September 14-18 is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, a week that celebrates the work of book bloggers through a wide variety of community activities.
One fun thing participants do is interview a fellow Book Blogger. My interview partner this year is Laura de Leon of the fiction-focused book blog I’m Booking It. If you’re a fiction fan, Laura’s blog is a great place to find a concise, honest review of the latest and most popular titles.
Please show some love and visit Laura’s blog and leave a comment or question either here or at her site.
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Laura, it’s a pleasure to do this interview with you. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a stay at home mom of an 11 year old girl. I used to work in high tech, and am currently contemplating who I want to be when I grow up. I’ve been exploring the world by taking classes, talking to people, and checking out technologies like Twitter.
My blog is simply my reflections on what I read, hopefully in a way that makes it useful to others for deciding if they are interested in the book. I include other thoughts on book related subjects, particularly my book clubs; and some general book related chatter.
How long have you been running I’m Booking It, and what prompted you to create it?
I started I’m Booking It in April of this year. I was talking with a friend in the same life situation I’m in, and we thought that creating blogs would be an interesting way to continue our explorations. Since I run two book clubs and love to read, a book blog was a logical next step for me. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but just dove in!
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of keeping your blog?
The biggest challenge has been the actual writing. I’m a smart person and a good thinker, but writing isn’t a particular strength of mine. I think of myself as competent but not exceptional, and sometimes I have a difficult time capturing my thoughts as well as I’d like.
The biggest reward so far has been the community, and the people I’ve met through my blog. I also feel a great sense of accomplishment, since the blog is something I can look at and think “I made that”. This is a feeling that I don’t get very often as a stay at home mom. I think that is what I like most about getting books to review—thinking that someone actually might consider my voice one that other people listen to.
What are your favorite genres of fiction? Are there any you especially dislike? Do you read much nonfiction?
I like to read a wide variety of books, but in practice it is almost all fiction. I like mysteries, speculative fiction, chick lit, some literary fiction, a lot of “book club books”, some romance, some YA, even some kids books. I don’t read westerns, but I’ll give most other fiction a glance at the cover or the blurb to see if it appeals.
For non-fiction, pretty much all I read at this point are memoirs and “popular” non-fiction. I enjoyed Welcome to Biotech Nation, but that hasn’t lead me to check out more books on Biotechnology.
What are the elements, in your view, that make a great story? Which ones do you especially look for when reviewing a book?
I like character-based books, where you get to know someone, and hopefully see them grow. An interesting plot is a good bonus. In general, I like the writing itself to stay out of my way—If it is so bad that it catches my attention, this is a major turnoff, but I also don’t like beautiful writing that slows me down and makes me pay attention.
When reviewing a book, I try to give all of the areas a fair commentary, but character is almost always emphasized.
Have any of the fiction books you’ve read made an impact in your own life—maybe inspired you to do something you wouldn’t have otherwise?
I’m looking for books that speak to who I am now, or who I might be in the future, but so far I’m not finding myself in them. There are lots of books, I’ll just keep looking.
Have you thought about writing a novel yourself?
In a very wistful sort of way! I wish I had a story in me that needed to get out; I wish I felt I had the skill to be able to do it. I think that would very nicely fill the “what do I want to do when I grow up” slot, if I actually wanted to do it : ).
What advice would you give to those who want to start their own book blog?
Think about what you’re interested in, and what you’d like to read about. Then just go for it! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t do it for the audience or for the books, do it for yourself.