Lily McEwan: Novel Women
A fellow Cincinnatian shares about her reading life and we share the same "fake fear."
I’m thrilled to welcome Lily McEwan! I know Lily in my Cincinnati life. Although we don’t know one another well, we bonded over our dislike for the 2022 Persuasion, so of course, I asked her to share a bit about her reading life here.
Enjoy Lily’s interview!
Lily is a mom of three, married, and living in cincinnati. She’s a part time interior decorator, part time writer, although (in her words) “both feel more like full time hobbies these days.” Find her on Instagram @lilymcewan.
What's one of your earliest/first memories of reading?
LM: I was a very late reader. My mom read to me and my brothers, but I don’t have anything that sticks out as significant. Until eighth grade when I read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (lol) . . . it was Christmas break and I remember laying on the floor with the Christmas tree as my light, falling asleep there and waking up in the same spot to finish the book. It was the first chapter book I read, I’m pretty sure I never even read required material for school. Reading really changed for me after that.
Why do you read?
LM: My initial answer is eScApIsM! My favorite genres are romance and fantasy for crying out loud, or, even better, romantic fantasy, so obviously I read to be somewhere else completely. I studied English Lit in college, so, call it overload, but reading “real books” really lost its appeal in my early twenties, I only wanted to read fluff and I didn’t want to think about anything critically. I feel like a lot of people had different experiences during COVID, but I found that reading the books I would generally gravitate to got kinda boring, lol. I really needed books that challenged me, books that got me out of my comfort zone of fantasy and romcoms.
I can’t remember where I heard this first, and I know it’s a popular anecdote for reading, but it is so true that the more variety I read from a variety of authors in a variety of genres, the more empathy I feel, the more aware I am of life outside my realm and the more variety my outlook has. So, yeah, I wanna hurt a little, I wanna cry very hard and have a difficult time starting a new book because the last one was so consuming. But also . . . give me all the dragons, fake dating and enemies to lovers!
When and how do you read during your day? Do you prefer audiobooks, Kindle, or paper? A mix of all three?
LM: I’d say I’m 50/50 audiobook and Kindle, but I try to read 2-3 real paper books a year. College-aged me would be horrified to hear that. But Kindle is SO easy with kids. I can read in the dark. I can flip the page with one hand. If a child drops a drink on it, it isn’t ruined. My biggest “fake fear” is to be stuck somewhere without a book, so that’s easy too. Last year I read 58 books, that would not have been possible without wireless headphones, the backlight on my Kindle and the Libby app.
I’m not a podcast person, so if I’m driving, workouting, doing dishes, folding laundry, it’s almost always an audiobook. My neighbors probably think I’m insane, walking around cackling or crying while I listen.
What's a book you finished recently? Can you give us a one-sentence review?
LM: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin. Ambitious and surprising, I wasn’t ready to be consumed by a book about video games, but it really ruined me for other books after.
What's your dream reading scenario?
LM: Early morning. Lots of coffee. SOLITUDE! A beach/pool will do too.
Where do you find recommendations of what to read next?
LM: Goodreads + Instagram
If you could have dinner with three authors (at the same time), who would you choose? Any particular reason why those three?
LM: Taylor Jenkins Reed, Andrew Sean Greer, Beverly Jenkins . . . their books become instant favorites, everytime I’m like, this is it, this is their best, and then they do it again! I think writing good romance is the hardest thing to write, and they do it REAL good. If you haven’t read “Less”, move it to the top of your TBR!
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?
LM: I’ve got a couple . . .
“A Darker Shade of Magic” — easy, palatable fantasy, love this series.
“Lessons in Chemistry” — the subject matter is easy to process even though science is at the bottom of my interest, I can’t imagine anyone reading it without being moved and entertained.
“Horse” – when I say I needed the wall for support, not exaggerating! I think this book is important and everyone should read it.
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke—
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