Today marks the second day of BBAW and our topic for today is getting to know another bookblogger through an interview swap. I was paired up with Ash of English Major's Junk Food and without further ado, here are Ash's answers to my questions:

Melody: How do you define a ‘good’ book or a ‘bad’ book? (Personally I don’t think any book can be defined as ‘bad’ as I believe there’s a book for everyone out there.)

    Ash: I totally agree with what you said in parentheses. I think a lot of people see 'good' books as literature and classics and 'bad' books as just about everything else. I don't look at it that way, I read things that interest me and hold my attention. Sometimes that is literary nonfiction, sometimes it's a romance novel, and sometimes it's both! As far as what makes a book good for me, I like strong female characters, villains, and great dialogue in my fiction. In nonfiction I love well researched creative nonfiction that helps me learn and makes me want to know more about a topic. I also love memoirs where the subject is totally self deprecating. Honestly, a great book for me is one that, when I'm finished, I look at and say "Wow, this book really changed the way I look at "fill in the blank."

    M: I understand you read mostly historical fiction novels, so are there any genres that you refuse to read?

    A: I read a lot more historical fiction when I first started blogging, I think my genre of choice now is probably creative nonfiction. This is because when I first started blogging I was in a creative nonfiction course that I wasn't really enjoying and felt a little stuck in my own writing. I was drawn to historical fiction because you can still learn from it, but there is a great story there. I think historical fiction is kind of my "escapist" reading. A far as genres I refuse to read, I don't really like "inspirational" books, thrillers, or science fiction.

    M: Who are your favourite historical fiction authors? Let’s say I am new to this genre, which book(s) would you recommend to me?

    A: For historical fiction I really enjoyed Lynn Cullen's recent book The Creation of Eve and when I first started blogging about historical fiction I read And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander, which I thought was a fantastic book. Kind of a mystery and kind of a romance. Sheramy Bundrick's Sunflowers was also a good book. For creative nonfiction I have better suggestions. Joan Didion is a must read, particularly The Year of Magical Thinking. I also love Chuck Klosterman's books about pop culture, John McPhee's essays, and any anthology that Lee Gutkind edits.

    M: How do you inspire yourself when you are in a writing slump?

    A: This is a great question and one that is difficult to answer. Reading is probably one of the best answers I can come up with. I find so much when I'm reading and I have to be aware of what I'm taking in from a book. I make notes when I read and sometimes when I return to them I find ideas for writing. My other answer, and the one I probably use more, is walking. I find things when I'm walking because I'm mentally isolated, but often still in the world looking out to it. Those are when my best ideas come.

    M: What are your opinions of a good book review?

    A: I don't think a good book review has to make me want to read the book, in fact I've read quite a few great book reviews that made me want to run and hide from a book. I think fairness is key. Acknowledge what you didn't like about a book but then try to explore why it didn't work for you- it might work for someone else. I enjoy reading samples of the author's writing, even if it's just a few sentences, because that gives me a better idea of the writing style and if I think it will work for me.

    M: How many blogs are there in your Reader? And how do you keep up with them?

    A: I don't use a reader because I always forget to look at it. My method is actually just my blogroll on my blog. Every few days I just hit up everyone's blog to see what posts interest me and I try to leave at least one comment on each blog. I have 54 blogs on my blogroll but there are a few I've been checking out recently and haven't added.

    M: Onto a non-books related subject, what do you most enjoy besides reading and writing?

    A: I love being outside so I enjoy walking, biking, hiking, swimming, and just spending time with nature. I also recently got Netflix so I've been fairly obsessed with getting movies online and delivered to my house!

    M: I love your blog name! So do you have any favourite junk food which you’d like to share?

    A: Ah! I love junk food, unfortunately. My favorite junk food is probably buffalo wings or pulled pork sandwiches, and pizza. The list could go on and on.

    Ash, thank you for being my interview partner! I enjoyed reading your answers and it was so much fun doing this interview swap with you! I look forward to spending more time on your blog!

    I hope you will visit Ash's blog after reading my interview with her! You may also wish to check out my answers to her questions over at her blog if you are interested.

    23 Responses
    1. Julia Says:

      Melody - you came up with a very good questions, and I enjoy reading Ash answered to each questions. It great to learn something about the person you interview. Hi Ash! :)

    2. violet Says:

      I don't like reading inspirational books too. I loved your questions Mel and Ash's answers too. I want to expand my non-fiction reading which presently happens to be mostly memoirs. I'll be checking out her blog for sure.

    3. Anonymous Says:

      Ash is such a wonderful blogger :)

      I'm quite surprised that she manages to keep up with blogs without a reader, I know I'd be lost without mine!

    4. Beth F Says:

      Glad to have gotten to know Ash a bit better, she has a great blog. I too am a fan of John McPhee's.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      I just discovered Ash's blog yesterday and liked the idea of her rebelling against her reading list;) I've heard so much about Joan Didion but haven't had a chance to read her book yet. It looks as though creative non-fiction is taking off in a big way in the states. Lovely interview.

    6. Gina Says:

      I love the questions that you cam e up with. They really let you into the heart of the blogger. I also love the layout of your blog. Good job.

    7. Cath Says:

      This is motivating me to read more. :)Thanks for the great Q and A.

    8. Recently I have started following Ash!

      Here is my BBAW: Interview post!

    9. What excellent interview questions! Thanks for allowing me to get to know Ahs better!

    10. Serena Says:

      I'm with you on that junk food. I wish I didn't love it so much! Great interview with another new-to-me blogger.

    11. Sandy Nawrot Says:

      Another new to me blogger! Yay for Netflix, chicken wings and pizza too. Nice job on the questions Melody.

    12. Ash Says:

      I just wanted to thank you again for a great interview Melody! I'll definitely be returning to your blog.

    13. Valerie Says:

      I'll definitely go over and visit Ash's blog. I also like non-fiction, but haven't been reading as much of it lately.

    14. Andi Says:

      Fabulous creative questions on your part! And wonderful getting to know Ash better. :)

    15. Katy Says:

      What fun! Those were some great questions! :) I follow Ash's blog, so it's fun to get to know her better!

    16. Anonymous Says:

      Awesome questions, Melody! I think walking helps me with slumps too. That's why cold and snowy winters in Cleveland are dangerous to my psyche!

    17. Unknown Says:

      Great interview of Ash. I wasn't aware of her blog until now but I'm definitely going to check it out now! I like her book recommendations and don't care for inspirational books much either.

      I'm on my way to read your interview now!

      ~ Amy

    18. Alyce Says:

      I enjoyed reading your interview, and I'm craving junk food now. :)

    19. Anna Says:

      I haven't heard of Ash's blog before, so thanks for bringing it to my attention! I love the name of the blog, since I was an English major once upon a time!

    20. Athira Says:

      Ash is one of my favorite bloggers! It's like delicious fast food for me. (I wanted to say junk food, but that can be taken negatively too. :D) I'm surprised too that she doesn't use a reader! That's something new I learned! Plus, I love her recommendations and her reviews! Even if it's a book that's not my type or so, I still read her review, because she writes really well!

    21. I had never heard of Ash before and it is really nice to hear about all these other bloggers.

    22. The Bookworm Says:

      Great interviews ladies!
      I'm a fan of historical fiction also.

      And Mel, I love chips and green tea too :O)

    23. Alice Says:

      Great questions and equally great answers! I agree with Ash on her answer to the book review question.

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