What was the best thing about writing this book? Well, let’s not kid ourselves – of course it was wonderful to be paid to do something I enjoy. That’s what makes a career better than a job! But in this case, specifically, I loved that my story inspired people. I heard from so many families who made their own Reading Promises. It’s my goal to find someone to beat the record my father and I had. 3,219 nights… any takers?
As an adult, what attracts you to read a book? I discovered non-fiction late in life, I’m ashamed to admit, so I’m devouring that now. I would say it currently constitutes most of my reading, which would have shocked my high school self! But honestly, anything with a good story of relatable characters. Relatable is key.
Where do you enjoy to read now? I just bought my first house, so I’m still in the honeymoon phase; reading in any room is fun! But I especially adore reading in front of my fireplace on a chilly night with a giant cup of tea. It’s a cliché for a reason!
Which books do you like giving as gifts? I mostly give children’s or YA books, in part because of my background (I work for Scholastic Book Fairs, now) and in part because they are so universal. If I give you a full-length work of non-fiction, I can’t know that it’s your style, or that you’ll finish it. But if I give you a book for young people, it’s a quick read, so you likely will. ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio has never disappointed.
What do you love most about books? That’s a tough question, for someone who wrote a book about books! I suppose I would say the universality of them. If you and I have read the same book, we have an instant bond – it’s like having a mutual friend. That’s true of many art forms. I’m a generally enthusiastic consumer of the arts!
What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? I would say getting a job with Scholastic Book Fairs had to be one of them. This book really jumpstarted my career. An executive at Scholastic read my book, liked it (there’s even a chapter about book fairs, so you know they were hooked!) and asked me to come speak to their leadership team. Looking out at the crowd after I finished my speech, I thought, ‘you know – these really are my people’. So I went for it. After the applause died down, I said, ‘I’d like to work here’, loudly and clearly into the microphone. Everyone laughed, but I just waited a moment, repeated myself, and left the stage. A couple months later I got the call, and I’ve been working there ever since. I help kids, teachers and parents discover the books that will inspire a love of reading. It’s the perfect job for me.
Which 5 people would you like to have over for dinner? This is a tough question, because honestly, I’m inclined to pick people I already know! I’m not shy, but I do love spending time with close loved ones. For that reason, I think I’d start the party out with my fiancé, my father, and my best friend. From there, I could handle a couple of strangers, so I’d invite author David Sedaris and singer Mike Nesmith. The former because I love his books and the latter because I’m a die-hard Monkees fan (I know – I’m a little young to be their core audience!) and I would be completely star-struck. That’s an honest answer!
Do you collect anything? I opposite of collect, actually – I’m a perger. I throw out or donate most anything and everything. Whenever a friend says, ‘Oh, didn’t you read that book? Can I borrow your copy?’ they actually already know the answer – I no doubt gave it away long ago! I believe things of value should have second lives. I don’t need objects to make me happy. That being said, I do love the look of antiques. I just rarely buy any!
What is something that most people might be surprised to know about you? Like Lucy from the Peanuts once said, ‘what I really want is real estate’. I actually don’t need to own property (though I’m excited to have my own house), I just like to appreciate it. And not the bigger the better – I’m interested in older homes with lots of hidden potential and interesting nooks and crannies. Anytime I see an unused corner of someone’s house because the space is strangely positioned or awkward, my mind starts churning things over. I had the Trulia home-finder app on my phone for years before I started shopping, and I still look at houses every day, even though I have no intention of moving. I often send real estate listings to friends and family who aren’t even looking for a house. And I befriended a local realtor after telling her the truth while attending an open-house – I had no intention of buying, I just love to look. Luckily, she understood my passion!
What are you reading at the moment? I just finished ‘The Blind Side’ by Michael Lewis. I was reading at as point of reference, really – I was curious about the writing style – but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’ve never been a great consumer of heartwarming stories, and I’d never read a football book, but it was extremely well-crafted. That’s the power of excellent writing!
Read my review of ‘The Reading Promise’ here.