One of the best things about BBAW is that I get to add new (to me) blogs to my reader and meet some great bloggers for the first time. One of those bloggers, Angie of Angieville, will be the first one added this year. Even if I don't have time to do any of the other posts, I always sign up for the interview swap. It's always fun to get to talk to someone I don't know. Thanks to BBAW I'll be a regular in Angieville now.
1. What got you into reading? Have you been a book lover all your life or did it happen later on?
Quite simply, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe got me into reading. Both my parents have always been avid readers, and they encouraged reading in the home and read to me all the time as a kid. And I, well, I humored them. I'm not proud of this. But I didn't really seek things out on my own as a very young girl. My imagination just wasn't fully engaged until my aunt sent me the Chronicles of Narnia box set for my tenth birthday. I read the first book on a transatlantic flight to Sicily, where we were moving, and nothing was ever the same again. I didn't even get past the dedication before I was a goner. And it's been books, books, books ever since.
2. What inspired you to start your own blog? What do you like the most about blogging?
My husband is tech savvy, and somewhere around five years ago or so he mentioned that I should start up a blog. I had only the vaguest notions of what they were at the time. I asked him what in the world I would do with it, and he shrugged and said, "What about a book journal?" I thought it was a great idea, and for the first couple of years, the blog was merely a personal record of the books I read (and re-read) each month, with accompanying thoughts and images. Then I started reading other book blogs and--once again--my imagination became fully engaged. And the blogging took off accordingly.
As for what I like most about blogging? That moment when someone I don't know comments or emails or tweets me to say they read the same book and they felt the same way. It's like they reached out and took my hand in the dark. I never tire of the thrill and I don't think I ever will.
3. Has your taste in books changed through your life? Have you found yourself reading books you might not have when you were younger? Or are there books you loved in the past and now you can't imaging why?
I guess I'd say my taste has broadened as I've gotten older. I don't think I've ever really turned my back on books or genres I used to like, which is why I'm a serial re-reader. Nothing is as comforting as characters and words you know and love. No one welcomes you home like they do. But I definitely have started reading books I probably wouldn't have when I was younger. These would include books that previously scared me off, specifically horror or romance novels. Though I still read on the tame end, I'm sure. My husband is a die-hard Stephen King fan and finally broke down a couple of years ago and shoved a copy of It into my hands, begging me to read it. I took a deep breath and dove in and what a book. I was unprepared for how much I would love those seven kids and the wonderful writing. I'm so glad to have the book blogging community to tell me what I'm missing out on and to egg me on to try new things and fall in love with new characters and new words and add them to my beloved bookshelf.
4. This is a totally subjective question. What elements do you look for in a book? What makes a book a "good read"?
Two things: I connect with at least one character. And the words are right. And you're correct--it's utterly subjective. The characters I connect with and the words I love are not necessarily the same ones for anyone else. Whether or not the words are right is a matter of my own taste and aesthetic criteria. My reasons will perhaps not be the same as others'. Occasionally I will connect with a character, but the narrative doesn't do her or him justice, and the book and I don't click. And it has happened that the prose is beautiful but the characters are empty for me, so the book and I don't click. But when those two elements meet--the results are sublime and I will read it through to the very end. Every time.
5. What book has most influenced the way you see life and your role in it?
My life has been broadly influenced by all kinds of literature. But when I think of the novel that has most influenced the way I see life, I have to go with Middlemarch by George Eliot. It's difficult to overstate the effect it had on me when I read it in grad school. I still remember my throat tightening with emotion and wonder at the way she was able to capture the human experience in such quiet, crystalline moments. It changed me, brought focus to my academic pursuits, and is one of the books of my life.
6. Other than reading, what do you do for fun? Are you a adventure seeker or do you like something a little closer to home?
I love good food, good music, and traveling to new places. Preferably all three together.
7. I love the idea of your Retro Friday meme. I'm a huge fan of older books and I try to read as many as I can. What made you start the meme? Was there an older book that you feel in love with that got you hooked on the idea of reading older books instead of the constant stream of new ones?
Thanks! I was looking for a weekly meme to start up on the blog, and I kept coming back to the fact that I spend a huge chunk of time re-reading old favorites when I could be reading newly published works. But I wouldn't want it any other way. In fact, I don't think I could stop it if I tried. I'm baffled by people who don't re-read. How can they not long to go back and spend time inside their favorite stories again? And so I thought, hey, why not review some of the old ones on a regular basis? Maybe it will spark some interest in some under-the-radar books. Maybe I'll even get to talk about them with others who've read and loved them, too. That's how Retro Fridays was born.
8. What are some little known facts about yourself?
Ha! Well, here's one little known (and literary) fact about me. In lieu of having the birds and the bees talk, my mother decided to hand me a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover and call it good. And, honestly? After reading that book, I had no questions left.
Thanks for having me!
If you are even a little bit curious, head on over to Angieville to read my answers to her questions.