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Let’s Be All Lovey-Dovey, Shall We?

September 15, 2010

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In case you’ve had your nose buried in a book the past few days, Book Blogger Appreciation Week has taken the blogosphere by storm! Since I was absent for so long leading up to BBAW, and since I have a billion books I’d like to tell you about from that time period (ok, technically 21), I’ve been more of a passive participant. But I thought today I’d go ahead and tap into the outpouring of book blogger happiness!

The topic today is to discuss a genre or book that I tried due to other bloggers’ influences. There are so many authors/books I could name, but what immediately jumped out at me was a new medium: the graphic one. Pre-blogging, I didn’t even know what ‘graphic novel’ meant, and I certainly didn’t think that graphic books would appeal to me. Now, I can name a handful of favourite graphic authors, and when I haven’t read one in a couple months I start missing them! (I’m in the middle of Forget Sorrow now.) I think it was Dewey (whose blog was taken down after her death, so I can’t direct you there, but she was, and continues to be, a huge influence on my reading and blogging and if you put her feed address in your reader, you might be able to read her archives anyway), Chris, Ana, and Andi who got me started. Thanks guys! :)

While authors of colour certainly isn’t a genre, I have to give a huge shout out to Black-Eyed Susan and her community blog Color Online for opening my eyes to the way that white privilege was affecting my reading (you can read my post from January if you’re curious). Since I’ve begun consciously broadening my racial reading horizons, I’ve discovered so many incredible authors (especially among contemporary American writers: Bernice McFadden, Sherman Alexie, Jacqueline Woodson, et.c, etc.), and my reading life is richer than ever. She’s always been quick to reply to my e-mails and never laughed at my sometimes silly questions! ;)

Also, on Twitter last night, Teresa, Raych, and I were talking about blogs we lurk at due to, well, intimidation. And just in case anyone reading this post has similar hesitations about my own blog, this is your chance to come out of the woodwork! (If you feel like it of course.) I visit the blog of everyone who comments on my own, and I find it’s the best way for me to get to know new bloggers! And I know I’ve said this before, but if you’re new to book blogging (or just contemplating it) and have any questions, feel free to e-mail me (astirpedarmchairATgmailDOTcom) if you’d like advice. Inspired in part by Marg and Simon, I figured I should ask a question or two to get you started…let’s see…

1) Is there anything you’d like to see more of on my blog (i.e.: a feature, topic, approach, etc.)?
2) Who is your favourite author of the year and why?
3) If you could live in any book (either as yourself or taking over a character’s life), what would it be?

Feel free to answer all or none of the above!

For the record, my own answers…

1) I really want to follow up on my Assembling the Atheneum idea born out of my musings on my home library and do a few more ‘channeling-Nancy-Pearl-style’ book lists (on deck right now: ghosts, pastiche fiction, and nonfiction for fiction lovers).

2) I’ve decided to pick favourites from the authors I’ve only read for the first time this year, to make things a bit easier. And I’m not counting debut authors, since they don’t have any other books for me to try out! My favourite fiction author, then, is Diana Wynne Jones, because she makes me read like a child again. I can’t seem to tear through her books quickly enough, and I’m so happy she has such an extensive backlist! Mad props to Jenny for spreading her DWJ love to the masses. Oh! And I have to mention Rabih Alameddine, whose The Hakawati was, in a word, ravishing. He reminds me of Byatt and Rushdie, two of my very favourite authors, and I’m so frustrated that neither my current library nor my future one (speaking of which, t-minus three weeks on the move!) have his previous three works. But I shall persevere.

Carl Zimmer and Alma Guillermoprieto (who doesn’t have an author website) are tied for my favourite nonfiction authors. Both of the Guillermoprieto books I’ve read have been intelligent, heart-felt, fascinating, and well written (she’s a journalist dealing in Latin American affairs), which is all I can ask for! Even though I’ve only read one of Zimmer’s books (Microcosm) so far, he made me care deeply about ebola so I have a good feeling about the rest of his stuff. ;) I think I’ll read Soul Made Flesh pretty soon…in fact, I might pop over to the library and request it now! (In case you’re wondering, I did request it, and it should appear in next week’s Library Loot.)

And now that I’ve given four authors instead of one, I think I should move on to the final question!

