Socratica Reads: Nightfall

It's "International Podcast Day," and we have a podcast.

Socratica Reads Podcast By Kimberly Hatch Harrison cover art
Yes, yes we do. Morning, noon, and night.

Let's celebrate, shall we?

(I swear I didn't plan to release a podcast episode on #InternationalPodcastDay. Just a happy coincidence.)

The best part about having a podcast that isn't sponsored is that we get to do whatever we want. This is pure dessert for me.

I'm using this time to remind myself of my earliest sources of inspiration. I'm fascinated by this idea that the books you read can shape you in ways you may not understand. But they're in there, working their subtle magic over the years.

Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail: When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity.
Kathleen Kelly.

Reading a book at the right time can inspire you for life.

Because I'm focusing on the books that have inspired our work here at Socratica (futuristic education), I keep being drawn back to science fiction. Today, it's

The original short story by Isaac Asimov, published when he was 21.

How many years ago did I read "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov? I really couldn't tell you. I know that, unlike Bradbury's "All Summer In a Day," it wasn't one of my very first sci-fi stories. It was more like part of my adolescent sponge years when I gobbled up as many stories as I could. I gorged myself on books, and at some point my mum just gave me her library card so I wasn't held back by the '5 books at a time' or whatever the arbitrary limit was on my child card.

At that point, I wasn't really thinking about how authors wrote. But by reading a ton, I gradually caught on to some general principles.  I learned, for example, that I preferred to come to my own conclusions about what sort of person a character was, based on the bits and pieces we were shown, rather than being told outright what to think about the character. In other words, "Show, Don't Tell."  For instance, in Harriet The Spy, I was shown how set in her ways this child was, because she ate a tomato sandwich every day of her life if she had anything to say about it.

Years later, I studied theories about composition in detail, both in my prep school English classes and in college where I picked up an English Literature degree. I wrote scores of papers, dissecting out authors' secrets and pinning them like captured butterfly specimens. But those early principles I saw in practice by reading hundreds and hundreds of books are what actually stuck with me. "Show Don't Tell" again.

In our Socratica Reads podcast, I'm revisiting some of my early favourites, with a closer eye on how these authors pulled off their achievements. Asimov was only 21 when Nightfall was published. He was just beginning his reign.

I hope you'll join me.


HOW TO BE A GREAT STUDENT is available for purchase as an e-book, a paperback, or if you sign up for Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free.

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