BBAW, day two: Interview with Jodie of Book Gazing

One of my favorite parts of celebrating Book Blogger Appreciation Week, happening now through Friday, is the chance to find new-to-me bloggers and see what they’re all about. In the past, my interview with other bloggers have been such fun and helped me forge friendships with folks I might not have discovered on my own.

In that vein, I’m pleased to welcome Jodie from Book Gazing today! A U.K.-based blogger, Jodie is a big Oasis fan with a penchant for the written word (like so many of us). Through email, we recently discussed my adventurous ability to try haggis in Scotland and I gushed unabashedly about what a crazy anglophile I am. Seriously, it’s to the point that I freak out when I encounter a Brit and want to break out in a crazy accent.

But I’ve been really working on my British accent. Maybe it’s not so scary anymore.

Without further ado from yours truly, get to know Jodie in our interview swap for BBAW!

1. On your blog’s main page, you write, “Have you ever found yourself sat in front of a bookcase entranced by the options in front of you? Then you’re a bookgazer . . .,” a statement to which I can happily relate. When wandering a bookshop, what’s the fastest way to get a book in your hands? What qualities in a book cover grab you immediately?

A pretty cover really is the way to open my purse, as I’m afraid I’m terribly shallow when it comes to impulse purchases. I’ve been known to override doubts about content because a book looks delicious, which has obvious problems. Fortunately I have pretty wide tastes in book covers, so a book needs to be attractive, but I find that beauty comes in many forms.

2. I see that, like me, you’re a panelist in the Indie Lit Awards — and as voting members, we’ll be getting our reading list from open nominations in the months to come. Do you enjoy assigned reading? Or would you rather choose all of your reading material yourself?

I can be contrary when it comes to assigned reading. I contribute to a group blog called Lady Business and I look forward to the other contributors giving me book recommendations. Last year I had no trouble getting excited about reading my five Indie Lit books. I’ve taken part in a couple of successful readalongs, with individual bloggers and a group called The Slaves of Golconda.

However, although I love all the list-making I consistently fail at reading the books I pick for other people’s challenges. I think the key to getting myself to read assigned books is to keep the unreasonable little voice inside me from harping on about approaching deadlines, otherwise I have a bad reaction and ditch books as some kind of weird readerly rebellion against pressure I’ve put on myself.

3. What do you think is the most underrated young adult novel you’ve ever encountered? Are there any YA books you’d really like to champion — and try to promote when you can?

This is a hard one to answer, because I don’t interact with all the different kinds of readers who pick up YA (young readers, teenagers, readers who aren’t bloggers) and living in the blogging world skews my perception of how certain books are being received. I would never have guessed ‘The Monstrumologist’ wasn’t making enough money, for example, because I kept seeing lots of bloggers talk about it.

Sarwat Chadda’s two Billi Sangreal books ‘Devil’s Kiss’ and ‘Dark Goddess’ about a teenage girl who belongs to the Knights Templars always felt rather neglected by mainstream media, but it’s possible we’ll see a film adaptation soon, so how neglected it really was must be up for debate. Chadda’s books are well written, well paced adventure novels featuring Knights Templars, who live to fight the forces of evil, have proved extremely popular in the adult book and film market. Billi skews the stereotypical kickass warrior character by retaining her ability to emotionally connect and I think we realy need more warriors like that in literature. I’m really pleased to see that Chadda has received a publishing contract for a new series.

Here’s a sampling of some other YA books I think deserve more notice than they get. I am constantly banging on about them all over the place, so sorry for repeating myself:

• ‘8th Grade Super Zero’ by Olugbemisola – contemporary fiction that contains a very relateable, conflicted teenage protagonist

• ‘A Wish After Midnight’ by Zetta Elliot – a ‘be careful what you wish for’ time travel narrative that deals out very real consequences to a girl who tosses pennies in a fountain

• ‘Ten Cents a Dance’ by Christina Fletcher – a girl struggles to keep her family afloat and herself out of the depressing cannery factories by becoming a taxi dancer, as WWII begins

• ‘What They Always Tell Us’ by Martin Wilson – contemporary YA about emptiness, brothers, running, and happy, romantic love between boys

• ‘The Agency’ series by Y S Lee – Female spies in Victorian London. Need I say more?

4. What’s your favorite part of running a book blog? What do you find the most challenging?

I’m terrible at design, which is why I got my banner from a talented graphics professional. I also generally lack enthusiasm for all the upkeep that can be necessary to make a blog really great (SEO work, tidying etc).

My favourite part has to be all the people that I get to engage with (I know, sappy). This year I feel like I’ve started to become really close to a few bloggers, even though I haven’t been posting as much. Hugs to everyone!

5. Let’s play the desert island game. You can take three books from three different genres with you to a desert island — and that’s your only reading material for a year. Which do you choose?

If I can only read three books for a year I need a couple of guaranteed re-reads. There has to be something by Pratchett (I’ve reread most of his books already). It’s a hard choice but in the end I plump for ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a book from the fantasy genre.

Next I’ll fill a slot with a classic that would have been contemporary fiction when it was first written. I have a feeling I could learn a lot about patience and being a grown up from a reread of ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen.

Finally I’d choose something new and unread for variety, something I’m really looking forward to digging into. Maybe some historical fiction, like ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters, since I’ve just finished her fourth novel ‘The Night Watch’. Her writing consistently floors me.

And don’t miss my interview questions over at Book Gazing!

Yours truly on That’s How I Blog!

Well, friends, next Tuesday, Dec. 15 will mark a very special day in the life of Meg — I will be appearing on That’s How I Blog!, the radio brainchild of the lovely Nicole of Linus’s Blanket. Topics of conversation will include reading, awesome and awful books, the world of blogging and the book blog community and, of course, write meg!

If that doesn’t entice you, I’m sure Nicole and I will get on the topic of my rampant John Mayer lust, British obsession and my great and terrible love affair with all things pumpkin. And if I happen to throw in some personal anecdotes about family, friends and ex-love interests, all the better! (And oh, do I have some stories — good stories.)

We’ll also be discussing Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts, an outstanding young adult novel, for the 20-Minute Book Club at the close of the show. Though I read it a few years ago, many parts have stuck with me — if you’ve read it, too, please stick around to discuss!

My show will begin at 9 p.m. EST and I certainly hope you’ll all hop over to listen and/or call in! If you have any burning questions for me, Nicole will field them early — just e-mail her with your thoughts.

I’m super excited and hope I don’t say anything mortifying; as we all know, once it’s on the Internet? It never really goes away. But I fully intend on sounding like the reasonably intelligent person I am, so let’s hope for the best.

See you Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. EST right here!