You’re a CBR volunteer, right? How long have you been volunteering, and what’s your area of expertise?
I help out with Goodreads because we’re trying to create a more sustainable presence there, hopefully pull some avid readers who haven’t heard of us to the main site, but it’s so small as to be nearly insignificant. In fact, we’re always looking for more folks who, like me, can consistently do like 10 minutes of work a week to make the site better. Join us. We have pickles – in salt brine! None of that dill nonsense.
Do you read one book at a time, or are you partway through a handful at any given moment?
It depends. I usually prefer one book at a time. If it’s not capturing me enough to make all other worlds, including reality, disappear, then I’m probably going to DNF the thing and move on. And if I love it, I’ll burn through it in 2-3 days like a teenager with no self control and then feel an empty hole in my chest where the book used to be and jump right into the next one. It’s totally normal and well adjusted.
There are two exceptions to that. First is hard books. Books that are meant to be difficult to read. For example, right now I’m reading Zami by Audre Lorde and it is not an easy book to get through. So when I’m reading something like that, I’ll also grab an easier book to help me recover after every couple of chapters, which right now is going to be The Marriage Game by Sara Desai.
The other exception is if I have an audiobook going and I also need a regular book or vice versa. Like, sometimes I’ll be halfway through a book and I’ll realize I haven’t cleaned my kitchen in 2 weeks and it’s a horror show. So I’ll pause my ebook, start an audiobook, clean like mad for 4 hours, and then go back to the other book, and alternate until both are done. Alternatively, if I have an audiobook going but I’ll be visiting the in-laws, who are just literally the best but also have a habit of starting a conversation with you even if you have headphones on, I prefer to stick to ebooks when I’m with them, even if I already have another book on the go.
To tie in with a recent Diversion and our upcoming #CannonBookClub: have you always been a reader, or was there a particular book that put you on the reading path?
So, not to be a bummer, but I was a HUGE reader as a kid, but then I was attacked walking to my local library when I was a tween and it kind of gave me a Whole Thing about libraries that I never really got over. Reading went by the wayside too.
I didn’t really get back into reading until 2016. I was living away from home and on my own for the first time in literally ever and missing my husband like crazy and found out that my library had set up an Overdrive app that let you borrow ebooks and audiobooks remotely. I was on a self actualization kick and trying to reassess all my prejudices, so I decided to download a romance novel, since I’d always been highly critical of them even though I’d never read one, and in audio book form, since I never liked those either. I can’t tell you why I grabbed Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Lady Be Good except that it was available but I laughed harder than I had since I read Hitchhiker’s Guide in high school. It was a revelation and it gave me back my love of reading. So even though I realize now a lot of the content is problematic, I’m always going to have a soft spot for that book.
Now I’m antsy if I haven’t read at least 1-2 books in a week.
How many times have you participated in CBR? Has it changed the way you read?
This is my second year. I’ve always been very intimidated by it until I realized that I was now easily reading 50-70 books a year anyway. It’s changed my reading in the best way. I actually have to record my thoughts, and do it in a way that isn’t just squee noises or all caps grumbles (which isn’t helpful to me either once I forget what those noises mean). Writing a review for other readers forces me to think of specifically what I like or dislike about a book in a way that might help inform another reader. After all, just because I liked or disliked it doesn’t mean another reader won’t respond totally differently.
It’s also made me particularly aware of triggering material, even if it’s something that doesn’t bother me. I think it’s critical in supporting readers to give them a heads up before they dive into a book if they might be in for an unexpected panic attack. Not enough authors put content warnings at the front of a book (shout out to Talia Hibbert, who writes excellent content warnings and excellent books also).
Snacking question: salty or sweet?
Yes. Absolutely both yes. I joke that my husband is lucky I’m never getting pregnant because I already get the weirdest cravings at the weirdest time of day (and bless him, he goes and finds me them snacks – one time he seriously asked me if I really wanted watermelon at 3am in winter because he would go find it).
Some of my favourite snacks: chocolate spread dipped pretzels, caramel popcorn, ice cream with salted nuts, garlicky hummus and baby carrots (those things are so sweet). It’s such a good combination!