Welcome to the third edition of the Maw Books Reader Spotlights! Today, I’d like you to meet (or re-meet) Jeanette who blogs at A Comfy Chair and a Good Book! It has been my privilege to have Jeanette visit me and vice versa for almost a year now. Jeanette is just amazing and I hope you learn more about her and her growing family.
I love Jeanette’s comments and thought I’d start off by sharing a few of my favorites:
About library sales:
I remember going to the library sale in Portland, OR when I lived out there. This was pre-kids so I dragged my hubby out of bed early and we took the train downtown. We got there early and there was a line snaking down several city blocks. We finally got it and oh what fun! So many great books at such great prices! The hardest part was getting them all home on the train! We were loaded down! There also used to be a great book sale every year at Pioneer Square in Portland. Again, I would take the train down and heft all the books back home. I love book sales!
About Holocaust books:
I don’t think you are weird for reading so many Holocaust books. When I was in jr high and high school I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on that was about the Holocaust. I wrote several papers and did several projects on the subject. My friends all thought I was morbid but it was not like that at all. I even had one of my teachers ask if she could read my notes and if I would do a presentation for the class because I knew so much about the subject. When I got to college my focus shifted to different and more varied topics but I still have files and files of information and a good list of books on the subject. I have not read many books on the subject on the last 10 years and really should start reading the newer books. With all that said…I have read this book and its sequel. One of my roommates in college had to read it for a class and I ended up reading it when I saw it sitting around the apartment. It is beautifully written and I too really liked what she said in the intro.
About my bookshelves:
Natasha, I loved this post! I just love seeing bookshelves full of books and yours are so nicely organized. I love the shelves in your front room. One of the things I don’t like about my house is that it is very open-now normally I would love that but there are not enough walls for bookshelves! We don’t use our dining room as a dining room so I am thinking I want to turn it into my library.
I have one question. How do you keep your kids, especially your youngest, from eating and ripping your books on the bottom shelves? I had to move all the books off the bottom two shelves on most of my book shelves and right now I just have them stacked on the dining room table in order to keep them away from baby hands and mouths.
Yeah-My boobs will never be the same after nursing two babies. Oh well. My friend use to tell me I had mosquito bites. Ha! What would she think now? Judy Blume. Really, I think it is a good thing my mom did not take time to monitor what I read as a young girl. She would not have been too pleased. I remember reading Forever but I don’t think I really got what I was reading.I was flipping through it a number of years after I read it and could not believe I had read that when I was so young. Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was a good one though. I remember the whole anxiety about when I was going to start my period etc. And then I was scared when I did. Oh, the memories.
Oh! The one with the trucker flashing his high beams always got me. To this day I check my back seat before I get in the car because of that story! Seriously. Did the story about the girl who had a spider lay eggs in her face come from ones of these books? That story also freaked me out.
Okay, okay. I could go on and on. But I love sharing these comments, because we really do learn a lot from them. Especially when Jeanette takes the time to leave such wonderful comments! So let’s learn more shall we? Welcome Jeanette who’s in the spotlight today . . .
Maw Books: So tell us about yourself! What do you want us to know?
Jeanette: I am a wife, mother and homemaker. I have been married for 8 years and we have a three year old boy we call Red and an 18 month old girl we call Little Miss. Our third baby will be born later this year. I will also be celebrating the 1st anniversary of my 29th birthday this year. I grew up in Ohio but have also lived in Rexburg, Idaho, Portland, Oregon and Seattle Washington. My husband is in graduate school right now and once he is done we are hoping to put down roots in the Ashville, North Carolina area or Knoxville, Tennessee area. We love that part of the country and long to be closer to the mountains.
Jeanette: Beyond just loving to read for the pure pleasure, I love learning new things. I have an independent nature and instead of asking about something I don’t have the answers or knowledge for I turn to books. Books are the tools to learning and knowledge. While I try to read a fair amount of non-fiction even fiction teaches me new things and is a great starting point for making new discoveries. I have generated several lists of topics I want to explore further. The only problem is that I read so much that I can’t seem to find the time to delve into all my “topics for further reading.”
I also think reading is in my genes, if you will. My grandmother was a big reader and she always sent me books. Since we lived so far away and I never met her until I was a teenager I loved reading the books she sent me. Some of my favorite books like Good Night Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian and The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher came from my grandmother. She usually sent a short letter along with the books and I still have them tucked inside the cover of the books.
Maw Books: That is so wonderful to share that with your grandmother! Who are some of your favorite authors? And a few books that you think nobody should miss?
Jeanette: That is always a difficult question to answer. I am a pretty eclectic reader and it is hard to narrow it down to favorites. I do love Willa Cather. Her novels are just beautifully written and give such a great sense of time and place. Her novel One of Ours is one of my top ten favorite books. I want to start reading some of the books that have been awarded the Willa award, named after Willa Cather.
