Reader Interview with Judith Vitali, Old Lyme, Connecticut
Conducted June, 2014

Another reader interview in the Readeatlive Interview Series. Good friend Judith Vitali always has interesting things to say about reading.

Why do you read?
I basically was an only child (one half sister wasn’t born until I was sixteen and I really didn’t meet the other until a few years later) … books were my friends, my escape, and my ticket to other worlds. Our librarian (in Stonington, CT) would allow me to take a bag of books home rather than the limit of two, and I would devour them eagerly. (Yes, I was one who read with a flashlight under the covers.) Although I have many human friends, books continue to be constant companions.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
You will find children’s books on my shelves. My favorite from childhood is The Secret Garden, which I still read every few years. I also have kept books that my fifth graders and I enjoyed so much … The Cay, The Giver, My Side of the Mountain, The Homecoming, and Pink and Say to name a few. Can’t wait to share them with my grandsons.

Do you have a favorite book of the last year?
I was enchanted by The Storied Life of AJ Fikry … for all the reasons you mentioned in your blog, Paulette … it was charming and quirky. I also liked Necessary Lies … it introduced me to a part of our history of which I had little knowledge.

What authors would you like to invite to tea or lunch? And why?
There are ever so many authors who would provide scintillating conversations; but when I was a young mother of three boys, I so enjoyed Judith Viorst’s column in LHJ. She later wrote the delightful Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. She also had three sons and her sense of humor really appealed to me. I would like to invite her to tea and some one-on-one time. I’m certain we’d have a lot of laughs sharing our ‘boy’ stories.

What book was a disappointment to you and why?
I am so unhappy when a book starts with great promise, and then the ending is disappointing … I despised the ending of Gone Girl and couldn’t understand why it was on the bestseller list for so long. Then again, I am a sucker for a happy ending.

Where do you read?
I read absolutely everywhere … as a passenger in a car, at the doctor’s office, in bed, at the beach, etc etc … I guess my favorite reading environment is a snowy day sitting by the fire.

How do you decide what to read?
I have many sources for reading recommendations … newspapers and friends, of course … some great blogs, the RJ Julia bookstore in Madison, CT, and I actually select a lot based on Amazon reviews.

Tell us about what you are reading.
I am rereading a ‘serendipity’ book I picked up at the airport many years ago … Guilt by Association by Susan R. Sloan (not Marcia Clark) … I think it appeals to me because it takes place in the sixties and on … if anyone decides to read it, do not read the book jacket first … it contains a terrible ‘spoiler’.

What books are you hoping to read soon?
I am on the library wait list for Shotgun Lovesongs, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl, and The Housemaid’s Daughter.

Do you have a favorite author or two or more?
I love the writing of Cynthia Voigt (a YA author) and anxiously am awaiting the next book from Markus Zusak … his The Book Thief is one of my all-time favorites.

Do you have a favorite genre?
I absolutely do not have a favorite genre … enjoy them all … well, not sci-fi or horror.

And, please tell us more about your reading habits.
I read strictly for pleasure these days … unfortunately, the next day I may not be able to tell you the plot of the book I just read … I remember only those that have a great impact. I also find as I age that I do not have the endurance for lengthy novels any more. I once was a fan of Russian literature, but the thought of reading something like War and Peace truly overwhelms me.

Judith, thanks so much for sharing your ideas and reading habits. I know readers will be inspired and connected.


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