Reader Paparazzi: An Interview with a YA Book Reviewer

It’s Reader Paparazzi time.

 

YA readers interview

It’s research, not stalking.

Reader Paparazzi is my Q & A series spotlighting YA readers (if you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above).  I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration, or to learn what holds a teen’s interest, or simply find a new book to read.

But it’s not only teens reading Young Adult novels.  The popularity of YA spans the generations.  Wikipedia says the typical age range is from ten to twenty-five, but I know plenty of adults are reading it.  Plus, the categories of New Adult or Upper YA throw off the typical range also.

More than half of the eighty books I’ve read this year have been YA.  Although I guess I don’t count since I also write YA–and because I’m just barely over twenty-five.

🙂

Anyhoo, today I bring you an interview with a college student.  Ancient, I know.  But Amanda is a prolific YA reader.  She blogs about the books she reads over at her site Born Bookish.  Check it out.  You can find great reviews and segments like Breathtaking Book Covers and Wordlover Wednesday.

 

 

A big Reader Paparazzi hello to Amanda!

Amanda, what book are you reading right now?

You actually caught me in-between books! I started The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore a couple of months ago but have been so busy with review books I haven’t been able to finish it. Next up, is Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday.

 

the rise of nine

I am a fan of The Number Four series! Of course, every time I go to your blog, I find new titles for my to-read pile!

Okay, now let’s get serious.  What did you eat for dinner last night?

Macaroni & Cheese. Not the kind out of a box, I actually went out to eat and got fancy schmancy Mac & Cheese.

 

Yum!  What was your favorite book when you were younger?

I can only pick one? Wow, that’s hard. I’m going to go with Abby: South Sea Adventures series by Pamela Walls.

 

What do you hope you will be doing five years from now?

I hope that I will have a job in the field of Graphic Design, one that I will enjoy doing everyday.

 

What are you most looking forward to right now?

My trip to London that I’ll be taking over Winter Break!

 

Sounds amazing.  London is definitely on my bucket list. 

What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?

So many things . . . American Sign Language is something I’ve always wanted to learn–and how to play violin.

 

What fictional character would you most like to meet and why?

I have to think about this one for a minute . . . Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter because she is a spy, and what girl didn’t dream of being a spy when she was little?!

 

out of sight out of time

 

Yes, but all that intrigue can make a spy girl hungry!

So back to food.  What is your favorite comfort food?

Chicken and stuffing

 

Top 3 songs playing on your iPod?

Small Bump- Ed Sheeran

Red- Taylor Swift

The Writer- Ellie Goulding (I just bought concert tickets for an Ellie concert tonight! I’m SO excited!)

 

You have a great blog segment on book covers—how important is the cover to you when choosing a book to read?

So important! If a book has a great cover it is pretty much guaranteed that I will at least pick it up, read the synopsis and decide from there. If I dislike a cover I won’t even bother reading the back. I know that’s horrible, but it’s the designer in me. I just can’t read a book if I hate the cover.

 

If you could Skype with anyone—who would you pick?

Does Perry the Platypus count? No? Okay. Then I would choose Taylor Swift.

 

 

Quick fire fill in the blank:

I fear: Heights

I need: Chocolate

I love: Family

I am inspired by: Nature

Favorite word from your Wordlover Wednesday series: Lollygag

As in enough of. Got it. 

Thank you Amanda!

Now, because Reader Paparazzi gets me feeling extra stalkerish and curious, tell me, what did YOU have for dinner last night?

 

I did NOT have Halloween candy for dinner.  

Have an awesome week!

 

 

 

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For the Love of Food and Nostalgia

 

“Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.”

Sounds awesome to me–add in “read” and it’s practically perfect.

Those are the four words Top Chef judge Gail Simmons wrote down when asked what she wanted to do with her life once she graduated college.

 

 Talking with my Mouth Full details her quest to create a successful career out of those four words.

 

As I read her food stories from childhood up to her hosting Top Chef: Just Desserts, I couldn’t help but get caught up in my own food nostalgia.

