This is the final installment of get-to-know-me questions before we get to the good stuff—the book reviews!
Who are your favorite authors?
I’ll say what I say when folks ask what musical artists I like: I like the song first and foremost. Likewise, I like the book first and foremost. Still, there are authors that I enjoy so much I’d, as an old professor would say, “read their grocery list.” Some authors whose books I’m likely to snatch up when they come out: Anne Lamott (her nonfiction only), Shauna Niequist, Michael Perry, Kathleen Flinn, Elizabeth Gilbert, Haven Kimmel, Anna Quindlen, and Jane Austen.
Do books ever intimidate you?
I still look at a thick book and think that will take me forever.
Do you read a book as soon as it released?
You know, it didn’t even occur to me until probably last year that people do that. I almost never do that. I might buy a book when it comes out, but unless it’s a release I’ve been really looking forward to, I figure “books keep.” In other words, I only read the New York Times Best Sellers list to get ideas, not to form my reading list for the month.
What book/s have you read the most?
The Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science textbook.
What books have changed your life?
Okay so no one’s ever asked me this, but isn’t it the only question that matters when it comes to reading? Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird changed my life. She made it possible to be a writer. I haven’t reread it for years. Anne Richardson Roiphe’s Fruitful: Living the Contradictions: A Memoir of Modern Motherhood. I’m not sure I’d enjoy it if I reread it. I think my idea of womanhood, motherhood, and feminism has changed a great deal over the years, but I remember it really blowing my head off at the time. The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux confirmed my love of writing poetry and made me believe in my writing at a time when so few people understood why poetry mattered. Peter Walsh’s books, especially It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, really got to the heart of simplifying—my home and my life. There are dozens of books that changed me in large and small ways, though.
What makes a book important?
Very simply—if it touches you, if it changes you, if it challenges you, if it leaves you better than it found you.
Are movies ever as good as the books they come from?
I’ve never understood why academics are always so down on movies made from books. Yes, I want a movie to be faithful to the book, but beyond that, I truly enjoy seeing the book come to life on the screen. Perhaps it has something to do with the different types of imaginations people have. Some can tolerate movies based on books and some can’t.
Why do all the metaphors about reading have to do with food—“devour books”, “ravenous reader”, etc.?
Because reading is something we do to sustain, nourish, and grow. To those who do it regularly, it’s as essential as food.
Can you recommend some titles for me?
That’s really hard to do. I don’t really like people recommending books to me, because reading is so personal, so individual. If I know what you liked to read or what informs your life, I’d be happy to offer suggestions.
Why haven’t you written a book of your own?
Good question. I don’t feel like I have the energy at this point in my life. Also, I feel that my story is still unfolding, and it’s too early to set it to paper.
What book would someone have to read to understand you?
Wow, that’s a good question. Since my religion informs my every thought and action, I’d have to say Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. But to understand my sensibilities, you’d have to read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. To understand my sense of humor, you’d have to read A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel. To understand my writing aspirations, you’d have to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I could go on and on.
Books you’re looking forward to reading?
Shauna Neiquest’s Bread and Wine and Glennon Melton’s Carry On, Warrior, both due out this spring.
I don’t trust people who don’t have books in their home.