Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Page in the Life of Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading

I am thrilled to welcome Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading: A Blog and Book Club All In One to Musings of a Bookish Kitty today. Jennifer's blog is a fairly new one in the book blogging community, but she wasted no time settling in and making her blog a stop on my must read list. Jennifer is fun and thoughtful and it shows on her blog.

Please join me in welcoming Jennifer to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Literary Feline: I am always curious to know how others begin their day. It's like looking in a window at a moment in your life. How do you like to start off your morning?

Jennifer: I am a teacher, so soon I will be sleeping in and relaxing more. Currently, I start my mornings exercising or reading a little bit. I like to check my fb, twitter, and all that stuff, but I like to have a couple of minutes first thing that are all mine.

Literary Feline: Sleeping in for a change will be so nice! Not to mention having a little bit more time for yourself in the mornings. I know I need that time to start the day off right.

Speaking of starting off right, how did you get started blogging about books?

Jennifer: My friend Katie gave me the suggestion. I have been complaining for years about wanting to do more with my time. I love teaching, but I wanted to do something that was just fun, allowed me to write, and was creative. Katie works with the media, and she casually told me that no one had created a blog and online book club in one. I got excited immediately. Blogging about books incorporates my two main hobbies into one, and the community of book bloggers is fantastic. It has been a great fit so far.

Literary Feline: I agree, the book blogging community is fantastic. And so varied! I like that there are so many different types of blogs out there. You definitely do fit in nicely. Your blog is definitely unique in that you have taken blogging a step further and created a book club for fellow readers. I think that's a great idea! As someone who isn't able to join a face to face book club, I find that online book clubs are the next best thing, not to mention more flexible. Tell us a bit about the book club and how it works.

Jennifer: Thanks for the compliment! The book club was designed to allow women a place to talk to their friends about great books despite distance. I have so many friends that are thousands of miles away, and I miss hearing their opinion about authors, politics, issues, or even gossip. The book club is supposed to help answer this dilemma in a way that Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace cannot.

Users register with the site, and then they are free to join a book club or create a book club. If all of your friends are users of the site, then you can invite them to join a private book club where only you all discuss. Similarly, people can allow anyone to join and make new friends. It is incredibly flexible-people can log in any time and answer questions, post comments, or add links.

We have started our first book club, and it is going really well. I am the moderator, and I simply created a schedule, post a new question each Sunday, and the girls answer it when they can. I love that they are having conversations without me. As a teacher, and with the blog, I am directing the flow of the conversation. The book club is user directed. Women can take it and go with it wherever they want.

Literary Feline: It sounds like a good set up! I love to talk about the books I read with others. I haven't always had the best of luck when it comes to group reads, in terms of keeping up, but when I can, I enjoy taking part in those types of discussions. It really can be a rewarding experience. And with an online book group, the added flexibility of being able to answer questions or join in on a discussion at your leisure is a bonus.

Book blogging itself lends itself to creating a more social environment for book talk. Personally, I have found that it has affected the way I read. Has blogging impacted your reading? If so, how?

Jennifer: Whoa! Blogging has impacted my reading a lot. Ironically, it has added stress into my reading life. I now have to finish AT LEAST a book a week which is a lot with a full time job and a family. I was also recently contacted by a publisher for my first ARC. That was really exciting, but I did not love the book. Giving a bad review is/was not something I was really prepared for. As a writer myself, it is difficult for me to publicly discredit someone's hard work.

Literary Feline: Congratulations on getting your first ARC! It is exciting when suddenly publishers, authors and publicists take notice of your blog and ask you to spread the word about a book they are promoting. It isn't the reason you blog, of course,, but it brings with it its own validation of sorts.

It is hard when you don't care for the book you agreed to review. That is something I have struggled with. There are a number of ways to handle a situation like that, but I think it's most important to be honest with yourself and with your readers. I think too that it is possible to be respectful even in criticism. Even so, it doesn't make it any easier, especially when you know the author might read your review.

Do you have any reading routines, rituals or habits?

Jennifer: I read two books at a time-usually. I always have an actual book and an e-book on my Kindle. The Kindle comes with me wherever I go, and I read whenever I get a second. The hardcover book stays at home, and I read that at nights. I read every night before I go to sleep.

Literary Feline: Another bed time reader! I find I sleep better before going to sleep.

I envy you for having an e-reader. Someday I hope to have one too. It will never replace print books, of course, but it sure would be convenient! I especially like the idea of having so many book options right at my finger tips. If I'm not in the mood for one book, I may be in the mood for another. Having choices and variety helps me avoid reading slumps more often than not. Now blogging slumps . . . Those can be a little more tricky.

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

Jennifer: I was recently in a slump, and I decided to get some inspiration from my fellow bloggers. We talked on Twitter, and then of course I check other blogs. These women are really creative, and it helps to see what they have to say too. I also joined Book Blogging Blues, and those discussions include a lot more tips than complaints. Those tips help a lot. I created a reading schedule because of it, and I made some blogging rules for myself so I don't burn out.

Literary Feline: Getting inspiration from fellow bloggers and readers is a wonderful idea. I recently joined Book Blogging Blues and agree with you. It's been helpful and the advice is quite useful.

