Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Page in the Life of Anna from Diary of an Eccentric

I knew right away that the focus of my blog would be the books I read. You know that not so old cliche about books being like breathing? It's true. Before I took the plunge into blogging, I did a little research. I visited book blogs, hoping to get an idea of what I might want to do and what I could expect. The wide variety of blogs amazed me. Even today, I still am awed by many of the blogs out there, and I continue to learn and glean new ideas from them. But what of the person behind the blog?

My Friend Amy came up with the idea of having bloggers interview other bloggers as part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week this past year. And that was the spark that gave me the idea of hosting "A Page in the Life." I thought it would be a good opportunity for you and I to get to know each other a little better.

When I was trying to decide who to approach for the first interview, Anna of Diary of an Eccentric came to mind. She is intelligent and caring, qualities that can easily be seen by anyone who visits her blog. I wish my reviews were as well written as hers are. Anna's 8-year-old daughter has even been bitten by the book reviewing bug and occasionally contributes a review or two. Anna proved to be a good choice to open A Page in the Life. She has been a joy to work with.

Anna is currently co-hosting the War Through the Generations Reading Challenge and has taken an active role in promoting aid to the Lost Boys of Sudan, encouraging others to donate medical supplies in order to promote health and a better life.

Please welcome Anna to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Literary Feline: Welcome, Anna! Thank you for agreeing to be my first guinea pig. I am excited to have you here today.

Let's start off with the ever important question: how do you like to start off your morning?

Anna: I'm not much of a morning person, but I roll out of bed at 4 a.m., and I'm out the door by 4:50 to catch the train to work. I read from about 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. during my commute. It's much better than annoying people with my snoring, and it makes it easier to ignore the crazy people who seem to follow me around on public transit.

Ideally, I'd love to get up around 7 a.m. with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Heck, even without a day job I wouldn't have that luxury. Not with a kid who needs to get ready for school!

Literary Feline: Besides reading and books, what are some of your other interests, hobbies or passions?

Anna: When I'm not reading, I write (I'm working on a novel and some short stories) and knit. I also enjoy card games, bowling, and my new Wii Fit. I don't watch a whole lot of tv, and I'm not a big movie person. I do watch documentaries (mostly war-related) on the History and Military channels, and I love the Food Network. Some days I'm pretty boring though. Because I'm gone from 4:45 am to 5:15 pm every day, I'm lucky if I have enough energy after I cook dinner, help my daughter with her homework, and get her to bed. Sometimes the only thing I do besides my commuter reading is falling asleep on the couch!

Literary Feline: How did you get started blogging about books?

Anna: I've always been a bookworm, but I didn't even know book review blogs existed until about 6 months ago. (I know, I was living under a rock, or more accurately, balls of yarn.) I started blogging in June 2007, and I envisioned a knitting blog with some talk about books and writing, mostly to fill in the gaps between completed projects. I barely posted once a month back then, so that didn't work out well for me. I didn't start blogging on a regular basis until June 2008, when I realized I had more to say about books than yarn. (Don't get me wrong, I still love me a soft ball of cashmere or merino wool.) I started reviewing books as a way to keep track of what I read. That's still the main reason why I blog, with the added benefit of discussing books with my book blogging buddies.

Literary Feline: Has blogging impacted your reading? If so, how?

Anna: Blogging doesn't cut into my reading time, as much of my reading is done on the train to and from work. The only thing that's changed about my reading is the review requests from authors and publishers. While it's great to have the opportunity to read books before they hit the shelves, it's easy to become overwhelmed with review copies. I'm digging myself out from under a pile right now, but I'm enjoying every minute of it. Still, I've become more critical of the books I accept these days, as I want to leave room to read what I want. There are a lot of old books on my wish list, and I have a very ambitious reading list for the WWII reading challenge I'm co-hosting with Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit.

Literary Feline: What types of books do you like to read? And do you blog about every book that you do read?

Anna: I don't stick to a single genre. I'm pretty much open to anything. I'm just looking for good books. If the summary on the book jacket grabs my interest, I'll probably pick it up regardless of genre. Still, I generally don't read westerns or Harlequin-type romance novels. I'm picky about fantasy and chick-lit, but I will read it. It just depends on the book. Since I started blogging, I've explored some genres I might not have otherwise. I'm a sucker for family sagas and fiction set during wartime, though.

One of my goals for 2009 is to review every book I read. Last year, I read more books than I reviewed. I'd finish a book, set it aside to let it sink in, then immediately start another book. A few books go by, and my initial impressions are lost. My to-be-reviewed stack rivaled my TBR pile! Well, almost. ;)

Literary Feline: Do you have any reading routines, rituals or habits?

