Book Blogger Appreciation Week – New Treasure – Interview Swap

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As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week I have been teamed up with Stacey, The Unruly Reader for an interview swap. She asked me some great questions about Playing by the book, books I love, and what part they play in my life – you can read her interview with me here.

I also interviewed Stacey and this was a surprising amount of fun. She’s given me lots to think about, and many new books I’ll be on the look out for.

Here’s my interview of Stacey, The Unruly Reader, in full…

Playing by the book: Thinking of books you’ve really enjoyed, or that have had a particular meaning for you at different stages in your life, what 8 books would you choose to represent your life so far and why?

The Unruly Reader: Wow! What a great question. Here are the 8 books, listed chronologically, that I think best represent my reading life thus far.

  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin – the world’s most perfect book; I’ve found something new each time I’ve re-read it (since age 10)

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – I can’t think of my pre-teen reading without thinking of Anne Frank’s diary

  • All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward – everything I adore in a book: politics, journalism, and a rip-roaring good tale written with vigor

  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King – a mystery novel featuring a young woman whose mind is a match for that of Sherlock Holmes

  • Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean– haunting nonfiction that breaks my heart; the simplest, most beautiful writing; immediately after finishing the book, I began re-reading it

  • Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin – a novel that reminds me how glorious life is; I could live inside this book

  • Your Money or Your Life by Joseph R. Dominguez and Vicki Robin – a book about money, but really, a book of wisdom; life-changing

  • Run by Ann Patchett – the kind of novel that leaves me breathless with joy

  • What are your 8 books?

    Playing by the book: Hmm, it’s really difficult to choose, isn’t it? If we’re going for 8 books to represent different periods of my life perhaps I’d go for these 8:

  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read all the Little House books with a passion I’d not experience before – I was completely addicted and couldn’t read them quick enough.

  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. The poems here are full of joy and passion that perfectly captures how I felt about life when I first came across Whitman’s work. I have very happy memories of a lovely afternoon spent with a friend where we both learned I Saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing by heart.

  • Postcards by Annie Proulx. I love everything I’ve read by Proulx, and this was the first that got me hooked. Her style was so fresh and distilled, each line like poetry.

  • Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. A full-on, serious book, which gave me wrist-ache, but which made me feel glad to be alive.

  • New Selected Poems by Edwin Morgan. I read one of Morgan’s poems as my wedding, but all of his poems are wonderful and should be better known. When he died last month I felt tremendously sad.

  • The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson. I cook a lot and this is a great book for browsing and learning new things about food.

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan. A profoundly moving wordless story that I discovered through blogging.

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This is the most recent novel I’ver read, and one that I can’t believe I hadn’t read before. It is vital, essential reading about humanity and kindness.

  • Photo: Nicola since 1972

    Ok, next question: You’re stranded on an island and you’ve got The Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. You’re allowed to have one more book (it can be a multivolume one) – what would you choose and why?

    The Unruly Reader: This is horribly/wonderfully difficult, but I’m going with In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien. I’ve read it bunches of times, and I still am mesmerized. And I’m still not certain how it ends.

    Also, since I’m hideously lacking in culture, I’d be tempted to beg the powers-that-be to let me swap the Shakespeare with something else. I’m putting it all out there, folks. I’m afraid I don’t love Shakespeare. (I know this is wrong. But it’s true.) If I could, I’d swap the Shakespeare for The Encyclopedia Americana. So I could learn lots of facts. Also, I think I’d make up games like opening a volume to a random entry, then opening another volume randomly, and constructing a narrative that links the two topics. (Bootlegging and global warming: discuss!)

    What book would you choose?

    Playing by the book: If I weren’t to bend the rules at all it would have to be the Oxford English Dictionary – not only might it come in handy reading through all the Shakespeare, I’m sure I would enjoy the journeys it would take me on for each entry. If I were to be a little more light hearted I might ask for a beautifully illustrated guide to the seashore. I love shells and rockpooling and armed with a good guide I could have hours of fun.

    Photo: Aschaf

    So, Stacey, you’re a librarian! I’d love to hear a little bit about your life as a librarian (I worked in a library for one year of my life and it was one of the craziest years of my life) What sort of part (if any) did your job play in starting blogging about books?

    The Unruly Reader: I feel really fortunate to have found my niche in libraries. I love it that libraries are busy places that attract so many patrons, and that we get to help them find the information/books they need/want in order to make their lives better. Also, the wonderful variety of topics reference librarians handle each day—love that, too! Even though “reading all day” isn’t part of the job description… (despite what some people seem to think the job entails)

    The blog is completely separate from work, though obviously being surrounded by books all day fuels the desire to read when I get home. The interesting thing is that blogging about books makes it even easier for me to do reader’s advisory at work, because I’m all warmed up to talk about books.

    Playing by the book: What advice would you offer to others interested in starting writing a blog about books?

