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  • Writer's pictureH. M. L. Swann

#3 READING: "For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it’s true..."

It's week three in our series on reading! I hope you've been able to relate to the readers out there and maybe even find a new book you want to read or a new genre to try!

It's been really interesting compiling these answers. One thing I found in common was that no matter their favorite genre or how many books they read in a year, people often find books through friends.

Sorry Mr. Kim, I don't think your floppy balloon is going to spread the word. It's all about getting information from people they trust. A friend's experience with a book influences if people want to read it too. Maybe it's because friends have similar tastes or maybe its because we trust their opinion. Either way- friends have an impact.

I'm excited to share another batch of readers today! Let's see what they think and what they read!


First Name: Martha

Age: 59

Gender: Female

Profession: Retired Mechanical Engineer Manager

Studied English, literature, or writing formally: Nope, far from it

Favorite Genre: Mysteries

Genre you NEVER read: Not much non-fiction

Fun fact about you: I walk 5-7 miles a day, while listening to my audio books

First Name: Henry

Age: 24

Gender: Male

Profession: Grad Student

Studied English, literature, or writing formally: No

Favorite Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi

Genre you NEVER read: Horror

Fun fact about you: I know how to conduct parliamentary procedure

First Name: Lauren

Age: 28

Gender: Female

Profession: Teacher-aspiring development coordinator-aspiring writer.

Studied English, literature, or writing formally: Yes, all of the above.

Favorite Genre: Fantasy-Scifi

Genre you NEVER read: I try not to limit myself to anything...but I rarely read poetry.

Fun fact about you: I love horseback riding and i used to barrel race in high school.

Questions, Questions, Questions

What's your favorite genre?

Martha: Mysteries because I like to solve problems and puzzles, and mysteries always have plenty of them. It keeps my mind engaged.


My favourite genre is dystopian sci-fi novels, like 1984, Brave New World, Starship Troopers, or Fahrenheit 451, mostly because I find the worlds they create so interesting. They usually are cautious tales about man vs society or man vs technology and can take current issues and expand them on a massive societal level in a new futuristic setting.

Lauren: Lord of the Rings really sparked my interest in fantasy. I suppose I began reading fantasy as a form of escapism. However, I took a scifi in literature class in college and one of my favorite quotes about why scifi and fantasy are so great is from Ursula Leguin: "For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it’s true. Children know that. Adults know it too and that’s precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons because they are afraid of freedom"

2. What is your favorite book and why?

Martha: I am more of a series gal Anna Pigeon by Nevada Barr, I can relate to her being a woman in a man’s world as I was a engineering, so I like her humor


My favorite book is 1984 by George Orwell. It had a brilliant setting of a world of fear and bleakness, exploring every aspect of an authoritarian regime in ways that were thought to be impossible at the time, yet seem to come to fruition a little bit more every day. It raises interesting questions about societal norms, ethical beliefs, views on governance, and how much one is willing to sacrifice in the name of a greater good.

Lauren: I don't have a single favorite book. Books I will re-read and definitely recommend to others are: Lord of the Rings, Priory of the orange tree, The left Hand of darkness, Gone with the Wind, and the Horse whisperer. I love reading Sherlock holmes stories-Hounds of Baskerville in particular.

3. Do you have a favorite author?

Martha: I jump around, so I have lots of favorites. I was not a strong reader as a kid, so I am still finding good books and authors. Examples: Daniel Silva, Clive Cussler, Elly Griffiths, David Baldacci, Nevada Barr, and Janet Evanovich, William Kent Krueger, Craig Johnson, Diane Mott Davidson


I do not particularly have a favourite author, as I am usually more interested in the stories rather than the writers. However, I do enjoy early-to-mid-century English authors such as Wells, Orwell, and Huxley.

Lauren: Tolkien and Leguin are who I look up to as writers and I enjoy both their essays and books. Samantha Shannon is my new favorite fantasy writer at the moment.(priory of the orange tree and the bone season). Almost forgot I LOVE chimamanda ngozi adichie! Doesn't write fantasy but her books are so well written. She has great commentary on social and political issues while also telling a beautiful story. She is also hilarious. (Americanah or purple hibiscus)

4. How do you hear about books?

Martha: Friends and suggestions on my apps, Family


I have mostly heard about books through my family or

seeing them online in relation to similar books I have read.

Lauren: Friends, goodreads, and a Facebook page I follow called page turners. I also like to visit book stores regularly.

5. What makes you buy a book?

Martha: I do not unless it’s for someone else


Generally, I look at buying a book based off if its similar to other books I have read.

