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Reader Interview Number Three.

Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, a place of words and of their magic. Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom.  Readers play an important role in the life of books and words, for without readers books would sit unread, unloved and unknown.  What makes a good book, or for that matter a bad one?  Why do people read and how do they find their books?

Welcome to Sara Boyd.

Where are you from? I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and now live in the North East of England.

On average how many books do you read in a month? Anything from 1 to 5, depending on how busy I am with other things.

Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Books take you on incredible journeys without the hassle of lost luggage, personal safety and strange diseases.  For a while, you can be whoever you want, a doctor, a geologist, a teenage wizard, and share their adventure.  It’s wonderful!

What genres do you prefer and why? Every time I go to a book store (virtual or physical) I go straight for Science Fiction.  I guess I was always fascinated by science and what can be achieved with it.  I love reading stories that take place in alien planets and how these work. I also like the technology they describe, for example, what powers spaceships, how they travel through time and space, what weapons they have.  But it’s not the only genre I read.  I like reading almost every fiction genre.  The exceptions are crime novels, some fantasy novels and more intellectual stuff.

Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much?  There are many books I like, but I think my favourite one is Dune, by Frank Herbert.  I love the world he created.  It’s a clever mixture of alien, with its strange planets and characters, and themes that are still very familiar to us such as politics, alliances and mundane life.  I like the prequel written by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert, although I know there’s people that didn’t like that as much.  I also like Margaret Atwood and her dystopian worlds.  And Stephen King.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? For fiction, I prefer e-books.  I have a tablet and I love being able to take my entire library wherever I go.  Now you can also adjust the brightness of the screen and I don’t find that my eyes get tired.  Also, tablets are less messy than books, you just tap and you change the page, it’s brilliant!

However, for certain non-fiction books, for example cookbooks, how-to or photography books I’d rather have a paper one.  I don’t see me getting the tablet to read out a recipe, for example.  It’ll be covered in egg and butter in no time!

I never listened to an audiobook!  I’m tempted to get a Harry Potter audiobook to try. The one narrated by Stephen Fry.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? I have a friend who reads a lot.  If she tells me I will enjoy a book I get it without even reading the blurb and so far, I’ve always enjoyed them.  My mum knows what I like as well (and what I don’t like!).  Other than that I generally browse, say on Amazon, and read blurbs.  If I think I will enjoy it then I get the book, regardless of its rating.  I found authors I really enjoyed on Goodreads as well.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look?  What makes you turn away? Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence the choice? I stay well clear of zombies and vampires.  Vampires, because I’m sick of them.  Dracula told me all I needed to know about them.  Zombies, because I just can’t suspend my disbelief.

I find it annoying when books are wrongly classified, whether on purpose or by mistake.  I picked a sci-fi one not long ago that was supposed to have time travel in it.  It ended up being a WWII submarine strategic battle.  The tiny time travel bit was not even well developed or resolved.

I read fiction to relax and have a good time so I don’t like highly intellectual books or a style so elaborated that you need an encyclopaedia and a dictionary to decipher what’s being said.

On e-books, I find it quite distracting when they are not well formatted.

I tend not to read reviews by others, unless it’s a review by someone I know.  People like books for different reasons and I don’t know who those people leaving reviews are, what they enjoy or what motivates them to read a particular book.

What is the most important aspect in a book for you? Plot? Characterisation? Well written etc? I think a bit of everything.  A very well written book gets boring if it has no plot.  If the book has a good plot and interesting characters, it doesn’t really matter to me that the style is not super original.  Within normal limits, obviously, if it’s terribly written then you get too distracted and you can’t concentrate on either the plot or the characters.

What aspects turn you off from a book? Are there things you avoid?  I’m wary of slow starting plots because I don’t know if the pace will pick later on.  I avoid reading stuff that I know I won’t like.  Sounds kind of obvious, doesn’t it?  Believe me, it’s not.

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? Judging by what I see around me, that is, bookstores closing, they must be.  I think we are at the beginning of a paradigm shift and it will be interesting to witness what will happen from now on, not just with the brick and mortar bookshops, but with the book business in general.