Scott blogs at Furrowed Middlebrow
Anbolyn blogs at Gudrun's Tights
Qu. 1.) Did you grow up in a book-loving household, and did your parents read to you? Pick a favourite book from your childhood, and tell me about it.
Anbolyn: I was not raised in a book-loving household so I'm not sure how I came to love reading so much. My mom tells me that I taught myself to read before I went to school and I grew up yearning for knowledge and curious about the world, but I didn't read much in my leisure hours as a child. I much preferred to ride my bike or watch TV. The only reading I really did was at school and that's where I discovered a fascinating book about Egyptian mummies and death rituals. I remember being completely fascinated and checking the book out of the library during every class visit.
Qu. 2.) What was one of the first 'grown-up' books that you really enjoyed? What was going on in your life at this point?
Anbolyn: Gone With the Wind was my first grown-up book and I read it compulsively during my 7th grade year at school. I wasn't very happy in junior high school and didn't fit in with the rest of the girls very well and this is when I started to turn to books for escape. I immersed myself in Scarlett O'Hara's world and, though she may be a questionable role model for a teenage girl, I gained strength from her confidence and fighting spirit.
Qu. 3.) Pick a favourite book that you read in your 20s or early 30s - especially if it's one which helped set you off in a certain direction in life.
Anbolyn: A book that made a great impression on me in my twenties was Tess of the D'urbervilles. I've never liked unrealistically happy endings and this satisfied my sense of literary honesty. Also, I hadn't read much British fiction up to this point but reading Hardy turned the tide. I began reading lots of Victorian fiction after Tess and eventually became a committed Anglophile.
Qu. 4.) What's one of your favourite books that you've found in the last year or two? How did you come to blogging and how has blogging changed your reading habits?
Qu. 5.) Finally - a guilty pleasure, or a favourite that might surprise people!
Scott: I don't really feel guilty about my pleasures (except perhaps the fact that I can polish off a dozen donuts in about a day and a half if I allow myself). Cozy mysteries, romances, girls' school stories—I'll cheerfully and guiltlessly admit to loving all of them. But it might be surprising to some that I spent 15 or 20 years obsessing over the most "highbrow," experimental Modernist literature—
Anbolyn: People are always surprised to learn that I love being scared and truly appreciate a good horror novel. Nothing gory, but the suspenseful, supernatural gut twisting kind that prevent you from getting a good night's sleep thrill me to pieces. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon and I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir are two recent novels that scared me witless.
And... I've told you the other person's choices, anonymously. What do you think these choices say about their reader?
Anbolyn, on Scott's choices: First off, I'm not going to even try to determine this person's gender, age or nationality - too hard! This reader strikes me as being an inquisitive person, someone who likes a mystery, a bit of darkness to their stories and someone who likes a challenge. I think they must be intelligent and witty and that they enjoy examining the underside of life, peeking under the surface of polite society to see what human nature is really all about. I also see them as someone who finds joy in language, in how sentences, paragraphs and chapters are sewn together and they just might be a writer themselves. They don't follow trends or care about popular opinion - they are quite content with who they are and with what they like. I think they have a quiet confidence and a true love of literature.
Scott, on Anbolyn's choices: It sounds like I have a lot in common with this reader, and he/she surely has a touch of a dark side that I could completely relate to—I remember being fascinated myself by ancient Greek religious cults and rituals when I was pretty young. That dark side also shows itself in the reader’s guilty pleasure (which I’d never heard of, but which sounds irresistible). Gone with the Wind is a quite ambitious first adult novel for sure, and shows a taste for grand scale, drama, and romance, and the choice of Thomas Hardy shows that taste remaining even as he/she explored slightly darker authors (I also had several years of loving Hardy in my 20s). And finally, oh, Elizabeth Taylor, what a great choice—I know how excited I was to discover her. Since we have so much in common, I can only conclude that this reader has, ahem, impeccable taste!