3) This took some thinking. First I wanted to be Miss Marple, but I feel like I’d be skipping out on too much of the in-between bits of life that way. Then I thought perhaps Anne (from Green Gables, of course!), but there’s that whole WWI thing in the later stories. Valancy from The Blue Castle would be lovely of course, but then I remembered Mary Russell from Laurie King’s series (beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice). And I choose her! She’s rich, she gets to travel the world, she’s fiercely intelligent, and she always has mysteries to occupy herself with. Of course, there’s also her tragic past, but I think it’d be worth dealing with those difficulties, as long as I had her husband by my side and her future ahead of me. So yes, I shall become Mary Russell please! (Also, in case y’all didn’t realise the full extent of my book nerdiness, a couple of months ago I bought myself a bee brooch in large part because of the whole Mary Russell connection. Maybe I’ll wear it in my next vlog!)

Finally, as far as blog love goes, I find it impossible to narrow my favourites down to any kind of somewhat-reasonable number. I keep my Google Reader carefully curated to just blogs that I love reading, and I’ve still got around 150 (plus a few more I’ve already added this week!). But I will say that I have new blog friends and old ones, across the world, at different stages in their lives, and with different viewpoints, and those relationships enrich my life immeasurably. With the difficulties I’ve experience over the past couple of years, knowing that I had people who believed in me, and were willing to lend an ear, even though they’d never met me was priceless. Whenever I open my Google Reader, it’s like I’ve checked my mailbox and found it full of postcards and letters, every single morning! And don’t get me started on the excitement of getting an e-mail informing me that someone’s actually left a comment…it leaves me glowing every time (are there ever too many comments? um, is there ever too much dark chocolate in my freezer?). In many ways my life feels as if it’s on ‘pause’ right now, with me being too sick to work, or even go out regularly and meet people and, if I’m being honest, a little bit empty (I can’t even volunteer, because my flare-ups are unpredictable and mean I can’t drive to meet any commitments I might make). Book bloggers give me company when I need it, understand when I have to disappear for awhile, and are the sweetest, most supportive group I’ve ever known, and book blogging keeps my mind sharp and gives me something to care about, especially in the short-term (long-term, I definitely have goals and dreams for my life, so no worries there!). My mom and I were talking the other day, and she told me how thankful she was that I was a book blogger and knew so many great people; I couldn’t say it better myself.  So a deep thank you to all of my readers, all of you bloggers out there writing wonderful posts full of book love, and of course all of my Twitter buddies. :D

And on that gushy note, I shall close for now! Tomorrow, I’ll probably be back to talking about books, but I’m following the BBAW blog and definitely enjoying everyone’s posts. Whoot for community celebrations: it’s like a week long block party! ;)

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59 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010 2:03 am

    What a lovely outpouring of love. We all love you too Eva. I am sorry that your life is on hold so much at the moment. It makes me feel a little bit selfish, when I moan my own life is at a standstill, which is completely down to me and I have nothing getting in my way. I really do hope that some day soon, your illness subsides to make life a more enjoyable for you. Until then, we are all hear if you need us xx

    • September 17, 2010 1:57 am

      Thanks Vivienne! But don’t feel selfish about your own moaning: I often feel selfish moaning when I have a strong roof over my head, enough food to eat, and lovely clothes. So it’s all relative, you know?

  2. September 15, 2010 2:18 am

    I’m a bit of a lurker, but thought I’d put my head above the parapet today :)

  3. bookgazing permalink
    September 15, 2010 2:28 am

    Awww Eva you always say nice things in such an eloquent way. This post is just so BBAW spirited, it’s beautiful.

    I just wanted to say you’re not the only one who buys jewellery because of book connections! After I finished Philip Hoare’s Levithan I bought a pendant of an old fashioned divers helmet, when I finished Wolf Hall I picked up an Anne Bolyen charm bracelet and (not book related but a tv tie in) I picked up a kind of tacky in a good way bracelet that said XOXO because of the Gossip Girl connection. I would love to see a picture of your brooch.

    • September 17, 2010 1:57 am

      Thanks so much! And yay for bookish jewelry. :D I wore my brooch in my vlog, but I’ll be sure to take a picture soon too.

