I'm taking up Nobel Savage's general tag on the bibliotherapy Q & A because I need some therapy to keep my mind off my sore throat (ah, there's that moan again, I really do hate tonsillitis with a passion!), plus dealing with one tantruming toddler, one newborn and one energetic toddler has kind of shut my thought circuits off and I can't seem to get blog posts beyond the half written stage at the moment.
Q. How would you describe your current reading habits?
A. I read lots of blogs, research papers and news items for work, plus about one novel and one non-fiction at a time. Add to that books on various aspects of parenting / bilingualism which I usually skim read. Of course, I also read lots of toddler books.
Q. In a bookshop, do you tend to find yourself in the fiction or the non-fiction department?
A. Both really, I go through almost every aisle.
Q. What novels and authors have you loved in the past?
A. Where can I start? Isabel Allende as a teenager, Flann O'Brien at uni, lots of Irish fiction, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Sebastian Barry, Jose Maria Arguedas, oh, poetry. I love poetry, particularly Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, W B Yeats, but lots of other poets too. More recently: Umberto Eco, Colm Toibin, Chris Cleave, Anne Enright. I'm sure I forgot some really important names.
Q. Did books feature largely in your childhood?
A. Yes, I was a real bookworm, I read everything from the local library, fiction and non-fiction in equal measures.
Q. Where do you read?
A. In bed, on the sofa, when travelling without child: on trains and planes. During lunch breaks in the office. In the garden.
Q. Why do you read?
A. Hard to say, I just like it. I like the empathy for fictional characters, the ability to relate to characters that have little in common with me, or if they have common characteristics, to reflect on my own experience from an outside view. I also enjoy to learn new things, the way language can let you get carried away, the rhythm and beauty of words, the images of new worlds that are created in my head, the suspense of a good crime novel, the lightbulb moment of a thought well captured in a poem.
Q. What do you most hope to get out of a novel?
A. To be emotionally captivated by it
Q. Do you like the challenge of a big fat tome or do you prefer something slim?
A. These days I mostly only dare start a slim book. Some of my favourites are big tomes though.
Q. Do you always finish the books you start?
A. Almost always. A book has to really annoy me before I don't finish it. I almost gave up on A. S. Byatt's Possession at page 150, thankfully a friend said it was one of her favourite reads and I kept going. Now I'm loving it and can't wait to finish it (and forgot it at home this weekend, doh).
Q. If there were such a thing as a perfect novel for you, what would it be like?
A. I like different things in a novel. I enjoy well researched historical novels that give a real insight into the time they are about. I also enjoy well written crime stories that are about more than just crime. I also enjoy novels that introduce me to an unknown country / culture. Other novels inspire me because of their social commentary or philosophical explorations. I wouldn't expect all of this to be in one novel though.
Q. How old are you?
Q. Are you single, co-habiting, married, divorced? Do you have kids?
A. Married with one child (2 1/2)
Q. What do you do for a living?
A. I work 4 days a week for an international children's charity developing programmes and projects with children, young people and their families aimed at ending child poverty in the UK. I used to teach at university.
Q. What is preoccupying you at the moment?
A. My extended family, my charity project (A Hat in Time)
Q. Are there any personal dramas currently occurring in your life?
A. I don't like the term drama because it's almost a bit belittling. My brother in law died unexpectedly just over 8 months ago and my sister in law has just had their second child so I'm spending all my non-working time with them at the moment, helping them through this very difficult and demanding time.
Q. What are your passions?
A. Justice/human rights, reading, writing, photography, blogging, knitting, travel (not doing any of that at the moment) sometimes gardening, making things and having little projects
Q. What is missing from your life?
A. Time to relax, time for myself, time for my friends, travel to new places (I only travel to Germany to see my father now), time to go out.
Q. Where would you like to be in your life in 10 years’ time?
A. I never find it easy to answer such a question. I would like to continue having a fullfilling job while having maybe a bit more time for my family and friends. Still looking for the ideal balance.