Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Page in the Life of Nicola of Back to Books

I am thrilled to have Nicola from Back to Books as today's A Page in the Life guest. Hers was one of the blogs that made me feel right at home as I began to find my own place in the book blogging community. Nicola's blog continues to be one of my favorite blogs to visit. She's not afraid to speak her mind and is respectful while doing so--qualities I admire.

Please welcome Nicola to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Literary Feline: Welcome, Nicola! It is great to have you with us today. I thought I would start off with an easy question: how do you like to start off your morning?

Nicola: Well, I start everyday pretty much the same way. I'm an early riser, though I never used to be. Must have something to do with getting older. So I get up between 5:30 and 6:00 and make myself a big cup of espresso. Then I log onto the computer and if I have a book review to write I'll get to work on that right away and post it to my blog and the other sites I like to post to such as Novels Now and Amazon.ca, if applicable. Then, whether I have a review to write or not the next thing I do is settle down to reading my blogs and enjoying my coffee until it is time to start waking up the rest of the house and start my morning ablutions.

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

Nicola: I go through all sorts of hobbies. I actually have Asperger's Syndrome so I'm always obsessed with something. Right now blogging, cataloguing my books on LibraryThing and keeping my various book related lists on the go such as the one for my series (http://addictedseries.blogspot.com/) take up a lot of my time. I'm also working on turning my blog posts from 2007/2008 into a book for myself. But I've also been known to knit, crochet, mixed-media collage art, and am also working on digitalizing all my family photographs onto flickr to preserve them for the future. I plan to do some heritage collage art with them eventually.

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

Nicola: I joined a couple of book clubs on yahoo. Ok not a couple, more like six and I noticed most everyone had blogs in their signatures. I was not a stranger to blogging as I already had blogs for my knitting, my mixed-media art and homeschooling and after reading a few peoples blogs I thought wow! what a great way to remember the books I've read. I've been keeping a list of the books I've read in a notebook since 2000 but honestly mostly when I look at it; it's just a list of titles that I can hardly remember what the books were about. Blogging gave me the opportunity to actually remember not only what books I had read but what they were about. So I started book blogging and all my other blogs went to blog heaven and I became devoted to my book blog.

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

Nicola: Yes, most certainly! The most significant way it has changed my actual reading is in the content. I used to be a genre girl and I would get stuck in a genre and read nothing but for a lengthy period of time then get sick of it and move on to another genre. This would mostly revolve around YA fantasy, mysteries and historical fiction with YA fantasy being the core of my reading for much of the years pre-blogging. Also, I was, I'm going to say it, a bit of a snob about current fiction. I figured if a book hadn't been around for 30 or so years it hadn't proven it's worth to be read so I was pretty much stuck in the past with my reading choices, picking books up at thrift stores and the library and reading the classics or books from the golden age.

Now along comes blogging, and I get pulled into the idea of challenges and suddenly I'm exploring all sorts or different genres again. Now I've always been widely read but those genres always sucked me in and now I find that there are just so many different types of books I don't want to concentrate on only one genre for any length of time any more. Then the next thing that happened was the offer of ARCs and I discovered a whole new world of current fiction and I've found so, so, so many new others who have become absolute favourites and I read newly published books all the time. For the first time in my life I actually know when the next book by one of my favourite authors is due to be published! So, yes, very big changes!

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

Nicola: I guess I answered this already above. I like to think I'm well read. The only type of books I don't read are romances and westerns but then there are always exceptions; I've read J.D. Robb and Colleen Gleason (romance authors) and I've read Louis L'amour (western author) so let's just say I'll read anything as long as it's good! I pretty much think I do blog about every book that I read. Occasionally, I will not blog about some picture books my son and I read together, I'll add them to the yearly list but not give any reviews. I also, until recently, have not mentioned on my blog any self-help type or religious books that I have read but just recently decided to start blogging them as well. So pretty much, yes, I do blog every fiction and non-fiction book I read plus every book I read aloud to my son.