I also love Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth and her diary and letters from WWI. A very moving and true account of WWI. I really enjoy books set around the turn of the 20th century and around WWI.
I know it is almost starting to sound like a cliche to say Jane Austen is your favorite author but she really is one of my favorites. I try to re-read all six of her major novels every year.
Last year I discovered Persephone Books and I am trying to read through as much of their catalog as I can. They reprint neglected novels, most of them by women and most dating from the mid-twentieth century. They have some really wonderful titles.
Maw Books: Oh wow. I love how specific you are with your tastes. And Jane Austen every year? So cool. What is your earliest reading memory? And what were you like as a young reader?
Jeanette: I had a book called Are You My Mother? but it was not the Eastman book with the baby bird. This one had a little chick and she was on a farm looking for her mother. I really wish I still had it or could track down a copy of it because that is the first book I remember from my childhood.
It is funny, but I was not a very good reader when I was young. I loved books but struggled with actually reading them. The library was very close to my home growing up and I used to ride my bike down there and just hang out in the children’s section reading and playing. If it was a hot day and we were tired of riding our bikes my friends and I would stop at the library and play with the puppets and puzzles and look at books. I think because I surrounded myself with books and kept reading, I just got more proficient over time. I was never really one of those kids who always had her nose in a book, that would come later.
Maw Books: I just searched for Are You My Mother? and came up empty handed. Do you have any reading traditions with your children that you’d like to share?
Jeanette: I don’t think we have many traditions. I just read to my children all the time. All the time! I read to them at meal times, at nap time and whenever else they bring me a book. I think it is so cute the way my 18 month old will pick up a book and shove it in my face and say “reat, reat.” Ok, so it is not so cute when I am trying to get some work done or trying to read my own books, but I am trying to encourage the love of reading so I always try to read to them when they ask me to. The only time I don’t read to them is bed time, that is my husband’s chance to read to them.
We do have a weekly library day that my son will never let me get away with skipping.
Maw Books: I don’t do bed time either. My husband is gone all day. He does baths, pajamas, and books. So, why did you start a book blog in the first place and how long have you been blogging? Tell us about your blog, your focus, and why it’s important to you.
Jeanette: I have been blogging for just under a year. I was reading a blog one night when I noticed a link to the blog writers book blog. I clicked over and discovered there was this whole community of people blogging about books and they had reading challenges too. How fun! I stayed up way too late that night just clicking around to different book blogs and thinking I had to start one too. So I kinda started my blog, A Comfy Chair and a Good Book, on a whim so that I could participate in some reading challenges.
Years ago I had a spreadsheet that I used to track my reading but had stopped using it and so I also thought a blog would be a great way to start tracking the books I read again. I just started my blog for fun and am trying to keep it that way. I don’t get a ton of traffic but I do have my regular readers and I am pleased with that. Not that I wouldn’t love to have more people come by and leave me comments! I actually think a great deal of my traffic comes from non book bloggers and even though they don’t leave a lot of comments I hope they are finding some enjoyable books to read.
The books I feature on my blog are the books that caught my attention for whatever reason. I read a lot of middle grade because I really think that is where you find some of the best stories and characters. So you will find a lot of middle grade fiction and a little young adult but also non-fiction and “grown-up” books as well. As I’ve said, I’ve got pretty eclectic reading tastes and I think my blog reflects that.
I have occasionally blogged about the books my children are enjoying and would like to start doing that more frequently. I’ve also got plans to highlight my 3 year old a little. He loves to “read” to his little sister and I am thinking I need to get some of it on video and share it.
Maw Books: I’d love to see videos of your kids. That would be a cool feature! What’s your favorite book review or post that you’ve written?
Jeanette: I could easily point out my least favorite but I don’t know about favorite. There are a few I would like to go back and rewrite, that is for sure. It is hard to pick a favorite. I am really trying to hone my review writing skills and hope things are getting better. Sometimes I can be a bit long winded and sometimes I let myself get carried away with the emotions of how much I loved or hated a book.
If I am reading my stats right, my most popular post is my review of Austenland by Shannon Hale. I’ll admit that kinda makes me cringe because that is not my favorite review but what can you do? Another popular post is my review of Cinderella, and I like that one much better myself.
Maw Books: Challenges! You are signed up for a lot of reading challenges. What do you enjoy about them and how do you organize yourself to complete them all?
