Does an academic librarian with cats and a Kindle scream book blogger? Could be but my BBAW interview partner, Susan of Pages Turned, would definitely call herself a book journaler. I was delighted to interview Susan so, let's see what she has to say...

Please share a bit about you and your blog.

Let's see. I work in an academic library and in the past I've been both a reporter and a teacher. I've two grown kids, a husband of almost 29 years, a couple cats. I used to write fiction and I've a friend who's been encouraging me to join her in that bad habit once again. She read
Ulysses with me this year so I kind of owe her.

I've always intended my blog as more of a reading journal, a commonplace book, than a book review site, which pretty much makes me a commie slacker by community standards. Sometimes, though, I make an effort to take it a bit more seriously and write a legitimate review.

Have you always been an avid reader and how did you get started as a book blogger?

I've always been obsessed with reading, to the extent that it could annoy other people--particularly my mother. I can remember when I was nine and a cousin came over from Ireland to stay with us for the summer, and there were also several other cousins living next door. Our dads bought us ponies and horses and we all ran amuck and broke our bones and had the most glorious times. But for months afterwards, my mother kept unearthing books my cousin had stashed in out-of-the-way places because I was somehow managing to sneak in too much reading on the side to suit her.

Now, as for blogging, my daughter was an exchange student back in '03, and before she went to Germany for a year she made sure everyone she knew had an online journal, including me, so that we could easily follow along on her adventures and she could keep up with our lives. Because I was not out having exciting adventures, I had nothing to write about on a regular basis but my reading, and a bit of political snarking, so that's what I did. I'd also started to read a few book blogs by then. Once I realized Blogger worked with the photo program my husband had installed on our computer, I wanted to see if I could set up a blog without any outside help. I had a few free minutes before I had to work the Sunday evening shift at the library back in October '04 (my birthday, actually), and before I knew it, I had a book blog.

Do you have any particular genres you stick to or do you keep yourself to several? How do you find the books you read and review?

I consider myself an eclectic reader, but I mostly read contemporary literary fiction. I like short stories, 20th century classics, and lately Anthony Trollope and George Gissing for my Victorians. I read a bit of science fiction and a few character-driven mysteries. I like to peruse lists for titles (Rose City Reader and Speaking Confidentially are the best at working their way through 'em), read blogs and message boards. I find myself buying a lot from the NYRB imprint. I like to read more obscure works, but I'm also awfully swayed by what others are reading. I don't accept a lot of review copies, because I hate feeling obligated to write about them.

Are you solely into physical books or do use e-readers or audio books? Why?

I don't do well with audio books. I zone in and out, can't follow anything unless it has a very simple sentence structure, which usually means it isn't anything I'm interested in anyway. I'd rather listen to music.

I have a Kindle, though, and I think it's very cool, but I also think it's a niche product. I don't experience motion sickness reading on a Kindle in a car; I wish I'd had one as a child when I could have used one. But unless you travel a lot,or have an inordinate interest in classics, or need a larger font to see, or need a device to read pdfs on, you probably don't need one.

I still read papers books much more than electronic ones.

If you could work in the book industry, what would be your dream job?

My dream job would be writing novels and short story collections for the book industry to publish and promote, but if I had to work in the industry itself, I'd want to be an editor.

What classic literary character have you found you identify so well with that you thought you might be a reincarnate?

Hmmmm. Got to be Hamlet. I have angsty soliloquies inside my head all the time.

What modern literary character so closely resembles you that you thought the author stole your life's story?

That sounds kinda meta. I think Clyde Edgerton nailed the milieu that I grew up in in
Raney and Jill McCorkle got the high school environment of that time right in The Cheer Leader--despite the fact that they were writing about eastern North Carolina and I lived across state in the foothills. I haven't run across myself in fiction, though. I'll have to keep looking.

How and where do you read? For example, do you have set reading time each day or just any free moment? Do you have a designated area or just wherever? Any certain snacks involved?

I usually read an hour or two before bedtime. Sometimes I get in some reading in the early morning, and that's really my favorite time, because my mind's sharp then. I read a bit on the bus on the way to work, and sometimes while I'm at work, out at the public service desk, although I usually just glance at blogs and political sites then. If I'm home, I usually read in my chair in the living room. Way too often, a snack may be involved, and almost always, coffee.



09/20/2010 3:04pm

Great interview questions and answers, especially the one about identifying with Hamlet!

09/20/2010 9:11pm

Reading with a snack is the best! And something nice to drink. Ahhh

It was good to 'meet' you Susan/Hamlet (which I've never read but I do have to read it for school this year)! A new to me blog :) I like that you review short story collections, I don't read many book blogs (or book journals) that feature those pretty often.

Terri, great question about finding yourself in literature! The BBAW interviews made me green with interviewer brillance envy ;)

10/06/2010 10:09pm

Susan -- Thanks for the mention! Glad my lists can be an inspiration.

BGBS -- Great interview! Sorry it took me a while to find it.

10/09/2010 7:32am

*\o/* Have a great one!! :D

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