1. If your home was burning down and you could only rescue one book (the e-reader doesn’t count!), which would it be?
This may be a copout answer, but I’d probably grab whatever I was reading at the time! Though I am sentimental about books in theory, I don’t think I have any that would be irreplaceable to me. And if I do, they’re kids’ books that are at my parents’ house. To me, book nostalgia is more about the story, and remembering the time, place, and circumstances wherein I read it, more so than it is about the physical book itself.
2. Do you keep books on display because they look pretty (no shame in that!) or because they’re your favorites?
Unfortunately in our small apartment the bookshelves have to live in our bedroom, because that’s the only wall with space for them. It’s more for convenience than aesthetics. However, I do enjoy looking at them as I lay in bed, and I’ve nestled a few happy chotchkies and framed pictures among the books.
If I’m completely honest, though, I’ve gotten to where I mostly try and refrain from buying physical books at all, because of space issues! Whenever we have a bigger place, I will likely sift through and have a shelf that is more for looks than for use (though I’m sure I’ll never be able to part with all the “real” books.)
3. Have you kept any books from your childhood; if yes, which ones and why? If no, why not and where are they now?
My parents still have just about all of the books from my childhood. Last time I checked, many of them were on a bookshelf upstairs at their house, but there are also multiple boxes in the attic crawl space storage. My mom and I sorted through them a few years back, but reading was such an integral part of my childhood, and of our relationship, that we couldn’t bring ourselves to part with very many of them. Hopefully some day I’ll have a child in my life who can enjoy them as much as I did! Some of the most special ones that definitely aren’t going anywhere are ones from my grandmother, and even great grandmother. They’re wonderful hardback novels that are falling apart and that no one has ever heard of but that I read over and over again as a kid. And classics that may parents read to me, like Goodnight Moon, Go Dog Go, and Dinotopia will stick around, too.
4. Which genre(s) monopolize your bookshelf, and why?
My bookshelf has a little bit of everything, but I would say it contains mostly novels. Within that category, though, you’ll find quite the mixture: juvenile series like Harry Potter and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, crime/action fiction like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and Michael Crichton, historical fiction, and Christian fiction. There’s not much rhyme or reason to it at all.
5. Of the books on your bookshelf (or e-reader), which is the latest that has stuck with you even after you finished it? (I’m fishing for book recommendations here!)
I read a lot of books, and I enjoy just about anything while I’m wrapped up in it, but often novels go in one ear and out the other, so to speak. Earlier this year I read a novel called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I expected a nice love story that drew on the Victorian metaphor of flower language, but instead I got a hard-hitting, at times gritty, novel about the hard life of a woman who grew up abused and in foster care. I can’t say all the details stuck with me, but it was a stunning read that is one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
6. What is the most random/unexpected book you own?
Since my husband and I share a bookshelf, most of the seemingly random ones on there are his: Black and Decker’s The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, On the Profession of Management. Since I tend to read things from all over the literary map, I wouldn’t expect you to be surprised to find anything on my shelf! But perhaps the strangest book I own is a black dust jacketed hardback copy of Vladimir Nabokov’s The Original of Laura. It’s a novel in fragments, not even a completed novel, and it’s apparently the story of a doctor who is continually humiliated by his promiscuous wife (I’ve never read it). And given how much I’ve always said I hate the classics, and given that I failed to get even a quarter of the way through Anna Karenina, this tome might catch you offguard. I paid an exorbitant sum of 27 euros for it at Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris. Yes, I lugged it back on the plane. But I couldn’t resist buying a book from one of the coolest bookstores in the world, and one bearing my name seemed like a good souvenir! (Except for the unfortunate fact that Laura is the promiscuous wife…)
7. Do you prefer hardbacks, paperbacks, or e-books?
My favorite type of book to read is a paperback, but not one of those tiny ones that’s usually too fat to open all the way (mass market, maybe?) Hardbacks are pretty to look at, but I get annoyed dealing with the dustcover (though library hardbacks are nice). However, I have come to be fine with reading on my Kindle, and you cannot beat the convenience it provides. So, that’s how I read most of my books these days. But if I find a book that’s been on my list at the thrift store, I’ll snatch it up no matter what the format and just send it back their way when I’m done! It’s like a slightly more expensive version of the library, but still usually cheaper than an e-book!
8. Do you organize your books in any way?
My books are loosely arranged by genre, but like Katie, I often find myself mentally rearranging them as I’m falling asleep. I have sections that roughly correspond to: nonfiction, poetry/essays, Christian living/fiction, fiction series, and other fiction organized by size/type (paperback vs. hardback). I struggle with wanting to arrange books in descending size order but also wanting to keep authors together, so it kills me when I have some books by one author in paperback but one taller hardback one! My organization is very fluid, though, and tends to fall by the wayside when I add a new book, due to space constraints. But my bookshelf is so open and small right now that I never seem to have trouble finding things in spite of that!
9. What’s next on your to-read list, and how do you choose what to read next?
I am utterly driven by whims when it comes to choosing what to read next. For awhile I kept a Google document of “books to read,” but when I got my Kindle I tried to move all of those onto my Amazon wishlist. I also try to keep that same list maintained on the “to-read” shelf of my Goodreads. But between those 3 lists I often forget a book here and there! And when I’m choosing, very rarely do I go logically to the next book on the list. In fact, often I don’t choose a book off the list at all; I choose one that I found at the thrift store, that a friend loaned me, or that was in Amazon’s monthly “100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less” collection. Sometimes, I very much crave a “fluffy” novel (usually when it’s summer, whether I’m at the beach or not), while other times I’m able to convince myself to read something with a bit more substance, like a classic novel or a work of non-fiction. I try to go back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, so that if I’ve just read a novel my next book will be something true, but that’s by no means a hard and fast rule (see earlier statement about whims). I’ve always wished I could stick to more of a reading list, because there are so many good ones out there: Rory Gilmore’s list, classic novel lists, books I should have read in school lists…but that method just doesn’t seem to work for me.
All that to say, I’m not sure what might be up next! A few contenders are: Daphne by Justine Picardie, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks, or one of the 3 books friends have passed along to me lately. It will mostly depend on whether I feel like buying a Kindle book or reading something I already have on hand! (I have several on my bookshelf that should probably be in the running…)
10. Do you have a “guilty pleasure” book you’re a bit embarrassed to say you love?
I love to hate Nicholas Sparks. By that I mean, I’ve read just about every book he’s written, and seen most of the movies, but I’m always really hard on his plotlines and the unbelievable romantic outcomes. Yet I find something about his stories utterly compelling, and I can’t pass them up. I actually bought a copy of one of his books and saved it to take on my honeymoon, when I knew I would have time to just relax and get engrossed in it. My husband was bemused, to say the least.
I’ve also recently discovered Jennifer Weiner, renowned chick lit author of the likes of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes. I snagged a couple of her books at the thrift store thinking they’d at least be fun, and I found myself completely and utterly drawn into the worlds of Then Came You and Little Earthquakes. In fact, I’ve since added more of her books to my Amazon list! I never would have expected to like such a popular author so much, but she has a very deft hand for dealing with female emotions, which I like.