Welcome to the next instalment of the Summer Reading Series. I hope you’re finding some intriguing new reads through this series…or simply being reminded to revisit books you already love! Today we talk to Lizabeth—former bookstore owner—about her reading habits.
KC: What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it?
LIZABETH: I’m reading two books right now. On my Sony eReader, I’m reading By Blood We Live, a collection of vampire stories edited by John Joseph Adams. I’ve just started this one and it looks great. The authors are all well-known horror and science fiction writers.
The other is a physical book, an older one I found in Books-a-Million’s discount book pile. It is called The Sky on Fire by Raymond H. Fredette and explains how the First Battle of Britain in the First World War helped to define their reactions to the Nazi Blitz in the Second World War, both in regards to their air corps as well as the people on the ground. Fascinating read.
KC: They both sound like great reads! You’re having lunch with the author of your choice—living or dead—who is it, and what do you ask them?
LIZABETH: While I have quite a few authors whose works I love, I don’t think many of them would make good lunch companions. I think I would most like to have lunch with Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. His stories would be fascinating. I’d probably ask about his travels.
KC: Exactly who I would pick for that question, too! Ever since reading his Innocents Abroad, I’ve wished for that lunch with Twain. (-: Favourite format to read in? Are you into hardcover, (trade) paperback, e-books on an e-reader, e-books on a phone app or a combination of all/some?
LIZABETH: I currently read 95% on my Sony eReader. I bought their first generation thinking I would use it occasionally, but became hooked. Ease of use, the ability to carry a hundred plus books when I travel, no lost bookmarks, no overly large and/or heavy books, no pages falling out due to poor construction, all was a win for me. I no longer keep every book I read, so I don’t have to try to find a home for books I’ve finished with. I just press my delete button and the book is gone.
KC: I picked up my first generation Kobo with the same thoughts…I would probably use it occasionally. I read mostly e-books now as well. If you have hopped on the e-book wagon—have you noticed any changes in your reading habits since doing so?
LIZABETH: I probably buy less considering the wealth of free books available from the various digital providers. I love older books and so many are available free thanks to Project Gutenberg. I have also slowed down my reading speed, although that might be due more to age.
KC: Your favourite fictional character? What do you like about him/her?
LIZABETH: Doctor John Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. Without Watson, Holmes would be an unbearable character. The Good Doctor humanizes Holmes, acts as a buffer between his friend and the public. The plots aren’t really as important to me as the relationship between these two men.
KC: Do you have a genre of preference? Thoughts on genre?
LIZABETH: I read. It is as necessary to me as breathing. That said, I do tend to read more genre than general fiction. I primarily read mysteries, science fiction, and romances (both m/f and m/m). I am also a huge reader of non-fiction books, from biographies to history to forensic books. I look for strong characterization and these particular genres tend to deliver. I am not particularly a fan of bestsellers or “literary” books as defined by today’s book publishers and reviewers.
KC: Your 3 most favourite books in the world? Why?
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is as perfectly written a book as any I’ve ever read. It can work on so many levels ~ a coming of age story, a look at small town life in the late 50s/early 60s, race relations in the South, how child abuse (sexual and physical) was known but ignored, the way mental issues were addressed in families, and so many more. I tend to reread it every other year or so and take something new away every time.
2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I first read this book when I was in the 7th grade, my personal choice for a school reading assignment. Even though I had read many classics, some difficult in concepts, my teacher was afraid that this one might be too much. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed the book immensely, although it did take me the whole school year to finish. The themes of guilt and the theory that the end justifies the means, the inner dreams of Raskolnikov, the conflict of religion and rationalism, so much was packed into the book that it requires slow and careful reading followed by much thought. I’ve reread it a few times since then, comparing my thoughts and reactions over the years.
3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I read this in school as well, but upon rereading it recently, I find the book even more relevant than when it was first published. The breakdown of civilization, the savagery of the characters, the mob mentality and what happens to the outsiders, the different ones. It is an indictment of our culture more so today. Just look at the bullying of that poor school bus monitor by four boys who were never stopped by anyone else nearby.
KC: Three of my own personal favourites. Loved your insightful thoughts on each, too! Do you have a goal for the amount of books you want to read this year? If so, are you on track to reach that goal?
