Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Armchair BEA Interview: Gwen @ Chew And Digest Books

Dear Blog,
Today's  Armchair BEA topic/event is interviewing:  I interviewed  Gwen over at  Chew And Digest Books
She mostly reviews nonfiction on her blog, and says that she dreams that "one day, people would stop turning up their nose at nonfiction and finally embrace the goodness that those treasured pages contain."
I've only ever interviewed one other blogger before, and that was for last year's interview, so forgive me for being slightly nervous.

What originally drew you to book blogging, and what are your favourite things about it? I started blogging about relationships in 2006 and I was already reviewing books on other more general sites and a couple of print publications. One day in 2008, it hit me, wouldn't it be nice to have just one place where I could find all of my reviews? I didn't even know there were other book bloggers out there for quite a while.
Once I found the whole book blogging community I was amazed. There were other people out there, just like me, who still read constantly and liked to talk about books! Even better, they were really involved in building a community. In my off-line life, I just never came across people that read for pleasure and I felt like I finally found my people.

What book are you reading at the moment? Thoughts so far? I am reading a biography of Fredrick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin, called Genius of Place. Most people know that Olmsted is the man that designed Central Park, but he did so much more! He was a sailor and went to China, a farmer, a reporter that chronicled life in the south before the Civil War, etc. I get excited when a biography really immerses me in the period that a person lived, not just their life in it. Justin Martin has already made me look at the pre-war South in a whole new way and I am not even halfway through yet.

If you could have dinner with any four people, living or dead, who would they be?Tough question and I am sure if you asked me tomorrow, I would give you another answer....
Edgar Allan Poe. He was the man when I was a teenager and his work and life story continues to touch me so many years later. Most likely, because we dealt with/deal with depression.
Ronald Reagan. He was the President of my childhood and later, he was suffering from Alzheimer's, the disease that took my grandfather from me. I would love to have an unscripted conversation with him. There are times that it was hard to know if he really felt what he was saying or if he just thought it was the right thing to say at the time.
Erik Larson. The author of The Devil in the White City, Issac's Storm, Thunderstruck, and now In the Garden of Beasts. I cannot think of one other non-fiction author that has the ability to tell a factual story in such a way that you lose yourself in it. Every time I read his work, I am amazed to find myself unable to put the book down because I want to know how it turns out. The thing is, since it is non-fiction, we already know how it turns out, but he has a way of making it come alive.
Frank Lloyd Wright. The architect of some of my favorite buildings. Much that I have read about him makes me seem like a great man ahead of his time or a completely unlikeable selfish person, or both. I find myself wondering if I would have had the "right stuff" to work under him as I walk around his homes and buildings. Last year, walking around Taleisin West, I pondered applying for their Masters program, but the thought of living in a tent in the Arizona heat was a bit much for me.

What are your three favourite fictional novels? Last year, I bought 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, so I have been on a classics kick as I trudge through that list. I loved the emotions I felt when I read Howard's End by E.M. Forster and Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. In both, I just wanted to shake the main characters and say take control of your lives, say what you really think!

What are your three favourite non-fiction books?
Anything by Erik Larson and I read a great memoir by Emily Plaicdo last year called Julita's Sands. Total tear-jerker about her relationship with her mother later in life. Think The Notebook, but about a mother-daughter relationship.

Pancakes or Waffles?
If I am not the cook? Waffles with strawberries and Cool Whip.

Do you read much poetry? If you do, what's your favourite poem?
I don't read current poetry, but do find solace in some of the old poems. Poe stand out with Alone.   I have often felt like an outsider.
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.

When you're not reading, what are some of your other hobbies?  Currently, I am going through a major health issue, so most of my hobbies have taken a back seat to ovarian cancer. I like to paint, garden, cook, sew, and refinish furniture when I am running at 100%. This year it has been about keeping my proverbial head above water with freelance writing assignments, school, and two blogs when I am up to it.

Well, there you go.  Thank you, Gwen! 

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