Monday, March 28, 2011

A Reader's Perspective

From a Reader’s Perspective…

I invited Shawna Locke over because I found her on GoodReads and she has 13000+ books on her shelf. I wanted to get her perspective on reading and, of course, what turns her on, for all of us authors. Sit back and hear what Shawna has to say. Feel free to ask her questions in the “Comments” section and she’ll get back to you. You other readers, please chime in your responses as well.

Welcome to the blog, Shawna. It’s an honor to have you.

Please introduce yourself.

Hi, Susan! Thanks for inviting me to be on your blog! I live near Pittsburgh, PA with my husband, Mike, and my beautiful 18 month old daughter, Maggie. I’m constantly struggling to find a balance between working full time, taking care of Maggie (and Mike), keeping up with the ever-present dust bunnies and mountains of laundry, and, of course, squeezing in a book or two along the way!

I know the feeling, but I do love books as well. When did you fall in love with books, Shawna?

From the moment I could read. My mother was an avid reader, and we would go to the library together and spend hours there. We’d both check out a stack of books. And almost every night throughout my childhood she would sit in her recliner and I’d curl up on the couch, both of us absorbed in our respective books. To this day, if given a choice between a book or a TV show, I will always pick a book. (Unless “Jersey Shore” is on, because my goodness, is that a trainwreck!?! But I’ll still keep a book in front of me while it’s on, you know, for show . . .)

I also rode the school bus with two older girls, both named Lori, who turned me on to the power of books. They were four years older than me, and the three of us were the only kids on the bus for an extended period of time each day. We were the only ones from our far-away neighborhood that attended the Catholic school in town, which ran on a different time schedule than the public schools. At their urging, I read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret when I was in third grade. That was not on the recommended reading list at our school, by the way. The next year, they (double-dog) dared me to sneak my mother’s copy of Wifey from the high reaches of her bookshelf. Needless to say, Judy Blume was my go-to source for any questions that crossed my pre-pubescent mind!

Do you prefer certain genres over others?

I tend to stay away from sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal, but give them a try periodically. I have a soft spot for memoirs and historical fiction, and always enjoy a good mystery/thriller. I seem to go through phases. In January, I breezed through the A-List series by Zoey Dean and the Clique series by Lisi Harrison. I got my young adult fix with those books, and moved on to historical fiction in February with the Wideacre trilogy by Philippa Gregory (which is awesome!). Now I’m on a memoir kick. I’m open to just about anything!

When you walk into a bookstore or shop for a book online, what gets your attention first?

The bargain section . . .seriously! I’m always interested in getting a good deal on books. When I was younger I would read the same books over and over, to the point where I think I could STILL recite passages from Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock if I put my mind to it. As I got older and realized that there was a whole world full of books out there and there’s not enough time to read them all, I rarely re-read a book. So when I go to a bookstore or shop online, I usually check out the bargain section for books that I’ve never heard of that I may be interested in (but don’t want to pay full price for). Full-price purchases are reserved for books that I KNOW I’ll love and want to keep forever or would possibly re-read in the future. And of course it’s my dream to someday turn one of the rooms in our house into a library with built-in shelves, so I have to build up a stash of “keepers” for that, right?

What are the steps you go through before deciding to buy a book?

Price vs. “shelf-longevity” (addressed in the last question)

Bang for my buck. Is this a book my husband would be interested in reading after I do, or is there a friend I could give it to?

And, as cheap as I sound when it comes to buying books, I occasionally go on sprees. I have shelves and shelves full of books at home that I haven’t read, yet I’ll walk into Barnes & Noble and everything I pick up sounds so interesting that I just HAVE to have it. And I can’t decide what to leave behind, so I lug them ALL up to the checkout. And then come up with some rationalization to justify spending a lot of money on books . . . .(a) there are worse habits to have, (b) books are an INVESTMENT, (c) this is my hobby, (d) I worked really really hard this week, etc.

Have you ever put a book down, never to pick it up again? If so, what turned you off?

RARELY. And the few that I’ve put down have been because of their extremism. Over the past few years, I remember putting down a book that was wildly feminist and also a book on natural childbirth that wanted me to paint pictures of my fears associated with having a child. A little too off the wall for me.

At the same time, I’ve read SERIES of books that I didn’t like at all from the get-go. But I continued to read the next book. And then the next one. I’m not sure if I expected things to get better as the series went on, if I’m a glutton for punishment, or if my OCD tendencies were taking over and making me finish what I started.

Shawna, this is your chance to tell authors what you want in a book. Don’t hold anything back!

Reading is my escape—it always has been. I want to be so caught up in a book that I ignore the world around me. I want to have to tear myself away. I want to stay up until 3AM because HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD THAT I CAN’T PUT IT DOWN! I want to turn the last page, sigh regretfully, and then have the urge to call every single person I know to tell them that they HAVE to read this book. Is that too much to ask?

The books on my favorites list are varied. Sometimes a book becomes a favorite because of the writing style, sometimes because the plot is so original and/or cleverly executed, sometimes because of the non-stop action, sometimes because it relates so well to what I’m going through in my life at the time that I read it. But those are the books that stick with me, that I give as suggestions when people ask for “something good to read.”

Anything else you want to share?

My dirty secret is that I judge books by their covers. Silly, I know, but I constantly catch myself doing it. If I don’t like the cover, I have to force myself to read the synopsis. And, what do you know? I’ve found there are some really good books out there that just have ugly covers!

LOL. That's so true!

I’m also having trouble adapting to the technological turn that reading books has taken. I don’t have an e-reader, but I do have the free Kindle-for-PC and Kindle-for-Android apps. I hardly ever use them. I just can’t let go of the feel of a real book in my hand. Maybe my opinion would change if I traveled a lot, where an e-reader would make sense because of its versatility and because it’s a space-saver. Or maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy and want to sit on a rocker on my front porch, good book in hand, screaming at the neighbor kids to get off my lawn.

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Susan! This was fun, and made me think a lot about what I read and why.

Shawna, it has, indeed, been my pleasure. Happy future reads!

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