    The Unruly Reader: I’d say: Read what you love, and write about that stuff. Don’t feel like you need to change your reading habits to suit anyone else, because you’ll just end up not loving it as much and you won’t have that spark. And where’s the fun in that?

    What advice would you offer to a new blogger?

    Playing by the book: For me it’s been vital that I’ve understood why and whom I’m blogging for – that’s helped me stay focussed and enthusiastic about blogging. So I’d ask anyone thinking about blogging to be clear in their own heads what they want from a blog – do they want it as a private place, or a place where anything goes, will they write it for themselves or for others, do they want lots of followers and readers, or would they be happy with a loyal few, and so on.

    Next month you’re taking part in Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon – can you tell us a little about this challenge, why you’re taking part and what books you’re hoping to read?

    The Unruly Reader: I’m participating primarily to have a valid excuse to do nothing but read all day long. And all night, too! But also because it becomes a big online reading party with a great sense of community.

    It’s really a fun event, in which readers can choose to read (all day, or part of the day) and/or be a cheerleader who visits other participants’ blogs. Last spring, in my first read-a-thon, I read for 14 hours and read 4 books (and took plenty of breaks to eat snacks and visit blogs, and then fell asleep at 3:30 a.m.).

    I’ve begun jotting notes about books I’m planning to read during next month’s Read-a-Thon, including a Newbery winner and maybe a Rebecca Caudill nominee (books for children; specific titles to be determined). Also on my list: Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I’m trying to select shorter books, since I read only one at a time during the read-a-thon, and I get itchy for variety.

    Playing by the book: Of your favourite childhood books you’ve written that you loved (and still do!) anything with Nancy Drew in it. What was it about Nancy Drew that drew you in?

    The Unruly Reader: I just re-read a Nancy Drew mystery! For the first time in a while, actually. And while the story line was indeed contrived, and the writing was a bit stilted, I loved it anyway.

    I’ve always admired Nancy’s bravery and her sense of teamwork with Bess and George—and I love a good mystery. And, though the writing isn’t fancy, I actually picked up some vocabulary as a kid. I recall a classroom exercise in 3rd grade, in which the class was to list all of the verbs that could be substituted for the word “said.” And I just kept going, and the teacher just kept writing them on the chalkboard. (Declared, stated, murmured, queried, wondered…) I think there were about 30 verbs up there, and most of them were Nancy Drew-generated. Who says children’s series books aren’t educational?

    Playing by the book: 🙂 Talking about learning from kids’ books, I have a book on my to-read list called Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book!

    You read multiple books at one time. I’ve never been able to do this and am always amazed by people who do. Can you share a little of how this multiple reading actually works? Do you pick up the book that you’re in the mood for? Do you read excerpts of more than one book in a day?

    The Unruly Reader: Your question about “mood” pinpoints the reason I read several books at a time. Since I read whenever I can, I like to make sure I have a variety of books that have different appeal factors, so there’s always something I’ll feel like reading at that moment. Usually there will be a mix of fiction (general fiction plus a mystery or two) and nonfiction. Usually I’ll have an “easy” book that doesn’t demand too much of me, another book I can dip into when I have just a few moments, and an “assigned” book (for a book club or genre study). On a typical weekend day, I’ll read part of 3 or 4 different books. On a weekday, I’ll usually stick with 1 or 2 books, since I have less time to read. The other benefit to reading more than one book at a time is that when I finish a book, there are other sure bets already in progress.

    Thank you for thinking of such wonderful questions! It was delightful to get to know you a little bit through the questions you asked.

    Playing by the book: Thank you Stacey! I’ve had a lot of fun both interviewing you and being interviewed by you.

    11 Responses

    1. Roberta

      What a wonderful way to present the interview. I feel like I’m at the kitchen table enjoying the conversation.

      You have mentioned many old favorite books of mine and many I am itching to try.


    2. Janelle

      I think blogging is a natural extension for many librarians, and I love to read their blogs. Thanks for the introduction to The Unruly Reader. The 8 books question is a hard one. Several authors mentioned that I’d love to learn more about … Maclean, Patchett, Proulx.

    3. Unruly Reader

      Thanks for the wonderful interview! So glad to learn more about you and your blog in the process, and it was a delight to work with you on the interviews!

    4. Valerie

      I found a like-new original hardback copy of “All The President’s Men” at a library sale recently, but haven’t gotten to it because I thought it might be a bit outdated. Now it’s moving up higher on my TBR!

    5. Anna

      In the Lake of the Woods is a great book. Tim O’Brien rocks. I’m happy to have discovered both of your blogs today. Yea BBAW!

    6. Serena

      I’m glad to see a Tim O’Brien book on Stacey’s list. I adore his writing. I think I know what happens at the end of In the Lake of the Woods, but that book is an enigma and I’ll probably change my mind the next time I read it.

      I was also glad to see some poetry, especially Whitman in this discussion…one of my passions.

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