Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interview with a Bookie

Way back in January of this year (2010, for those who aren’t quite sure), I mentioned in a post that I read 72 books during the year 2009. Two or three commenters expressed surprise that I read so many, if in fact exclamation points denote surprise. I’ll admit that 72 is a goodly number, especially since I’m a slow reader, but I instantly thought of someone who is a Master Reader—or a Bookie, as I like to call her.

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?

S: 542.

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.

S: **blushes**

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.]


Kim Ayres said...

So you read more than a book a week, and Stasia reads more than a book a day...

These days it often takes me 3 months or more to read a book.

This is basically because the only time I read a book is when I go to bed, just before I fall asleep.

But because I stay up until I'm extremely tired, in order to get some chance of a bit of sleep, by the time I climb into bed, I rarely manage to read more than 2 or 3 pages. In fact some nights I can't make anything more than a paragraph.

Luckily I read quite a lot before the days of CFS, so I am reasonably literate. But I do miss that feeling of getting lost in a good novel

Ponita in Real Life said...

Wow.... just, wow! I cannot even fathom reading that much!

I do enjoy reading, and used to a lot more than I do now, but I also have a life and work, although no kids. I couldn't live with only 2 hours sleep, though. I might end up killing someone at work, and that just wouldn't do...

I'm very proud to say I have finally finished reading the book my sister lent me in October of last year. Just finished it on Friday. It's over 800 pages and a gripping tale, but you do have to sit down and crack the cover to actually get any pages read. That's where I am lacking, I think.

Great interview, Charlie!!! Complete with pictures too. :-)

mapstew said...

I've always loved reading, (though it takes me a while to get through each book, and I always slow down coming to the end if it's a good'un! I hate finishing a good book, it's like saying goodbye to a dear friend!

I started reading to Kate when she was a baby, pointing to the words as I read them when she was able to understand. She was reading on her own before she started school (as a 4 year old), and still has a great love for books. The other two also have a great love of reading, as does Mrs. Map. Quite often three of us will be reading the same book, passing it around, eacw with our own unique 'dog-ear' markers! :¬)

Hannah Stoneham said...

Thank you so much for sharing this - this is certainly a prodigeous appetite for reading!

Happy monday


savannah said...

right now, i feel fortunate to finish a magazine article. *sigh* i need to change that! xoxoxoxo

Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, holy crap! That is incredible! I don't even work 40 hours a week and I feel pretty stoked when I read 2 books a week! Go Stasia! And thanks for the interview, Charlie!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am gobsmacked. I don't even have a real job, I too sleep very little and it still takes me weeks to finish a book.

I feel rather inadequate now.

But I did love this interview - very insightful. Well done, Charlie!

Unknown Mami said...

I am stunned. Very impressive.

laytonwoman3rd said...

Great interview with a great lady, Charlie. But Stasia, what were YOU thinking? Do you know how many books you could have read in the time you spent talking to him?? Here's what I think---since everything is bigger in Texas, time must be expanding for your benefit, allowing you to fit in several more hours of reading in a given day than normal humans like Charlie and me. I read 81 books last year, and felt pretty good about that. This year, I'm limping along at something like a 60 per annum rate. No matter hw you explain it, I just cannot fathom how you do what you do. Oh, sorry, can have your blog back now.

Madame DeFarge said...

Very interesting interview. I don't read as much as I used to, but maybe I'm more selective in my material and I find very few fiction books of interest these days. Give me a good (or bad) history book and I'm a happy puppy.

lisleman said...

an amazing volume of books - My yearly count is sometimes in the single digits. Do you think she ever just reads a few pages and quits?

Alice said...

i now don't feel so bad that i have ten library books at home. of course, mine have been renewed five times, because everytime i start one, i find a different one that i want to read more!

Tiffin said...

Good interview, Charlie and Stasia. Time must flow in a different continuum in Texas!

I've always said if I didn't have to eat, sleep and go to the loo, I could get tons done, especially reading. The 8 hours per night I need/crave/enjoy are nonnegotiable so I guess I have to continue to chuff along at between 75-80 books a year. I read more when I was younger but the eyesight AND the brain were in much better shape then. And if it's gardening season, fuggetaboutit!

Charlie said...

KIM: CFS has you by the bollocks, to use a vulgar term. Since the onset of glaucoma, my reading is way down: 20 books since Jan. 1, and some of them very short. Our spirits are willing, but ...

PONITA: Not everyone suffers from bibliophilia; most people are quite normal.

I added the pictures so you wouldn't have to read anything.

MAP: I understand not wanting a good book to end. And I know about Kate's love for books and poetry.

I like how you pass a book around, making it a family activity.

HANNAH: Thank you for "coming round", and you're welcome.

SAVANNAH: "Hannah and Savannah, sitting in a tree, r-e-a-d-i-n-g".

Charlie said...

WC: With your usual insight and aplomb, you said it: holy crap.

BARB: You are the least inadequate person and zombie I know. And thanks for the compliment.

MAMI: I understand your stunnedness and I laud your ability to be impressed.

LINDA: I don't want my blog back, now that you've dissed me:

"But Stasia, what were YOU thinking? Do you know how many books you could have read in the time you spent talking to him??"

I appreciate the compliment, but it'll be a cold day in Pennsylvania before I ask you for an interview. **pouting with lower lip fully extended**

Charlie said...

MADAME: I am shocked by a woman of your breeding using the term, "happy puppy". I do, however, understand your preference for history books. A quite interesting one is A Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, an amazing account of the American Dust Bowl during the 1920s and 30s.

L-MAN: No way does Stasia read just a few pages and quit. She writes blurbs about each book and discusses it on her threads. If by chance she DNF (did not finish) a book, she so notes it and does not include it in her count.

ALICE: LOL. There's nothing like being wishy-washy, I always say.

TUI: Sleep, eyesight, and gardening. Gotcha. You manage to complete the 75 Book Challenge anyway, weaving books into your real life.

Stinkypaw said...

That's a lot of books. I can't even read blogs lately so just the thought of reading that many books, wow!

Charlie said...

STINKY: Reading blogs and books is a challenge, but I prefer reading real people—and friends.

Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

Charlie - WOW!