One of the earliest and most vivid food memories I have is of a glass bakery case filled with sprinkle cookies and pastel frosted cupcakes–all of which were right at my eye level.  I was maybe three or four.

I wonder how many hand prints and nose smudges had to be cleaned from that glass front everyday?

All I remember is the excitement.

Because there can be a lot of emotion tucked away inside of our food memories.

Like the laughter at family birthday parties, especially as my sister and I dipped forkfuls of cake into our tea cups.   The comforting ritual of a bowl of cereal as I watched Saturday morning cartoons.  Or the fun and freedom of walking to the tiny convenience store on the military housing base I lived on in Michigan to buy sweet chewy rice candy (I loved how the rice wrapper just melted in my mouth).

There’s the surprise I felt when I realized how much I liked the cherry beer I drank in Brugge five years ago.  Along with the wonder of the many chocolate shops that lined the cobbled streets, all filled with pretty little candies lined up in perfect rows–inside glass cases of course (I think glass cases trigger a Pavlovian-like longing in me now–it happens now even at Starbucks).

I won’t forget how curious I felt eating crawdads on a picnic table outside our neighbor’s house when we lived in New Orleans, partly because it was so different and partly because I couldn’t quite figure out if I liked eating those little critters or not.

And of course there’s the food we remember simply because we are with those we love.

 baby food face nostalgia _opt

 

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

~ M.F.K. Fisher (The Art of Eating)

 

What is your favorite food memory?

 

Things That Make You Go Ew

 

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Cereal, eggs, toast?  If you live in Japan, it’s likely you ate natto. A.k.a. fermented soy beans.

Natto looks like Rice Krispy treats, but it’s not-o. They are a favorite breakfast food in Japan, often eaten with raw eggs and fish flakes.

And according to author Rachel Herz in her book That’s Disgusting:  Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion, they smell a bit like ammonia and tire fire.

 

 

 

Yum.

Then again, I routinely drink this for a mid-morning snack:

kale smoothie _opt

Frozen kale blended with fruit or the latest from Yankee Candle?

 

Grilled tarantula, octopus ice cream, frog porridge–one person’s meal is another’s poison. When I was a kid it was the crunchy onions in my mom’s beef stroganoff that grossed me out.

But disgust goes further than food.  It is related to other emotions like love, laughter and excitement.

Disgust can inspire laughter.

We all have our own personal “ew” factor.

But we are not born with it.  Disgust is learned.

Children will play in dirt (even eat it), pick up bugs or dried poop and carry around that “sleeping” bird they found in the corner of the back yard.  They don’t know what’s disgusting until they are told.

But why is carrying around road kill disgusting?  After all, kids could collect and swap them like trading cards, right?  And they’re free, unlike Pokemon cards.

Herz says the fundamental function of disgust is to protect boundaries.

 

“We are the only creatures who experience emotional disgust and we are the only creature that knows it will die .”

 

Dead birds make us think of germs, disease and ultimately death.  So we develop psychological strategies to defend ourselves from that which we think is a possible threat to our existence.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Obesity, homelessness, or disability can bring out a reaction of disgust.  In fact, anything that “reminds us that we are squishable creatures with a finite time on this earth” can cause us to reject, shun, deny and even destroy.

Of course not everything that disgusts is actually dangerous.

Anyone want a slice of TOILET CAKE?

It’s too gross to post here, but if you can stomach it, click HERE.

Yuck, but then again it’s just cake, right?

What we find disgusting can be easily manipulated.

How else do we see salmonella carrying geckos as cute and charismatic insurance mascots?

Or get caught up in the kind of disgust that leads to derision or bullying?  Suddenly it’s no longer about survival–instead it can lead to missed opportunity or prejudice.

But reasoning can be our tool.

“The more we examine and reflect about the world we live in and the people around us, the more mindfully and compassionately we live.”

So fermented soy beans with a side of compassion?  Order up.

What are your thoughts? I would love to know what you think about the things that make you go ew!