Monthly Archives: March 2013

March Lit Links

the guardian. Anton Chekhov: a lifetime of lovers

Book Riot. Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors

Poets & Writers. Agents & Editors: A Q&A With Editor Chuck Adams

Peevish Penman. Forging Relationships with Other Writers

Brain Pickings. 10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy

Salon. “Most contemporary literary fiction is terrible”

terrible minds. 25 Virtues Writers Should Possess

the Atlanctic Wire. If One Were to Use the Subjunctive Mood

Open Letters Monthly. Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?

Daily Writing Tips. How to Revise Bullet Lists for Grammatical Consistency

Ravenous Reader #2

Carolyn reads voraciously in Ottawa.


1.  Do you have an early memory of learning to read?
No, not really, but once I got my first library card around the age of eight, I never looked back. My mother told me I was reading words from the newspaper at age four, and of course, my parents read stories to me. 


2.  Have you always been an avid reader?
Extremely so! I was an only child, very shy, and books were always a comfort to me. In public school (grade eight) students were required to read a minimum of five books per year and give a book report on each during class. Every student had a page in the teacher’s notebook, recording the book title and date read. By the end of the school year, I’d read fifty-three books and the teacher said I needed a notebook just for my books. Obsessive, or what?


3.  How do you decide what to read next?
It depends on my mood or how I physically feel. If I’m not feeling well, I’ll read a book that doesn’t require a lot of concentration (a pocketbook I can finish in a couple of hours). When I feel really well, I’ll read historical trilogies or complicated murder mysteries.

4.  Do you have any reading rituals that you follow? 
I like to go to bed by 9 or 10pm and read fiction books every night until 1 or 2am, although I have been known to read until 4am (not recommended!) I only read non-fiction or magazines during the day. My bedroom is my sanctuary, and I can’t sleep without reading first. The norm is to fall asleep with the light on, glasses on my nose, and the book upside down on my chest.

5. What makes a great story or novel?
It should have a great plot, amazing characters, be fast paced, and grab your attention during the first few pages. Continually falling asleep over a book means it’s boring boring boring, or badly written and not worth my valuable reading time. I usually return such books to the library the next day. I should point out that quite a few of my rejects have been Giller Prize winners!


6.  Do you have a favourite genre?
Absolutely not! I read just about anything that catches my eye, mainly historical fiction but also erotica, thrillers, adventure and even vampire stories. As far as non-fiction goes, I own a lot of cookbooks, gardening, and how-to books as well as obscure books on things like ancient Egypt, medieval Great Britain, archeology, and the Roman Empire. I think I see a pattern here! I do love historical facts and I do learn a great deal, even from fiction books. At the oddest times, I seem to pull strange snippets of information from my brain during a conversation with someone.

7.  Who was the first author you fell in love with? The last?
Zane Grey, when I was very young, and the last authors I loved were Diana Gabaldon, Manda Scott, Jack Whyte, Lora Leigh, Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb), and Clive Cussler.


8.  What classic or well-known book have you never been able to get through?
The Sentimentalist because I spent all my time going back and forth to figure out the storyline. I even kept reading to the halfway mark but finally gave up and took it back to the library. I dislike Margaret Atwood books, although I may be in the minority.

9.  What book or books do you reread?
Very few fiction. I do plan, however, to reread Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Manda Scott’s Boudica series and Jack Whyte’s King Arthur series. I mainly reread non-fiction such as history, cookbooks, and reference books.

10. Do you have dry spells where you stop reading or read very little?
Never, never, never! I would have to be dead, and I do hope there’s a great library when I reach the pearly gates. To make sure I never run out of books, I have boxes and boxes of them under the bed, in the basement, and in multiple bookcases around the house. I guess I really am addicted.

11. How do you organize your collection?
I don’t (see question 10). My family tells me constantly that I am totally disorganized, which I am, but I do seem to be able to find certain books when I want them. My cookbooks, gardening, how-to, and medical books are grouped together on the bookshelves by type, but fiction is impossible. I only read these once and then donate them to a thrift shop. I do need to thin out some of my over 100 cookbooks, and I would use typed labels on shelves if I ever get motivated enough.

12. Do you enjoy recommending books to others? What criteria do you use?
Sometimes, if I really feel strongly about a book, but I don’t do it very often as everybody has their own favourites.

13. You host a dinner party for five authors (dead or alive). Who’s invited?
Would never happen. I prefer to worship my favourite authors from afar. Besides they are too numerous to count.

14. Do you write? If so, how does reading influence your writing?
No. I do, however, recognize great writing when I read it! There are many published novels that never should have seen the light of day. Tip to writers: check your grammar and punctuation thoroughly, and get a good editor!

15. What are you reading right now?
Until the Night by Giles Blunt. 

Ravenous Reader is a regular series.