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  • Writer's pictureH. M. L. Swann

#2 READING: stay golden ponyboy

It's week two in our series on reading - exploring why people read what they read. So let's meet this weeks batch of readers!


First Name: Sam

Age: 30

Gender: Male

Profession: Student

Studied English, literature, or writing formally: No

Favorite Genre: Action/Adventure

Genre you NEVER read: Horror

Fun fact about you: Has lived in a Mongolian Ger

First Name: Cassy

Age: 32

Gender: Female

Profession: Loan Processor

Studied English, literature, or writing formally: No

Favorite Genre: Fiction; fantasy, Sci Fi; Romance

Genre you NEVER read: History (wish I was interested but am not!)

Fun fact about you: I am introverted, I prefer writing or texting to talking. I have to remind myself to socialize so that I don't become a hermit!

First Name: Bonny

Age: 73

Gender: Female

Profession: Educator

Studied English, literature, or writing formally: No

Favorite Genre: Contemporary or historical

Genre you NEVER read: Horror, science fiction, or fantasy

Fun fact about you: I have eaten seal meat and "muktuk" (whale blubber), and enjoyed it.

Questions, Questions, Questions

What's your favorite genre?

Sam: I think cause it (Action/adventure) is the broadest genre, it includes Sci-Fi, fantasy, and classics. I love adventurous spirit, traveling to distant lands, and seeing strange new sights and challenges.


Fiction/Fantasy What do you like about it most? It's a nice break from reality and I love imagining other worlds and characters based on the author's descriptions. Once I see a movie or show made from a book it almost ruins that experience for me.

Bonny: I like contemporary fiction, because I often find a new perspective on common human issues within the pages, or a situation that informs a puzzle in my own life. Following characters as they work out their difficulties or celebrate their accomplishments gives me ideas about how to face my own life. In books I can come to understand lives very different from my own, in some small way.

2. What is your favorite book and why?

Sam: The Count of Monte Cristo -Alexandre Dumas. It's one of the great classics immortalized in time. It is a story of passion and unyielding character resilience. A testament to man's overcoming of adversity.


There are too many to choose from! I love Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series!

Bonny: Angle of Repose or Crossing to Safety, both by Wallace Stegner. These books address the challenges of enduring marriage and the way in which life evolves over a lifetime.

3. Do you have a favorite author?

Sam: No, It's almost impossible to have a single favorite writer. I could never decide on just one.


Currently, Karen Marie Moning, Annette Marie, Sarah J Maas, Sandra Brown, Ted Chiang, Michael Connelly, I know there are others, I honestly cannot narrow it down.

Bonny: Ivan Doig is a perennial favorite. He is a vivid writer, and his stories bring both the territory of the West and the people to life. There is humor, as well as confrontation and exploration of the challenges of life. I found the last book Doig wrote “The Last Bus to Wisdom”, published posthumously, to be every bit as engaging as the first of his I read, English Creek.

4. How do you hear about books?

Sam: Goodreads, Family, Friends


Friends, Family, Good Reads, sometimes a facebook ad will catch my eye. Also, I am a part of some book-a-holic groups on facebook that have fantastic suggestions.

Bonny: I belong to three book groups which prompt me to read books I would not otherwise read. I also get books from friends, browse the Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood and I use the public library extensively. I read the Sunday New York Times Book Review most weeks.

5. What makes you buy a book?


My never ending "to read" list helps me keep track of what to buy, but also if I typically enjoy an author's writing and if the synopsis intrigues me.

Bonny: I buy them if I can’t get them promptly at the library. I also try to support small independent bookstores.

5.1 Do you buy physical books or e-books?

Sam: Physical books all the way, with an e-book copy for backup for trips. Physical books are an experience and are meant to show the amount of love they receive. You cant look at an e-book and see the weathered broken spine, the dog-eared pages, or the stains from when you had to rush to work, but were fairly certain you could sneak in a chapter while eating. The signed notes and ideas scribbled on the edges of the pages. The smell of a fresh book should be made into a candle.


Both. However, this year I have bought more e-books to save money. I prefer physical books as I stare at a screen for work all day and don't want to stare at one when I am enjoying my hobby. Plus, physical books smell better and don't have to be charged.

Bonny: Physical. I like to underline or mark passages, and reread sections or go back to clarify some reference. At my age, I don’t recall as well as I once did. I also like to share books with friends.

6. Do you read books from diverse authors (people of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, identities, and abilities)? Why or why not?

Sam: Absolutely!


Yes. I like to see things from others point of view, and I love to learn. We get stuck in our own safe worlds and don't always see how certain things affect others from different backgrouds/histories. I find that interesting and at times sad.

