Reader Interview with Abby Adair and Kim Bowden-Adair
Conducted April-May, 2014
1. Tell us about what you are reading.
Abby: Right now I’m in the middle of reading the last Harry Potter book. I never read the whole series as a kid––the fantastical names like Dumbledore and Severus posed too much of a challenge to my second grade mind, plus my brother loved them; and it was not cool to like anything that your brother did. (It still isn’t!)
The Harry Potter series definitely gives me a much-needed break from the academic reading I do for my history major. I’ve been working my way through the series sporadically between other novels over the past four years.
Kim: Right now I’m, reading This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trotter. I’m about to start The Bone Yard: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass. I just finished Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman.
2. Do you have a favorite book of the last year?
Abby: Well, much of 2013 I spent reading Under the Dome by Stephen King. It’s about 700 pages long and was very good but took forever to read! I wouldn’t call it my favorite, but it is what I spent most of my time with. Right after I finished, I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green in about four days. I highly recommend it. I actually cried reading it. I didn’t know it was possible to cry from a book but this brought me to tears. I believe the movie is coming out in a few months. Read the book first!
Kim: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
3. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
Abby: Right now I have about 30 books (not exaggerating) out from the library about World War I and its aftermath. I just finished writing my undergraduate thesis about how the American press reacted to the fact that the Allied powers continued to blockade Germany, cutting off all food and raw materials for nine months after the war ended. I just turned the 80-page paper in on Monday and even though I’m done writing, 30 books is a lot to carry and I can’t bring myself to return them just yet.
Kim: The Hunger Games Trilogy and several of the Shopaholic series. I’m a bit sheepish about admitting to reading such trivial books and to be honest because of my book clubs, I don’t have a lot of time to wallow in mindlessness.
4. What authors, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Abby: Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, Steig Larson, author of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife. These authors have written the books that I am most fascinated with. They all feature female characters who achieve great amounts of success, and I do not think there is enough of that in what people read these days. They empower me and make me dream and aspire to new heights. I think that every young girl should be reading books like these because they need something to look up to, something more than romance and marriage that you find so often in young adult and popular novels.
Kim: Jen Lancaster, Pearl Buck, Ann Patchett
5. Is there an author you wish more people would read.
Abby: I don’t have an answer to this. I just wish more people read. I know a lot of people, especially college students, who never read for fun because they don’t have enough time. I’ve found that making time for reading for fun is essential. It keeps you relaxed and feeling like a normal person, and not like everything is spiraling out of control (college does that to a person sometimes!) If more people read something they actually enjoyed even five minutes a day then maybe they would be happier, smarter, more thoughtful, empathetic, and imaginative.
Kim: I don’t have a suggestion. To me book selection is very personal. What inspires, intrigues, draws me in, may not be what does that for someone else.
6. Do you have a favorite genre, or not?
Kim: Being part of two book clubs I’ve had the opportunity to read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, and while I tend to like fiction more, book clubs have provided me the opportunity to read a wider selection of books than I would normally. Having said that, I like reading books with strong female protagonists.
Abby: I like a lot of different things: historical fiction, thrillers/mystery, love stories, books with strong female leads.
7. What book was a disappointment and why?
Kim: A particular book title doesn’t come to mind. At one time once I started a book I finished it whether I liked it or not, no matter how long it took me to read it. However, about ten years ago I made the decision to let myself not finish a book if it wasn’t engaging me after 50 pages. Sometimes it takes effort to wade through the start of a book to really get the author’s intent so I give them 50 pages!
Abby: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I got this book two or three years ago and I just can’t get into it. Every time I finish a book I try to go back to this one, but something else always grabs my attention and I set the Power of One back on the shelf. It’s a disappointment because I hardly ever start a book and not finish it. So, it’s always looming in the back of my mind as unfinished business.
8. Why do you read?
Kim: My love of reading was instilled in me by my parents, who both loved to read. One of my earliest memories is my Dad and I reading the funnies in the newspaper. I also remember bringing home my first Scholastic Book Club book order when I was in first grade and just loving the fact that the books belonged to me, and I didn’t have to return them to the library. I spent a lot of time at the library.
Abby: Reading brings a sense of normalcy into my crazy life. Ever since I can remember I have read every night before I fall asleep. Being able to keep that routine is something that is very important to me because it is relaxing and helps me to forget everything I’m stressed about and prepares me for a good night’s sleep.
9. Where do you read?
Kim: My favorite place to read is in bed. I usually read 20-30 minutes before I fall asleep. There is no place that I don’t read really, at my desk during lunch, in the car when we’re traveling, outside, etc. That’s the greatest thing about the Kindle; it fits in my purse and I can take it anywhere.
Abby: The majority of my reading takes place in my bed. Sometimes I can only get through one or two pages before I fall asleep though! During the summer I might read on the beach on vacation or on my porch on a day with nice weather.
10: What books are in your waiting-to-be-read pile?
Kim: The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer, Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and selections from the book clubs.
Abby: The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouack, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
11. How do you decide what to read?
Kim: Mainly book clubs, there’s usually some discussion around several authors and then a decision is made. Also, book reviews, newspaper or magazine articles, the website Good Reads, or Amazon, and, good old fashion bookstore or library browsing.
Abby: I look at reviews, usually. A lot of times I’ll just go on Amazon and look at their featured book lists and pick from there. When I decided to read Under the Dome, I was looking for a long and relatively cheap book so I could get more bang for my buck which I definitely got! Also, I see what my mom is reading/has read as well. She’s in a few book clubs so she’s always reading something new.
12. And from Kim to close out the interview:
Recently a number of women in my neighborhood started a Mystery Book Club where we read only mysteries or detective novels. So far my favorite author is Elmore Leonard. We read City Primeval. I read him for the first time last fall after his death. I went to the estate sale at his house, not to buy anything, but out of curiosity. I wanted to see his environment. I was impressed as to the level of the outdoors he brought inside.
I love to read. It’s truly a part of me. It was pure pleasure introducing my kids to reading. I’m proud to say they are avid readers themselves.
Note from Paulette: This busy college student who is a recent University of Michigan honors graduate and her working Mom, who volunteers endlessly, have important things to say about reading. I deeply appreciate the willingness of these two Michigan readers to respond to interview questions and share a bit of their reading lives. Abby is one terrific cheerleader for reading! Don’t miss her response to question number 5. I want to give her a big fat hug. She will carry my reading torch through this century.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, and especially to all the Mother-Daughter readers. This is your time to shine!