Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BBAW - Getting To Know You

Day two of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is all about shining the light on our fellow bloggers. For me, this meant getting a chance to know Erin, of Erin Reads, better. I'm already a huge fan of Erin's blog. She writes wonderful reviews and has a couple of things that are unique to her blog that are very cool. Please take a few minutes to get to know Erin and then head on over to her blog to see how great it is for yourself.

1. You have two unique features on Erin Reads: Reading Buddies and Classics Reclamation Project. Can you tell my readers a bit about each of them?
Both projects grew out of personal reading goals I really wanted to emphasize: reading with other people and reading more classics.

Reading Buddies grew out of my desire to read and discuss books with other people while tackling my ever-growing TBR list. Eight months in, it has taken two forms. Each month, I read a poll-selected book very informally with anyone who is interested. I post about each book twice, and participants are free to comment, post, and read whenever and however often they wish. I've also done some even less formal reads, where participants have discussed a book via email or on Goodreads without any concrete timeline. I love formal readalongs, but they tend to stress me out, so my goal with Reading Buddies was to create a relaxed environment in which to read together. I love knowing other people are reading the same thing I am but without the pressure of having to reach a certain point by a specific day, and reading with other people is such a rewarding experience.

The Classics Reclamation Project is my personal project to read more classics. Prior to 2010, when I started the project, the last time I had voluntarily read a classic was in high school. Being forced to read books for school left me with the feeling that such books were difficult and unenjoyable, and I spent a good ten years avoiding them. As I got into book blogging, though, I began to see more and more bloggers posting about good experiences they had with various classics, and I started to think that maybe I should give those books another chance. I started out always making sure I had a classic going, sharing my thoughts in a weekly post about whichever classic I was reading at the moment. At this point, I am no longer posting weekly, but I continue to make a conscious effort to include classics in my reading diet. It's working -- I'm much less frightened of classics than I used to be, have worked them into my regular reading diet, and have even enjoyed a few!

My Projects page (http://erinreads.com/projects/) has more information on both.

2. I see that one of your goals is to read books by Indian authors. Do you have any favorites?
That particular goal is new this year, so I haven't actually read enough books by any one author to choose favorites! I have encountered some excellent novels in pursuit of this goal, though. (I should note that I've included authors of Indian descent as well as Indian authors.) One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was my favorite book from last year. I also enjoyed The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and Half Life by Roopa Farooki. I've been trying to read books set in India but not necessarily by Indian authors as well, and my favorite thus far has been E.M. Forster's The Hill of Devi, an account of his time spent in India during British rule. I have several others on my shelf that I hope to read soon: Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (the current Reading Buddies selection), A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, to name just a few.

3. Do you have any literary crushes?
Only one, and that is Po in Kristin Cashore's magnificent young adult novel Graceling! I also have a bit of a voice crush on Humphrey Bower, an audiobook narrator with a glorious Australian accent.

4. What's your favorite part about blogging?
Definitely the community. I turned to blogging in earnest after moving away from my job at an independent bookstore last year, and it has taken the place of talking books with coworkers and customers. I love turning on my computer and instantly being able to read and write about books alongside so many kindred spirits I've never even met in person. My fellow bloggers and readers are overwhelmingly diverse, supportive, positive, and accepting, more so than any other community I've encountered, and they make book blogging an amazingly rewarding experience.

5. Like most bloggers, I see you've been a reader since you were little. What is the first book you remember reading that really stuck with you and why do you think it had such an impact?
I am notoriously bad at recalling early childhood memories, so this is an especially hard question! The first book I can honestly say I remember reading is probably Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. It's the first literary world I recall being completely swept up in, its characters and places so real and so fascinating to me, and I think that experience of losing myself in a book stuck with me. I don't necessarily read to escape, but I do love books that draw me in with the realness of their worlds.

Erin used to work in an independent book store. When she quite working there, she really missed talking books with other book lovers; blogging has allowed her to find another group of people to do that with. Her interest in Indian authors stems from the fact that her husband is Indian. She has recently returned from India; be sure to check out her post with pictures from that trip. What fun!

Thanks, Erin! I'm looking forward to having time to join you in Reading Buddies soon!

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