Today we travel across the Atlantic to meet Canadan blogger Susan Gibson, who blogs at A Year of Books. Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature Susan. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
Thank you for profiling me! I am Canadian mom of 4 who lives an hour west of Toronto, Ontario. During the day, I am a nurse who leads a team that arranges palliative care for individuals with life limiting illnesses – it is a very serious role so reading is an escape and a time to relax. In my free time, I read every chance that I get, steward two Little Free Libraries (with the help of my 9 year old) and participate in a wonderful book club.
What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?
My mom and grandma (when she visited) always read to my brothers and I, at bedtime. I loved listening to the animal tales of the Thorton Burgess series which had been my mom’s as a child. When I began reading independently, I would make weekly trips to the library for an armful of books and my first favourites were Nancy Drew books! I read every available book and still have a few original copies that my mom had enjoyed as a girl. I also loved all the books by Judy Blume, which seemed to grow with me in their topics and writing style from childhood to adulthood (from Superfudge, to Blubber, Forever and then to her adult novels like Summer sisters). It was amazing to meet her in Toronto, last year, when she released her newest novel, In the Unlikely Event.
What made you want to start blogging?
My ultimate goal is to write a book but in the meantime, I am enjoying reading many wonderful novels and meeting and learning from author’s. I decided to start blogging about each book that I read as a way to share my love of books and encourage others to read more. Initially, I had thought that I would read a book a week but am now surpassing that goal At the same time, I started attending author events and this only increased my interest in writing.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I love the entire process. It is a treat to share about each and every book that I read. Although I had hoped that my blog would be more interactive, I seem to have many readers but only few that comment so when I do get a comment or a retweet, it is very rewarding to hear what others have thought about the books that I have reviewed. It is fantastic to connect with others that share the same love of reading!
Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!
A Year of Books was started with the intent of reading and reviewing one book, each week. I quickly surpassed this goal and in 2015 reviewed 100 books. I post reviews of every book that I read whether I absolutely love them or struggled to finish them. My favourite genres are Canadian literature and historical fiction. I am trying to read a few classics in amongst the more current fiction and to read some of the books my teens are reading at school. I am attending as many author events as I can and try to read their books prior to meeting the author so this has impacted the books that I am choosing.
What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.
My favourite book this year is The Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese which is a beautifully written, Canadian story that needs to be shared. It is a quiet tale of loss, love, life and death taking place in the British Columbia interior through the eyes of a young boy learning about his family on a journey through the wilderness and through the past. It is the coming of age story of Franklin Starlight who accompanies his estranged father, Eldon, to his final resting place.
Wagamese grew up in Northern Ontario and spent his childhood in foster homes. His Ojibway family could not care for him after their experience in residential schools. He was adopted by an abusive family and it is reported that he ran away to a life of alcohol and drugs when he was 16 years old. It was inspiring to read that the author “may never have become a writer, were it not for the kindness of a group of librarians in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he stumbled into the public library at the age of 16, seeking shelter and refuge from a life on the streets” (CBC Radio interview). Wagamese drew on his own experiences with alcoholism and estrangement from his own boys when writing this gripping story which made the story all the more poignant.
What are you reading just now? (August 2016)
I have been working my way through the CBC 100 Novels that Make You Proud to be Canadian and the CBC 100 True Stories that Make You Proud to be Canadian and am currently reading Under an Afghan Sky about a CBC journalist who was kidnapped after finishing an interview in a refuge camp in Afghanistan. She was forced to live in a room that was a hole in the ground with her captors. She was hurt and scared yet still used her interview skills asking questions of these Afghan man. It is a very interesting book but I cannot imagine how terrifying this experience was for the young woman.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
All of the above! I fit a bit of reading in any time that I can. I tend to read on my iPad during the day but at night, shy away from the screen and read a real book. I love books with pages that are rough on the edges and recently enjoyed the Giller Prize winning book Fifteen Dogs which had thick, textured pages that were unlike any other book that I have read. I used to enjoy reading to my children each evening but my youngest is now 9 and usually prefers to read to himself which has been a rite of passage for our family.
How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?
My blog is www.ayearofbooksblog.com and I welcome comments.
Twitter is @A_Year_Of_Books
I also have a facebook page for my Franklin Street Little Free Library which is: https://www.facebook.com/FranklinStLittleFreeLibrary/
Goodreads Group Creator and Moderator of CanadianContent group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/182921-canadiancontent
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
That is a difficult question but I have always had an affintity for Anne Shirley of the Canadian classic, Anne of Green Gables. She has feistiness and creativity that I admire. I have reread these books as an adult and chuckled at all the situations that she found herself in!