become an English teacher, but there are even some books taught in school that I can’t stand. I have this lofty goal for when I become a teacher that I want to be able to find a book to recommend to each of my students that he or she will be able to either relate to or think about the world/life differently. When I was in high school, I had to go searching for that book on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of really great books in high school that I still reread today, like Catcher in the Rye and Ordinary People, to name a couple. However, having grown up listening to punk rock, playing in bands, and going to shows on a regular basis, I wanted to find a novel to read that had to do with punk rock, if such a book even existed. Then I found Salad Days.
Salad Days is a semiautobiographical novel by Charles Romalotti, following the protagonist Frank Smith from his garage band days in rural Iola, Kansas in the 1980s, to being the vocalist for a successful hardcore band based out of Lawrence. I discovered this book my junior year of high school when I was browsing interpunk.com, which is where I bought most of my CDs when I was a teenager, and soon after bought my own copy. The novel was exactly what I had been searching for: a book that is about the power of music, in this case punk rock, but it also has a good meaning behind it as well. Is success about selling a lot of albums and becoming famous, or is it about staying true to who you are and knowing that you made a difference, if only to one person? I loved this book so much when I bought it that I read it twice. And I’ve just finished reading it for a third time, six years later, but I feel as though I appreciate the book even more now that I am older. The other thing that I love about this book is the total DIY nature of it. Romalotti taught himself how to write; he doesn’t have any kind of English or writing degree. He also self-published the novel. When I was in college, I concentrated in Creative Writing, so the concept of major publishers, not getting to even decide what the cover of your book looks like, and not being recognized in the literary community unless you first publish to literary magazines was engrained into my mind. And I find it refreshing that there are writers out there, albeit virtually unknown, who take the initiative to do everything themselves. I grew up with a do-it-yourself attitude about music, so why not apply it to my other love, which is writing? Which brings me to my latest project…
When I was fourteen, I wrote a novel about a group of friends who start a rock band and try to essentially become the “rock stars” of their hometown throughout their first two years of high school. Nine years later, I am still going back and revising it, but if the book ever does get completely finished, I have always planned on trying to find a way to self-publish it; the book is too dear to my heart to put into someone else’s hands. After all, I’ve been working on it for almost half my life at this point. Ever since I finished the first draft of this novel, titled Rockstar, I have not been able to finish writing any new novel that I try to write. I was never much of a short story person, so the stories I write I am never satisfied with. Then in April, I had a free period at work and decided to start writing what I thought would turn into a short story. Instead, it evolved into a novel that I have now written almost fifty pages of. Though music plays a big role in this new book, the plot is primarily about a twenty-one year old man named Simon who has just graduated college and has absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of his life. He finds himself trapped in between his best friend from high school who can’t accept adulthood but Simon is too loyal to let him go, and his ex-girlfriend who moves away to California, determined that she has already figured out what she is going to do with the rest of her life and is moving on without him. Oh, and it also involves a cross-country road trip in a stolen school bus. Basically, I am writing this book as a coming-of-age tale for people my own age, since I feel as though most books that fall into that genre are about high schoolers. And to go along with the DIY spirit, and the fact that I think literature should be just as accessible as music, I have made a blog where I will post a new chapter of the novel every week so you can all follow along with the adventure. It is only a rough draft, but most story blogs that you find on the Internet aren’t very good, so I figured I would spare you with something fun to read. I post a new chapter every weekend, and because I am a huge procrastinator, weekend can mean anywhere between Thursday and Sunday. It also doesn’t have a title yet. You can check it out here: chelseadodds.wordpress.com.
And to make up for the fact that I didn’t make some epic summer reading recommendation list, here are a few novels that I have either read or reread so far this summer that I HIGHLY recommend:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie