Triple Take 30: Carla Jean Whitley

What’s your favorite book? Is it also the book that’s had the greatest influence on you?

That’s a question guests must consider before appearing on Triple Take, the podcast where we discuss how books, albums and films shape us. Each of our hosts has contemplated this question, as well, and we’ve learned firsthand what a difficult task it is.

When I started to think about it, I assumed I’d speak about Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.” It’s been my favorite book since ninth grade, and I’ve been fortunate to write about it quite a bit in recent years. But as I mulled over this question, I realized a surprising truth: TKAM isn’t the book that shaped me. The book that holds that honor came along much earlier in my development: “Little Bear” by Else Holmelund Minarik, which I first remember reading at age 4.

This episode marks my final appearance on Triple Take. I’ve relocated to Colorado, and while I’m excited for the adventure ahead, I’ll miss both this show and my home state. If you’d like to keep up with what’s ahead, you can find me at carlajeanwhitley.com, and I hope you’ll follow my cohosts Matt Scalici and John Hammontree at AL.com. In the meantime, let’s talk about “Little Bear,” Nickel Creek’s self-titled album and “When Harry Met Sally.”

On “Little Bear” by Else Holmelund Minarik:

“In my mind, it kind of started everything for me. I don’t know how to live without reading. I think my career as a writer is born of my love of reading. That is a chicken-egg argument, but I think that’s the way it goes. For 31 years now, this book has been important to me.”

On “Reasons Why” from Nickel Creek’s self-titled album: 

“To me, that song really relates to my depression, which remained undiagnosed until I was 30. But it has come up in some significant ways in different points of my life. I first noticed my depression when I was 14, and then the year after I graduated was a really tough one. And man, I played that song on repeat for sometimes six or seven hours at a time because I identified so strongly with it.”

On “When Harry Met Sally”:

“We only know other people so much as our experience intersects with them. We only know the pieces we allow each other to see. But over a period of 10 years, they see a lot. It’s a beautiful thing, the ups and the downs–but they choose the ups.”

In this interview, I reference a couple of think pieces about “When Harry Met Sally.” They are “When ‘Harry’ Met ‘Annie'” by Mark Harris, which appeared on Grantland,  and “Revisiting ‘When Harry Met Sally’ with the actress who played Alice” on Vulture, by Lisa Jane Persky.

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