Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week - Day 2 - Special BBAW 451 edition!

It's interview day! Today, all around the blogosphere, book bloggers are interviewing each other.

I'm so happy to welcome Margot, from Joyfully Retired, to Need More Shelves today. We've put together a special, BBAW edition of 451 Fridays - I'll be serving up my own 451 list on her blog, so make sure you stop by Joyfully Retired and see if my choices are different than when 451 Fridays began. Welcome, Margot!

Because this is BBAW interview day, she's graciously agreed to answer a few get-to-know-you questions, as well.

What made you decide to start book blogging?

Prior to actually blogging myself, I was a big blog reader. I followed a wide variety of blogs. My son and daughter have been telling for some time to do my own blog. But my son and d-i-l are the ones who really pushed me. They gave me the Wordpress for Dummies which was the final catch. It helped me get past my technical fear. My intention was to write about all the things I do in my retired life. One of the things I do is read – a lot. As I began my posts I began to get comments on my book reviews or book related posts. So I gradually set aside most of the other subjects and became a book-only blogger. I still like to talk about movies and throw in a special recipe from time to time. Since my husband and I have chosen to spend several years just traveling in our RV (no house) I like to share pictures of the various places we have visited.

Has participating in the book blogging community changed your reading habits in any way?

Other bloggers have had a big impact on what I read. Prior to book blogging I read favorite authors, something I saw at the library, checked the best-seller lists or recommendations from friends. Now, because fellow book bloggers are my friends, I read almost exclusively from friend recommendations. I’ve also been able to read books that come from authors and publishing companies. And then there are the various reading challenges. They have led me to read some books I never would have chosen before. What is surprising is that I’ve enjoyed those new pathways. The other new habit I’ve developed is keeping track of what I’ve read. I wish I had kept track of all the books I’ve read in previous years but I didn’t. Now I not only keep a list of books read, but I have my synopsis and thoughts about the books as well. Recently I started rating my books and that has been a good addition. Previously, it was: “liked it or didn’t like it.” This new habit has helped me do some serious analyzing.

What is your favorite part of being a book blogger?

Making new friends is at the top of my list. It is an unbelievably warm community of people who seriously love to read. Second on the list is the discovery of how much I love to write. I have no aspirations to become a published author. It’s just pure fun to put words together on a page and make it a readable story. The writing process is great mental exercise as well. Third on my list is hard to pin down in words. What I’ve noticed in myself is a passion for all sorts of things around me. I might be reading a newspaper or involved in a conversation or simply walking through a store but I find myself saying, “Oh, that would be great in my blog!” All subjects seem to have become fodder for my blog posts. Fortunately for my readers, I don’t include them all. Blogging is a wonderful way to share the interesting things and enjoyment parts of being alive.

So Margot, what 5 books would you save, and why?

The whole idea of absolutely no books in the world is too grim for me to comprehend. I've lived a wonderful life surrounded by books. I honestly can say that, in my sixty-something years of living, I've spent some part of every day with a book or two.

For me part of the pleasure of books is in talking about what I'm reading. One of the joy of motherhood and now being Nana was/is sharing with my children the stories and books I love. In turn they share with me their new discoveries. If there was any possibility of future generations being denied books that have given all of us so much joy, I'd better start memorizing, or "becoming a book" right now.

Based on this fear of a world without children's books, the first three books of my 451 Fahrenheit assignment are for future children. I know that children who are exposed early to good stories, ones that fire their imaginations, are the children who go on to love reading and thinking and learning. But first, books have to be associated with pleasure. These three have certainly done that for me.

1. Nursery Rhymes by Mother Goose. (There are a number of editions but my favorite is Richard Scarry's.) I don't have to start memorizing this one and I bet you know them too. We can't let them die. These are the rhymes many of us remember from our childhood. It was thirty years between reading this book to my children and then to my grandchildren but the rhymes came back easily. See if you can finish these:

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children . . ."
"Three little kittens lost their mittens and they began to . . ."
"Elsie Marley's grown so fine she won't get up to feed the swine but . . . "

2. Charlotte's Web by E.B.White. This is a charming tale of Wilbur (the pig), Charlotte (the spider),Tempelton (the rat) and other animal and human characters. The story revolves around the goal of keeping Wilbur from becoming bacon. Charlotte spins words in her web and the humans are astonished. The ploy works as they all believe Wilbur to be an outstanding pig. No one catches on that it's really Charlotte who is amazing, except, of course, the reader. I love that the author does not talk down to children and in fact uses some big words that are defined in an easy to understand manner. If at all possible, read the book way before seeing the movie. I have yet to read this book to a child whose eyes do not grow big. I know they are "seeing" their own version of the pictures.

3. Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott. This classic tale of girls coming into their own and family togetherness has rung true for generations even after 140 years. Who doesn't want to be like the spirited Jo or one of the other girls? I reread this book again earlier this year and it still brings out the same emotions as it did all the other times I've read it.

The next two books are just for my own, adult pleasure. They are great stories with great characters and I want to make sure they are not forgotten.

4. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. (You should read the sequel, Pigs in Heaven, while you're at it.) The is Barbara Kingsolver's debut novel. It's the story of Taylor Greer who has left her home in Kentucky and is heading west in her VW bug. She has no particular destination, she's just enjoying her independence. At a stop in Oklahoma, someone thrusts a small child through her open car window and begs her to take her away. Something about the child causes Taylor to take her. She continues on her way and only stops when her tires wear out in Tucson. The book is filled with wonderfully quirky people that I still think about. I loved the character of Alice, Taylor's mother. As Taylor gradually learns to become a mother, she draws on the example Alice set in raising her. Here's an example from the book:

"There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars. Like I was that good."

5. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. I would just hate for the world to lose out on great food writing. I'll bet a world without books would probably also be a world without good food. This true story of Ruth Reichl's experience as a the restaurant critic for the New York Times is such good fun. Because her picture was hanging up in the backrooms of all the New York City restaurants, she had to disguise herself. Rather than get special treatment and the best food, she chose to become an ordinary person and see how the restaurant would treat her then. Ms. Reichl didn't just put on a wig and glasses. She "became" the new person starting with the life story of that person. She chose where the person lived, what they did for a living, how they dressed, and why they were in New York. She found that when she was in disguise she talked and behaved differently. It had quite an impact on her. This book is also a treat when Ruth Reichl describes food. The reader knows exactly how it smells, looks, feels on the tongue, against your mouth and going down your throat. You can get very hungry reading this book.

Which one of these five books should I choose as my book-people book?

Tough to choose. I've read the first four numerous times and it wouldn't take much work to have every word memorized. So - I'm going for the challenge of "becoming" Garlic and Sapphires. I could tell you about the time she dressed like her mother and began speaking like her. Or the time she became an out-of-town woman and some guy tried to pick her up. Or the woman she saw on a bus and followed her home to see how she walked and what kind of life she led. And, did I mention recipes? I've made a couple of the recipes in the book. Her New York Cheesecake is so smooth and creamy. And then those perfect potato hashbrowns . . . m-m-m-m, I'm already working on it. Becoming Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires will be pure pleasure.

Margot, thanks so much for sharing YOUR list of books which must be saved. It has been my pleasure getting to know you a little bit better - isn't this the best part about BBAW!


Beth F said...

Thank you Margot! I would hate to be in a world without Ruth Reichl's writing.

I was fun to learn how your blogging goals changed and that your family was so supportive.

Molly said...

I love Margot's blog and have so enjoyed getting to know her better through this interview!

Heather J. said...

great interview! Glad to see a Kingsolver book on the list, although I would have chosen a different one. :)

Marjorie said...

Thank you for a lovely interview - lots of book recommendations to take up there - and I've enjoyed making the acquaintance of both your blogs...

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I really enjoyed doing the interview and especially the 451 Friday feature. That was a great mental exercise and I plan to ask myself that question again from time to time.

Jenners said...

Wonderful!! For a moment there, I thought perhaps you had interviewed me as Margot's answers and experiences are sooooooo close to my own experiences and feelings. And I love love love the whole concept of traveling in an RV during my retirement years. Love it. And the books choices and thought process behind them -- perfect!

Florinda said...

I love Margot's 451 list, particularly the props to The Bean Trees, which I think gets overlooked when people talk about Barbara Kingsolver. Taylor Greer is a terrific character.

Great interview, and I've added Margot's blog to my Reader (yours was already there, Elizabeth :-D).

stacybuckeye said...

I love Margot's blog and this great interview. I'm going to have to add her last two books to my reading list.

Zibilee said...

I loved Charlotte's Web and Garlic and Sapphires and I think that both of those are great books to have been included. I am going to have to have to check out Margot's blog, she sounds like a really interesting person!

bermudaonion said...

I'm sure glad Margot's kids talked her into starting a blog, because I love Joyfully Retired.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by! It was my great pleasure to host Margot, and you should DEFINITELY be reading her blog! =)

Diane said...

Margot;'s blog is great. i enjoyed the interview.

Kristen said...

I've now read both sides of this interview set and thoroughly enjoyed hearing more about both of you. Thanks!

Literary Feline said...

It's so nice to meet you, Margot! It's my dad's dream to hit the road after my mother retires and travel by RV for a few years. I'm not sure how my mom feels about that just yet. I think it's wonderful that you are able to do that now.

I definitely plan to visit Joyfully Retired now. Thanks for the interview, Elizabeth!

The Bumbles said...

Margot - I would have preferred you to become Little Women and tell it to me than read it - I did enjoy the re-read recently but I know you would give it a nice inspired telling! I wish I had kept a book log too growing up. You should be sure to encourage that with your grandkids. Thanks for the excellent interview!!

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

Margot is one of my favorite bloggers and I enjoyed getting to know more about her through your interview.

jehara said...

the garlic and sapphires book sounds really good. i have to add that to the ever growing tbr list. :)

Stephanie said...

I love Barbara Kingsolver as well as Little Women and Charlotte's Web. Thanks for introducing me to this blogger.