5.1 Do you buy physical books or e-books?

Martha: I get audio books from the library. I prefer audio books because I listen to them while I walk each day. It gives me a chance to leave the real crazy world behind for a couple of hours.


I try to only buy physical books. There is something about the

physical nature of them that makes it feel more real.

Lauren: I buy both. I'm a sucker for a good cover I do have to admit. Something in the synopsis has to strike me as unique or intriguing. It really depends on my mood.

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

Martha: I have been reading a couple books by black authors during this time of so much social rest. Mostly recommended by family and friends.


I have not really read many authors outside of Western influence, although I don’t really have a good reason why beyond maybe that a lot of the interesting early sci-fi were written by American and British authors. I did always find it interesting how the different backgrounds of these authors affected their writing, such as HG Wells and his time serving as a foreign police officer influenced his views on the failings of imperialism.

Lauren: Yes I do. I think the literature course really opened my mind up to different diverse authors and stories. Also, I think there is a danger in reading only a single narrative.--got that from my girl Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Ted talk.

7. What language do you read in?

Martha: English


I mainly read in English, but I did learn how to read some poetry in Chinese.

Lauren: English. I've tried to read in Spanish and old English. Its a different experience completely. I think because I'm focused so much on literal meaning I lost a lot of the story.

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?

Martha: No because I am usually just following the series and online you really can’t tell what’s on the cover sometimes its so small on my cell phone.


Not in particular, I usually find books more based on their descriptions or their similarities to other books I enjoyed.

Lauren: Yes sometimes. It depends on my mood haha.

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

Martha: 60 audio books, 2 physical books


Over the last year, I have read only 10 books. During Covid, I have probably been reading less because I’m focusing on other activities. I would probably change my habits after Covid to try to read more.

Lauren: I have no idea but I know the number probably rests above 20 and below 50. With COVID, it's probably decreased because my mood effects how much I read and I read less when I'm depressed and more when I'm anxious. Its been a scattering of feelings so sometimes ill go a month without read and then sometimes ill read like 2 books in one week.

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


I wish I could read more, as between reading for classes and general business, I don’t have much time to read as I am a slow reader.

Lauren: I always wish I could read more. Too many books to read, not enough time.

11. When and where do you read?

Martha: Walking and baking in the kitchen, I listen to audio books.


I like to read in peace and quiet, usually in the afternoon. I also like to read on a couch, as its comfortable but not so much so that I risk falling asleep.

Lauren: I need silence, a comfy chair-bed-couch, and plenty of tea or coffee.

12. What makes you stop reading a book?

Martha: Done walking or I get interrupted while listen inside.


If I have little to no interest in any of the main characters, I do not finish the book, as I don’t care what happens to them.

Lauren: Too much description or not enough. Flat characters that I can't relate to. Insta love really upsets me lol.

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


My least favourite trope is the whole “it was all in your mind” trope, where it is revealed that the story or part of the story was a façade or did not happen. I feel like it is a sort of slight against the reader for being tricked into believing something happened, and sometimes makes the protagonists struggles feel less real or that they can be disregarded.

Lauren: Insta love like Romeo and Juliet just makes me angry lol. Also, happily ever after endings are not my favorite.

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

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

Martha: If it is fiction


If the person was generally enthusiastic about the book and described a scenario that is similar to other books I like, I would be very likely to look up the book to learn more.

Lauren: They tell me it's fantasy with great character development and world building and I'm in!

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

Martha: Nonfiction depending on the story line.


If the person started with “but it gets better towards the end,” as it usually implies that the important beginning of the book is not worth the time, or that maybe the ending is possibly worth it but the road to it is just so boring why not just read the ending?

Lauren: Usually if its my friend and I trust them I will read it. HOWEVER, if I know its going to be sad I may hold off reading it until my mental health is in a more stable place. I have HEAVY empathy for characters when reading. i.e. still can't get through the bell jar.

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?


I am always fascinated by dystopian books, but also alternate history. I think there are some very interesting stories in which it is both the future but also in an alternate timeline where some event greatly shifted the past, present, and future. If it is well grounded, a what-if combined with what-will could make for an exceptionally cool basis to explore even more ideas. For example, what if the Cold War went the other way and the Soviets prevailed, what would the future look like? How would things have been different to lead up to the future events?

Lauren: The perfect book includes a little bit of mystery, fantasy, romance, with a healthy amount of world building. Too much world building puts me off of a story. Throw some historical fiction in that bad boy and boom!

That being said, I think that the perfect book for me could be something completely different as well--im very moody and it all depends on my mood lol.

And I absolutely think that. That's one of the reasons I keep reading.

Check back next week for the last round of readers and a RECAP on everything I've learned from this month's theme.



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