A Book is a Device to Ignite the Imagination

Now Brewing: Wide Awake Coffee Co. Hazelnut Crème, with a scoop of organic pumpkin and a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s not a PSL, but it’s sure close and Whole30approved. The real deal will just have to wait until October 1st.

Welcome to fall! With the return of cooler temperatures and all other things pumpkin, I often find that autumn is the time of year I most feel like curling up in a flannel with a good book.

Personally, when I think back about my journey as an aspiring novelist—it all starts with racing through books as a young pre-k student and one day the thought just hit me, “Hey, I wanna write books, too.” So I did.

Although these days I don’t do nearly enough of it (maybe this should be the 30-Minute Passion Project!), I still read anything I can get my hands on—even if it’s just a few public relations articles each day during my lunch at work.

I’ve written before about how important I find reading to be as a writer, so I’m pleased that one of my best friends and a fellow book lover, joined my #15MinutePassionProject and decided to dedicate her 15 minutes to reading more this month.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about my friendship with Ashley is that she’s one of the only other 20-somethings I know that’s perfectly content and actually excited about spending the afternoon hanging out at a bookstore—in fact, we most recently met up for an afternoon of browsing and catching up over the shelves of our local Barnes and Noble.

Reading is a powerful experience, both for writers and non-writers, so if after reading this first Passion Project Piece you’re compelled to join us on the #15MinutePassionProject, it’s not too late!

Let me know how you’ll be spending your 15 and we can chat about how to make your super cool hobby (and let me tell you friends, I follow your social media sites—I KNOW you’re doing neat stuff!) one of the features this month.

And, because I’m all about appreciating when people do me a solid, a special shout out to Ashley for being so eager to join my crazy little project and for sharing her passion with us in this week’s Q&A. Enjoy!

15 Minutes of Reading

Do you snack while you read? If so, what is your favorite reading snack?

Does coffee count as a snack? I don’t really snack while reading but I’m extremely guilty of reading during meals, especially if I’m eating alone.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? Or something else?

Most of the time I dog-ear the page. I like seeing how a book gets worn the more I read it, like its been loved.images

First book you ever remember reading?

I remember reading the Magic Tree House series books alone. I wish I could say Harry Potter was the first book I ever remember reading though because those were the ones that showed me how magical reading can be and I’ve been an avid reader ever since.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Mostly fiction but I do read non-fiction on occasion. I’d actually like to try to incorporate more non-fiction into my reading selection. I made a friend in Russia who reads a lot of non-fiction and talking with him has inspired me to make that more of a priority.

Do you read to the end of a chapter or just stop anywhere?

I try to read to the end of the chapter but sometimes it’s not possible and I have to just stop at whatever page I’m reading.

If you come across an unfamiliar word while reading, do you stop and look it up right away?

Only if I can’t figure out what it means based on context clues.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Cuckoo’s Calling and Raging Heat.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?

I’m a sucker for a good book series. (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Rizzoli and Isles).

What is the last book you bought?

Raging Heat, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Complete Illustrated History Aztec and Maya.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

Normally I only read one book at a time. Right now I’m reading two as it is easier to read from my Kindle on the bus back from volleyball games.

Have you ever thrown a book across the room or on the floor when the author irritated you?

Once or twice. There was one time I threw it across the room and it wasn’t even because the author irritated me. I was so engrossed in the last Harry Potter book that I failed to see the spider crawling up until it was right where I was reading. I freaked out and sent the book flying across the room.

If you could decide the curriculum for a high school literature class, name at least five (5) pieces you would include and why.

The Hunger Games: It’s a relatively current series. Sometimes I felt like literature class was bogged down with all the classics. Don’t get me wrong I love the classics but it’s also important to have something current to study as well. Also it’s a great series to consider in regards to government and politics.

Native Son: I read Native Son myself in high school. The story was interesting. I couldn’t wait to read the next reading assignment to see what would happen next. If I had to give the name of a book that sparked my interest in mystery and crime stories this would be it even though that isn’t the main focus of the book. This book taught me a lot about racial inequality in America.

A Raisin in the Sun: Another book that I had the opportunity to read in high school. I actually remember sitting down and reading this play in one go. I loved it! I also remember I had to read it around the time the TV movie was airing which just happened to have my favorite Broadway actress starring in it. This is another good example of the racial inequality that African Americans faced in America but I think the topic is still relevant today.

Anna Karenina: I read this in high school as well but I know that my classmates did not. This book is what I picked on my own to read and analyze for a paper. I fell in love with the story, the characters, and Russia. Reading this book helped to create my dream, that I recently accomplished, of living in Russia. I think this book gives great insight into a different culture than our own.

Much Ado About Nothing: One that I wish we could have read in high school. I ended up reading a lot of Shakespeare throughout my time in high school. We mostly read the tragedies though. Much Ado About Nothing is one of the comedies. My favorite Shakespeare play had always been Hamlet until I read this one. I think it would be beneficial to read both a tragedy and comedy to compare and contrast them.

I know that a lot of the books listed I read in high school but the truth is I really wouldn’t have wanted my high school literature curriculum any other way. I always learned something about society during our readings. The lessons in the novels we read were so powerful that most, if not all have stuck with me to this day. In high school I always told my teacher not to analyze Harry Potter in front of me because I didn’t want it to be ruined, that it was the series I read for fun. Now every time I pick up one of the Harry Potter books to reread I can’t help but analyze it. I still stand by my statement of not wanting to analyze it in school though. I feel a sense of accomplishment, that what I learned in school wasn’t for nothing when I automatically start analyzing my favorite book series on my own.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

I love reading right before bed, although that can lead to me staying up later than originally planned because I’m so interested in the story. My favorite place to read is either on the couch, in a big comfy chair or my bed. I wish I had a window seat that would be the ideal place for me to read.

When you start reading a book, are you compelled to finish it no matter what or can you set it aside if it’s not your style?

I feel compelled to finish it no matter what, except that one time in AP English when I didn’t finish reading Jane Eyre. I clearly wasn’t compelled to finish that one and I think my English teacher could tell based on one of the comments on my paper. With the exception of Jane Eyre, I usually finish a book within a couple days. I have a binge reading problem in that regards. I hate having to put a book down to finish later. However, with choosing reading as my 15 Minute Passion Project I’ve become better at accepting the fact that I don’t have enough time to always finish a book within a couple days and the world won’t end if it takes me a week or two.

Author’s Note: I didn’t finish Jane Eyre either, oops.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

Series always go together and books by the same author always go together then I usually do it by genre. I have a system. It might be an odd system but it works for me.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Paper Towns by John Green

On that note, if you HAD to pick—what book is your absolute all-time favorite?

A Marriage of True Minds by Stephen Evans…talk about plot twist! Harry Potter is in a league of its own and would always be my answer to this question so lately I’ve answered taking it out of the equation, one because I’m indecisive and two it gives other books a chance.

See you next week,

Kathryn E. Weast 

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