  4. September 15, 2010 2:54 am

    I like all your character choices (except I haven’t met Valancy whom I haven’t had the pleasure to meet yet!) And I like that you’re a book nerd! Who wouldn’t get carried away with what you’re reading and getting into the spirit of things?

  5. September 15, 2010 3:02 am

    Nice to see you back with us (although how you wrote something this long while cruising through the hundreds of BBAW posts I’ll never know…) :)

    • September 17, 2010 1:58 am

      Thanks Tony! lol: I just dashed it off, which is why it’s far too long and rambling. ;) Plus, I haven’t been visiting ALL of the BBAW posts: I do want to read books too! hehe

  6. September 15, 2010 3:21 am

    Awwwww, this is so lovely. Reading this made my day — you make book blogging sound so bright and positive and cheery!

    And I love that you say that when you open your Reader it’s like opening a mailbox full of letters! That is such a comforting image.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Eva. Take care!

  7. September 15, 2010 5:05 am

    Aw, that’s so nice! (And Hi Eva’s Mom!)

    • September 17, 2010 1:59 am

      Thanks Chris! (And I’m convincing my mom to do a co-review with me soon…maybe eventually I’ll get her to guest post!)

  8. September 15, 2010 6:01 am

    heya, I,m one of the lurkers.
    I love the style and content of your blog, but I’ve never known what to say. For your questions
    1) the lists thing sounds very good
    2)Don’t know about the year but one of my fave authors is Jeanette Winterson, I also love Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Antonia White and Margaret Atwood.
    3)It would have to be a character from a nice childrens fantasy, maybe beauty from the same titled book by Robin Mckinerly. Who doesnt love the idea of being given a huge library?
    Hope you feel better again soon.

    • September 17, 2010 2:00 am

      Hi Le! Thanks for popping in. :) I’m a big fan of Wharton and Atwood too: now I’m off to look up Antonia White!

      I remember Beauty from a few years back: definitely a fun book to live in. :D

  9. September 15, 2010 6:05 am

    I love everything you said in your post! You express what so many of us feel. When people who don’t blog ask me WHY, I hesitate. For a minute, they arouse that feeling of disconnect, as though I’m the only one in the universe like me. But then I recall all the bloggers who obviously love it, too, and I feel that special glow that comes from having a fabulous secret.

    Those who don’t blog cannot understand the appeal, but that’s okay. In the blogosphere, the warmth spreads like a virus. And I’m glad, Eva, that in your darkest hours, you can feel it too; and that, perhaps, it helps you get through your tough times.

    Here’s to more warmth and joy for you everyday and in the future!

    Here’s my post:

  10. September 15, 2010 6:07 am

    Usually a lurker too, but oh yes, aside from being Arwen and getting to marry Aragorn, what could be better than being Mary Russell and getting to marry Sherlock Holmes?

    • September 17, 2010 2:05 am


      I lurk on your blog too. ;)

  11. September 15, 2010 6:11 am

    The beginning sentence of this post is brilliant!

    I’ve become aware of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from your blog. I know I’d walked past books by her in the store, but that was it, I’d walked past them because I’d never heard of her. But through reading your blog and gaining good recommendations she’s now someone whose books I notice constantly and who I intend to get round to reading soon.

    Even if it’s in a small way, I understand how you feel at the moment, and I think it’s great that your mom supports your blogging and that you’re able to find comfort and support in the community. I agree, the community is fantastic!

    I know these questions were for lurkers but it got me thinking…

    1) Is there anything you’d like to see more of on my blog (i.e.: a feature, topic, approach, etc.)?

    I think you cover a good number of topics and subjects in general with good discussion :)

    3) If you could live in any book (either as yourself or taking over a character’s life), what would it be?

    Although I read it almost a year ago I keep thinking back to Elizabeth Chadwick’s Shadows And Strongholds. It wasn’t the best book I’ve read (though I liked it a lot) but I’m always remembering how well she had me absorbed into the world. It wasn’t always a happy story though so I’d either want to be in the heroine’s position (a cop-out really because she gets a nice husband and good life) or as myself. The period of history fascinated me.

    • September 17, 2010 2:06 am

      Thanks Charlie for the compliments and understanding! I’m so glad I brought Adichie to your attention. :D I haven’t read any Chadwick, but I’ve heard so many good thingsabout her!