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

Nicola: I don't think I really have any specific habits or routines. I carry a book around with me all the time. I read in the car, in bed, in the bath, when we are out and about and I need a sit down. I can't read with the radio or TV on though, that really bothers me. I like to hold the book with my left hand and use my right hand to turn the pages and it bothers me if the book is too big or too heavy to be held with only one hand, thus I do prefer softcovers over hardcovers, especially when it comes to a chunkster. Before setting a book down I must always stop at the end of a chapter. I really appreciate authors who keep their chapters readable lengths and must say books with no chapters can be very irksome to me, Empress of Asia by Adam Lewis Schroeder comes to mind, very good book but "booo" to no chapter breaks.

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?

Nicola: If I'm in a reading slump I pick up something fun, something familiar. The next book in a fun series is usually a winner and will get me back in the mood or a short fun children's book will do the trick too. Fortunately, I haven't been in a blogging slump very often but I try to keep it fun. If I start to feel pressured to get books reviewed I do what I call mini-reviews and get them done. I'm blogging for fun, no one pays me for this and if I'm not having fun, what's the point? Usually, I post my reviews right away the next morning as stated above in the first question and I've only felt indifferent to my blog a couple of times so far.

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

Nicola: Keep it real, keep it fun. Be yourself. Don't try to be like that blogger you admire so much who writes such wonderful, insightful reviews full of quotes. Just write what comes to your mind. First and foremost your blog should be for yourself. As time goes by, you'll find that your reviews will develop into a format that is uniquely you and you'll get an audience that you'll find yourself writing for as well as yourself.

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

Nicola: Right now I am just starting the last chapter of The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by e.l. konigsburg. She and I go way back to 6th grade when my teacher, Mr. Fischer, played the book on tape (well actually it was a reel to reel machine) of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to the class. Over the years I've taken time out to catch up with her now and then and at the moment I'm a few books behind. I'm also reading Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd. This is a slight biography of Edgar Allan Poe; it's not the first biography of him I've read and it won't be the last. I'm always reading books, both fiction and non-fiction, where Poe is featured. I find his melancholy, morbid life so apropos to his macabre work. And finally I am reading Ben and Me by Robert Lawson aloud to my son, a very funny story about Ben Franklin which I have read previously. Lawson was a good writer but I'm always very fond of him as an illustrator. And that is all I'm reading as of today.

Authors to recommend. I could go on for pages! I love so many authors. My most highly recommended author at the moment is Mo Hayder. An absolutely brilliant British crime thriller writer. She writes thrillers full of gore and gruesomeness and heart palpitating fear along with an intelligent twist turning practically unsolvable mystery that will shock you with its stunning, usually not happy ending. She is a very smart writer who can write about very disturbing topics without going over the line of decency. I haven't found anyone who can compare with her yet and honestly I'll be shocked if I can find another author with the skill to write such intelligent mysteries that almost verge onto the horror genre but don't. Either start with Birdman, which is the first in her Jack McCaffrey detective series or The Devil of Nanking (UK title: Tokyo) a standalone.

Literary Feline: I find Edgar Allan Poe's life and work fascinating. And I second your recommendation in regards to Mo Hayder. I have only read one of her books so far, The Devil of Nanking, and I was blown away by not only the story, but the writing and characterizations as well.

Thank you for being such a willing interview subject, Nicola. It's been a pleasure having you here.

Nicola: Thanks! That was fun. I had a lot more to say than I thought I would. Hope I didn't ramble on! Now it's time to go wake up the rest of the house!

Literary Feline: There's no such thing as too much rambling here. Thanks again, Nicola!

Be sure to stop by and visit Nicola over at Back to Books!


