This month’s featured book blogger is Rebecca Vincent from Reviews & Revisions. I was so excited when I discovered Rebecca’s blog because we have such similar taste in books and I am thrilled to introduce her to you today!
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Welcome, Rebecca! First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself. What are some of your interests outside of blogging?
I’m at home with our two little girls, ages six and three, so I’m currently interested in finding books that grab my six-year-old-reluctant-reader’s attention and keeping my three-year-old from losing my place in all my books because she likes to walk around with any book she finds and make up stories
Then there’s this thing I do in early spring where I pick some new flowers and bushes to plant around my yard to see if they grow. It sounds a bit ambitious to call what I do “Gardening,” but I enjoy picking and planting. If the plant shows up the next year then I keep it and celebrate; if not, then I go find another one to try. The plants do all the work though.
That sounds like gardening to me! I mean, the only plant I can keep alive lives inside my house, so… Give us some insight into your psyche. What is your Myers-Briggs type?
My Myers-Briggs is INTJ. I’m at the middle of the spectrum for the NTJ side of the equation but as far over in the Introvert section as they’ll allow.
High five! I think you might be the first fellow INTJ book blogger I’ve interviewed. How did you first discover the book blogging world and what made you decide to start a blog of your own?
I’ve had a few blogs over the years of various topics and styles, but when I started reading intentionally again and pursuing writing as a career option it made sense to combine the two. Since my reading includes picture books, poetry, nonfiction, and adult fiction, my posts can be all over the place. Eclectic readers welcome. That’s the “Review” part of my blog’s title: Reviews & Revisions. “Revisions” is for the writing component which I haven’t blogged about much recently but does surface from time to time. All in all, my TBR pile has loved it, my writing is improving, and I get to interact with some great readers and writers. Win-win!
I hate it when people ask me what my favorite book is–such an impossible question! So give us your top three…or ten.
Absolutely anything by Marilynne Robinson is solid, but her recent collection of essays, The Givenness of Things, was one of her best. The Wrong Side of Paris by Honoré de Balzac is my favorite book by one of my favorite authors. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is the only book I remember from high school – the only one that left me thinking there was something strong and shocking in reading – it’s on my re-read list for this year, and I’m looking forward to it. And though I was first introduced to the story through the Broadway musical, no list of my favorite books would be complete without The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.
I bought a copy of The Givenness of Things last summer but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll definitely be moving that up on my list of priorities! Now, time for some either/or…
Mac or PC? We’ve got both in our house, so I’m comfortable with either.
Print or ebook? Print. I read ebooks when I’m exercising, but I much prefer the good ol’ fashioned paper variety for everything else.
Cake or ice cream? Ice cream! Now, my mom is a wizard with homemade icing on cake, but I’d still rather look at the cool cake and then get a heap of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream in a waffle cone or a hot fudge sundae.
Fiction or nonfiction? This past year I’ve been on a nonfiction run, but I’ve just turned the corner into fiction. I think my preference is nonfiction but I usually get to a point where my brain needs a shift, and then I go happily into my fiction reading.
Short story or epic novel? I’ve been trying to get through a collection of 100 Ray Bradbury short stories, but I’d rather go deep and wide with one story than read sharper, focused pieces if I had to choose between the two. Long story short, epic novel. 🙂
If you could share a meal with any famous person, living or dead, who would you pick and why?
Flannery O’Connor. I read a collection of her correspondence with friends in The Habit of Being and her candid insights on faith and life and writing, told with a sharp wit, put everything in perspective and in place. I imagine any dinner conversation with her would be time well spent.
If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why?
This question is almost worse than the “name your favorite book question.” Since I have no way of narrowing it down objectively, I’ll pick any of the places I’ve read of this year: South Africa (Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso), Sweden (A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman), Argentina (Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enriquez), South Korea (Meeting with My Brother by Yi Mun-yol), Rwanda (Rwandan Women Rising by Swanee Hunt), or Vietnam (The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui and The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen). That’s a good start.
Wow, so many great world lit recs! The Refugees is also buried in my TBR stack. Guess I’ll have to pull that one out too! Tell us about some of the best books you’ve read so far this year.
