Conducted November, 2014

Welcome to another installment in the popular series: Reader Interview. Thanks to thoughtful and enthusiastic reader Liz Hurbis for sharing her reading knowledge with us. You readers out there in blogland will find some worthwhile book recommendations here, thanks to Liz.

Tell us what you are reading?
I am currently finishing and have enjoyed, Sue Monk Kidd’s, “Invention of Wings,” in the historical fiction department, and am still working on a political nonfiction book by Ben Carson, called “One Nation.”

Recently I finished Nancy Horan’s “Under the Wide and Starry Sky,” historical fiction. Horan researches her subjects well and writes an incredibly factual story about the life of Robert Lewis Stevenson. I was especially intrigued by his unusual writing process. Her first book, “Loving Frank,” (Frank Lloyd Wright), was another compelling read, even if you didn’t like the man very much, it was worthwhile. “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed, another recent book, tells an incredible story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone, after her divorce and the death of her mother. I enjoyed the writing of both of these authors.

What books are in your waiting-to-be-read stack?
Waiting in the wings is “Ordinary Grace,” by William Kent Krueger and “Round House,” by Louise Erdrich. Sitting on the table patiently is “Stonewalled”, by Sharyl Attkisson, my next nonfiction, followed by “Patriots and Rebels,” by John Bush, “The Good Funeral,” by Thomas Lynch and “A Separate Peace,” by John Knowles. So many books, so little time.

Do you have a favorite author or two, or more?
This year I discovered Ann Mah and her entertaining second book, “Mastering the Art of French Eating,” and that lead me to read her first book, “Kitchen Chinese,” both non fiction. I love her insights on other countries, the people, culture and food. She tells her stories with humor. Among others, I loved “Yes, Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson. He is a well-known chef in NYC born in Ethiopia, orphaned, and adopted by Swedish parents, then raised in Sweden, it’s a wonderful story. In his restaurants he integrates his African/Swedish background to create a unique cuisine. I hope to dine at his restaurant The Red Rooster in Harlem one day. I really enjoy “foodie” books.

I’ve also read a few of Geraldine Brook’s books, “March” and “A Year of Wonders” among them. I would like to read more by this author. I enjoy her characters when they have unimaginable circumstances to endure coupled with their great spirit.

Do you have a favorite genre or topic that especially interests you?
Food seems to be a theme with me; paradoxically, I also enjoy reading about nutrition. “How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” by Caldwell Esselstyn and “The China Study,” by Colin Campbell immediately come to my mind. These authors are spirited doctors from fine hospitals trying to spread the word of the importance of good nutrition, and how it can affect every aspect of your life and prevent so many diseases and much suffering. Esselstyn, his son Rip and wife Jane will be speaking at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, MI in January.

What authors would you like to invite to lunch?
What a spirited conversation we could have with the aforementioned doctors and food editors, like Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet Magazine and author of “Comfort Me with Apples,” and Chef Marcus. But what ever would I serve them?!

How did you become a reader?
For the most part my family loved reading. My mother was in a great books club in the 60’s, before book clubs were so common. I loved going to the library at an early age, something I still enjoy. My sister is a voracious reader and she has kept me informed and interested.

Are there books you truly treasure? Tell us about them and why they are important to you.
I think the books that have been truly important to me would include Marcus Zusak’s “Book Thief,” and Eric Larson’s “In the Garden on Beasts,” both about the horrors of Nazi Germany; “Sandcastle Girls” about the Armenian genocide, somehow lost in history. “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand, a must read. I would be remiss not to mention “To Kill A Mocking Bird,” by Harper Lee, a favorite of many and made into a wonderful movie.

I like a book that teaches me about history and important events, the human condition, how others think and solve problems, or one that gives me new ideas and teaches me about myself. Sometimes a book can give several enlightenments at the same time…that’s usually a good book.

How do you decide what to read?
I make my book choices by listening to what friends are reading, or their book clubs are reading, and book reviews. My sister, again, is a good source. No matter how much I try to investigate a book before I read it, I always have a few disappointments each year.

Note from Paulette: Readers can see why I go to Liz for recommendations. She always has a good book to suggest, one I have not read. Thanks for that, Liz, and thanks for doing this interview.

Leave a Reply