My dear friend Ayelet, who also happens to be a Very Important Person in publishing, knew I’d been struggling with what to do for the FAQ section of my website, and e-mailed me today to suggest that I
klepto borrow the standard interview from The New York Times “By the Book” section. Since I happen to have already done my FAQ section this morning, and since I suspect these answers will change with too much frequency for me to keep up, I’ve decided to do it as a blog post instead. So, enjoy learning more about me than you’ve ever wanted to know!
What book is on your night stand now?
STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett. Finally. She is hands down one of my favorite writers, and I’d heard such fantastic things about this one. I’m only about three chapters in but it’s already so heartbreakingly gorgeous, I’m in love.
When and where do you like to read?
I commute over an hour to work on the subway, so that’s become prime reading time. I don’t function as well at 7:30 a.m. as I’d like, so my morning ride is usually a wash, but I really value my ride home as prized reading time. That’s my Kindle reading time, which means 99% of the time I’m reading a talented friend’s manuscript.
Then, I also read before bed, and that’s usually paperback time, unless I positively couldn’t wait until the next day to finish the manuscript, in which case it’s back to the Kindle. That’s happened twice, with my friend Gina’s fantastic contemporary YA romance, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE, and my friend Marieke’s mind-blowingly good YA fantasy, PALADIN.
What was the last truly great book you read?
I can tell STATE OF WONDER will be my answer as soon as I’m done with it, but prior to that, probably THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green.
Are you a fiction or a nonfiction person? What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
Fiction all the way. I almost never read non-fiction, unless it’s a book by a favored comedienne (BOSSYPANTS, IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITH ME?) or a bio of an eighties hair band (DIRT). I love contemporary, preferably YA, but plenty of contemporary adult is on my favorites list. I don’t really like to think of books as being guilty pleasures, no matter the genre. I don’t feel guilty about reading any of it. But I guess I do have a harder time copping to the fact that I’ve read all the GOSSIP GIRL books than anything else.
What book had the greatest impact on you? What book made you want to write?
I honestly don’t know what book had the greatest impact on me. The first one to really embed itself in my brain and lose me in a totally foreign world was probably A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, but if I’m being honest about what made me want to write, it was series like SWEET VALLEY HIGH and THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB all the way.
What is your ideal reading experience? Your reading habits? Paper or electronic? Do you take notes?
I appreciate the incredible convenience of a Kindle, especially for ms-reading purposes, but I hate the actual reading experience of it. I love being able to flip around with ease, turn to the back cover, etc. I also strongly dislike reading hardcovers, and no matter how badly I want a book, I will almost never buy it until it’s released in paperback. Paperback all the way. And no, I don’t take notes unless I’m actually supposed to be critiquing whatever it is I’m reading.
Do you prefer a book that makes you laugh or makes you cry? One that teaches you something or one that distracts you?
Laughter over tears for sure, but some of my favorite books (THE BOOK THIEF, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS) have made me bawl like a baby. The most perfect crying experience I’ve ever had with a book was with Nicola Krauss’s A HISTORY OF LOVE: just one perfect tear at the very, very end. I love it for that reason. But yeah, I’m not looking for books that’ll make me sob. Knowing one will makes it hard for me to pick it up. It’s probably the number one reason I can patiently await the paperback release of CODE NAME VERITY.
I love being taught about new cultures and settings, but on the whole, I definitely prefer a distraction. As with books that make me cry, I prefer to keep them few and far between and just really appreciate them when I’m in the right state of mind for them. I love the lighter stuff. My friend Gina made me and a few friends T-shirts that say “Respect the Fluff” and that’s something I get behind a million percent.
What were your favorite books as a child?
I loved the series I mentioned above, the Encyclopedia Brown books, and pretty much everything by Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Jerry Spinelli, and Gordon Korman I could get my hands on.
Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
The last book I was really disappointed not to like was IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma. It was definitely my fault in large part, because I didn’t realize it was actually paranormal, so I kept waiting for things to make sense in a contemporary world that were obviously never going to. But I really just didn’t connect with any of the characters or relationships, and although she’s a beautiful writer, I couldn’t get past that. I did finish it, hoping something would eventually happen that would bring it all together for me, but unfortunately it never happened.
What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?
I hate to admit that it was Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS, but if I’m going by what made me laugh the hardest, I’m pretty sure that was it. Discovering Dave Barry as a kid was a revelation though, and I wish I’d actually picked up his books as an adult because I’m sure he could take this category with ease. And an honorable mention has to go to CATCH-22.
What’s your favorite graphic novel?
Unfortunately, it’s not tough competition, because I’ve only ever read one, but I did really enjoy it: PERSEPOLIS I & II by Marjane Satrapi.
If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know? Have you ever written to an author?
I honestly don’t want to meet any writers; the idea terrifies me. I know I’d have nothing but stupid questions and gushing sentiments. I barely know what to do with myself when they respond to me on Twitter. (Which Courtney Summers, Diana Peterfreund, and Stephanie Kuehnert, all YA writers I think are fantastic, do repeatedly, which makes me love them all the more.)
Which comics do you read regularly?
Sadly, none. I’m just not a comic girl, outside of Archie, and I haven’t read one of those in years.
What do you plan to read next?
From my bookshelf? CALEB’S CROSSING by Geraldine Brooks. On my Kindle? SOLVING FOR EX by Leigh Ann Kopans, which is a retelling of Jane Austen’s MANSFIELD PARK, which I’ve never read. Very much looking forward to both!