Of the books that have come out this year, some of my favorites have been The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso. Two feisty neighbors are forced to live briefly with one another and the layers of tension that they have carefully cultivated over the years spew over their relationships and histories. It is evident by the end that neither woman has become less feisty, but their relationship and respect have grown through the struggle.
Paradoxology: Why Christianity Was Never Meant to be Simple by Krish Kandiah. Kandiah examines seemingly overwhelming aspects of God’s character by connecting them with a Biblical figure to show how those paradoxes reinforce faith when given permission to do so. He doesn’t shy away from tough questions about silence, genocide, or free will but nor does he offer direct explanations. Kandiah argues that the reward is not in finding a set answer but in going through the struggle. A thought-provoking read for Christians to take seriously.Q&A w/ #BookBlogger @RRVincent from Reviews & Revisions - Her must-read books + more!Click To Tweet
The illustrated memoir The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui is, at its core, a book about children and parents. But it is not a how-to guide or a straight memoir. Bui taps into the histories of her parents, her grandparents, and her country-of-origin to examine and understand, with compassionate perspective, her role as daughter and mother. The graphic novel genre is not one I frequent, but I have not ever been disappointed when I do. This is no exception.
I tend to hang out in the backlist section more often than not, so I have to include one from there, too: Janie Crawford became one of my all-time favorite female protagonists this year when I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston
What books are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2017?
I’m still trying to catch up on all the great books that came out in the first half of 2017! There are three coming out this summer that I have my eye on.
- Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
- Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo
- Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is listed in my summer book preview. It looks amazing! Now then, down to business. If you could pick three books you think EVERYONE should read, what would they be and why?
Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins (and his recent book Dream With Me) – John Perkins is doing the hard work of racial reconciliation in Mississippi even after his own tragic and tumultuous contact with a violent system. His perspectives on faith, community, and our future as a country (regarding the U.S.) are profound, authentic, and challenging. Both books are accessible to a range of readers including those interested in civil rights, racial reconciliation, and/or faith in adversity. A remarkable man with a powerful story.
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman – don’t let the release date fool you into think this is irrelevant. Postman attacks the breakdown of public communication in an age of entertainment and dissects in particular their relationship to politics, education, and religion. It is not too difficult of a leap to consider his arguments in the dynamic context of information dissemination through social media outlets. A book to consider, again and again.
Brodeck by Philippe Claudel – a dark book set in an undisclosed location during an unnamed war – though the similarities to Europe in World War II are plentiful – this is the story of a writer who is asked to write a report about the murder of a guest in his village. It was a murder that everyone took part in, except for the writer. His personal journey to understand his task and his complicity in the murder is difficult at times to swallow. I had to put the book down at parts to absorb the reflections, but a book that forces me to think on something I’d rather not is the epitome of good reading. What does it look like to confront or ignore “otherness?”
Lightening round! Name your favorite…
Song: Anytime I get a chance to visit my white-haired Grandmother and hear her jam some old church hymns like “Blessed Assurance” and “Amazing Grace” on her old organ I’m pretty sure it’s as close to heaven-on-earth as I’ll ever get.
Movie: I have small children and haven’t watched a non-animated movie in years. But, I stand firmly with the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. Other movies I’ve enjoyed include Chocolat, Death at a Funeral, and The Scarlet Pimpernel (both the book and the movie with Jane Seymour are favorites!).
TV show: Friends. There is a line from Friends to make me laugh in just about any situation.
Comfort food: Homemade macaroni and cheese
Celebrity crush: Okay, I’m going to be honest. I wouldn’t know a celebrity if they bumped into me on the street, or even came up and introduced themselves. I don’t really follow the names or their faces or the shows that they’re in. I am a pop culture failure (much to the chagrin and exasperation of so many of my longstanding friends). So…I got nothing. Sorry.
Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca! Rebecca is going on haiatus from her blog this summer but you can still check out her 2017 bookshelf and read her archives until she comes back! Also, be sure to follow her on Twitter @RRVincent.