I was asked by some readers to do 20 questions like the author and publisher profiles interviews I have been doing the last few years. I approached a few authors about coming up with some questions for me. Cynthina Leitich Smith agreed and here is what she came up with. You can also see her version here.
1. Are you a bookstore or library reader or both?
Both, but to be honest about 80% of what I read is ARC's or review copies. But I love browsing both bookstores and libraries.
2. Do you keep a record of your reading? If so, how?
Yes. I am on my 34th volume of reading journals since August of 94 when I started keeping track of reading and have an itemized list dating to October 1995. I also keep a list of favorite books each year and favorite authors each year. Now I only count books I read for myself, I do not list books I read to my children or other children.
3. How do books for children and teens fit into the mix?
I tend to go through phases in my reading; currently I would say about 75% of what I read is YA or children's literature. I have had a great fondness for children's lit since doing a university course in it about 10 years ago. Because of my dyslexia and not learning to read until later in life, I never read children's books while a child and now have a deep appreciation and love for them.
4. How do you spread the word about great reads?
If it makes my top ten of the year I tend to buy a bunch of copies and give it away for Christmas and birthdays. I now try to post a review of every book I read on my blog, Book Reviews and More. Once posted on my blog I cross-post to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca and chapters.indigo.ca. After that I Tweet about it, post to Google+ and Facebook.
5. How do you store your books? Do you keep all of them? Donate?
With reading over 100 books a year I now keep very few and if I buy an electronic copy usually do not keep the physical book any more at all. Most of my ARC's and review copies end up with Family and Children's Services. My dad and stepmom are foster parents and I pass along a lot that my stepmom reads with them. I also donate them to the FACS Library or Foster Parent Association garage sale. I tend to only keep about one out of every hundred books I read, and usually only if I plan on rereading the book again and again.
6. Was there a book that changed your life?
The fiction book that had the biggest impact on my life was probably Jacob the Baker by Noah benShea. I have read the first book 13 times and the trilogy 10 times. They are books I reread every year and each time they challenge me to be a better person. The books in the series are: Jacob the Baker, Jacob's Journey and Jacob's Ladder.
7. What advice do you have for the teachers and parents in their lives?
Lead by example. Be a reader. Also do not give up on anyone. I had teacher after teacher just pass me on in English. Anyone can become a reader if they are really taught to read, and appreciate the wonder of literature.
8. What advice do you have for young readers with dyslexia?
Be persistent, get the help you need. There are worlds in books, and friends awaiting you. If one technique does not work for you keep trying until you find the one that does.
9. What challenges did you face?
I came out of grade 7 reading at a grade 3 level. And yet I passed the school year and was soon to be in High School. My parents sent me to a private summer school and in 2 months I went from reading about 30 words per minute to over 400 with comprehension and from reading well below my grade level to reading at a university level. Once I learned how to read and discovered the joy in reading, it was like finding worlds I never knew existed and I became very addicted to reading.
10. What do you do when you're not reading?
Write reviews, workout, hang out with my wife and kids, plan my next books to read. I usually have different books on the go on my Kobo, iPad, iPhone and physical books. Currently I have about 30 books in process.
11. What does reading mean to you know?
To be honest, books are life! Books show us other ways of being, they can help us learn to be better at being. To help us become what we were meant to be. I love this quote from Saint Erasmus "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left over I buy food and clothes!" That is the passion I have for books.
12. What is their special appeal?
Books can take us to places we have never been. They can take us to places we never dreamed of. They are friends we can visit with again and again. They can be an escape or distraction or they can focus us to a greater purpose. If I were to have a single biggest addiction in life I would say it is reading.
13. What were you like as a young reader?
To be honest I could not read and did everything I could to avoid it. In school I rented the movies and did my reports based on the movies until after grade 7. I felt stupid because others in school could read and I could not. I hated having to go out to special instruction for English class time.
14. Why did you decide to become a champion of literature?
Books have the power to change our lives. Good books will challenge us to be, great books will challenge how we look at and see the world. When I think a book is great I do everything I can to promote it.
15. Why is this important to you?
To be honest I have read some bad books and even a few that were awful. When I encounter something that I believe is special, wonderful or amazing, I do all I can to promote it. Back when I was a book seller I hand sold books by Paolo Coelho, Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, Robin Sharma and Dan Millman every day. At the time they were among my favorite authors and I could sell almost anyone on trying one of their books. I think as readers we have a responsibility to the authors and the characters in the stories that touch us to share them with others. If, as I see it, books and characters can be friends in our lives, who doesn't like their friends to meet each other?
16. Who were some of your favorite authors or books in your youth?
I tend to read authors not books. I find an author I like and read everything they wrote. When I was younger it was Harry Harrison, Piers Anthony (all the non- Xanth books), Robert A. Heinlien, Steven Brust. Back then I read mostly science fiction.
17. Who are some of your favorite authors or books now?
For the last few years I have been mostly on a Young Adult Kick. I find the writing so much better, the stories tighter and the characters amazing. My current favorite authors would be: Cecil Castellucci, Noah benShea, Cynthina Leitich Smith, Libba Bray, Alexander Gordon Smith, Kathryn Lasky, Arthur Slade, Kenneth Oppel, Holly Black, Pat Schmatz and more.
18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?
Bible - either New Jerusalem or Today's New International Version Jacob the Baker - Noah benShea Ishmael - Daniel Quinn Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman God is Not Reasonable - Irma Zaleski God Rides a Yamaha - Kathy Shaidle Bench Press - Sven Lindqvist The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari - Robin Sharma Geektastic - Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci Something by Arthur Slade Something by Kenneth Oppel Somthing by Cecil Castellucci
Vlad Taltos Series - Steven Brust
19. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family. She said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated: "Meg just finished her PhD." Are any of the characters you read real to you in that way?
Yes. I often wonder what they are up to. Sometimes I think of them years later and end up going back to reread the books and revisit them.
20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?
Read, write, hope and try. Keep at it.
Other Articles Examining Who I Am:
Mad Celtic Warrior, Poet and Priest! - An Essay - 2003
The Journey of a Quester! - An Essay / Spiritual Biography 2004
New Year's 2006
Who Am I? Who Am I? -2008
Confessions of a Bibliophile #5 - How I Became a Bibliophile, From Dyslexic to Addict - 2009
New Year's Goals 2010
Steven R. McEvoy Interview - 2012
2014 My Goals
Who I Am - 2014