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Hello Friday! Hello Follow Friday with book bloggers!
Meet Ella, a newbie blogger with an impressive library and an avid reader of many different book genres.
Follow Ella's "So it goes." blog on BookLikes: http://ellamc.booklikes.com/
What are you reading right now? How do you like it?
I’m very slowly reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski in a group read led by the author. I’m loving it and it’s very hard to stop myself at the points he covers, but I want to get input from the author, so I’m going very slowly. At his pace I’m not sure we’ll ever finish, but I’m determined to stick with his reading schedule.
On my own I’m currently reading In Every Moment We Are Still Alive, a memoir by Tom Malmquist. He’s a Swedish writer, so it’s in translation, but it’s incredibly sad. It’s basically about a man who suddenly loses his pregnant wife and is left with a baby. Sounds as sad as it is, but it’s also very good. Then again, I tend to fall in love with many good books as I read them. We’ll see in a year how I really feel about it.
Also listening to We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union (read by the author.) I can already tell it’s an uneven book, but it’s very fun. She reads conversationally and it’s a bit like sitting down with a girlfriend to catch up on all the gossip.
When have you discovered you’re a book lover?
Very early in my life. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read. I loved to read as a kid and family lore about my reading ability gets more incredible as I get older. I’ve been told I read in nursery school, but who knows? By the time I can remember, we had a big tree in the backyard. I climbed it with a book and stayed there all day. Nobody ever found me. I read every single Hardy Boys book from that tree, as well as the entire Little House series, Anne of Green Gables and many more.
You’ve mentioned you’re new to blogging. How do you like it so far?
I love the BookLikes community. I don’t really know how to review. (I keep meaning to read some articles about doing it), but I like to talk about the books. I hope I’ll remember a lot more of the books I read if I do it this way. My goal in joining BookLikes was to find a replacement for Goodreads, but it turns out to be so much more. I do find myself with an ever-growing TBR list, but that’s not a bad thing.
You’re blog name is "So it goes." Can you tell us more about that quote and why have you chosen it for your blog name?
The phrase “so it goes” appears in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five 100-plus (maybe 106?) times. It appears every time there is a death. (Lots of death in a wartime novel.) He does it comically, tragically, every way you can imagine. By the end it conveyed to me both the randomness and inevitability of death extremely well, not to mention both the stupidity and extra meaning given to the act of dying in a war (like people have much choice about it.)
While the book is about war, I think the lesson can work for life too. We never know when death is coming, but we know it will eventually come. It’s not trivial, but it’s constant. If I was a better person, I’d tell you I think about it and it changes my reactions to humanity, but that would be a lie. For many years I thought I’d get a tattoo of it, but I’ve changed my mind about that. So when BookLikes asked me for a name for my blog, it was the obvious choice.
Why reading is important to you?
It teaches me about life. It also keeps my very easily agitated mind calm. It gives me a sense of perspective and allows me to learn more about the full experience of being human. At its best it stimulates me to think in a way I’d not previously imagined. I think that’s why books read as a teen or young adult leave such a huge impression. At its most basic, it means I don’t turn on the TV for many months at a time and I learn vocabulary words, if not always how to pronounce them. I find myself asking “is that how you pronounce it” fairly often because I’ve only ever read the word rather than heard it in speech.
What are you favorite genres? Why are they special?
It’s funny. I never really think I have a favorite genre. But when I started to catalog my books or use book websites, I learned that I do, in fact, have favorites. It turns out most of my favorite books live in a few categories: mystery, espionage, “literary” whatever that means, dystopian and fantasy. Also “realistic fiction.” So that covers almost everything, I guess. In college I was told I “read like a man” -- which I guess meant I didn’t always read what we’ve now call “chick lit” but I’ve read a lot of that through the years too, and I can’t bring myself to get rid of my boxed set of Ya-Ya Sisterhood books.
Why I like them is harder. I love spies. When I was little (in my tree), I read Harriet the Spy and followed neighbors around, carefully noting what they bought at the grocer and whatever I saw them doing. Only in later years did I learn everyone knew what I was doing, if not always why. When my sister explained that I was crazy and read it in a book, they just didn’t care!
I’m not all that genre-specific beyond my espionage needs. All of these are ways to live in a world that I’ll never actually inhabit, but that’s what books always are.
How do you choose your next book to read?
