What was the last book you bought?
The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Living on a Budget by Peter J. Sander and Jennifer Basye Sander. I don’t usually go for the Idiot’s and Dummy guides, but this one is really excellent.
Name a book you have read MORE than once.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Both times I read it for school: once in high school (hated it) and once in college (loved it). It’s amazing how your opinion of a book can change!
Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
It was actually a combination of several books. I read Plenty, In Defense of Food, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma in direct succession, and together they completely changed the way I look at food, including where I shop and what I buy.
How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews
I used to get a lot of books at library sales, where I would pick a book up because of its cover and buy it (or not) because of the jacket flap and the first page or so. Since I started working at the book store, however, I’ve started taking recommendations from both fellow staff members and our excellent customers. Though I still read a few pages before I decide to read a book, because I’m just not good at tolerating bad writing.
Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction, usually, unless it’s non-fiction on a topic in which I’m really interested or it reads like a novel. The exception is memoir, which I love.
What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
They have to be in balance. A novel with beautiful writing in which nothing happens will quickly end up in my “to donate” pile, though no faster than an exciting book that’s terribly written. An interesting plot moved along through beautiful writing — those are the books I finish!
Most loved/memorable character (character/book)
There are a lot of them, of course, but one that stands out in my mind right now is Henry James from Colm Toibin’s novel The Master, which I read for a class last year. Toibin brings this beautifully human element to his mostly fictitious portrayal of James, and it has stuck with me.
Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, Hands of My Father by Myron Uhlberg, and Rebuilt by Michael Chorost
What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
I just finished My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger last night.
Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Oh yes. If I’m not trying to find time to read a book, it’s not something I’ll end up finishing. I finally realized that, so I waste less time trying to get through books that don’t interest me! The last one I put down was Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I liked Mists of Avalon, but Priestess of Avalon just dragged for me.