fLiP iT fRiDaY: Readingjunky

Today on fLiP iT fRiDaY, we’re chatting with Readingjunky, an 8th-grade teacher and book blogger. A teacher… hmm… I wonder if we’re supposed to call her Mrs. Readingjunky? 😉


Describe a typical day in your life.

Weekdays – Get up at 6:00 am (reluctantly since I’ve probably been reading much too late the night before). Get ready and head to school by 7:00 am. Teach 8th graders English, Careers, and hopefully to love reading until 3:00 pm. Try to be ambitious enough to call up my neighbor so we can walk. (The exertion-level of our walks usually depend on how much we have to gripe about.) Fix dinner, do a few chores, and then settle in for the evening to read. I do have a few favorite shows, but I try to convince my husband to watch his favorites in bed. That allows me to stay in the living room and mute the sound during commercials for more reading time. (It annoys him when I do that.) Bedtime is sometime after 11:30 pm. Pretty exciting stuff!

See, for me, just the fact that you *thought* about calling your neighbor to walk is ambitious!

What is your favorite YA book and why? Or, which YA book has had the most profound effect on you and why?

THE GIVER by Lois Lowery. It is the first book YA book I read that I really wanted to book-talk to my students. I was sure they would like it, and when some of them did start reading it and were excited about it, I realized I should be reading more of what they read and modeling what I expected them to do.

I *loved* THE GIVER. It was one of the first YA books I read as an adult and it’s really stayed with me.

What are 5 of your favorite things?

  1. Spending time with my daughter (more difficult since she’s away in college)
  2. Reading
  3. Shopping for books
  4. Blogging about books
  5. Our Yorkie

How long have you been blogging, and how did you get your book blogging start?

I’m guessing about 3½ yrs. ago. It started when I decided I should check out MySpace. When I discovered so many YA authors had profiles, I thought maybe it was a place to talk about the books I spent so much time reading for my classroom. After that I started visiting author and reviewer blogs to find about the latest YA fiction for my students, and things just mushroomed from there. One visit to Teensreadtoo.com hosted by Jen Wardrip developed into becoming one of her regular reviewers. That’s been a lot of fun and really keeps me busy. I still post reviews on MySpace, but now I also post on my own blog and Facebook.

I’ve noticed a general migration of authors and reviewers from MySpace over to their own blogs, Web sites, and Facebook. I wonder if teen readers have made a similar migration, or if they’re still heavily using MySpace. What does everyone think about this?

Are you planning any upcoming new features or special content on your book blog? Is there anything specific you want potential new visitors to know about your blog?

I don’t like the idea of copying too much from other bloggers, although I have started a “Waiting on Wednesday” post. (Thank you to all the bloggers out there who originally started the idea.) I try to involve my students by asking them to suggest books, and I try to post their suggestions at least once a month. One of my students suggested that I start a “Read Aloud” post telling readers what book I’m currently reading to my class. I’m not sure how many of my students actually visit my blog because it is sort of like listening to what your mother suggests, and who really wants to do that.

My comments to new readers would be to mention that I only write positive reviews. I’ve read books that I haven’t found interesting or that I really disliked, but I think there’s a reader out there for every book. I don’t want to be the one to criticize a book and have someone who might really enjoy it be turned away because of my negative review.

I struggle with reviewing, too, especially now that I’ve been on both the author and the reader side. As a reader, I’ve had the experience of being completely blown away (in a good way) by a book that others despised, and I’ve conversely been underwhelmed by books that have been hyped up and touted as the next best thing. And as an author, I know how much love and life and tears and sweat go into writing a book, and I never want another author to feel personally attacked by a critical review of his or her work. It’s hard to separate the art from the artist — sometimes, it’s impossible!

Truly, every book has its readership, which is also why reading a negative review of a book doesn’t usually turn me off to reading it for myself. I love hearing people’s opinions on books, which is why I love book bloggers so much. As a teacher, you also have great insight into how kids and teens are responding to certain books, too — ones that you’ve liked and recommended as well as books that weren’t right for you.

In addition to blogging, what other creative pursuits do you enjoy?

I like to crochet and knit. I enjoy walking. I’m involved in my public library as president of the board of trustees. Not really a lot of excitement in my small town.

I was on a train the other day from NYC to Buffalo with a group of women who were traveling upstate for a crochet convention. They were working on projects the entire time, and I kept thinking, wow… I wish I could do that! So cool!

What do you want to be when you “grow up?”

Either an author of really exciting books, owner of a bookstore, or a librarian.

All three sound great to me. Why not? 😉

What are 3 things you’d like to do or accomplish in your lifetime?

Probably the three things I listed in #7.

Tell us something that people who know you in real life would be surprised to learn about you.

I haven’t always liked to read and I consider myself a really slow reader.

A really great story transcends the medium. It’s great that you were able to push through the initial dislike to the point where you not only like reading, but have incorporated it into your career, your free time, your blog, your life.

Now, it’s time for Apocalypse Mad Libs!

If I ever had to face nuclear war I’d want Gary Paulsen on my side, because he would know the best wilderness places to go to and he’d have the know-how to help us survive.

If he wasn’t available, I’d take Brian from the book Hatchet, because he was created by Paulsen and proved through all his adventures that he knows what to do in an emergency.

In any case, if I only had 1 day to live before the end of the world, I’d eat an Outback Bloomin’ Onion and then I’d tell everyone, “enjoy it while you can.”

Thanks for chatting with us on fLiP iT fRiDaY, Readingjunky! For more from Readingjunky, including great reviews, check out the Readingjunky blog.

fLiP iT fRiDaY is a weekly feature at SarahOckler.com showcasing the fabulous YA book bloggers and reviewers who share young adult fiction with the world and inspire raves, rants, intelligent discourse, and a whole bunch of book-lovin’ among readers everywhere. If you’d like to be featured on fLiP iT fRiDaY, contact me!

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