A New Series: Novel Women
Today, I'm so happy to introduce a new series to my newsletter.
It's called Novel Women, and it will be a series of Q+A interviews with different women about their reading lives. This newsletter will still regularly feature my writing, link round ups, etc. But Novel Women will be a regular feature.
This quote from Laura Miller is the inspiration behind Novel Women.
"I believe that reading is a profoundly creative act, that every act of reading is a collaboration between author and reader... Discussion of writers and writing generally bores me. But I’m always interested in why people read and why they like what they like. That’s far more likely to surprise and enlighten me than someone fretting about daily word counts and agonizing over their process."
Like Miller, I believe reading is a creative act and learning about the lives of readers regularly surprises and enlightens me. And, inspires my reading life.
With that said, I'm excited to share this series with you.
The series officially beings next week, but I'm soft-launching today by interviewing myself (ha!) to give you a feel for what to expect and for me to get my bearings on the ins and outs of publishing interviews (it's been a while since I've done something like this).
What's one of your earliest/first memories of reading?
AM: One of the first books I remember reading independently is “The Family Under the Bridge” by Natalie Savage Carson. I also have a distinct memory of randomly pulling the first of the Cam Jansen mysteries from the shelf at my local library and loving the thrill of reading a mystery. I love that these are two or my earliest memories reading on my own, because family stories with heart and mysteries are still some of my favorites.
Why do you read?
AM: I read to remind myself of what is, both the good and the bad of this world. I read to expand my imagination of what the world could be. I read to cultivate empathy. I read for delight. I read to manage the anxieties and burdens of living, which means sometimes I read to escape. I read to learn, to understand, to make sense of what’s happening around me, to draw connections between things that are seemingly unrelated. I read to laugh and weep. I read to love my neighbor well. I read because there are few pleasures as rich as finding oneself completely lost in a book. I read because sometimes I am lonely. I read to connect with others. I read to support and champion the work of authors and independent book sellers. I read to carve out a place of belonging in the world.
When and how do you read during your day? Do you prefer audiobooks, Kindle, or paper? A mix of all three?
AM: I read most of my fiction on Kindle and non-fiction in print. My audio skews fiction these days but that's recent development... historically, my audio has been almost entirely non-fiction.
What's a book you finished recently? Can you give us a one-sentence review?
AM: “People Love Dead Jews” by Dara Horn. Looking back at history and looking around at the world she currently inhabits, Horn offers a haunting, stunning critique of society’s relationship with the Jewish community and Judaism by examining stories, history and cultural artifacts.
What's your dream reading scenario?
I have SEVERAL dream scenarios. Early in the morning at my home with a cup of coffee. At a brewery on a quiet week night. At a bed and breakfast with a cup of black tea with milk and sugar after a long morning hike.
Where do you find recommendations of what to read next?
AM: I listen to one book-ish podcast regularly and that's Currently Reading. Most of my reads are from their regular podcast or their Patreon podcasts (including the Indie Press List). I also have a few friends whose recommendations I trust.
If you could have dinner with three authors (at the same time), who would you choose? Any particular reason why those three?
AM: Jane Austen, Fredrik Backman and Louise Penny. First, they're all funny and laughing is my favorite. Beyond meeting my passion for laughter, I love how they write about human nature, communities and belonging and I'd love to hear them in conversation with one another about those topics, especially since they all live(d) outside the United States.
I'm fascinated by the ways that our daily liturgies (i.e., the things we do over and over again as individuals and a society) form us and how those liturgies either empower us—or encumber us—in the pursuit of a just, charitable society. Each of them are incredibly skilled at taking a big problem (such as confronting the loneliness epidemic or living with those who are “other” than us) and helping us imagine how our daily lives form the way we live with one another and embody (or fail to embody) our values and ideals.
One of my favorite podcasts, Currently Reading, "pressed" books for the first few seasons of their show. A "press" is a book that they think a variety of readers would enjoy.
What's a book you want to "press" and why?
AM: "The War that Saved My Life" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. The Wall Street Journal described this book as “achingly lovely” and I think that’s a perfect descriptor. Through the story of a 10 year-old girl at the margins of society during WWII, Bradley examines the vulnerability of hope, offers a primer in trauma and grief, and shows us how belonging can bring healing.
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke—
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