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Local Bookworms: Daniel DiFranco

Welcome to the first edition of our new feature, Local Bookworms. Featuring readers, writers and other strange souls from our community here at The Spiral Bookcase, these interviews are meant to help you discover new authors, new books, new ways of engaging with literature and add a little interest to your day. Check back to see who we feature next!

Daniel DiFranco, author, teacher and musician, is up for this week's feature. A resident of Roxborough and long-time supporter of the shop, Daniel teaches high school music and English. He published his debut novel, Panic Years, in 2018, and you've definitely had a bookseller rant about how good it is if you're stopped by the shop. PS - we've got a few copies in the online store! Take a peek here.

When did you discover your love of reading? For some folks, it’s almost immediately, but for others, it’s a later-in-life revelation.

My father and aunt taught me to read, and they read to me and with me all the time when I was a little reader. It started with C A T and D O G and I’ve never looked back.

What’s your favorite book in the whole world? Why?

Great Expectations is the one I always I come back to. It’s been a dream of mine to get shaken upside down by a convict in a cemetery on Christmas morning with the hopes of becoming a gentleman. It has yet to happen, but in reading Great Expectations I can live vicariously through my dear Pip.

On a typical week (ha, what are those anymore), what kind of things would we find you reading?

 Mostly student work and the comments on targeted ads on Instagram. But in book form I try to keep a balance of classics and contemporary, with a heavy emphasis on small press and indie writers—my people.

What’s a book you think everyone should read once?

 There are so many books that will temporarily change your life and I’m hesitant to prescribe any. There are too many factors. So, in lieu of a recommendation, I’d encourage everyone to just read books—to find books that sound interesting and read them. Maybe one will become a favorite. Maybe it will temporarily change your life.

What’s your comfort read — you know, that book you always revisit, the one with worn pages and a cover that’s soft like a blanket?

 Every December, I come back to Catcher in the Rye even if it’s just for a few chapters. I have a deep history with that book, and there’s something like nostalgia, or flipping through a photo album at work there. There have been many “hot takes” on Holden Caulfield over the past decade(s), but when he’s leaving Pency Prep and yells “sleep tight, ya morons!” we are all Holden. I think it’s that singular spirit and feeling of aloneness while not knowing your ass from a hole in the wall that I’m drawn too and find oddly comforting.

You've written your own dang book! Tell us about it.

 It’s called Panic Years and it’s about coming to terms with the feeling that what you want most in this world might not happen. More specifically, it follows a bass player who by rock and roll standards is getting old. He joins a touring indie band on the verge of breaking through as his final shot at achieving his dream. I wrote it during my own swan song of being a gigging musician while I was earning my MFA in creative writing from Arcadia University. Panic Years was published by Tailwinds Press in August 2018.