  12. September 15, 2010 6:13 am

    Great post Eva! :-) I won’t answer your questions because I should really get back to work, but yes, please do more lists! I love lists!! :-)

    • September 17, 2010 2:07 am

      Thanks Joanna! And more lists will be coming soon! ;)

  13. September 15, 2010 7:02 am

    What a sweet image of your inbox as overflowing with love- I think that just made my day! I’m sending plenty of love back your way as well. :)

    If I had to be a book character, I just might take over the life of Elanor, Samwise Gamgee’s first daughter- hobbits are awesome, Gamgees are awesome, and she gets to be a handmaiden to Éowyn.

    • September 17, 2010 2:07 am

      Aww: thanks! Elanor’s a fun choice: Samwise would be such a lovely father. :D

  14. September 15, 2010 7:48 am

    Well, crap, Eva. You made me tear up!!! I feel the same way you do about opening the Reader every morning to a pile of cards and letters. It really is a treat to be a part of this community.

    • September 17, 2010 2:07 am

      Aww: hugs to you! I’ve known you for so long now too!

  15. September 15, 2010 8:19 am

    Graphic novels and trying to diversivy my reading are high up my list for next year and it certainly were bookblogs that made me consider them.I love the image of your inbox overflowing with love.

    Oh, and Diana Wynne Jones is a recent discovery of mine as well!

    • September 17, 2010 2:08 am

      Isn’t it funny how blogging influences us all so similarly? :)

  16. September 15, 2010 8:46 am

    Although I’ve always loved classics, I think classics bloggers have really introduced me to great authors. Lot of great first this year. I’m off to write a post about it!

    • September 17, 2010 2:08 am

      I’ve definitely found more classics through classics bloggers, which is wonderful!

  17. September 15, 2010 9:10 am

    Aww we love you too! And I love this post! Let me see what I can do for these questions…

    1) Well, obviously I wish you were around more often, but I can’t change that! I love your long reviews and your mini reviews, as well as discussions and book lists, so I can’t think of anything else :)
    2) On this I’m going to have to cheat and give multiple answers. For repeat authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dubravka Ugresic, and Jessica Valenti. For authors that are new to me, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Orhan Pamuk, and Slavenka Drakulic.
    3) Wow… I really don’t know! I think I’d have to just stick where I am because I can’t think of a book I’d want to be in, at the moment anyway. Lame I know :)

    • September 17, 2010 2:09 am

      Aww: thanks Amanda! So many compliments I don’t know what to do. ;) Also, except for Adichie, Pamuk, & Valentini, I haven’t read any of your faves: must fix this!

  18. September 15, 2010 9:27 am

    I have to say that you have influenced my blogging style especially how I “review” books. I’ve stolen you thoughts idea rather than strictly review the books. I love your bookish posts. You have such a love for books it’s hard not to excited about whatever you talk about!

    • September 17, 2010 2:10 am

      Thanks so much Linda! I love knowing I’ve been inspiring. :) (And isn’t ‘thoughts’ more comforting than ‘review’?)

  19. September 15, 2010 11:45 am

    Beautifully said, my dear. Beautifully said.

  20. September 15, 2010 12:26 pm

    Aww, Eva, you are too sweet. We love you too. <3

    It seems that several bloggers are highlighting graphic novels today as an unexpected treasure, myself included. And it was definitely Ana who inspired me to try reading them in the first place. She is such a fantastic person who inspires so many. And Dewey too – she has also inspired me in a lot of ways.

    I lurk on way too many blogs, I must admit. It's not necessarily that I'm intimidated, although sometimes that's the case, it's more like I read way too many blogs than I have the time to actually comment on. So I really, desperately need to be a better commenter. NO MORE LURKING. LOL.

    • September 17, 2010 2:18 am


      I get not having time to comment! Don't feel guilty about that though!

  21. September 15, 2010 1:19 pm

    Group hug? :-D

  22. September 15, 2010 1:53 pm

    I still have Dewey’s blog in my feed reader as well. Finding myself wanting to reference it too often to even think about deleting it.

  23. September 15, 2010 2:16 pm

    Great post, Eva.

