Sunday, January 13, 2013


1. What book is on your nightstand right now? On my physical nightstand, The Human Stain by Philip Roth, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson Whirl Away by Russell Wangersky, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese and my Kindle. But I'm not yet reading any of those - the books I'm actually reading are actually IN the bed - 101 Letters to A Prime Minister by Yann Martel and The Watchmen by Alan Moore. The textbooks are beside the bed, in a pile.

2. When and where do you like to read? Just as I wake up and go to sleep, in bed. Also coffee shops, public transit, and while waiting in line-ups.

3. What was the last truly great book you read? Do you remember the last time you said to someone, “You absolutely must read this book”? Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. It blew my mind. If you know anyone with cancer, or you have it yourself, it really is such an important read. The last book before that was Intuition by Allegra Goodman.

4. Do you consider yourself a fiction or a nonfiction person? Fiction, I suppose. I do love nonfiction, but I seem to read less of it overall.

5. What book had the greatest impact on you? What book made you want to write? (Or wish you could be a writer, if you don’t write already.) I still have a vague memory of reading a book about a mouse in first grade, sitting at my desk. Since then, it's really hard to name one book in particular, as books have played such a huge role in my life that several have impacted me at various times of my life. I read The Brothers Karamazov in 10th grade and they were probably the first really adult books I'd read. And then The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood was the first time I'd ever enjoyed reading a book in school. In university, reading The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer turned me into a feminist. Since, books have had impacts when they dovetailed with my life, whether the book was in and of itself all that great.

6. If you could require the leader of your country to read one book, what would it be? (Please tell us your country of residence and its current leader.) Stephen Harper appears to be a man unlikely to respond to reading suggestions by the Canadian public. There's an infamous possible quote about the Guinness Book of World Records being his favourite book and the suggestion that he wants to write a book about hockey. Perhaps he'd enjoy Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese then.

7. What’s your preferred reading experience? Do you prefer a book that makes you laugh or makes you cry? One that teaches you something or one that distracts you? Yes. All of that.

8. What were your favorite books as a child? Do you have a favorite character or hero from one of those books? Is there one book you wish all children would read? Little House on the Prarie, Anne of Green Gables, Ramona Quimby. And any book where the main character somehow time travelled back into the past - I was obsessed with those. The Wrinkle in Time series. And then, at the end of my childhood reading, the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I still reread those regularly. They're like a literary blankie.

9. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing? Disappointing - Beloved by Toni Morrison. Overrated - Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Hardy. They stick out as the books I hate that I feel I maybe shouldn't. The last book I couldn't put down was The Crying of Lot 49 by Pynchon. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but it was a total romp.

10. Do you remember the last book someone personally recommended that you read and enjoyed? Who recommended you read it and what convinced you to pick it up? People, outside of Bookish, seldom recommend books to me. But over the past couple of years, there have been a few. A friend has sent me some vampire books to take my mind off other things and both times, that worked really well. I was sent Sappho's Leap by Erica Jong by a friend and really enjoyed that; same for Intuition by Allegra Goodman. Ru by Kim Thuy was recommended to me by an older French woman on a bus in Vietnam (that and travelling as much as I could while I was young.) An ex had me read the 2001: A Space Odyssey series, which got me back into sci-fi.

11. What’s the one book you wish someone else would write? A book about an expat that I could really related to, I suppose. I tend to use literature sometimes to help me think through my issues, so if it could also cover debates about being child free or dealing with single life or... I suppose I could write that book.

12. If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know and what would you do with them? Mary Shelley, perhaps. I'd like to wander around Europe with her and hear all the gossip. She sounds fun.

13. What do you plan to read next? Textbooks, textbooks and more textbooks. At least African history, women's lit, and chilren's lit are interesting.

14. Do you like genre literature? Any particular favorites? What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures? I suppose I would say that my favourite genre is literary fiction. I really do enjoy sci-fi and would like to expand more into some fantasy. I like historical fiction, though I often consider it a bit of a lighter read. And my guilty pleasure is the vamp porn.

15. Where do you get your books? For my Kindle, online. I'm fond of Gutenberg. In Korea, there are two bookstores in Itaewon - one a used bookstore that has been there forever, and the other half new/half used. Here in Canada, I'm a big Indigo fan, partially because it's my go-to meet up point with my mom.

16. What are your reading habits? Do you read paper or electronic books? Do you take notes? Have you ever written to an author? I only recently started reading more on my Kindle. I think I'll always mix and match. I take notes when I study, but seldom when I read, though I will sometimes dogear the pages and go back to copy down quotes. I don't think I've ever read to a single author, in spite of a love of Dear Mr. Henshaw as a kid.

17. If you could bring only three books to a desert island, which would you pack? Infinite Jest for length. A multi-volume Anne McCaffrey for comfort. And a survival guide.

18. If you could be any character from literature, who would it be? Is there an immortal character so rich she can spend all her time reading? Perhaps Mary Kingsley - she was a real person and wrote about travelling in West Africa in 1893.

19. Do you have a publishing pet peeve? I don't like books deckle-edged books. And I don't know when mass market paperbacks suddenly got a bit taller, but I'm not fond of that either.

20. If you had to select books for your “Ideal Bookshelf” which titles would you choose? (Maximum 10 books.) Well, they'd be half read and half unread. I'd want all the continents to be represented, and at least a third nonfiction, and a good gender balance. A few shortish, a few chunksters. I'd want them to range in publication date and cover at least a few genres. But to actually narrow it down to 10 books - impossible. I take more than ten books with me on a short, week long vacation after all!

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