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BBAW Interview: Megan of Leafing Through Life

September 13, 2011

I haven’t forgotten that Book Blogger Appreciation Week is occurring this week! Although today’s the only day I’ll be posting, I’ve been following all of the action whenever I have time online. :) My favourite part is definitely the interview swap, and I was extra-thrilled this year to get a blogger I already knew, one I’ve known for years! Megan blogs at the cleverly-named Leafing Through Life, which she started in late 2007, when we were both recent college graduates with a predilection for international politics. And in fact, a quick peek through her archives shows that she’s posted every month since she began; I’m in awe! She’s great at mixing bookish talk with peeks into her personal life, so reading her blog makes you feel like you know her. Her wry sense of humour is obvious even in her profile:

Hi, my name is Megan. I’ve always loved to read, and have more or less recently gained an appreciation for writing about the books I read as well as illuminating the unsuspecting public about the minutia of my daily life. And so was born Leafing Through Life.

And she talks about a variety of books: her last few reviews include Annie Proulx, Simon Van Booy, and Yannick Murphy. Now, with that bit of background, here’s the interview (I’ve italicised my questions)!

We’ve known each other for years now: crazy to think about! Especially considering how much the book blogosphere has changed. :) Is there any ‘old school’ blogging aspect you’d like to see brought back into the current blogosphere? Anything you’re glad has fallen by the wayside?

It is crazy! At this point, I think I’ve probably known you for longer than I’ve known most of the friends I have around my hometown. ;-)

I think what I really miss about “old school” blogging is something it would be difficult to re-create. I have been excited to see the book blogosphere grow and blossom exponentially since I started blogging, but I really miss the intimacy of blogging in a small blogosphere. In my first year of blogging, I might not have known every book blogger, but I felt like I did, or at least that I felt like I was aware of every book blogger on some level even if I didn’t consistently read their blog. Now, it’s brilliant to see so many passionate book people sharing their love of books on the internet, but I also feel like I’m constantly under pressure to keep up with everyone because I still have that feeling from the beginning that it should be possible, but really, it’s not.

I’m kind of glad the whole reading challenge has faded into the background a bit, if only because I was always terrible about joining them and then almost never came even close to finishing them. The challenges always seemed like so much fun starting out, so I’d hate to miss out on the fun by not joining them, but when I did join them they’d just become a source of pressure.

Have your reasons for blogging changed over the years? What about your approach?

I think when I started blogging it was a big “what if” for me. I was out of work, loved to read, and missed the bookish companionship of working in a bookstore, and it was fun to challenge myself to review every book I read regardless of whether anybody was reading those reviews or not. Now, my reasons for blogging have more to do with the blogging community. I don’t want to quit because I’d miss all the people I’ve come to know, and I’d be lost without their telling me which great books I ought to be reading!

What’s changed about my approach mostly comes down to scheduling posts. Back in the olden days, Blogger wouldn’t let you schedule future posts, now it does, and I consider it a very good week if I can get a few posts written and scheduled on the weekends so I can spend my weekdays focused on blog-hopping instead of writing posts with my poor, work-depleted brain cells.

On a similar note, I know that blogging has enriched my life in so many ways, which is why I keep at it! What’s the best thing blogging has done for you?

Blogging has given me a community where I feel like I totally belong. It’s incredible to meet so many people who are as crazy about books or more crazy about books than I am. I think attending two years worth of BEA has thrown this into sharp relief for me because I’ve never been the sort of person who can meet somebody for the first time and easily converse with them right off the bat, but when meeting book bloggers in person for the first time, even ones I haven’t been well-acquainted with online, great conversations seemed to spring up organically, and I was so blown away by how at ease and at home I could feel with people I’d never laid eyes on in person before.

ComplicationsAny advice for other book bloggers?

Don’t make blogging into a “have to.” When you start letting blogging feel like work, it shows. It burns you out as a blogger and sometimes as a reader, and even your posts will reveal you to be phoning it in because you feel like you must regardless of whether it brings you any enjoyment or not. If you need a break, take a break. I’ve found that sometimes that absence from the blogosphere really does make the heart grow fonder, and when I’m away for a week, I’ll come back chomping at the bit to get started writing new posts and catching up with all the friends I can find in my feed reader.

