How many times have you participated in CBR?
I’ve actually taken part since the start of November 2009, right when Cannonball Read II started. Back then the goal was to read 100 books, and checking back through my blog, I reached that goal by the end of October. I think I may be one of the participants who have kept going the longest, but it wasn’t until Cannonball Read III that I actually started reviewing absolutely every book I read. By then I’d realised that if I wanted a chance to make it quickly to 52, I was going to need to blog everything. I’m pretty sure I was the first Cannonballer to regularly review romance, and both my first and second Cannonball that year were with romances. The fact that romance is now one of the two most reviewed genres every month fills me with pride and joy.
Has being a participant changed the way you read? If so, how?
I think a lot more about what I’m going to read these days. Thanks to CBR and an assortment of reading challenges the last few years, my reading is a lot more diverse than it used to be. I try to challenge myself every so often, trying new authors and genres, and it’s paid off more often than not. I’ve discovered so many new authors (and made lots of new friends online) since I started doing this. According to my husband, in some respects, it’s changed the way I read in negative ways. Unless it’s a book I’m desperate to read, I don’t tend to read big, long books in the first half of the year (until I’ve reached my first Cannonball at least, sometimes not until I’ve reached my double).
Some of the years, when I was crazy competitive and wanted to reach 52 or 104 first, I was extremely selective with what I read and reviewed, so I could hit my target fast. For the last couple of years, my goal has been to be in the top 5, but not to “win”, so to speak and I’ve been able to take it a bit more easy with my reading. For the past two years, my work load during term time has gotten bigger and it feels like I’m constantly fighting against the review backlog. Because of this, I don’t read as many comics and graphic novels, as they are such quick reads, and instantly add to the list of things I have yet to review. I also don’t re-read as much, unless my backlog is absolutely monstrous and I want to avoid it growing even more. In those cases, I re-read exclusively things I’ve already blogged.
What is the first book you recommend to new friends?
Well, that would very much depend on the friend, wouldn’t it? The books I’ve given away as presents the most in the last few years are probably Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. The really ironic thing is that by the time I finally discovered the genius that is the Bloggess, the book had been reviewed 11 times on CBR and I’d ignored every single review, because I saw the taxidermied mouse on the cover and assumed it was just not for me. When I finally did pick the book up, it was a revelation.
If it’s someone asking me for romance recommendations, which happens quite a lot, I will probably start them on something by Julia Quinn, Loretta Chase or Courtney Milan. Although starting someone on Courtney Milan is actually a bit unfair, as she is generally the best in the business, especially when it comes to historical romance, so once you’ve read her stuff, everything else is a step down in quality.
If they like epic fantasy, I often recommend The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch or Mistborn: the Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I used to recommend Patrick Rothfuss, but until that third book is out, I’m not sure he deserves to get more readers. ;) If they like paranormal/urban fantasy, I will force Ilona Andrews on them, or the Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books, or Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books. If they seem interested in comics, Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.
I will also push Rainbow Rowell’s books on anyone who will listen.
Name an author you would buy anything they write: no reading the blurb, no recommendation, hardback prices…you have to have it as it hits the shelves.
Based on my answers so far, it should come as no surprise that this applies to ANYTHING written by Rainbow Rowell, Ilona Andrews and Courtney Milan. If they decide to publish their shopping lists, at a starting price of $23.99, I’d still pre-order and wait impatiently for the book to arrive on my e-reader.
What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
I really love the CBR book swap, and have taken part every year it’s been going. I generally love giving people books as presents, be it Christmas, birthdays or other special occasions.
Another holiday tradition my family has involves an odd little animated film, about half an hour long. It’s from 1975, and the Swedish name is Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonsson’s Julafton (which translates literally as “The Story of Karl-Bertil Jonsson’s Christmas Eve” – Wikipedia tells me that the English translation is Christopher’s Christmas Mission, which just sounds wrong to me. (Bad job there, translators). It’s about a teenager who takes a job working for the post office in the days up to Christmas, where he steals gifts going to the very rich and then redistributes them to the very poor. His father is absolutely appalled (as he puts it, “I have nurtured a Communist at my bosom!”), but as they travel around to the rich people who lost out on their presents, he is universally thanked and hailed for his initiative and generosity. We’ve watched it every year on Christmas Eve since I was little, and I’m pretty sure my family can recite almost all the words. My husband assures me that the words “I’m pretty sure…” in that sentence are unnecessary.