Bonny: I do, and I appreciate an opportunity to get a different perspective. Lately I have tried to read more indigenous American authors and African American authors, in order to understand more clearly the crisis of civilisation/democracy we are currently experiencing.

7. What language do you read in?

Sam: English



Bonny: English

8. We all know the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But real talk: do you? Does cover design play a part in whether you pick up a book or not?

Sam: I'm ashamed to admit it but it's true. A cover is the selling point for a book sometimes if it's unknown to me. I read the back and judge the summary and the artwork to make a snap judgment about whether or not I might be interested in this book.


I try not to but do until I read the synapsis. Does cover design play a part in whether you pick up a book or not? No, I will judge it, but that is not the deciding factor for me. I do enjoy good cover art though!

Bonny: Cover plays a role in picking up a book for the first time, perhaps, but reading the blurb or reviews makes the decision for me.

9. How many books have you read in the last year?

Sam: A lot, like a ton.


78 and counting. Currently reading book #79!

Bonny: About 40

9.1 Has COVID increased or decreased the amount you read?

Sam: Covid has increased my reading dramatically, what all the free time now that I can't do anything else.


Increased! Last year I read a total of 9 books. I had a sad 2019, I know.

Bonny: Decreased – I am exhausted and fall asleep more quickly in the evenings.

9.2 If COVID has changed your reading habits, will you maintain them post COVID?

Sam: I hope so but, who knows?


I would love to, but I also want to live my life so no.

Bonny: I doubt it.

10. Do you wish you read more or less? Why or why not?

Sam: I wish I could do more personal reading, between work and school, I do plenty of reading but not enough of the reading of my beloved books that I choose.


More, my reading list is never ending and I keep adding to it. I just need more time in a day.

Bonny: I am content with how much I read, and consider myself fortunate to have access to so many excellent books.

11. When and where do you read?

Sam: Wherever and Whenever I can. In a car as a tzar, be it near, be it far & silence is golden, stay golden ponyboy.


Everywhere I am able to when I have some downtime except in a car. I get motion sickness. I do prefer silence. I can tune others out once I am lost in a book but usually check back in every so often. I am not currently in any book groups other than on FB.


Bonny: On the couch, at a table, in a chair, in bed before sleep. I prefer silence, but don’t NEED it. I do not like music playing. My book groups over the years have expanded my taste and enriched my reading through discussion.

12. What makes you stop reading a book?

Sam: Usually something I don't want to do, like work.


Once I lose interest in the story or find too many loopholes. It's rare that I don't finish a book but there have been a few in the past that I refused to finish. I think of how hard it is to write a book (I have tried!) and want to give authors a chance before just giving up.

Bonny: Years ago a wise woman much my elder told me, “If you don’t like a book by the 100th page, give up. There are so many wonderful books that you will enjoy, it’s a shame to waste time on one that you don’t.” That has served me well. I do feel an obligation to finish books selected for book group, however, and sometimes find that I warm to a book later on.

13. What’s your least favorite trope? Why?

Sam: Following the cookie-cutter story or shoehorning a political/personal/ message into a story where it makes no sense and doesn't contribute to the flow at all.


Love Triangle, it's overused and I usually feel awful for one, or more of the characters at some point.

Bonny: I don’t have a least favorite

14. You hear a book summary from a trusted friend:

a. What is the one thing that makes you want to read it?

Sam: The excitement in someone's review. A meh, pretty good versus OMG YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY MY BRAIN MELTED!


If their description piques my curiosity and they enjoyed it.

Bonny: If a trusted friend likes it, I want to read it.

b. What is the one thing that makes you NOT want to read it?

Sam: Celebrity endorsements. Nothing says waste of a fine tree, like an endorsement from one of the dozens of Kardashians.


If they didn't enjoy the book I would think twice about spending time on it.

Bonny: Hasn’t happened yet.

15. What would be the perfect book for you? Do you think there is a story that you want to hear that isn’t out there yet?

Sam: The Lord of the Rings is almost as close to perfect as you can get literature for me. Every day someone rearranges their alphabet to create an entirely new piece of beauty in the world. I for one can't wait for you, whoever you are to write yours.


Something with a bit of action, adventure, fantasy and slow burn romance. (Do you think there is a story that you want to hear that isn’t out there yet?) I am sure there is. I am always searching for something new but there is already so much out there it's hard to imagine.

Bonny: The next book is the perfect book… there is no such thing, really. They are all rich in their way…. It’s like asking a mother about her favorite child.

And as for what I am yearning for … I can’t imagine what I cannot imagine.

See you next week for more on reading!




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