Anna: I have to carry a book or two with me for the work commute. I know what it's like to be stuck on a broken down train for an hour or more, and I shudder to think about being in that situation without a book. Hmm...what else? I'll read the entire book, even the copyright page and acknowledgments. I have to stop every few minutes and sniff the pages. I love the smell of books, and each one is unique! Oh, I also find myself smoothing down the cover where it joins the spine. I can't stand bent covers or broken spines. I hope that's what you were looking for, otherwise all your readers now know how weird I am. Then again, I've never denied my eccentricities. :)

Literary Feline: How do you pull yourself out of a reading or blogging slump or what steps do you take to avoid that from happening?

Anna: With a full-time job and a rambunctious 8-year-old, there's not much time for blogging or blog reading during the day. It's not unusual to find me reading blogs at 3 a.m. on Saturday mornings. But I don't feel like I have to post something every day, and I give myself a couple of nights off during the week. That really helps me not feel overwhelmed. As for reading slumps, normally I find myself falling asleep on the train or staring out the windows when I can't get into a book. Life is too short to read bad books, so I find that simply giving up on a book and choosing a new one gets me back in the groove.

Literary Feline: Do you have any advice or tips for your fellow bloggers?

Anna: Be honest in your reviews, don't be afraid to say what you think. Write about what interests you, and don't feel pressured to post every day. Blogging should be fun, and if it becomes a chore, you should step back and make some changes.

Literary Feline: What are you reading right now? Do you have any book or author recommendations?

Anna: Right now, I'm halfway through Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas. Next in line is The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra.

Amy Tan and Anita Shreve are authors I've loved for a long time. Some of my all-time favorite books are The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Resistance by Anita Shreve, Sea Glass by Anita Shreve, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Two books that blew me away that you might not know about are Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy and its follow up, A Family Daughter. Pam Jenoff's The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat's Wife are new favorites.

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog!

Literary Feline: It was my pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Be sure to stop by and visit Anna over at Diary of an Eccentric!


  1. Hi Anna,

    You wake up at 4.00??? You are an extraordinary woman, I would have quit my job long back :)
    I really like what you have to say about don't feel pressured to post everyday.
    I loved book thief too.

    Thanks Wendy for the interview. It was fun.

  2. What a great idea and an interesting way to learn more about other bloggers!

  3. Wendy, this is just a cool idea! I love getting to know more about people.

    I'm impressed Anna gets up at 4 everyday, too. Yikes!

  4. Great job Wendy! You are such a leader in the blogging community with your organization and new ideas. This was one such great idea! I love getting to know the person behind the blog. I have so much admiration for Anna, who works a full time job, has a child (which is another full time job) and maintains such a wonderful blog. Makes me wonder when she sleeps!

  5. 4am is when I go to bed, Anna! JK. Anna is one of my favorite bloggers, as well. AND, I'm not just saying that... it's the truth. Her writing skills are extraordinary.

    I liked getting to know her better via your blog post.

    I like the changes to your site, as well.

  6. Great interview - it was fun reading about Anna because I love her blog. I can't believe she an hour and a half commute to work - that really stinks. At least she makes good use of that time!

  7. Wendy, thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog! And a big thanks to you and to everyone who has commented on the interview for your kind words.

    I probably should add that I don't really get much sleep. If I'm not conked out on the couch by 8 pm, I'm up until midnight. And the trick to getting out of bed every morning at 4 is throwing my hair in a bun and not wearing any makeup. And at least I can wear jeans to work!

    Thanks again, Wendy, and I can't wait to see who you interview next. I think this is a great idea, and I look forward to getting to know more of the people whose blogs I read and enjoy.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  8. Great interview with my RL and blogging buddy, Anna. She has a fantastic blog and she works hard at it and everything she does.

    I have admiration for her ability to go to bed some nights at 11pm and get up at 4am and still be but maybe I've let too much out of the bag...

    I look forward to this new regular feature here...and I love the new blog look!

  9. Great interview, and what a nice idea. That's the second book blogger I know of who gets up at 4 a.m. I don't know how she does everything, I'd be sleeping on the train myself.

  10. Hey Wendy! This is a super idea! I learnt so much more about Anna today. I can't wait to read more about other bloggers I follow regularly!

  11. Fantastic interview - and now you've added yet ANOTHER blog to my google reader :)

    Hey, I love your new look :)

  12. This was fun - what a great idea! I already read Anna's blog but it was nice to learn more about her. I look forward to reading more posts like this. :)

  13. Great interview and a great idea, Wendy! Anna's blog is in my Google Reader feeds, and I enjoy her reviews, as well as the fact she's bringing her daughter on board to do them too!

    But wow, someone who gets up even earlier and has a longer commute than I do is hard to find! I don't envy the commute time, but I DO sort of envy the fact that Anna commutes by train and gets reading time - I SO wish I had that option :-).

