Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A BBAW interview with ... Avis

One of the best things I've discovered since I started reviewing is this great community of online bloggers. I love finding new blogs, so I liked the idea of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week interview swap. Basically, you're paired up completely randomly with another blogger and get to discover their blog and chat to them. I tend to know lots of the YA blogs out there, but not many others. I was lucky enough to be paired with Avis from she reads and reads, where she spotlights fiction written by women.

What is your favourite genre? Are there any genres you won’t read?

Literary fiction is my favourite genre although I also really enjoy mysteries, SF, contemporary fiction, memoirs, personal essays and certain types of nonfiction (such as The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, for example). I’ve also recently been discovering YA and graphic novels. The genres I don’t normally read are chick lit, paranormal fiction, Christian fiction, horror, thrillers, academic nonfiction, romance and westerns.

Who is your favourite author?

Picking a single favourite author is impossible! Some of my favourites are Janette Turner Hospital, Barbara Kingsolver, Nancy Mairs, Michael Cunningham and Kate Wilhelm, just to name the first five that come to mind. There are others I’ve read more recently that feel like potential favourites (they can’t be favourites yet because I’ve only read one of their books so far): Pagan Kennedy, Michelle Richmond, Susan Olding, Stephanie Kallos and Marina Endicott.

Do you have any books that you reread time and again?

I’m not much of a rereader (there are so many books I haven’t read once yet!), but I do enjoy rereading my favourites every now and then. Three that I’ve read at least twice and will probably read again are The Diviners by Margaret Laurence (she’s brilliant and this is her best book in my opinion), The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

I actually think it’s almost impossible not to judge books by their covers. For me, covers act as a kind of sorting mechanism. I read a zillion blogs and come across heaps of books nearly every day, so I need a fast way to eliminate at least a few of them as potential additions to my wish list. (I don’t have time to read every single review I come across.) At their best, book covers should be a kind of visual shorthand, so that readers can recognize the types of books that appeal to them just by looking at the cover. Of course, it happens pretty often that a book’s cover is completely misleading. This happened to me recently with Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton, which I almost didn’t accept for review because of its pink cover but ended up really enjoying. Obviously, the cover doesn’t make or break it—if somebody I trust strongly recommends a book, I’ll read it, whether or not I like the cover.

What do you do when you’re not reading or blogging?

For work, I’m a freelance French-to-English translator. For fun, I watch movies or TV, hang out with friends, play Carcassonne, write, cook, sleep.

If you had to pick the three best books you’ve read so far this year, what would they be?

Pathologies: A Life in Essays by Susan Olding
The Wishing Year by Noelle Oxenhandler
The Impostor’s Daughter by Laurie Sandell

Thanks for the fun interview Avis! You should all go and check out her blog.
*edit* And you can now read her interview of me if you want to.


  1. I really liked the book cover answer! Okay...the thing that stands out to me...freelance French-to-English translator. How cool! My 14 year old daughter loves the French language. She has plans to move to an area where French is spoken. We shall see.

  2. That's what stood out to me too ibeeeg! Doesn't it sound like such an interesting job!?

  3. Hannah, I loved your interview of Avis! You asked some great questions.

    You know I just realized that I read her interview of you, which I loved, but then I wrote about your interview in her blog when I guess I should have written about it here! ISo confusing!
    Anyway, in short, I have the same problen with writing reviews, sitting down and doing it! and I am also attracted by book covers but then I check out the book to make sure I want to read it!
    I haven't read many YA books but I'd like to so I'll be back for some guidance!
    ~ Amy

  4. A French to English translator?? You could have helped me with my read of Foreign Tongue.

  5. Thanks for the great interview, Hannah! This was fun!

    Thanks, Bluestocking!

    Ibeeeg, I'm glad you liked my answer to that question. I wasn't feeling very articulate when I composed it, but it's something I've been meaning to blog about for a while. Oh and your daughter could be a translator too!

    Hannah, I must admit that today, when I'm struggling to finish translating a brochure but really tempted to read BBAW-related stuff instead, it doesn't seem like such an interesting job! (But most of the time it is.)

    Amy, thanks for commenting on both our blogs!

    Ti, ask away in the future!

  6. Great interview! I just have one question...what is Carcassonne?

  7. I haven't read any of Avis's favs for the year yet but I've got The Imposter's Daughter to read soon. Can't wait to get to it now!

  8. I’m a huge Kingsolver fan as well – Poisonwood is the one book I recommend to absolutely everyone.

  9. Myckyee, Carcassonne is a board game of sorts, except it has no board, only tiles. You can read more about it here.

    Lisa, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    Heather, I can't wait to read her latest novel, The Lacuna, which is coming out in November!

  10. Thank you for the great interview, Hannah! I've enjoyed getting to know Avis better. I'm hoping to read the Impostor's Daughter soon so I'm glad Avis speaks so highly of it!