Conducted March 3, 2014

Note from Paulette: This is the third interview in the 2014 Readeatlive Reader Interview Series. Rachel is a well spoken advocate for the art and pleasure of reading. Reading is an integral part of her life. She makes reading and living so much fun.

Tell us about what you have been reading recently.
This may sound odd, but I read more than one book at a time. In the morning, I spend a few minutes reading something to set the mood for my day. I’ve read and re-read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now many times in order to remind myself to stay in the present moment, and not worry too much about the past or the future. Like yoga, it keeps me grounded. Currently, in the morning and on my morning break, I’m reading Wayne Dyer’s Your Sacred Self. It reminds me to check my ego for the day, and live life with love and acceptance.

At lunch, I’ve been reading I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzi. After seeing her interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, I was so impressed with this young woman. She has the heart of a lion in regard to feminism and education, even after being shot in the face by a member of the Taliban. She carries herself with poise and dignity, and I just HAD to know her story!

In the evenings, I usually read something fantastically fictional before bedtime to just relax, and am currently entranced by Game of Thrones, the first book in the series by George R. R. Martin.

Did you have a favorite book of the past year?
Dan Brown’s Inferno was a real page turner! His characters are as well written and as clever as his plot. As always, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I fell victim to the ‘just one more chapter’ late night reading session for a solid week until the plot-twisting, thought-provoking end. What a ride!

What books would we be surprised to find on your shelves?
You won’t find much non-fiction, to be honest. I love the imagination and creative process that goes into a good story. Life gives me plenty of reality, so I read to escape to a world where the impossible is always possible.

Do you have a favorite author, or two?
I love series writers. I get so attached to characters. I don’t want the story to end in a mere 300 pages or less! Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series made me fall hopelessly in love with Scotland. Anne Rice has a wonderful way of drawing pictures in my mind, and I have read everything she’s ever written. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, J.R.R Tolkien (of course), Terry Brooks, and Stephen Lawhead’s Arthurian legend retelling were all wonderful as well.

Most recently, I’ve enjoyed Lorraine Snelling’s Red River of the North series, which is a fictional telling of one family from Norway settling in an area near Fargo. Homesteading was an arduous life. Reading about the toils of daily life at that time reminded me how much we take for granted now and gave me a new found respect for my grandfather’s family. (Aside: As you can see, it’s no wonder I got hooked on Game of Thrones.)

What book was a disappointment, and why?
Last year, a friend suggested that I’d enjoy Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I think she knew that I enjoy lengthy tomes with strong female protagonist characters. She was right on that score, however, I also enjoy writers that pull you in within a hundred pages or less. Ms. Rand took FAR too long to engage me (though I AM quite a tenacious reader, and doggedly pressed on), was too wordy, and I didn’t feel the page turning ‘pull’ until about 500 pages in! That said, I did enjoy the idea of the inventors of the world going on strike and removing themselves from the takers who just want to ride coattails. Bravo on her objectivist philosophy and ideas on individualism and capitalism–but could she have used a better editor to shave off 200 pages or more? I think so. (Sorry, Ayn Rand fans!)

What writer or writers would you invite to dinner?
I think I could talk to Diana Gabaldon about her research into the history of Scotland and The American Revolution for hours!

What helps you decide what to read?
Suggestions from friends, or the next installment of any series that I’ve previously read. Also, I’m a purist, so if the movie for a popular book is coming out, I MUST read the book first, even if it leads to the dreaded alas, the-book-is-always-better-than-the-movie critique.

Do you have a favorite genre, or not?
As previously mentioned, series writing, especially historical fiction.

With a job, a son to raise, and an active life, how do you find time to read?
I believe we all need balance in our lives, yin and yang, as it were. My passion for running and cycling is balanced with my love of calming vinyasa flow yoga or a meditative hike. My love for the adventure of travel and music is balanced by the simple joy of spending a night playing board games or making dinner at home. The world of pharmacy is very scientific and being a single mom is very non-fiction–even more so now that my son is a tween. So, my love of reading is something that I weave in throughout the day in order to find balance for the daily plot twists that life throws at me.

Tell us anything else you would like us to know about your reading life.
I wanted to write a novel when I grew up. It was going to be about an American girl marooned on an island in the North Atlantic after her ship sunk on the way to visit relatives in Norway. I wrote 30 pages of this at age 10 before my novel idea wore off. I then decided I’d rather be an advertising executive and write TV commercial ads. How did I end up becoming a pharmacist? Maybe we’ll find out when I’ve read enough to write my autobiography?? Stay tuned…

What book might you read next?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot has been on my list for a while, ironically since it is non-fiction. I’ve been wanting to read it due to the tremendous impact that genetic research and the HeLa gene have had on cancer research. Of course, I will probably read it at lunch, while I read A Clash of Kings, the second installment of Martin’s Game of Thrones series before bed at night…balance you know!

Where do you read?
Everywhere! At the lake in the sun in the summertime, on the plane while I’m traveling to my next adventure, in the cafeteria at lunchtime, or in my favorite spot: curled up on my cozy couch at home.

From Paulette: Rachel, thank you so much for sharing your reading life. You also told me you had great fun reflecting on some of what you read the last year or so. You have much to tell us about reading practices and preferences. I share some of those practices and am glad to know we connect as readers. But more than that, you inspire me. I might even be able to keep some of the Reading Resolutions I made in January. I love listening to your enthusiastic talk about reading, and I know other blog readers will love listening to you, too. Reading is contagious in a good way.

As always, comments are welcome.

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