    Looking forward to your next interview, Wendy - with so many great book bloggers out there to get to know, it must be a tough decision (but in a good way)!

  14. Great interview! And really neat idea Wendy. Anna... I CANNOT believe that you wake up at 4am! WOW. I am impressed that you have energy to blog!!!

  15. Awesome interview! Thank you so much. Anna... you are amazing... wow.

  16. I am totally reviewing what I consider to be a morning person. You rock.
    Great article.

  17. I have a similar commute each day, and that is my reading time as well!

    thanks so much for the interviewe.

  18. Very fun idea! And great to get to know Anna better. I look forward to more interviews!

  19. Awesome job, Wendy and Anna!! I'm going to look forward to more interviews!

  20. Wow, great questions Wendy and great job answering them Anna. Back in my university days, I have to get up at 5am for work. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I can't imagine getting up at 4am! Yikes!

  21. Thank you so much for the interview! Anna is one of my all-time favorite people. :D

  22. That was fantastic!! I love Anna!! I've never visited her blog but I will right after I post this comment. I totally get her about the smell of a book and everything else she said. Especially being afraid of being stuck on a broken-down train with NOTHING to read. I shudder at the thought!!!

  23. Wendy and Anna:
    This is an awesome post! I enjoy reading your bookish habits and rituals, seem like book bloggers all share common habits.

    Wendy, this is one big step to build the book blogging community, and thank you for conducting these interviews. Will you be asking the same questions in different interviews?

  24. This is a great feature! Thanks for sharing this, it was wonderful reading; and like everyone else I can not believe Anna can wake up at 4 am! I struggle to get up at 7! :)
    Good thing she has such a useful way in which to spend the commute.

  25. Wonderful interview! Perfect choice for your first A Page in the Life feature!
    The last time we lived in Japan I used to have to get up a 5 am 2 or 3 times a week and it just about killed me as I'm a total night owl. I feel for Anna, I'd be a wreck!

  26. This was so fun to read this interview and to get to know Anna better. I can't believe what a long commute she has.

    Love the picture of the kitten and the dog. Makes me smile big time.

  27. LiteraryFeline:

    The paw prints are back!

  28. These are great questions Wendy and Anna was a great interviewee! I can't remember how I discovered her but I've been subscribed to her via Google Reader for quite awhile.

  29. Great questions Wendy and great answers Anna! This is such a wonderful way to get to know these bloggers we visit everyday and see a side to them we don't know. Anna is so nice and I'm sure happy to have met her this year. Great interview!

  30. great post wendy and anna!
    4am? you are an early bird.
    I like your tips for fellow bloggers, yes blogging should always be fun :)

  31. Thank you everyone for stopping in! I am glad you enjoyed the first "A Day in the Life"!

    Anna is an amazing person. I can barely get up when my alarm clock goes off at 5:30 in the morning. And considering all of her other responsibilities, it is amazing that she is able to fit in blogging too.

    Anna - Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! My husband even took the time to read your interview and he said you were the perfect person to start with--so well spoken and a good writer. :-)

    Matt - At this point, my plan is to just ask the same questions. I'm afraid I'm not the most creative person when it comes to interviewing. I am always open to ideas for questions and such though. :-)

    Serena - Yes! My husband was able to get them to work again. I'm so happy!

  32. I've always liked Anna, but I like her even more now :) This is such a good idea.

    And like Serena, I'm thrilled to see the paw prints back :D

  33. Nymeth - Thank you, Nymeth. Anna was so great about this. Even answered a question I decided to throw her at the very last minute. :-) I think it is interesting and fun to get to know each of you a little better.

  34. This is awesome! Anna, you wake up at 4:00?! I won't tell you what time I wake up because you'll think I'm such a slacker - haha....

    Can't wait to read more interviews :)

  35. Hi Wendy! Thanks for this great interview. This is a great idea! :)

    Hi Anna! Wow... you're a super early bird! I only wake up at 6.00 AM to go to work. Some of the favourite books you've listed are my favourites too. :)

  36. Iliana and Alice - Thank you so much for stopping by!

  37. Thanks again! I've really enjoyed reading everyone's comments, and I've even been introduced to some new bloggers. It's been great!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  38. What a great post! I hope you do more of these!

  39. Thanks for the great interview, Wendy! I enjoyed reading Anna's answers. I'm looking forward to reading more interviews with other bookbloggers soon. :)

  40. Tara - I hope to make it a monthly event. :-)

    Melody - You're welcome. :-)

  41. So great getting to know Anna better!! I've come to enjoy her blog and its fun learning little things to help make blogging more personal. Great interview, Wendy!


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