Her name is Stasia (STAH-shuh), and she is a friend of mine on LibraryThing (LT). About three months ago, I asked if I could interview her for this blog. She agreed, but I didn’t get around to asking the questions until last week. Boy, how time flies when I have absolutely nothing to do.
Here, then, is my first-ever interview. Don’t expect it to be “Fair and Balanced” like Fox News because I am quite subjective when it comes to my friends.
Me (M): Hola, Stasia.
Stasia (S): Hi, Charlie Brain. [BrainFlakes is my non de plumage on LT, but Stasia changed it a bit.]
M: So how many books did you read during 2009?
M: And so far in 2010, which I believe is the current year?
S: I post my weekly reads on my LT thread on Sundays, and through today, 271.
M: During the past year and not quite five months, you’ve read 813 books. It seems obvious that you’re a speed reader.
S: No. I have never taken any kind of speed reading course. I read a book about it once, but I didn’t really like the way it was done. I don’t speed read, but rather spend time reading—in the middle of the night, when distractions are at a minimum.
My mother taught me to read at age 3, and being a great reader herself, always encouraged me to read. The last time I was tested—and this was 30 or so years ago—I read about 1,000 words a minute.
M: You are a very fast reader, then, as opposed to me being a very slow reader. By the way, I didn’t take any courses in slow reading—it just comes naturally to me because I have a tendency to dawdle or read with my eyes closed in the napping position.
Do you retain most of what you read or, like the rest of us, do story lines and characters eventually become fuzzy and fade away?
S: I think retention depends a lot on the book itself. The books that have made a big impact on me tend to stay with me longer. Some books, I just read them and walk away—those are the ones that really fade from memory, almost as soon as I’ve read them. I will tell you, though, there is no way I’ve retained everything about every book I’ve read.
M: What do you do with quotes or passages that affect you emotionally? Do you keep a notebook?
S: I do the majority of reading at my computer, so I have an MS Word file that I keep as a “Commonplace Book.” I also keep track of favorite quotations—or the most meaningful ones to the text—in my book journal.
M: How about characters or situations that make you cry? You must take a time out to weep and feel pitiful.
S: Oh, I am terrible about getting emotionally wrapped up in characters. I admit that I’m more of a crier when it comes to books than I am in real life.
M: Do you have any reading preferences? Fiction, non-fiction, genres?
S: About the only genre I will not read is horror; I just have too active an imagination for it. I really enjoy mysteries and romantic suspense, although since LibraryThing I read less in those genres than I did even five years ago. I’ve always been a big non-fiction reader—I just find truth stranger than fiction for the most part, plus I have an innate curiosity about everything. I try to read at least 100 non-fiction books a year; it was a challenge that Louis L’Amour presented in his autobiography Education of a Wandering Man, and I’ve tried to do it ever since I read his book.
M: Judging by the number of books you read, I suspect that you don’t purchase all of them. I mean, you’d have to be Queen Midas to buy a dozen books a week.
S: I do participate in LibraryThing’s ER [Early Reader] program, although I’m notorious for taking months to get the books read because I have so many library books that take precedence. I have anywhere from 80-99 library books out at any given time. Last week, I had 94.
M: Finally, there is a quote I like from Alan Bennett’s An Uncommon Reader: "You don’t put your life into books. You find it there.” Your thoughts?
S: I see it both ways. As a reader, I bring to any book my life experiences. The same book will never be the same for any two readers because of what we bring to it. For that matter, that same book will not be the same to me twenty years from now because my life experiences will have changed in the meantime.
I can also see how we find life in books: I can live vicariously the life I do not have. I just finished Walter Bonatti’s The Mountains of My Life. I am a forty-eight-year-old overweight woman who will never climb a mountain—but through his words, I can feel like I was up on The Central Pillar of Freney when the temperature was four below zero!
M: Stasia, thank you so much for doing this interview. I truly believe you are one of the kindest, friendliest, and most gracious ladies I know. So do many others: I know you are constantly in trouble with the LT Thread Police because your threads run to 300 messages.
Two views of Stasia's bookcases, made by her beloved.
('Tis a good thing they don't have earthquakes in Texas.)
[Unlike myself, Stasia has a real life. She works a 40 hour job at night. She has a family, so there are housekeeping jobs and errands to be done. She homeschools her youngest, who will graduate in June. She spends her evenings with her husband. Depending on her work schedule, she goes to bed between 6 and 8 a.m. She sleeps very little.]