If it comes in at the library and I’ve put it on hold, I read it before it’s due. Only this year have I decided I must read the books I own and unless I’m planning to reread or loan, move ‘em out! I own literally thousands of books, which is way too many for my smallish home. Weirdly, that means I’m picking up a lot of books I have copies of that I actually hope to dislike. That’s insane, but true. I’ve already given a few away this year, and I always have a box filling up for donation. The problem is that I try to only buy books I hope to love, so the process doesn’t work as well as I planned.
What are you three favorite book covers?
Argh - This is an impossible question! I really love the basic Penguin original style, but I’m constantly replacing my old copies of things with the fancy new covers they now make. Here are a few I’ve purchased recently:
This copy of Paul Auster’s famous New York Trilogy makes me happy. The best part of this is the back cover though.
I love these Vintage Classics covers. Here’s War and Peace for an example. They have quotes on the back covers and are beautiful.
And I just paid way more for a copy of this one because I loved the cover so much. Gorgeous! Whole cover attached.
You’ve read over 70 books in so far, I mean in 2018 - WOW! What’s your reading goal for 2018?
It started as 30, so I could make sure I met it. I think I changed it too 100, but I’m honestly not trying to meet any goal beyond keeping track. I’d guessed I read somewhere around 200 books a year, but when I looked at my library list from last year (the USA keeps track of what we borrow,) it was closer to 500. As I looked at the list, I’d read a lot of what I borrowed, and I won’t tell you how many I bought.
I don’t speed read or skim. I do take tons of notes in margins or on paper. I just read fast. I’ve had many years of practice. I took a test once that told me I could read War and Peace in 12 hours. That seemed crazy to me. Recently I’ve been borrowing the audio from the library even if I have the physical novel handy. Audio is too slow, even at a high speed (I get pages ahead and tune it out,) but it’s a great way to “read” when I’m driving, cleaning or doing anything that doesn’t require my full attention. Now if only I could figure out a way to read when I’m supposed to be listening to other people!
Which books are you most excited recommending to your followers?
Argh! Everyone should read what they want, when they carve out the time! But I’ve picked up a few books from this series, so I’ll add a warning and give you some titles. WARNING: I liked it, but your mileage may vary!
I adore David Foster Wallace, and while I know Infinite Jest isn’t everyone’s cuppa, I’ll recommend his nonfiction, specifically A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again . The book is worth the cost for the title essay alone. That essay finds David Foster Wallace, a socially-awkward introvert genius and hero of the American Literary Media Hype Machine, stuck on a cruise ship for a glossy American magazine. He also goes to a State Fair in this book (Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All,) sent by Harper’s Magazine, who called it “pure cocaine” - or at least I wrote that in my margin notes. He’s empathetic, kind, aware, wickedly funny, has a great BS detection system, writes detail beautifully and well - he was worth the hype.
Another great nonfiction book, but this one is about books and all of the things books are about. Hornby writes like you’re talking to a good friend, and his nonfiction is better, in my opinion, than his fiction. (Though I’ll never learn. I keep buying his fiction.)
Do you read one or several books at a time?
Several. Usually I have one essay or short story collection on my ereader, which fits nicely in my briefcase or purse, one audiobook on my phone and one physical “big book” in some sort of process which usually takes me a while because I can get a bit obsessive about looking things up and taking notes.
How much time do you spend reading daily?
Embarrassingly, I think I probably read about 8-10 hours a day. This is because I don’t sleep much. My best friend remarked, years ago, that it was unfair for me to have sleep trouble because I spent my sleeping time becoming “well read.” She’s still upset about this and we’re in our fifties now!
A paper book or an e-book?
I prefer physical, and I like to wait for the paperback copy. If I love a book, I buy the paperback copy even if I own the e-book. I’m weird like that.
Three titles for a desert island?
Infinite Jest (purely because I think you could read it 100 times and find new things every time. Also, it’s time-consuming!)
Eloise: The Ultimate Edition (this is cheating because the first four ‘real’ Eloise books are all in it.)
And probably the complete Shakespeare, because if I’m stuck on a desert island, I may as well read all those plays I “should” read.
“I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.”
― J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
If you could meet one literary character, who would it be?
Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh or Bernard Sampson from the ten-book series by Len Deighton. I simply cannot choose between the two.
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Ella wrote: Shelfies following from home as soon as I get there -- or maybe we’ll have to do without, which would be sad because people would be very heartened to see my horrendously disorganized boxes, piles and other mess. (I seriously have books on my kitchen counter.)
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