For the first reader interview, meet Anna. She’s a keen reader and lover all things bookish (including this blog)! She also happens to be my wonderful and supportive mother, who, with little persuasion, agreed to be my guinea pig in this interview experiment! She told me all about what she loves and hates about books. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi my name is Anna, I’m 56 and I live in central France with my husband Frank. We have lived here for about 6 years now. We have a son, a daughter, and 2 grandchildren – oh and a 3rd grandchild due in October. My Family is the BEST! Not that I’m biased!
My hobbies include art, learning French, and of course reading. I love to read any genre except romance – in fact, I detest romantic novels. I mostly love sci-fi, supernatural, and fantasy books. I love writers who can take the reader on a joyful, imaginary journey into space or to new worlds where we get to meet strange and wonderful creatures.
What do you hate so much about romance?
It’s not that I hate romance – if a great book has an element of romance then that’s fine. It is just that I hate romance novels where the tall, handsome guy is the exact same guy in every novel but has a different name. If you have read one then you’ve read them all: boring and repetitive. Mills & Boon comes to mind!
So no romance then! What makes you want to read a book? A great cover, a recommendation, or something else?
I mostly rely on recommendations but occasionally a great book title can catch my eye and persuade me to pick up the book. Also a well know author can influence me, especially if I’ve read their work before.
What makes a book great for you?
Lots of things, e.g. great narrative, well-rounded characters, the author’s ability to use words in such an amazing way that they make you love or hate a character or situation. The ability to describe people, places etc.
Do you prefer e-books or real books?
I don’t mind either. I read e-books but I also love the feel of a real book in my hands. Wouldn’t want real books to fade away.
Do you think that they will fade away?
No I don’t think they will fade away – at least I hope not because that would be a travesty. I like to think that we are sensible enough to want to preserve and keep using books for as long as we exist – but you never know!
Can you remember when you first realised your love for reading?
When I was a child my mother gave me Charlotte Bronte’s Jayne Eyre and I have strong memories of the impact this book had on me. It was like Jane was speaking directly to me when she kept saying ‘Dear reader’. As a young child I fell hook, line and sinker for that technique – although I don’t particularly like it now. I remember sobbing my heart out because one of the characters died in the orphanage.
Has any other book since had such a huge impact on you?
Not specifically but Time’s Arrow [by Martin Amis] impacted on me as an adult because it made me see the holocaust victims through different eyes. I think any book that makes you becomes so emotionally involved with its characters and with certain situations e.g. social injustices is easy to become impacted by – so to speak!
Likewise, [Anthony Trollope’s] Barchester Towers impacted me because of the brilliance of the writer to create such wit, to show the pomposity of e.g. the church or conservatism, strict social conventions etc. Also Shakespeare plays impacted me greatly because of the fantastic soliloquies, the rhythm, the language. Pure joy to read out loud!
Did you read a lot as a child?
Yes, my mother used to buy me a series called What Katie Did [by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey] but oddly I don’t remember the stories at all. What really enthralled me were the classics e.g. Dickens, Bronte, and so on: the dark and moody characters, the social injustices, character names which suited the personality. These all fascinated me.
Coming back to the present, do you have a favourite reading spot?
Cuddled up on the sofa.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Definitely fiction because I want to escape to undiscovered worlds of make-believe.
Do you have an all-time favourite book?
Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis – not so much a favourite but it really made me not just think, but feel the horror of the slaughter of millions of Jews. It had an enormous impact on me. But my most memorable book is probably Barchester Towers or/and Lord of the Rings [by JRR Tolkien]. What sheer imagination!
If you could have lunch with a literary character, who would you choose? How about an author?
It would have to be Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings – I love this character and I walked every mile with him on his arduous journey – his joy and sorrow was mine too! As for an author, it would have to be Anthony Trollope because he must have had such an amazing mind, such a sense of humour – I would enjoy talking to him.
If you could be a character in any book, which would you be and why?
I would have to be a character in a sci-fi novel. I’d have my own space ship which would be invincible and I’d travel through time and space.
Cool idea! When in time would you go, and why?
I’d go into the future. It would be fascinating to see the advances in technology, in travel, in communications etc. Will we be just as aggressive? I suspect we will. Or will we have learned to live in peace? Will there still be religion? Will class divides still be evident/worse/ better? Will we be able to beam ourselves anywhere in seconds? Wow! What a thought! This list goes on and on.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don’t really exist if you don’t.” Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Last but not least, give me a short-story hint. This can be anything from one word, object, or short phrase to a whole paragraph or setting.
Story title: For the Love of Mr Trollope
[For the Love of Mr Trollope will be this Wednesday’s short-story!]
Books or Films: both
Dog-earring, do or don’t: don’t
Would you rather have the end of the book spoiled for you or never know what happens in the end? Have it spoiled!
Read one book at a time or read many at once? One at a time but have done many
What are you reading at the moment? Re-reading Jane Eyre!
Would you rather rescue a book from the toilet or from a fire? Fire!
Current bookmark? None – I leave the book open and upside down.
Would you rather love a book that everyone hates or hate a book that everyone loves? Hate a book that everyone else loves.
You have to rip out one: first page or last page? First page!
If you’d like to take part in a reader interview, I’d love to hear from you! Find out more information here.