    Here’s my answers to your questions:
    1. Your blog already has such great features, what more could we want! Your reviews are always interesting, I love both your library loot posts (almost every time I find books to add to my TBR list:)) & your book lists. In fact I’m all for more lists! :)

    2. May I choose two? :) Marghanita Laski simply because I loved her Little Boy Lost so much, and Sofi Oksanen, because of her writing style and her fearlessness both in her writing and in her opinions in the media.

    3. This is a difficult one! Hmm… I think I’ll choose the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Moon. Turn of the century Egypt & Britain, egyptology, gorgeus husband, son who is a genius, lovely large family, and adventures! Another one, with some gender bending, would be to be Hercule Poirot! :)


    • September 17, 2010 2:19 am

      Thanks Tiina! Amelia Peabody’s a fun choice: funny so many of us have gone for mystery series, hehe. I’m in the middle of Purge right now, and it’s so good but so hard too. You know?

      • September 17, 2010 9:48 am

        Yes, I know. She writes so -I must say beautifully, even if the words are not beautiful- about hard and ugly and disgusting things.

  24. September 15, 2010 5:52 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! Lets be all lovey dovey! In fact we can always be lovey dovey :D I’m so glad to see you talk about graphic novels. In fact, I’m totally loving seeing everyone talk about graphic novels today!! I’m totally feeling the love! I swear, I just love this community.

    • September 17, 2010 2:20 am

      Yep: constant lovey dovey-ness seems a good state to aim for. :D

  25. September 16, 2010 3:02 am

    Hey! I partly inspired Eva – usually it is totally the other way around! lol.

    Glad you found a way to participate in BBAW just a little bit!

  26. September 17, 2010 7:56 am

    Wow, I definitely thought I had commented on this post–obviously I am losing my mind. Thanks for the DWJ shout-out! There can never be enough bloggers rejoicing in Diana Wynne Jones for me. :D And since we are being all lovey-dovey, can I just say I love your blog a lot, and I think you’re lovely? It took me ages to start commenting regularly here, because I was totally intimidated, but (as usual) there was no reason to be, and you couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming. :)

    • September 19, 2010 8:16 pm

      Aww: thanks so much Jenny! I love your blog too, and you’re so awesome. :)

  27. September 17, 2010 9:52 am

    I love the idea about the lists because lists whet my appetite and lead me to go off and explore.

    I too really enjoyed The Hakawati – found it mesmerizing.

    As for your question two: Hands down would have to be The Waves by Virginia Woolf just for her ability to put words on paper. It is an unusual structure and so well down that I was in awe reading it. I can’t wait for my book group’s discussion of it but they tend to be more plot oriented rather than structure and wording.

    Another book I just loved was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – I thought it was a touching fable on being an “other” and it really resonated with me.

    I couldn’t choose one book to live in or character to be because there are just too many.


    • September 19, 2010 8:17 pm

      Aren’t lists fun?

      The Waves is so amazing; one of my very favourites of Woolf (that I’ve read so far). It sounds like your book group might be in for an interesting discussion! I read a Bender book years ago, but I’m curious about her new one. :)

  28. September 19, 2010 9:50 am

    I have had my book in a nose entitled “adjusting my new job,” so it is especially nice to emerge and read about love in the book community. I echo all the love people have for you!

    • September 19, 2010 8:17 pm

      I’m glad to see you back around here! :D

  29. September 19, 2010 1:08 pm

    You’re such a bright star of positivity! I love what you do, and I love the way you share what you’ve discussed with others so we can really see that we’re not alone. To be honest, I love what you do here and can’t really say I’d change anything! In the end, you’re probably way harder on yourself and way more goals for yourself than anyone else could ever point out!

    I’ve really grown fond of the Desais’ novels. I’m wanting to do a little back tracking to pick up some of their earlier works.

    I have to admit that I’ve always kind of wanted to live in the American frontier or turn of the century New York (rich end of society). Yes, a strange dichotomy. I love Edith Wharton, so that is definitely one of my reasons for wanting to live in those times. Crazy, considering the work and sadness that people have written about in those eras!

    • September 19, 2010 8:19 pm

      Aww: thanks Becky! You’re so sweet. :)

      Have you read Letters from a Woman Homesteader? It’s about the American frontier AT the turn of the century, and I think you’d definitely enjoy it! :) I heart Edith Wharton too, but I wouldn’t want to become one of her characters. lol


  1. My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: September 16, 2010 « Hungry Like the Woolf

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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