(This is Cannonballer bonnie, not MsWas Bonnie. She’s got 128 reviews so far!)
How many times have you participated in CBR?
This is my fourth CBR (I started with CBR5). I’ve actually been a lurker on Pajiba for the last ten years (I read a lot of the posts, but my commenting is infrequent at best) so I remember CBR1 between Prisco and AlabamaPink. Though she and I never had any interaction, I was devastated to learn of her death. I always enjoyed the CBR posts, but it took me until after 4 to sign up for CBR5. I enjoyed it so much that I convinced my husband to sign up for CBR6 and now he’s a regular Cannonballer, too! It’s been an absolute joy, and it’s expanded my own reading world.
Has being a participant changed the way you read? If so, how?
No and yes. I very much believe in “read what you want to read” and not worrying about reading “easy” books just to make a count, though it’s certainly been a struggle to keep that personal integrity for myself (and not to skip longer books, simply because they take longer to read). I like to meet my goals! I’m ambitious! I *love* the Goodreads sticker that congratulates you. But I don’t want to read something just because it’s easy and short—I need to enjoy the journey and just delight in the experience without any numbers or reward. I abandon books, too, even if it means I won’t get “up there” in the count. Life’s too short to read uninteresting books.
The way that CBR has changed me, though, is in my expanded taste. Anyone who follows my reviews knows that I read literary fiction almost exclusively. It’s been great to read some really insightful nonfiction and miscellaneous works because someone on CBR recommended it. I read Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood, thanks to Cannonballers’ reviews or recommendations. I also tried romance and Rainbow Rowell, which, while not my taste, helped me in Trying New Things (something I’m not always great at).
Most importantly, CBR has helped me in the way I review books. I don’t just read a book and throw it out my mental window. I have to write a review, and I have to remember components of my reading experience to write those reviews. This discipline has greatly helped my own teaching practice. I teach a book project to my college Composition II course, and having to write lots of reviews has helped me remember and recommend an incredible array of books to my students. The sad truth is that a *lot* of English academics don’t read for fun or outside their immediate research field at all. Reading to me is a comfort and a pleasure, and CBR has helped me remember and maintain that pleasure consistently throughout the year.
What’s the first book you recommend to new friends?
That depends entirely on the friend and his/her taste or desire for a reading journey. I typically tend to recommend Pride and Prejudice, Station Eleven, Never Let Me Go or The Remains of the Day, Atonement (sorry, Malin!), The Blind Assassin, No Country for Old Men, or The Martian. I’ll stop there. I could recommend books all day long.
Library, Kindle, Amazon, or bookstore?
I am absolutely a lady at the bookstore and a whore at the library. Two and a half years ago, my husband and I downsized to an apartment, so one of the ways in which we decided to trim space was to keep our bookshelves manageable—therefore, my new rule was that I could *only* buy a new book if I had read it and loved it so much I would read it again or teach with it. My husband and I will browse through the stacks at the bookstore and then augment our Goodreads lists. After one such jaunt, I put in a gazillion interlibrary loan holds and they all came in at once. I had almost an entire shelf on the hold section just for me! I have had to bring a tote bag for the library before, and chances are I’ll do it again. Right now, I’m focused on sifting through the books I’ve never read but owned, and it’s amazing how many I’ve felt okay giving away! I don’t entirely ascribe to Marie Kondo’s theory of keeping only 20-30 books or tearing out the pages you like, but if a book isn’t that meaningful to me, I don’t think keeping it around is going to make me happy.
There is a Bonnie on Vampire Diaries and one on How to Get Away with Murder. Who would you rather be affectionately called Bon-Bon by: Ian Somerhalder or Matt McGorry?
Hmmmm, good question, since I don’t watch either show (my DVR is way backed up as it is). Somerhalder just looks too Ken-doll to be taken seriously, so I think I’d laugh if he called me Bon-Bon. McGorry? I guess? I do like him fine on Orange Is the New Black (but I’ve only seen the first two seasons, so I take it back if horrible things have happened since then). [Or perhaps, I could sing the “Bonnie and Clyde 2003” duet with Jay-Z?]