Interview: Books, Books, & More Books with Ruth

     Today I have a lovely interview with subscriber Ruth O. I asked her a few fun questions about books and was so pleased to see my recommendation of The Book Thief on her list of books.

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1. What are three books you are currently reading or have read recently and what did you think of each?

     The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

     I actually listened to the audio recording of this book, and it was an incredible
experience. It was a little jarring to learn I was being addressed by the one who carries the soul away at the time of death. That was only the first indication that the book was going to be a different approach to the common book theme of “girls during World War II.”

     I loved the chapter titles as lists of apparently unrelated items and events. That was incredible. My house is organized exactly like that, in fact. Only I know how the items are related. (Or maybe the items form connections on their own as they spend countless hours together in those drawers.)

     But isn’t life really truly like that?

     Our days go by, and somehow the random thoughts and events turn into connected ideas and patterns that become part of a larger part of our life. Only later we look back and see how the pieces fit together.

     I also loved how Liesel saves books, and the books in turn “save” her. And I put myself in her shoes and tried to imagine what it would be like to treasure one book so much that I did not even mind that it was a manual on how to dig graves. Most books I have read about young girls during the war were focused on the Jewish perspective, and it was interesting to think about this war from the perspective of a German family kind of caught in the middle, not really supportive of Hitler but going through the motions, and at the same time trying to help the Jews. This book conjured feelings too sad to think about again, feelings too joyful to not think about again, and feelings too hopeful to not share with others.

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein

     Being a former elementary school teacher, I can’t help but check out fun new books for younger readers. I love books with puzzles and books about books, so this book was a very enjoyable, fresh read for me. A rich and zany library owner is offering college scholarships to students who can win the most prizes in his Library Olympics.

     There are holographic librarians, library cart races, puzzles to solve (in the text, both shown and hidden.) And there are about a hundred other great books alluded to. How could I not read a book with the word “Lemoncello” in the title?

Dickens’ Fur Coat and Charlotte’s Unanswered Letters: The Rows and Romances or England’s
Great Victorian Novelists by Daniel Pool

     Here is a book I have just started, and I am already enjoying it. So far, it’s outlined the general history of novels in Victorian times, beginning with the Pickwick Papers.  Even my little girls were fascinated by some of the more well-known facts regarding the lack of literacy, and the shortage and prohibitive cost of printed books in those days.  I know our house is glutted with print. It’s hard to fathom paying a month’s salary just for a book. This book has the stories behind the stories, and I know I’ll have a fuller appreciation of some of my favorite books when I’m done reading this.

2. Who is your favorite author?

     I love Alexander McCall Smith for his way with words and his dry wit, especially in the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I enjoy the way the characters infuse their philosophies into their decisions. Alexander McCall Smith allows the reader to sympathize with a somewhat misguided
philosophy by showing how the philosophy is formed from the very start, then somehow gets very slightly off track, then continues ever-so-slightly off track, until the final point of the philosophy ends up extremely far from the starting point, in such a comically absurd way.

     I also enjoy Jane Austen for the same reason. She does the same thing, but of course, in a much more linguistically complex way, with more sofas, hair, and dancing.

3. What is your favorite genre?

     I’m not sure I can limit myself to one genre. I can say that I do not typically enjoy science fiction, murder, or horror mysteries. I probably read historical fiction more than other genres, but have recently been finding myself branching out to a more eclectic selection.

4. What is a book that surprised you?

     A recent book that surprised me was The Promise by Beth Wiseman. The main character Mallory acts out of love and selflessness with genuine trust, to help a critically ill girl she’s heard of online. This tale of intrigue kept me guessing. The most memorable thing about it was that the author keeps the reader so involved in the heart of the main character that you see the surprise and feel the betrayal in the same moment Mallory does.

5. What do you plan to read next?

     Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

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     Thank you, Ruth! If any of you who are subscribers are interested in me interviewing you, hit reply to this post in your email.

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