Tuesday, 14 September 2010

New Treasure - Interview Swap

Today it's time for the BBAW interview swap, and my partner for this is Jenners from Find Your Next Book Here.  Rather than speak for her, I'll let her do the talking, in response to a few questions I dashed off to her last week - enjoy :)

How would you briefly describe yourself for the blogging public reading this post?
The Fantasy: Witty and winsome, this wildly popular blogger has been charming the pants off her fellow book lovers for almost two years. Known for her astute analyses of an eclectic mix of books, Jenners is currently at work on her own novel, which has been optioned by Harper Perennial.

The Reality: Chubby and mildly humorous on her best days, this beleaguered stay-at-home mom could stand to lose about 25 pounds, clean the house more often and read less. Yet she manages to spend more time working on her blogs than she does planning and preparing nutritious meals for her family. Although she's dreamed of attempting to write a novel for almost her entire life, laziness and a lack of confidence have so far kept her from even trying.

When and why did you start your blog?
I started my personal blog, Life with a Little One and More, in November 2008 after seeing a friend's blog and thinking "I could do that!" I'd been seeking a creative outlet to offset the monotony and tedium of being a stay-at-home mom/housewife, and nothing had been a good fit. I'm not crafty AT ALL so sewing, needlepoint, scrapbooking and all the various other projects I'd attempted had quickly been tossed aside to molder in a closet. But blogging ... well, blogging was what I'd been seeking my entire life! I realized quickly that I wanted to write about books as well as my personal life so I decided to start a dedicated book blog, which ended up as Find Your Next Book Here. Since then, my love affair with blogging has never wavered (much to my husband's chagrin and surprise).

What is the main focus of your blog, and what type of posts are most common (reviews, chatting, giveaways)?
I don't really have a defined focus for my blog other than to write about the books I'm reading. The majority of my posts are book reviews, but I do have a monthly giveaway and occasionally write chatty book-related posts if the mood strikes me.

How much time and energy do you put into your blog?
Way more than I probably should ... and much much much more than my husband feels I should! I estimate that I spend at least 2 hours a day every day blogging, which includes writing posts and visiting other blogs. Left to my own devices, I would probably spend even more than that but I realize I do have other responsibilities. Sigh.

What would you change about your blog and/or your blogging if you had the time?
I'd love to move it to Wordpress, but I'm unsure how to do this without losing my domain name and screwing up the feeds. (Any hints or advice would be greatly appreciated.) The main reason I want to move to Wordpress is for the threaded comments--that is one of the things that really annoys me about Blogger. How hard is it to develop a better commenting system, Blogger Powers-That-Be????? And I'm always futzing around with my blog look. I try to leave it alone but at least once a year I get all crazy and change it around. I'd also like to finally get caught up on my book reviews. Right now, I have a list of 11 books I still need to write reviews for, and it drives me crazy.

Do you think you read enough books from outside your home country?
No ... but I don’t really focus on that as a reading goal. In thinking back over the books I've read this year, almost all of them are by American or British authors. I did read Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series, and I'm painfully working my way through Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov right now. And I'm hosting a read along for Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi later this month, so I guess I'm branching out a bit.

If you had to choose three books everyone should read, what would they be?
Wow ... that everyone should read? Impossible to answer! How about three of the best books I've read in the past year or so? The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

E-books: the next big thing or spawn of Satan?
The next big thing! I've had a Kindle for about a year or so (and just upgraded to the new Kindle 3 ... they did a really good job improving it!), and I love it. I love its portability. I love having a gadget my husband doesn't hog. I love being able to take 10 books on vacation without having to figure out how to fit them in a suitcase. I love that I can get more books for my money. I love that I don’t have to find more room on the four shelves I'm allowed to fill with my books. (Unfair, yes?) I really don’t think paper books or bookstores will disappear any time soon so I fully embrace e-books as an enhancement to my reading addiction.

Do bloggers deserve free books from publishers in return for reviews?
Well, "deserve" is such a loaded term. I think the relationship between publishers and book bloggers can be a mutually beneficial thing, but I think both sides need to adhere to a few guidelines. First, publishers SHOULD NOT expect, demand, or imply that the books they send to a blogger should receive positive reviews. All they should expect is honest and timely reviews. Second, bloggers SHOULD read books they receive for review in a timely manner and write a thorough, honest and considered review. By this, I think if a blogger receives a free book from a publisher, they should read it relatively soon after receipt and take the time to write a review that gives their readers an idea of what the book is about and what they thought of it.

Personally, I try to limit the amount of books I accept for review from publishers so I don't feel overburdened. I do provide my honest opinion of the book, but I also try to present basic information about the book so my readers can decide whether this book might be of interest to them or not. I think that is all I can be expected to do by a publisher. I do also disclose if I got a book for free from a publisher so that my readers know and can decide whether that matters to them. Also, I don’t think it is fair to accept a book for review and then regurgitate the book jacket description and write just a few lines such as "I really liked it!" or "Not so good!" In exchange for the free book, I think a blogger needs to put a little honest effort into their review.

What is the future of book blogging?!
Darned if I know!

Thanks for the chat Jenners :) 
If you want to hear what I had to say, you can find my half of the interview over at Jenners' site...