  1. Great segment -- I love Nicola's blog, and she is a reading machine!

  2. Thanks for another great interview, Wendy!

    It's a great new way of getting to know other bookbloggers and I also enjoyed reading their replies on all book-related questions. :)

    I'll have to check out Nicola's blog. I'm glad she mentioned Mo Hayder because she's one of my favourite authors! :D

  3. Cute! Thats such a great way to think of it too!

  4. I enjoyed reading your interview with Nicola - will be checking out her blog now!

  5. I like what she said about not being paid and if it's not fun then what's the point? She's absolutely right and it's something I have to remind myself over and over again.

  6. Ditto on what Ti said! Wouldn't it be great if we got paid, but then would it be so much fun? I LOVE it when you do these features. There are so many precious individuals out there, and we are all doing what we love. BTW, I loved The Devil of Nanking, and she's right. Don't eat while you're reading it!

  7. Lovely interview!

    Somehow I have missed her blog in the past, but I have just now subscribed.

  8. Great interview! I never saw her blog before, but I'm on my way over there right now!

  9. Great interview. I love her advice about just being yourself.

  10. Thanks for the interview, Wendy! It was a lot of fun! And thanks for the kind words to Wendy and everyone else. Also thanks to everyone for stopping by to see me at my blog. It's nice to see my friend's comments here and meet some new people over at my own blog. Thanks again, Wendy!

  11. Hi, I am Nicolas sister and have just read the interview. It was really fun to read and so true to who she is. I encourage all to check out Nicola's blog aswell. I really like to get views from different people about books I have read and ones I am thinking about reading. I havent subscribe to any book blogs yet but thanks to my big sis Nicola I think I will start and Back to Books and Literary Feline will be my first 2.

  12. This was a lot of fun! I really like this idea for a blog feature! :) I read and enjoy both blogs!

  13. Love your Page in the Life interviews! It's so nice to get to know fellow bookworms :)

  14. This was really interesting to read. I like getting to know bloggers a bit better.

  15. What a great interview, Wendy! I loved hearing more about Nicola and seeing some of our similiarities. We both started blogging after learning about them from people's signatures in Yahoo book clubs! I'm also a fan of an author who uses nice short chapters. As I usually only read in spurts here and there, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a good place to stop.

    Thanks for the insight into Nicola's bookish qualities!

  16. Wendy,
    Thanks so much for introducing me to Nicola! I love this part of your blog and getting to meet other bloggers. Loved her advice on just being yourself when you're doing your own blog and keeping it real!!

  17. Hey Wendy - I just gave you another award :)

  18. Thanks for this lovely interview, now I have one more great blog to check out. :)

  19. what a clever idea--and a great way for me to meet other bloggers. i'm new to book blogging (but i've been life blogging for over a year) and it's so nice to meet others who share my love of books and reading!

  20. Hi Nicola. Thanks Wendy for introducing to another wonderful blogger.

    Nicola: I kind of like you morning routine. I wish mine was so structured :)

  21. Great interview, Wendy! Hello to Nicola!

    I like the advice given: "Keep it real, keep it fun. Be yourself."

  22. Another wonderful interview Wendy! Thanks to Nicola for her great responses!

    I wish I could be more like Nicola and get up at 5:30 AM. LOL! I have a hard enough time getting up at 8AM and don't, when I don't have too.

    Nicola, it would be great is you would share some photos of your needle and art work on your blog!

  23. Thank you so much everyone for stopping by and getting to know Nicola. You can see why I enjoy visiting her at her blog. :-)

    Thank you, Nicola, for letting me interview you!

  24. Excellent! I read Nicola's blog all the time but I had no idea that she knit at all. This is pretty fun, Wendy! I've got to catch up with you, now that work has let up.

  25. I like Nicola's comment/advice about writing mini reviews if you're in a slump. There's nothing worse than seeing a pile of "to be reviewed" books stack up! Just do it!

  26. Great interview of Nicola! I enjoyed reading every question and answer. :)

  27. This is such a fantastic series of interviews...I love these...It was great to get to know a new-to-me blogger...I'm subscribing now in google reader...


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