Let’s say you have to spend one month doing a reading project with some type of theme: all of the books you’d read for 30 days would have to relate to it. What would your theme be and why?

It probably seems sort of macabre, but if I had to stick with a theme for a whole month, I’d probably go with World War II/Holocaust books. I’ve had a fascination with them since middle school for reasons I can’t quite explain. I think it might be because they often reveal both the worst and the best of humanity side by side, and while they don’t always, they often capture how goodness can triumph even in the very worst of times.

If you could make everyone in the world read one book, what would it be?

I’m torn between Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus, which shows how thinking outside the box can work wonders when fighting poverty and Complications by Atul Gawande which is a revealing look at how doctors practice medicine. Aside from being incredibly readable and insightful, it also gives a clear-eyed view of what we can and what we shouldn’t expect from our doctors with regard to medicine still being a very imperfect science, despite its many advances. Aw heck, why can’t everybody read both? ;-)

How do you read your favourite authors: do you read all of their back list as soon as possible or try to space them out so that they last longer?

I’m definitely a spacer. I’m more of a “favorite book” person than a “favorite author” person, in general, so I don’t claim too many authors as my favorites, but the ones that I do, I definitely like to keep spaced out so that I’ll know I’ll have a book from a great author to fall back on if I read a few duds and need to be rescued from a reading funk.

Is there any foreign language you wish you could read, just because you so love the lit from that country?

This is a tough one. Russian, maybe, because I’ve always wanted to learn Russian anyway. Or maybe Japanese. Or possibly French. I love the lit from far too many countries to answer this question with just one!

What has been your most surprising read of the year?

Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor. I don’t read a lot of middle grade age level books. I love YA, but I often feel like middle grade books don’t feel deep enough to really engage me, and even though they might be great books, they are great books that I can’t love on a personal level. That said, I picked up Sparrow Road during the spring Readathon, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It has a collection of really well-fleshed out characters, a plot that is deep enough to appeal to all ages, and a setting that I desperately wished I could visit. It was especially surprising, though, because it made me feel like a kid again while I was reading it. In a good way. [Here’s Megan’s full post on the book if you want to hear more! -Eva]

And finally…what’s your funniest/weirdest story from BEA/BBC this year?

Probably the funniest thing about BEA this year was the Best Western I stayed in with Heather from Age 30+ A Lifetime of Books. It was uber-convenient (less than a block from the Javits Center), easy on the bank account, and clean/comfortable. It was also located on the same street as a gentleman’s club, a busy collision repair garage, and happened to be where they were hosing down the horses that pull the carriages in Central Park. So, yes, it was only a half block away, but in only a half block you had to bob and weave between crunched up taxicabs and Beamers while being careful to avoid horse manure. How ironic to travel to Manhattan from rural Pennsylvania only to find horse manure to be more of problem there than at home! =D

Thanks to Megan for answering all of my questions: I had so much fun doing this interview! If you’d like to see my answers to her questions (amusingly enough, we managed to independently come up with several very similar questions…must be because we’re both old-timers, hehe), pop on over to her blog.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2011 5:45 am

    There are corners of the book blogosphere that I don’t think I will ever be able to find – it is just that huge these days!

    I absolutely agree about the whole blogging as a chore thing! It’s meant to be fun so if it’s not then your balance is off a little!

    Fun interview!

  2. September 13, 2011 6:50 am

    I loved this interview and the photo! Great questions. Wonderful answers!

    Reading the interviews is so much fun! I am learning so much about the book bloggers..

  3. September 13, 2011 9:01 am

    Kudos to both of you for such a great interview. It sparkled like diamonds and smelled lemon-fresh, too!

  4. September 13, 2011 9:29 am

    Great interview! Another blogger I probably should know about and have only seen in passing, so I will have to check out her blog!

  5. September 13, 2011 9:45 am

    Being such a new blogger I like to know things about “the old days” it almost seems like bedtime stories that our grandparents tell us about the time they were young.

    • September 13, 2011 4:16 pm

      LOL I’m channeling my future babushka. ;) I should start a new series…Once upon a time in the book blogosphere!

