We have the opportunity to work with fantastic book bloggers every day and we wanted to show them a little love in a monthly feature called ‘Retreater of the Month.’ They love books and we love them for sharing their love of reading! Without further ado, let’s introduce, Jaclyn from Literary Treats!
1. When did you create Literary Treats and what was the motivation behind creating your blog?
My very first post was in October 2010, a review of Emma Donoghue’s Room. My sister knows how much I love reading, and had been suggesting for a while that I create a book review blog, but I hadn’t felt like I had something to say until that book. I had originally hesitated to read it because it was getting such buzz, but then I changed my mind, fell in love with the book, and decided I wanted a public venue to admit I was wrong.
I really only became an active book blogger though in February 2011, and that’s because I got a job as a bookseller during the holiday season of 2010. Being a bookseller requires you to think on your feet, and make really quick associations among various book titles, so that if a customer asks, “I loved Book X, what should I read next?” you could find at least three or four options in your mental library. I was always the kid who never left the house without a book, so I’ve read lots of books. Working as a bookseller made me realize that while I may remember general impressions of a book, I usually forgot the details that will help the customer decide whether or not a book is for them. So I began blogging again in February, mostly to keep track of the books I read, as well as provide myself with a handy online record of my thoughts on various books.
I love reading outdoors. Park benches, or on a beach in the summer, anywhere with sunshine, a cool breeze, and people with their dogs. I love to people watch, and reading in a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere is a treat in itself.
3. What has been the most rewarding experience about creating Literary Treats?
I love the opportunities it has given me to meet fellow book lovers. It’s amazing how connected the book and book blogging communities are in Toronto, and I love being able to meet up and chat with people just as crazy about reading as I am.
On a more personal note, I also love how the act of blogging has changed the way I read. Writing book reviews has forced me to think critically about my responses to books: Why did I love this book? Why did I hate this one? More importantly, how will other readers react to this book? Not only does this help me in recommending books for people with very different reading tastes from my own, but it also makes me appreciate books more. Even books I hate may have aspects that I still appreciate, and when it comes to books I love, the literature nerd in me loves being able to understand just why I love them.
4. What is the one book on your shelf that you cherish the most and why?
An old hardcover of the complete Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories. The covers are faded, the papers are yellowed, and the spine can barely hold the pages together. A cousin gave it to me when I was about 11 or 12. He’d bought it years ago, absolutely loved it, and, since he knew how much I love reading, passed it on to me.
I love old, tattered books in general, because I love imagining the stories of the people who have read and loved them. I think my cousin must have bought this at a used book sale, because it was already pretty old when he gave it to me. So I like imagining him and others before him, reading and re-reading Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. Then of course, I read the entire collection that summer, and that added my own story to the book.
5. What advice do you have for other book bloggers?
Always ask yourself why you react to a book in a certain way. I don’t think reviewers have an obligation to be particularly kind to an author, but we do have an obligation to be thoughtful for our readers. The whole discussion over how book reviewing should be mostly refers to professional book reviewers rather than book bloggers, but given how influential bloggers and reader review sites have become, I think blogging is an important responsibility.
Whether you absolutely loved a book, hated a book, or really couldn’t care less about a book (even worse than hating a book, in my opinion), be honest, but also let your readers know why, so that they can then make up their own minds.
Also, don’t let people tell you how your reviews should sound. One of the best things about having a book blog and not writing for a newspaper or magazine is that we don’t have to worry about word count or a particular writing style. Write in your voice, and in the way that works best for you. Your readers — those who for whatever reason respond to your review style — will find you.
6. If you were able to talk with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Agatha Christie. I love her books, and would love to chat with her about mysteries and detective fiction in general. Also, she’s had an interesting life, travelling the world, and it will be fun to hear her travel stories.
Also Lois Lowry. The Giver changed my life as a child, and I’d love the chance to tell her that in person, as well as talk to her about her son, and the story behind The Giver series.
Books have always been in my life — my sister and I have Archie comic books dating back to when I was about five and my sister was one (to read when we were older). The series I really remember from my childhood though is Nancy Drew. My mom loved the books as a child and, over several years, bought my sister and me the entire original series (the yellow hardcovers).
8. If you were able to retreat to anywhere in the world, where would it be and what book would you bring along?
I was thinking of all these exciting places I’d love to visit — England! Spain! France! — but then realize that if I travelled somewhere I really wanted to visit, I’d probably be too overwhelmed taking in the sights and soaking in the experience to really retreat into my reading. So while I do dream of reading Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and William Shakespeare in England, just so I can say I did that, my ideal reading retreat would probably be on a cruise ship, or a train like the Orient Express.
I couldn’t possibly take only one book! I’d probably take along a few mysteries I love — Agatha Christie, of course, Alan Bradley and maybe my tattered, old Complete Sherlock Holmes. It’ll be fun reading the books, seeing all the interesting people on the ship or train with me, and letting my imagination run wild.
Congratulations to Jaclyn on being
an outstanding blogger!