READER INTERVIEW

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READER INTERVIEW WITH MARY ANN PHIMISTER, MICHIGAN READER
Interview conducted December, 2014

Welcome to another installment of the popular readeatlive series: Reader Interview. This is a fascinating one. Thanks so much to Mary Ann for talking with us about her reading. She starts off by telling us about herself as a reader.

Reading is an integral part of my life. I always have one or more books going. I read everything: periodicals, fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, cook books, and I love suspense and mysteries. I even read bad books like I eat bad cookies. It is an addiction. I have learned to stop reading a bad book, but it took a while. “If a novel seems like an ordeal, quit; you are not being paid to read it…” That’s Thomas Foster in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. I love to find quotes in books that relate to my life and make me think. I often read with a yellow marker. I want a book to make me think outside of the box and of course, I also I like to just have fun reading!

What have you been reading recently?
The book I am reading now is titled One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. It is about living fully right where you are. It is very humbling and encourages you to live a lifestyle of gratitude, to slow down and to appreciate the now. I just finished reading Missing, by Susan Lewis. It is a suspenseful book about a missing wife and the difficulties her husband and daughter face.

What book excited you or moved you in an unusual way?
A book that really affected me was The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. The writing was outstanding, “like a storyteller transforming life into a shimmering river where trouble and boredom vanish far below the water.” The story had many parts that hit deep into my experiences and made me stop and contemplate my life. There are so many books over the years that really made a difference in my life and I hope to keep finding more.

What books are in your waiting-to-be-read stack?
I am looking forward to reading The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins, a mystery that was reviewed favorably in many magazines. Also, the memoir Publishing, by Gail Goodwin, Someone, by Alice Mc Dermott, a novel about a woman and her neighbors over 30 years, and The Paying Guest by Sarah Waters are waiting to be read.

What authors would you like to invite to lunch?
I think the authors I would like to have lunch with are some of the successful women who have written their memoirs or autobiographies. The stand out would be Maya Angelou. I am absolutely in awe of her inspiration and creative ability.

How did you become a reader?
Growing up in a small home with three siblings was a challenge. My escape was reading in my bedroom away from the chaos. I read the Nancy Drew series as well as biographies of successful women. The biographies were so important to me that when I retired as school principal, I asked the PTA to use the money designated as a gift for me to stock a shelf in the Media Center dedicated to biographies of successful women.

My parents were readers and my mother belonged to the Readers Digest Book Club as well as the Book-of-the-Month Club. Reading her books was a special thing as a young person. One that stood out was Marjorie Morningstar. Some time I need to go back and read it again to find out if it really was that good.

How do you decide what to read?
I probably am like everyone else in the selection of books. My friends certainly influence my reading as do references in the NY Times and other periodicals. I also use Bookbub. They list free and inexpensive books. Yes, many of them are not worth reading, but I have come across some excellent books. Amazon gives many book lists to choose from and books that are chosen by my two book clubs help widen my horizon.

The thoughtful responses in this interview help broaden all of us as readers. Mary Ann brings enthusiasm and a forward-looking view to her reading. She reminds us of old favorites like Marjorie Morningstar and point us toward new books, and important genres. Thanks to Mary Ann for such an enjoyable interview.

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