Part of Armchair BEA is an interview swap with another blogger. So today I'm interviewing Judith, from Leeswammes' Blog. She reviews all kinds of books and also talks about food and cooking on her blog. Also! If this post looks a bit... different, it's because Blogger is having a tantrum and switching up the font on me.
What you read seems so different from what I read (typically YA) -- what is it that draws you to literary fiction in particular?
I like a well-written story. I also like a story with a good plot, actually, but a good plot alone doesn't work for me. I like it when a story is told in beautiful language. Though not too over the top, or I'll just give up on the book!
What books could you recommend to a reader who has very little experience in reading literary fiction? What about dystopian?
Maybe Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis, about a university lecturer who does everything wrong. It's quite a funny book and not so big either.
One of my favorite dystopian novels is The Chysalids, by John Wyndham. It reminds me a bit of The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness, but it was written in the 1950s and is a good book for both YA readers and adults.
Talking about dystopia, last year I made a list of non-YA dystopian books. There are so many (beautiful!) YA dystopian boos that it's sometimes hard to find out if there are any for adults too. Well, there are. (Some more dystopian books -- including YA novels -- can be found here.)
I love dystopia!
What made you initially start a book blog and why have you stuck with it? Also! What made you decide to combine your love of food with a love of reading and include food on the blog?
I was keeping track of my books on Shelfari.com (a kind of goodreads) and also writing reviews there. But I wanted my reviews to be available to more people -- I guess I wanted some more attention!
At first, I wasn't going to make it just a book blog, but include other things in my life as well. But in the end, it's mainly books, and sometimes a recipe or some other food-related post. Just for variation!
What's the best and worst parts about being a book blogger?
No, the best part is not the free books I get to review!!! I love, love, love the blogging community. I love the friendly interaction with my blogging friends. In real life, I know very few people who like reading as much as I do, so I think it's great that there is a whole world out there of people just like me.
There's no real bad part, but my aim is to write a new post every day and that is sometimes a bit much and I get stressed about getting it done. Also, I find it hard to say NO to authors that offer books for review. But if they're really not my genre or I'm not interested in the topic, I have to say no, and then I sweat over a friendly rejection email.
Here's a more difficult question: why do you love reading? Does that love come from your family being big readers or is it something you picked up on your own?
I love reading because I love stories (long stories the size of novels). I often like them better than movies because you can make most of the details up yourself. I also like it because it gives you a quiet time where you can relax.
My family are not big readers but my parents did always have a book on the go. We were frequent users of the library, but we didn't buy many books. So, we had only a small bookcase at home. When I was about 12-14, I read about 1-2 books a day. I read A LOT!! We were only allowed 2 books at a time from the library (library rules) so you can guess I was there almost every day.
On your blog you talk about the backs of books, but what about their covers? Do the covers make an impact on your reading/buying habits at all?
Absolutely! For me, there is nothing so important as the cover of a book! It determines for a great deal whether I will buy or borrow a book or not. Yes, I judge a book by its cover!
I had the idea for the Back of the Book competition because I realised that e-books generally don't have a back cover. So I was wondering: do people actually notice the back cover of a book? That's how I started the competition (which anyone can still enter if they like).
I know you were less than enthused about the ending to The Hunger Games trilogy -- what's a series that you think has a really great ending?
You know, I don't read many series. The only series I can think of is the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani which make more sense if you read them in order, but you could also read just the last one, or the middle one. So, no real answer I'm afraid.
How does your review system work?
I get review books from several publishers. In two cases, I choose from their list what I want and they send it (or not). Luckily, I don't get many unsolicited copies, so until now, I've read everything I've received. And yes, I review everything I read.
This year it got so silly with review books, books I swapped and books that I won in giveaways that I hadn't bought any books myself until far into April, and I maybe got 5 books from the library in that time. Now I'm limiting the amount of books I request for review, so I can also read the books that are already on my wishlist.
By the way, I read about 12-15 books per month, so one or two extra here and there don't matter too much.
What genres do you read?
You might better ask what genres I don't read! I read a lot, even the back of cereal boxes, but in terms of books: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, chick-lit, mysteries and thrillers, some YA, non-fiction about food, travel and language. And of course dystopian novels and some other science fiction, oh, especially time travel!
Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon, please. In the evening, either. :-)
Favorite TV show? I watch a lot of BBC (UK) - Masterchef, The Apprentice, Dr. Who.
Favorite Movie? Another UK choice: Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Favorite book? A Dutch one: Beyond Sleep, by W.F. Hermans. An English-language one: This Book Will Save Your Life, by A.M. Homes.
Ink: blue or black? Blue
Cats or dogs? I lean toward cats but also like dogs.
Favorite food to cook? Potato quiche - it's so delicious! Here's the recipe on my blog!
Judith can be found on Twitter (@leeswammes), Goodreads (Leeswammes), and Shelfari (JudithAnn).