Jeanette: Well, as I mentioned, challenges are what first brought me into the book blogging world. I signed up for three last year but have increased that to about 16 this year. I just think it adds a fun dimension to things. I did not intend to sign up for that many but there you have it. Since I read such a variety of books it is pretty easy to look at my TBR list and find books that fit the challenges. I made myself some spreadsheets to track my progress (have I mentioned that I will make a spreadsheet for just about anything? Spreadsheets keep me sane!) I think I probably can finish all the challenges I’ve signed up for as long as I don’t add too many more books to my list of books to read. Ha! We will see how that goes…
Jeanette: My kids keep me pretty busy but aside from them and books I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. I am always subjecting my family to something new to try but the results are usually pretty good.
I’ve also been trying to turn my thumb a better shade of green. I am looking forward to Spring so I can get back outside and working in my yard. We might be going in with some friends to rent a small plot of land and grow a bunch of vegetables and then preserve them. I am really excited about this and hope it works out.
I spend a fair amount of time working on genealogy. Not as much time as I did before we had kids but I try to do devote a little bit of time to it each week.
As a family we love to go geocaching. During the summer we will spend most of our Saturdays and evenings out tramping around looking for caches.
Maw Books: I had to Google geocaching, I’ve never heard of it. That is really interesting! Where would you go on your dream vacation? And what would you eat while you were there?
Jeanette: I really want to visit Cornwall, England and Wales. And I would have to try any foods that are local to those areas while I was there. My mom’s family comes from Wales and I don’t know why by Cornwall has always appealed to me.
Maw Books: You studied culinary arts in college? How was that? Would you like to share any secret tips or a favorite recipe with everybody?
Jeanette: I did spend a few semesters as a culinary arts major, the rest were as a history major, so similar, right?
My favorite class was candy making. I love making truffles. I also love making breads and right now I am trying to find a really good sour dough starter. I just read that one key is to use grapes! I am going to try it later this week. One of our favorite family meals is Ham and Jack Cheese sandwiches which I serve with seasoned steak fries and rootbeer floats. The sandwich is amazing!
8 slices Texas toast
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
16 thin slices deli ham
4 slices red onion
4 tablespoons ranch salad dressing
4 slices pepper Jack cheese
Butter one side of each slice of Texas toast. On the unbuttered sides of four slices, layer cheddar cheese, half the ham, onion, and remaining ham; spread with ranch dressing. Top with pepper Jack cheese and remaining toast, butter side up.
Cook sandwiches on a hot griddle for 3-4 minutes on each side or until toast is browned and cheese is melted.
Maw Books: Oh my. Ranch dressing on grilled cheese. That photo is AMAZING. Yum. I may have to keep this a secret from my husband! If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only charge was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Jeanette: That is easy. I would pack a backpack and go hiking, preferably in the mountains, and find a quiet and secluded spot to do what else but sit and read? I love reading outside and some of my most memorable reading experiences happened while I was outside. Reading Jane Eyre laying in the grass in the back yard or finishing the final pages of Anne Frank’s diary while sitting on a fallen tree in the woods. The outdoors and reading, my two favorite things, would make the perfect day.
Maw Books: Oh, how wonderful! Now I want that to be my favorite things! My hammock outside is my favorite reading place. I can’t wait until it warms up. Okay, so you desperately wish you knew how to…
Jeanette: Sew! I am the least crafty person there is. Do you know why I can’t sew? Because it is really difficult to teach yourself to sew by reading a book. I think I am going to have to break down and take a class or something.
Maw Books: Me too! I’m about to pay someone to sew some curtains for me. I figure go where the talent is! What’s the one thing that you wish people knew about you but you don’t brag about?
Jeanette: Even though I have both a book blog and a personal/family blog, I am a pretty private person. I think people who read my blogs probably know more about me than some of the people I associate with in real life. For some reason I am just more comfortable revealing things about myself in writing. Believe it or not, most people who know me don’t know how much time I spend reading. I recently started attending a book club with a group of women I’ve known since I moved here almost 2 years ago. They were really surprised by how much I read and I think a few of them think I am a little odd now. (Note to self: don’t reveal to others that you often have your library cards maxed out on the number of items you are allowed to check out.)
That doesn’t really answer your question though does it? Let’s see…what can I brag about? Oh! I know. I never lose my kid’s socks. I do not have a basket or box of unmatched socks. My secret? I use those mesh lingerie bags. When the socks come off they go in the bag and they are washed and dryed in the bag so they never go missing.
Maw Books: Good tip! Anything else that you are dying to share with us?!
Jeanette: Well, lets see, I already revealed that I am expecting my third baby. I have not even posted about it yet on my blog so I guess you get the scoop! .
Maw Books: I see that you now put a ticker on your blog! Really, really super excited that you announced it! Especially here! Yay!!
So there you have it folks! Isn’t she wonderful?! Wonderful AND expecting! Now go forth and visit! And let Jeanette know in the comments here how great her interview was. Because I think she did great! Thanks again Jeanette for being in the spotlight today!