Jessica: What are some blogging challenges you've faced?
Nat: I know what you mean about HTML. I was so pleased with myself the first time I managed to customize my template by myself! LOL. I agree, I think my biggest challenge is finding the time to do everything - post on my blog, comment on other blogs, join in this or that event. Sometimes I wonder if I would've started if I'd known how it would take over my life, but I can't imagine quitting now. I enjoy it too much!
A slightly different topic, has your taste in books, or how you read, changed since you started your blog?
Jessica: Ah, the wonderful world of templates. So many headaches! Well, let's see. We certainly can't have a BBAW interview without talking a little about books. I tend to read mostly literary fiction and YA. I think my taste in books has remained largely the same since I started blogging and tracking my reading. But I have noticed that I can more easily identify books that I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy. I think that stems both from having to write down and post my thoughts about the books I read and from reading other bloggers' reviews.
You seem to review mostly Japanese-centric books. Does that stem from a love of the genre or a sense of place or both? Has your taste in books changed since you started blogging?
Nat: I decided to focus a bit more on Japanese-centric books lately, mostly out of a desire to read and learn more about this place that I currently call home. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Japan but it's a fascinating place so I'm trying to read about it while I'm here.
I don't think my taste in books has changed too much since I started blogging but blogging has certainly introduced me to books that I may not have ever heard of, or tried, otherwise. I've come to trust the recommendations of some of my favourite bloggers and I can be pretty susceptible to blogger buzz. My wish list and TBR pile have definitely grown rather out of control since I started blogging, but I know I'm not alone in this. I think we can all relate to wish lists a mile long because of blogger recommendations.
You wrote on your About Page: "I am trying, relatively unsuccessfully, to cure myself of my book-buying habit." That made me smile because even though I'm trying to cut down, I have a book-buying addiction myself. Do you buy a lot of books?
Jessica: I can't even think about my TBR pile, either the real one or the electronic one! This blogging thing definitely adds to my wishlist on a daily basis. And, yes, I buy a lot of books. A lot of books. There seems to be no cure and too much temptation. There is a Borders located around the corner from my office, there are several good used and independent book stores in nearby Salt Lake, and the internet is always lurking nearby. I just love having books around. In fact, even though I do use the library quite a bit, I often end up buying the books I borrowed so I can have them in my collection!
How is the book-buying situation in Japan? Do you have good access to books in English?
Nat: I love owning books too! Much to the dismay of the moving guys who had to carry all of them when we moved this summer. Japanese apartments tend to be small, but my husband has accepted that the books go where I go!
As for the book situation in Japan, all I can say is thank goodness for online bookstores and internet shopping! Living in Tokyo, some of the larger bookstores do have English books, but they tend to be more expensive. So I'll browse at one every so often but I do most of my book buying online. I went a little book-buying mad when we were living in England though and I still have books that I bought there but haven't read. I could never stop buying books entirely but I have been sticking to a monthly budget this year which has helped slow down my acquisition rate some.
So, what is the best book (or books, if you can't narrow it down) that you've read so far this year?
Jessica: Yes, the budget is a good idea. I think the budget will be more effective at reigning in my book buying next year when we have an additional mouth to feed and buy books for! Ah, the dreaded and adored question of best books. I've had a pretty good reading year so far. Lots of three- and four-star books, but five have stood out as five-star books: Book by Book, by Michael Dirda, Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, and Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. I don't think I could pick a favorite from those, because I liked them all for very different reasons. I will say that each of those five books was recommended to me by another blogger. Huzzah for book blogging.
What about you, Nat? What are the best books you've read this year?
Nat: You're going to have so much fun buying books for the baby! I actually haven't rated any books with five-stars this year, but I think I'm rather stingy with my ratings. I've had a few four-and-a-half star ones though and three that stand out as being especially memorable are: Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe. Me reading the last two is definitely a result of blogging, and I was encouraged to finally read the first one because of a reading challenge, so huzzah from me too!
OK, one last question. How would you complete this sentence?
There's nothing I like better ....
There's nothing I like better ....
Jessica: . . . than a rainy day, a good book, and a cup of hot chocolate, with my husband nearby and my trusty beagle at my feet. :)
Nat: For me I think it would be... there's nothing I like better ... than curling up with a good book on a cold, winter day, with no distractions, a mug of hot tea beside me, and a cat snoozing nearby. Ideally it would also be snowing outside and there would be a wood fire crackling in the fireplace. Considering it almost never snows in Tokyo, and we don't have a fireplace, that part of it is not very likely to come true for me in the near future, but I can dream!
Jessica: Ooh. Our answers are very similar! There's plenty of snow here in Utah in the winter, so you'll have to come on over and read here sometime. And, just for the record, it rarely rains, really rains, here in Utah, so maybe we just want what we don't have.
Nat: That's probably true. I still miss snow, it's the Canadian in me, so I just might have to take you up on that! Thanks so much for chatting with me Jessica. I really enjoyed getting to know you better, and I wish you all the best with your pregnancy!
Jessica: Thank you, Nat. It's always nice to get to know the people behind the blogs! Have a fabulous BBAW!
I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as we did putting it together. Visit the Book Blogger Appreciation Week site for more BBAW Interviews.