My friend Cecilia asked that I answer these questions in this meme. Please make some time to head over to her space, Only You. She writes honestly about anxiety, vulnerability and offers insightful book reviews. When her pieces appear in my feed, I know that Cecilia will write with authenticity. That’s what I appreciate about her writing. After reading her words, I feel less alone. Thanks, Cecilia for your candor.
1. Which author’s voice is most compelling to you?
This is a hard question. There are so many great books that I’ve enjoyed. Most compelling? I’ve always loved short stories and worship the voices of Flannery O’ Connor and Raymond Carver. I’ve studied their writing and both are compelling in learning the craft of fiction. Other authors that offer a hypnotic lull: Joan Didion (The Year Of Magical Thinking), Anne Lamott (Traveling Mercies), Ann Patchett (Bel Canto) and F.Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby). There are others, of course, but the books that I mentioned are not only well-written, but also touched me personally.
2. Where and how do you get your books – amazon, independent bookstores, library, etc.?
I like to purchase my books from smaller bookstores, like Changing Hands, our local, cool book haven. Ordering online is convenient, so I purchase some of my reading material from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. We make trips to the library regularly, so if a particular title catches my interest, I will definitely check it out. My house is littered with books. It offers a comfort that I cannot always verbalize.
3. Where and when do you read? How long or how often do you read?
I try to read when I can. As a writer, it is imperative that I keep filling my head with the words of others. By reading authors that I admire, I hope to get better at my craft. My pleasure reading (when I read just as a reader and not a writer) happens at night. I love reading on long road trips as well.
4. What genres interest you most? Why?
I like to read memoir, literary and historical fiction, short-stories and poetry. When I look at my collection at home and the books that I tend to peruse, they usually fall in these categories. These genres appeal because I learn from the writing and they also encourage personal reflection.
5. Do you gravitate toward or shy away from difficult and heavy themes, like death, violence, trauma, difficult moral decisions, etc.?
I tend to read heavier titles and personal stories that focus on grief or some transformative journey. Part of this tendency is because my writing centers around themes of grief and paying homage to the ordinary. I also love reading good writing, so even a lighter theme will hold my interest, if the story, writing and characters create a braid that I enjoy unraveling.
6. Knowing what you know now, what book would you recommend to your 20-something-year-old self? to your 30-something-year-old self?
Just one book for each decade? A definite hard choice. For my 20-something year-old self, This Is Water by David Foster Wallace. For my 30-something-year-old self, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy. I think these two pieces are short, but timeless and can be read in any decade.
7. What reading rituals, habits, lessons, etc. have you shared with or taught your child?
We try to read together as a family. During our free time, you can often find us at the bookstore or library. We encourage her to read by demonstrating how much we like to read.
8. Is your husband a reader? Does that matter to you?
My husband is a reader. Yes, it matters. My personal belief is that you expand self by reading or traveling. When traveling becomes limited, reading becomes an activity that can and will transport you to another world. Although my husband’s book taste gravitates toward longer non-fiction books, like Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, or various economic books, he shares the insights he learns and sometimes I will read what interests him.
9. Have you ever belonged to a book club? If so, what was that experience like?
I’ve always belonged to various book clubs. Sometimes as many as three at a time. Currently, I only belong to one book club, where the readers are also writers. We meet at our homes once a month, eat a homemade meal and engage in satisfying conversations about books. Book clubs are a lot like dating; you have to try to find the right fit, before you settle on one particular group.
10. What are you most excited to read from your TBR pile this summer?
I am excited to read the following books: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, New Life, No Interruptions by Gail Caldwell and Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adiche.
11. Do you own and collect books, or do you prefer not to have them pile up in your home?
I love books piling up in my space. They are my friends. I can never have enough of them surrounding me. There is usually a stack on my night stand, on the floor of my office and one room is filled with shelves of books and we affectionately refer to that space as the library.
I would love to hear your answers to some of these questions.