BBAW Interview: Megan of Leafing Through Life
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.
Any 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.