I know I've said it before here, but I have so much respect for teachers. You are one of the most important people in our society. And reading is so vital, I think. What has been one of the highlights for you as a high school English teacher, helping instill the love of reading in your students?

Jennifer: Great question and hard to pick! As this school year ends, I can really only think about this year. My senior English students this year did great work with their independent reading books. I decided to give them a list of books to choose from-suggestions for books to pick. A couple of the suggestions really sparked their interest, and some of my non-readers found an author/book they loved to read. Having conversations with people about writing is my passion, and seeing an 18 year old excited about a book (not a movie, a video game, or gossip) is beyond fantastic. Consequently, some of the non-readers are reading still, even after the assignment is long over. I am really proud of that.

Literary Feline: How cool is that! It's so exciting seeing a young person find enjoyment in a book, especially one who is a non-reader. And it must make you feel good, knowing you helped get that started.

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

Jennifer: Travel is a big passion of mine. I start get itchy if I don't go on a trip every six months or so. I really love photography, and I am dying to replace the professional camera I had that died. I like to do crosswords, and I also knit in my spare time. I don't do a lot of knitting, so it takes me years to complete big projects, but it is neat to create something.

Literary Feline: You recently started a new feature on your blog called Thursday Tidings in which you discuss books and movies as well as other interesting tidbits, which I have to say is a great idea. Is there something coming up that I should know about?

Jennifer: Thanks again for the compliment. This week I think I am going to talk about the new version of Little Women that is coming out. It is another adaption that includes gruesome monsters. In this one the March sisters have to take on vampires. I am, personally, getting a little tired of this idea, but I am interested to see how it pans out.

Literary Feline: Introducing vampires and monsters to the classics has become quite popular, hasn't it? I am glad to see people taking more of an interest in the classics as a result.

Now to put you on the spot (you have 20 seconds to answer each of these questions--I've got my stop watch ready!):

Book you'd most like to be trapped in a broken elevator for several hours:
Pride and Prejudice

It's storming outside, you're alone in the house, and the electricity has gone out; what book do you turn to pass the time?

The storm has passed and it's a beautiful day outside. The temperature is just right. Will you read outside or inside?
Outside-on our porch

You're picnicking by the lake and have an hour to yourself while the family is off exploring. What book did you bring with you to read?
Water for Elephants-I am dying to start it

Name one book I absolutely must read at some point in my life:
To Kill a Mockingbird-innocent but it changes lives

Literary Feline: Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today! I hope all of you who are visiting will stop by Girls Gone Reading: A Blog and Book Club All In One and check out Jennifer's blog and book club!

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Great post! It was nice getting to know more about Jennifer. Looks like I'm going to have to break down and read To Kill a Mockingbird. For some reason, I've never read that one.


  2. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your blog. It was wonderful, and thanks for all the positive praise.

  3. I am going to have to check out Jennifer's blog. It sounds like she has a really great site, and she sure did have a lot of interesting things to say! Thanks for sharing this great interview with us!!

  4. I've been seeing Jennifer mentioned around town, and my first reaction was that I LOVE her blog name. Very cute! It is funny, because a couple of years ago I went online looking for a virtual book club and couldn't find one. So I started blogging. I needed somebody to talk to about books! I didn't end up doing a book club like Jennifer did, but I understand the motivation! Great feature Wendy!

  5. Great interview! I've already visited Girls Gone Reading and added it to my google reader.

  6. Great interview. I just visited Girls Gone Reading and loved it! The book club is a great idea and I can't wait to tell my friends about it.

  7. I love your page in the life posts! Thank you for introducing me to Jennifer. I'm going to be visiting her blog!

  8. Jennifer sounds so very interesting!! Great interview and now I have to check out her blog!

  9. Good interview! I'll have to drop by and check her out.

  10. Thank you Jennifer for being my guest today. I enjoyed getting to know you better!

    Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. I wouldn't mind having that along if I was stuck in an elevator either. I haven't yet read Water for Elephants, but it is one I hope to get to eventually. And To Kill a Mockingbird--wonderful, wonderful book.

    To everyone who commented, thank you so much!

    Anna - You really must read To Kill a Mockingbird one of these days. :-)

    Heather & Lizzy Lee - Doesn't she have a great blog?

    Sandy - Isn't that a great name for a blog?

    I think there are quite a few people who started blogging for the same reason. I know one of my reasons for going public instead of just keeping my journal was for the interactions with other readers. I didn't have that in my real life at the time.

    Kris, Staci, Jen & Iliana - Thanks so much! Jennifer made for a good interview subject. :-)

  11. I love this new page of yours Wendy. Thanks for the introduction to Jennifer and her blog. As I fellow teacher, I know how she feels about getting out of school soon. I'll visit her spot.

  12. Thanks for letting us know about Jennifer's blog, Wendy! Another fun distraction (I know, I know, but am deep in the final throes of Dulcie #3 and will resurface/read for fun again soon).

  13. This was fun. I love these types of features. I'll have to go check out her book club page.

  14. Thanks Wisteria, Clea and Jenners! I have such fun getting to know my fellow bloggers a little more.

  15. Thanks for introducing me to a new blogger. Off to visit now :)


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