I’m an amateur reader and full-time library aficionado. Books allow me to transcend my chronic illnesses, and I love to read diversely, in every sense. My taste ranges across fiction and nonfiction, from the just-published to classics, includes a variety of genres, and I can name a favourite author from every (inhabited) continent. My perfect afternoon is spent in my armchair with a fat book, my rescue mutt Thistle curled up in my lap, and huge mug of tea nearby.
How should you contact me? Just e-mail astripedarmchair AT gmail DOT com. (Please read my review policy before contacting me for that purpose.)
Recently, I’ve developed an autoimmune disease that means typing causes me pain, which has led me to change the way that I approach blogging. You can read about the changes in case you’re wondering why my posts are suddenly so much shorter, and why I no longer reply to every comment.
Now on to a more extended ‘biography’…
I chose the name “a striped armchair,” because when I began this blog I was in a senior in college, and my favourite reading chair in my apartment was striped. If I wasn’t in the chair, my roomies would assume I wasn’t at home, that’s how frequently I was there! So my ideal reading place included a striped armchair, even if I don’t currently have one. (Note: as of October 2011, I once again possess a striped armchair, so all is well with the universe.) As well as a fireplace. And a mug of hot, milky tea. But none of those really sounded good for a title! And why a book blog? I discovered book blogs, and then I discovered reading challenges. I really wanted to participate in the latter, and I liked the idea of a kind of reading journal. Now, I mainly do it for the community. I made a list of why I love being a book blogger if you need more reasons.
What? I mainly blog about books and reading; that includes challenges, books I’ve acquired (usually via the library these days), my favourite authors, etc. Sometimes, I’ll toss something more personal in. I don’t consider myself as writing book reviews so much as recommendations. Without any academic literary background, I’m an enthusiastic amateur. In April of 2010, I wrote a book blogging manifesto that details my blogg-y goals and endeavours.
When? As often as possible. :)
Who? I’m a 27-year-old American woman with a B.A. in international relations and modern languages (Russian and French, for the uber-curious).
Where? Until 2006 my family lived in south Texas; then they moved west. And I went to college in the Midwest (except for studying abroad in Russia). As a kid, I moved quite a bit, so I’ve lived in Greece, Texas, and England. After a couple of years in the Rockies, I’ve returned to south Texas!
How? I started out using Blogger, but now I use WordPress. Neither of them are perfect, but WordPress worked out better for me (I just wish it would let me edit the html myself…that feature is disabled on free accounts).
Now for the reading-type questions…
If you could only read one book for the rest of your life it’d be…an omnibus of Jane Austen’s work. And I’ve seen it in bookstores, so I’m not making it up!
What kind of genres do you read? I love classics and international fiction, as well as urban fantasy and mysteries. I’ve also discovered quite a few contemporary American authors I enjoy. I love non-fiction as well; I gravitate towards pop science books, stuff about international relations, well-written biographies or memoirs (especially related to travel or countries other than the US), and the occasional dense history. And I’ve developed an obsession lately for nonfiction related to women. It might be easier to say what I tend not to read: sci-fi, most romance (exceptions for Georgette Heyer and Susanna Kearsley), most late 20th/21st century American ‘literary’ authors (Philip Roth, Don deLillo, etc.), self-help, or hardcore non-fiction about any topic but international relations. Other than that, I try to pick reading challenges that have me exploring new genres!
Who’re your favourite authors? I’ve recently begun a feature, Assembling My Atheneum in which I profile favourite authors. I’ve also got a few of my favourites in my sidebar, where you can click their photos for more info! But I read a lot, which means I have a lot of favourites. Here’s a sampling (I only consider an author a favourite when I’ve read at least three books by them):
Neil Gaiman | Diana Wynne Jones | Wilkie Collins | Edith Wharton | Henry James | Jane Austen | Anthony Trollope | George Eliot | Virginia Woolf | Edith Wharton | Zora Neale Hurston | Colette | Sigrid Undset | L.M. Montgomery | Agatha Christie | Dorothy Sayers | Kate Ross | Laurie King | P.D. James | A.S. Byatt | Daphne du Maurier | Daniel Wallace | Luis Alberto Urrea | Gabriel Garcia Marquez | Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie | Kazuo Ishiguro | Banana Yoshimoto | Jamaica Kincaid | Thomas King | Margaret Atwood | Isabel Allende | Sherman Alexie | Sarah Waters | Toni Morrison | Susanna Kearsley | Oliver Sacks | Carl Safina | Alain de Botton | Laurel Thatcher Ulrich | John McWhorter | Alma Guillermoprieto
What are your favourite international ‘regions,’ literarily speaking? Scandivania, India, the Middle East, South Africa, France, the Caribbean, Japan, West Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Burma. And obviously the US and UK!
What about your favourite time periods? Let’s see…I’ve loved 19th century lit forever, and lately the 18th century has won me over too. I’ve begun exploring Medieval lit in the past couple years and that’s been a delight. Then there’s my attraction to fin-de-siecle authors, as well as books from the interwar period. And of course I read quite a bit of recently published works too!
How many books do you read a year? In 2006, I think I read around 110, 120. In 2007 and 2008, I broke 200. Then in 2009, I broke 400; 2010 saw me scale back, but I still read just over 300 books. I don’t focus too much on that though…counting up books seems a bit arbitrary to begin with, when one could be 100 pages and another 1,400!
How do you read so much? This is one that comes up pretty consistently in comments, and I like to be brutally honest about myself because I feel uncomfortable otherwise. I have two chronic illnesses: fibromyalgia and Sjogren’s (the latter is a recent development, but I’ve had fibro since 2001). Fibro’s something that’s difficult to keep a handle on, and while I had it in check for a number of years, in the fall of 2008 it came back with a vengeance. So until I get it back under control, I can’t hold down a job or go to school. And I live with my parents. I do have a dog, but she’s the most low-energy, low-maintenance canine on the planet who’s happiest sleeping next to/on top of me. So let’s recap: I don’t work, study, have any children to care for, and I only have to clean my own room and bathroom. (I do cook! That’s kind of household chore, except that I love it.) Oh, and I’m happily single. And since when I’m sick I can’t drive, I’m stuck at home 95% of the time. Now it makes more sense, right? ;) I actually don’t read 24/7; I love movies and TV on DVD, I love being on the internet, and I love getting outside. Plus, when my fibro flares up extra-bad, I can’t read at all; my brain gets too foggy to focus and my eyes moving across a page makes me sea sick (fun, right?). But books are free when they’re from my wonderful library, and they help me escape when I’m feeling claustrophobic. And that is how I read so much!
Still curious? I’ve done a few memes that will tell you more about me. I’ve talked about books I can’t resist and reasons I’ll read a book, some of my favourite authors, special books in my life, how my mom fostered my love of reading, six random things about me, seven weird things about me, and five social issues that are important to me, my own meme, which had a variety of book-ish questions, and Kimbuktoo’s meme, which also had book-ish questions. I also write posts detailing my opinions on various book-related topics; I’ve placed them all in a category entitled bookish musings.
If you have any other questions, let me know!