LIZABETH: Just a general goal, to read more than the previous year. Because the type of books I read vary in size and difficulty, some can simply take longer to read than others, so I’ve quit setting numerical goals for myself.
KC: Any big surprise endings in your recent memory that really blew you away? If so, give us the name(s) of the book(s) and, without giving away any spoilers, tell us about the shock you experienced.
LIZABETH: Nothing really. In mysteries, I tend to figure out the villain long before I get to the end.
KC: Do you find yourself waiting for release days? Or pre-ordering books? Or are you just not into the publishing world’s release calendar? You’ll get to a book when you get to it.
LIZABETH: There are just a few authors who I simply must read when their newest book comes out, so I do wait eagerly for their release days. Unfortunately, there is no pre-ordering available for digital books, so that isn’t an option. For the rest of my “To Be Bought” collection, I don’t buy until the price is super low or when I’m ready to read that book.
KC: Have any favourite quotes from a novel?
LIZABETH: “I think I’ll be a clown when I get grown,” said Dill. “Yes, sir, a clown…There ain’t one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I’m gonna join the circus and laugh my head off.” To Kill a Mockingbird
I find this statement, and the accompanying scene, to be incredibly sad and tragic when you realize that Dill is actually Truman Capote.
KC: Love it! Just another reminder of how lovely that book is. So many nuggets like that one. Do you have a favourite novel scene? If so, tell us where we can find it and briefly describe it.
LIZABETH: That moment when Scout reveals who saved her and Jem when set upon by Bob Ewell. Despite Boo’s reputation with the people in town, Scout has absolutely no fear of him, recognizing him for the good man he was inside.
KC: Any favourite book covers you’d like to share?
LIZABETH: I’m certain I’ve had some over the many years I’ve read, but none jump to mind.
KC: There’s someone in the bookstore clearly struggling to find something to read. What section would you drag them to and what are some of the books you would point out and insist that they simply MUST read?
LIZABETH: As a former bookstore owner and book devotee, I would first ask what books and/or authors they liked as well as their interests. I would never want to turn someone off by just randomly pushing a book onto them willy-nilly. Reader and book must be perfectly matched to start them on their reading adventure. It is what I have done for years with friends whose children weren’t readers.
KC: We won’t find a more perfect answer to that question than that one. Spoken like a true book matchmaker! What little-known diamond would you recommend to my readers? A novel that didn’t get a lot of buzz…but one you were truly amazed by? Here’s your chance to give it a bump.
LIZABETH: Making the Corps by Thomas E. Ricks. Written after the first Gulf War, but before 9/11, this is a fascinating look into the men who voluntarily try to join the United States Marine Corps as well as the men who help turn them into Marines. There is an unprecedented level of honesty from all ranks, addressing the good, the bad, and the need to change.
KC: Thank you! What will you be reading over the summer? Any definite reading plans yet?
LIZABETH: I’m always reading. I never go anywhere without a book or, now, my eReader. I currently have over 300 ebooks and 50 physical books, so whatever strikes my fancy at the time will be read.
KC: Library or bookstore? Which do you love hanging out in more?
LIZABETH: Libraries are not the havens of readers that it used to be. Cut hours, overworking of librarians, focusing on community needs (job search, resume building, homework help, use of computers, etc.). I am more likely to hang out at a bookstore. I do miss Borders and Waldenbooks. They seemed to attract more readers wanting to share their love of books, both customers and staff. I also love the Vero Beach Book Center just 30 minutes north of me. It is a local store that is a great place to discover new authors and books, find local Florida centric books, and attend author events.
KC: I like that you answered that question from a social standpoint, and not from the perspective of an individual simply surrounded by books. It is great to socialize when the commonality between you is books. There’s always something to share!
On that note, are there any social media or websites/blogs you would like to share with us, to help my readers find you online?
LIZABETH: My LiveJournal account is called Genreflections and is where I post my book reviews as well as some real life commentary. I’m on Twitter as @LizabethSTucker but be aware that some of my interests may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
I’m a fanfiction writer as well as reader, so if you’re interested in stories based on various television series, you can find my writings at LIZABETHSTUCKER
KC: Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate you joining us! Some truly wonderful answers. Thank you for your insights.
LIZABETH: Thank you, it was my pleasure. I am always willing to discuss books or reading.