As you may recall, I’m a fan of the By the Book interviews in the New York Times Book Review. I had so much fun doing my own By the Book interview last February, and I decided the time had come for an updated version. Don’t worry, it’s all new questions, except for a few whose answers change over time.
What books are currently on your night stand?
The top of my dresser functions as the night stand, in terms of being a place to stack new books. I recently purchased three young adult romance novels for some light summer reading. (Not to mention, YA paperbacks are cheaper than adult. Win, win.) I’m currently reading Anna and the French Kiss, an adorable book by Stephanie Perkins. Also in the stack are Forever by Judy Blume, which I’ve already finished, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. Summer is the perfect time for YA.
Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?
My favorite novelist is probably also someone writing today, although Jane Austen is the sentimental favorite for English nerds. If I stay within the literary fiction genre, it’s a choice between Carlos Ruiz Zafón and Margaret Atwood. The Shadow of the Wind never ceases to amaze me, and the novels that follow are also wonderful. Atwood blows me away with her skill, and the MaddAddam trilogy proves that she’s as sharp as ever.
Which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
I have two baby name books, which sometimes creeps people out. I use them for character names, and I also have an odd fascination with naming trends. The Baby Name Wizard is great if you like your name books to come with maps and graphs, which apparently I do.
Are there particular kinds of stories you’re drawn to? Ones you steer clear of?
I’m drawn to stories that focus on character relationships and psychology. Recently I seem to pick up books with a hint of darkness or quirkiness. I don’t have much interest in mass market mysteries or legal thrillers, where I feel like all the focus will be on plot. That being said, I hold to by my belief that every genre has its good and bad examples, including the ones that I avoid.
What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favorite childhood books?
As a child my mom took me to the library every few weeks, and we read together for many years. Reading was always part of our daily routine. I was a rather obsessive reader if I latched onto a series or author, as evidenced by “the Baby-Sitters Club years.” I was also a huge fan of historical fiction. Some favorites were Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, and The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman.
If you could live inside the world created in a novel, which book’s would it be?
Eskewing the obvious Harry Potter answer, I will choose the historical fantasy world of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series. They live in a magical forest in ancient Ireland, for goodness sake! And it seems to be a given that I would live out some kind of epic love story.
What’s the best movie adaptation of a book you’ve seen recently? And your favorite movie adaptation of all time?
The Fault in Our Stars movie turned out great! I was very nervous as a fan, and it exceeded my expectations in almost every way. As for all-time favorites, I love the movie adaptations by director Joe Wright. His Pride and Prejudice (2005) brings out strong opinions in Jane Austen circles, but I think it’s a beautiful film. Perhaps even more visually spectacular is Atonement (2007). Two of my favorite novels, meet two of my favorite movies.
What was the last book you just couldn’t finish?
From the end of 2013 into 2014, I was on a bad streak for not finishing books. The most recent was Sarah Bruni’s The Night Gwen Stacy Died. I bought it on a whim because I loved the title and cover, and an “offbeat love story” sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the style. Wanting to give books the benefit of the doubt, I always wonder if timing is more to blame for not finishing something. Thoughts?
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
So many! Embarrassment usually comes in the form of classic YA novels or literary classics, areas in which people assume I’m well-read. I suppose I am, to a degree, but there’s always someone who’s read more.
What do you plan to read next?
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is next on the roster unless I get a burning desire to read something else. Since John Green is a co-author, it’s shocking that I’ve gone this long without reading it.