  6. September 13, 2011 9:50 am

    Yay for a fellow Megan! And I completely agree that I was never the sort of person to walk right up and strike up conversations with strangers, but meeting book bloggers in real life — at BEA, the Book Blogger Convention, one-on-one — has made me such a happy and confident person.

  7. September 13, 2011 10:06 am

    What a fun interview to read! I love the BEA story…And I’m with you, Megan on the Challenges. I struggled to keep up with those too.

  8. September 13, 2011 10:08 am

    I haven’t spent much time at Leafing Through Life, so I’m looking forward to diving in a bit more! Thanks, Eva!

  9. September 13, 2011 10:15 am

    Hah love the interview, so many great questions. And you’ve both been around blogging so long it was great to hear your thoughts on changes.

  10. sshaver permalink
    September 13, 2011 11:10 am

    Definitely the best place about having a literary site is the people you meet there.

  11. September 13, 2011 11:35 am

    I agree. When I make blogging a have to I want to do it less. When I think I’ll take a break I usually come up with more ideas that I know what to do with!

  12. September 13, 2011 11:40 am

    I’ve known Megan for years as well and I know exactly how she feels about trying to keep up the book blogging community.

  13. September 13, 2011 11:59 am

    Thanks for Meghan’s praise for Sparrow Road. What lovely words. So grateful the book found its way to her in this big, busy world. Best, Sheila O’Connor

  14. September 13, 2011 12:25 pm

    Such a lovely conversation. Thank you both.

  15. September 13, 2011 12:45 pm

    Great interview!! I agree that the size of the book blogging community can feel overwhelming at times, and it’s so hard to keep up with everything. Sometimes I feel out the loop and lost, but I just go with the flow and do what I enjoy doing. I also have a fascinating with WWII/Holocaust books for many of the same reasons!

  16. September 13, 2011 4:19 pm

    Glad everyone enjoyed the interview: I loved seeing Megan’s answers! And I had to laugh at her description of her walk to BEA. :D

  17. September 13, 2011 5:45 pm

    Blogging breaks are a wonderful thing. Great interview, Eva, with questions that have even gotten me thinking. And I really enjoyed reading Megan’s answers and getting to know her a bit better!

  18. September 13, 2011 6:07 pm

    I don’t think I’ve “met” Megan yet so I’m happy to do it now! Thanks for the great interview, Eva.

  19. September 13, 2011 7:56 pm

    Thanks, Eva, for the great questions. I had fun answering them. :)

    This is double the fun, too, because I get comments on your blog *and* on my blog. LOL!

    Thanks for all the comments everybody. If I haven’t met you yet, I’m looking forward to it. With all these new bloggers to get to know from BBAW, I’ll have to scramble even faster to keep up with the blogosphere….but I’m sure I’ll have a good time trying! ;-)

  20. September 13, 2011 8:39 pm

    Lets hear it for that Best Western! The commute to the Javits was a tricky journey, to be sure. Lots of checking the bottom of one’s shoes. Great interview!

  21. September 13, 2011 8:49 pm

    What a great interview! I had to laugh at her description of her walk to the Javits. Only in New York!

  22. September 13, 2011 9:09 pm

    It’s nice to meet !! I agree that blogging can become almost a second job.

  23. September 13, 2011 10:22 pm

    I roomed with Megan at BEA this year – she’s great! And I DID learn a bit of Russian in college but man was it hard …

  24. September 14, 2011 9:32 am

    Loved this interview, ladies! Megan never ever fails to make me smile! :D

  25. September 14, 2011 4:03 pm

    What a great interview with a great blogger. I love Megan’s blog and it’s fun to hear her talk about blogging in her fun, funny voice!

  26. September 15, 2011 12:38 am

    Wonderful interview, Eva! I haven’t seen Megan’s blog before – I checked it just now and it looks great. Thanks for hosting Megan’s interview! I checked out your interview in Megan’s blog and it was wonderful!

  27. September 17, 2011 8:08 am

    The interview swap is my favorite part of BBAW, too — thanks for helping us to learn more about Megan and Leafing through Life.

    She has a great attitude about blogging (not a “have to”) – and, yes, very cool to meet bloggers and feel like you already know them :)

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