Welcome to Buffy.
Where are you from? I’m from the U.S. but am currently living in London, UK.
On average how many books do you read in a month? I probably read about 6 or 7 books per month. My commute to work is approximately 30 minutes each way, so I get a lot of reading done on the train.
Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? I’ve always been pretty introverted and when I was a little girl I would sometimes find a quiet place away from the playground and read a book rather than playing with the other kids. I definitely preferred reading books to interacting with people. People in books were so much more interesting. Now that I’m older, I’ve honed my personal skills and am much more social, but I still love escapism and being drawn into a story.
What genres do you prefer and why? I tend to be drawn mostly to science fiction and fantasy, but am willing to read almost anything if it has an interesting premise. I’m going through something of a dystopian phase at the moment. I love it when an author creates an entire world, whether it’s on a different planet, a non-existent place or a different version of our world. I also enjoy reading historical fiction and non-fiction.
Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? I don’t really do favourites because there is so much out there that is amazing and it would be really difficult to choose. There are certain books/authors that I’ll read over and over such as the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel. She is a fantastic author and the amount of detail she adds to her novels makes them feel so real. She has obviously done her research and has made interesting and engaging characters. I also love Gail Carriger who wrote the Parasol Protectorate series. Her writing is so full of whimsy. Anything that can make me smile as I do when I read her books can only be a good thing.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I’m not a fan of audiobooks because I tend to tune out and start daydreaming if I hear a voice droning on for too long. I just can’t do it. I tend to read more paper books than anything, but that’s because I’m a hardcore library patron. I don’t mind e-books and read them from time to time, but I just can’t afford to buy the amount of books that I read. It’s a strange thing about me but I don’t actually like to buy books unless I’ve read and liked them first. There are so many books that I want to read that I don’t want to waste money buying ones that could potentially be duds or that I won’t re-read.
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 love my various libraries. I’m lucky to live in a city where I have access to several. Two are within walking distance of my flat and one is within walking distance of work. I’m also on Goodreads. Goodreads has allowed me to have a To Be Read list which I take to my various libraries. I also love browsing the quick pick shelves and find a lot of stuff that way. I’m wary of recommendations from friends as I don’t seem to have many who have the same taste in books as me.
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? The cover! It’s shocking, I know. But I definitely judge books by the covers. This is very much a problem when reading old sci-fi and fantasy books as sometimes the covers are pretty cheesy. I remember being acutely embarrassed to be seen reading one of the Drizzt books by RA Salvatore because the cover was beyond belief. Obviously, the cover isn’t indicative of the whether or not the writing is good but it will help draw me to a book to read the back cover. I view books as mystical tomes which hold the secrets to other worlds. I kind of want them to look like it.
The title is important too. I want to read A Thousand Splendid Suns just because of the title. I haven’t even looked to see what it’s about yet, but the title would entice me to pick it up and see what it’s about.
I’m not really crazy about reviews because we all have different tastes. When I write about books that I’ve read, I write what my thoughts are rather than a proper review. It’s standard review practice to write a blurb about a book before reviewing it and I don’t like having to sift through a blurb that I can read on the back cover. I want to know what someone thought about the book and then make my own choice as to whether or not I’ll pick it up. I also try to stay clear of recommending books to people. I don’t want the responsibility if they don’t like it.
What is the most important aspect in a book for you? Plot? Characterisation? Well written etc? For me, the most important aspects of a book would be whether or not it’s well written and has believable characters. Plot is important too, but if I don’t find the characters believable or if they’re flat and uninspiring, I’ll put it down. Spelling, grammar and sentence structure are important because I don’t like knowing that the author exists (until I’ve finished the book and am ready to go into fan-girl mode.) The minute that something jars me out of the story and I’m made aware that the tale wasn’t woven from magic which was sent down from the gods, I’m ready to put it down.
What aspects turn you off from a book? Are there things you avoid? Misogyny, racism and any type of discriminatory bias. It’s one thing if the characters are like that and it’s part of the story. The thing I dislike is when the authorial voice is tinged with these things. For example, I’ve recently read several books in which women are portrayed either as objects of great beauty or as dried up old shrews. They serve no purpose in these books other than to be desired, possessed, ignored or for breeding. I find that infuriating. I don’t think that every book has to be a great piece of feminist literature, but I feel that we’re not always represented in the best way and there’s no value added to the story for having it that way. Strangely, I usually end up finishing these stories even though they wind me up. It gives me some good stuff to write about on my blog. I feel that these things shouldn’t be allowed to exist in the 21st century.
Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? I hope not! I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a day than to walk around a bookshop. I also believe that paper books can live peacefully alongside e-books. I don’t think that we should have to choose which stays and which goes.