To kick off Cannonball Read 9, our newsletter maven, Bothari43, interviewed me as the first Q&A of the year.
How did you become Coordinator of Cannonball Read? Did you start out as a participant?
Cannonball Read 2 was my first time as a participant – here’s my first review! At the end of CBR3, Tamatha asked me to take over running CBR4. That Read and CBR5 were standalone blogs over at wordpress.com, and our reviews would go up daily over at Pajiba. For CBR6 though, Pajiba just couldn’t devote columns to us any longer, so they offered us the daily Pajiba Love items, and I bought the domain name cannonballread.com. Three years later and voilà!
I’ve always loved talking books though, and right around the time Pajiba got up and running, I was discussing books online too but with a MUCH smaller audience. A dear friend for over 20 years who I’m happy to say is returning for CBR9, KimMiE”, and I read A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords together remotely. From our computers in New Jersey, Indiana and California in various years, KimMiE” and I would set a chapter limit, and read ahead, and then discuss by email or IRC. I’m pretty sure that we read ASOS right when it came out in 2000. The other day after remembering her thoughts about the epilogue in A Storm of Swords back then, she said, “Not only did our discussions help me appreciate the books more and pick up on nuances I might have missed or quickly forgotten, but it was a great way to stay connected to a long-distance friend.”
Do you have a day job and/or life outside of CBR, or are you reading reviews 24/7?
Lately it feels like I’ve been doing CBR 24/7 (25/7?), but that’s because I was off on winter break from my day job as a university web designer so I could devote a lot of time to CBR9. I also volunteer as secretary and webmaster of my one daughter’s travel soccer club. The other one is getting ready to go to college next year, which just cannot be happening. I’m also married to a super cool guy who’s into comics and music, and who makes me laugh a lot. We watch a bunch of shows together as a family which is a lot of fun.
How many books a year do you read? Do you miss reviewing?
This will probably agitate the heck out of all of you, but I don’t really keep track of what I read. I read really fast, and I read a LOT. I will tell you though that since my trip to the library one week ago, I read Louise Penny’s latest Inspector Gamache book (this is a series that I did review), Preston & Child’s latest Agent Pendergast novel (another excellent series), and I’m in the middle of The Regional Office is Under Attack. I will probably finish that today. So I would probably be between a double and a triple if I reviewed everything. As for missing reviewing, I’m constantly pushing books on people in comments and *gasp* in person, so I feel like l can still get my recommendations out. TL;DR No.
We seem to get more people signing up every year. What do you think draws people in?
The fact that we donate all of our ad revenue after website costs to the American Cancer Society is a big draw, initially. Unfortunately, we’ve all been touched by that foul disease in one way or another, and everyone wants to fight back. What really keeps people around is our wonderful community. People who love the same books, or hate the same books, or just find each other funny have connected through our comments in some really cool ways, and even in person! Cannonballers do get around.
What’s the first book you recommend to new friends?
Shall I make thee a list? Those of you who know me would probably suspect it’s Outlander, which is at the top of my recommendation list, but usually I ask if people have read The Book Thief. It’s such a unique, heartbreaking, and lovely book. The two series I mentioned above that I’d read books in this week are also at the top of my list (Pendergast and Gamache).
I was also recently talking to lgesin (also back for CBR9, she moderated our book club discussion of Shift by Hugh Howey on Pajiba back in 2013) that one series that she and I adore that we don’t see enough love for is Kage Baker’s series about The Company. Begin with In the Garden of Iden. I’ll let Amazon describe:
In the 24th century, the Company preserves works of art and extinct forms of life (for profit of course). It recruits orphans from the past, renders them all but immortal, and trains them to serve the Company, Dr. Zeus. One of these is Mendoza the botanist. She is sent to Elizabethan England to collect samples from the garden of Sir Walter Iden.
But while there, she meets Nicholas Harpole, with whom she falls in love. And that love sounds great bells of change that will echo down the centuries, and through the succeeding novels of The Company.
Mendoza the botanist is an excellent, well-drawn character. Highly recommend!
Other favorites include:
- Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
- Rose in a Storm by Jon Katz – see my CBR 3 review
- Big Machine by Victor LaValle – see my CBR 3 review
- The Neverending Story by Michael Ende – and you must read it in a version that was printed with two ink colors (NOT ITALICS!!)
- Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
- Nathan’s Run by John Gilstrap
- The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva – first in the Gabriel Allon series
Library, ereader, or bookstore?
99 44/100% Library. My mother is a retired librarian, so I was brought up to get my books there. She is also a voracious reader, and we love to recommend books to each other (except for sci-fi, Mom won’t read that.) She also doesn’t reread, which I love to do. (It’s like getting together with an old friend!) We do, however, agree that life’s too short to read bad books, so we will both toss a book if we don’t like it.
As for format, I do occasionally read books on my iPad or even on my phone in an emergency, but really I prefer to read hardcover books. I do, however, love BIG books, so it can be a bit much to lug them around. But I must tell you about one of my favorite reading accessories: a book rack. My mother bought one at least 40 years ago that I would swear was called an Easy Reader or something…
Not That Easy Reader, that’s Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company
Later – YES it IS called that. You can still get an Easi-reader on Amazon (and fight cancer too!)
[Edit for kfishgirl – another favorite book tool is my weighted bookmark, shown in my instagram post on which BRANDON SANDERSON COMMENTED!!]
What’s your favorite book genre? What’s your favorite food genre?
As for genre, I read a lot of different things, but I probably read mystery novels most frequently, and I really enjoy several series which I love to recommend. Start with these first books, of COURSE:
- Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland – the first in the Sano Ichiro books set in Seventeenth-century Tokyo
- Two series by Anne Perry
- Crocodile on the the Sandbank – Amelia Peabody takes on Egypt, Victorian England, and the world (I guess I had a penchant for that era!)
- The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith – introducing Mma (aka Precious) Ramotswe, Botswana’s one and only lady private detective
- A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley, No. 1) by Elizabeth George
- “A” is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, No. 1) by Sue Grafton
- One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) by Janet Evanovich – come on, I’m from New Jersey!
Now look at all those books I just pushed on you! Mission accomplished.