I’m so excited to have Lindsey Mead here today for “The Books of My Life.” I’m a big fan of Lindsey’s blog, A Design So Vast, where I revel in the magic of her words. Her writing is exquisite. I discovered Lindsey the same way I found Aidan Donnelley Rowley, from reading her essay that was part of the Huffington Post series, “This is Childhood.” Lindsey is a very talented writer – I cannot adequately describe her lyrical style, but her essays about the passage of time evoke such emotions in me that I have stop and reread, because – wow! And her use of imagery, well again, wow. In one of her essays she used a cross country running metaphor to describe her daughter’s growing up and away from her childhood. As the mother of a cross country runner, it pierced my heart. I urge you check out her blog.
Lindsey is a Boston girl (yay!) and a lover of books. She reads obsessively like I do, although our tastes are a little different. Still, her book reviews and recommendations have inspired me to up my game both as a reviewer and a reader. I have ventured outside my reading comfort zone more than once, based on one of her suggestions. Without further ado – here’ is Lindsay’s interview.
What was your favorite book as a child?
A Wrinkle in Time, hands down. I also loved Bridge to Terabithia, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler.
What was your favorite book that you read for school?
I was deeply moved by a series of very different books in college: Hamlet, Paradise Lost, a series of Victorian novels, 20th century poems. The fact that such varied books all impacted me so much tells me a lot about having been at a fertile moment in my life, open to learning and impressions and great writing of all kinds.
What’s a book that really cemented you as a writer?
Probably all the Annie Dillard I read in college. Hers is one of the voices that is at the bedrock of what I aspire to do as a writer, what I hear in my head, how I live my life.
Is there a book that you’ve read over and over again?
I’ve read Crossing to Safety four times, and the Harry Potter series 1-6 three times each (I read the whole series alone, then the whole series aloud with Grace, and now Whit and I are on 6).
What’s a classic you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?
Moby Dick. As I Lay Dying. The Divine Comedy. I finally read Frankenstein this year, because I’d so long wanted to, and I’m glad I did. It was wonderful (though it’s a much easier book to decide to read than Moby Dick, of course!)
What’s a book you’ve pretended to read?
I did not even pretend to read The Goldfinch. I just didn’t want to, for some reason I can’t really articulate.
What’s a book you consider grossly over-rated?
I don’t think it’s over-rated, but I had trouble getting into the Ferrante series. In fact, I put the first book down after about 50 pages. I suspect the problem is me and not the books, though, since there’s been such consistent and rapturous acclaim.
What’s a recent book you wish you’d written?
Catastrophic Happiness, by Catherine Newman. It’s not even out yet (April 2016) but every single word of this book fell into somewhere deep and inchoate inside of me. She makes me laugh and she makes me cry, often on the same page. Catherine is everything I aspire to be as a writer, and she captures the bittersweet heart of parenting in a way nobody else out there does.
What’s a favorite movie adaptation of a book you loved? Worst adaptation of a book you loved?
I see so few movies this is hard! I think the Harry Potter movies were done really well. I did not love the made-for-TV movie version of A Wrinkle in Time and am delighted that they’re working on a new feature film of it.
The books I read to my children:
Harry Potter. The Golden Compass. They loved Frindle by Andrew Clements. Too many picture books to name, but three very favorites are Space Boy (Leo Landry) and Roxaboxen (Alice McLerran), and Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney).
What was an illicit book you had to read in secret as a child?
I don’t remember reading in secret. I remember my parents letting me do a book report on The Cider House Rules in 6th grade and my teacher being pretty scandalized by that.
What’s a book people might be surprised to learn that you loved?
I love legal thrillers. David Baldacci, Michael Connelley, Linda Fairstein
If there were only one genre that you could read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Fiction (memoir and poetry are up there, but if forced, I’d pick novels)
Is there a book you’ve given multiple times as a gift?
Gratitude (Oliver Sacks), Devotion (Dani Shapiro), The Gift of an Ordinary Day (Katrina Kenison)
What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?
Laugh: Yes Please by Amy Poehler Cry: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
What are you reading now?
Untangled by Lisa Damour
Books or eReader?
Do you keep your books or pass them on?
I return them to the library! If I loved a book and want to keep it or write in it, I buy a copy and keep it.
Do you have a favorite place to read?
In my bed, without question.
Do you have a favorite bookstore?
Thank you Lindsey! I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve never heard of Crossing to Safety, but it’s now on my “to read” list. Would you believe I’ve yet to read Harry Potter (I know)? And I have all the books. My fifteen year old was not interested and my daughter started the first one, but didn’t like it. I’m hoping my youngest will get the Potter bug, so we can read them together. I loved Hamlet, it’s probably my favorite Shakespeare play. Interestingly, many people whom I’ve interviewed for this series couldn’t get through The Goldfinch (myself included). I looked up Catastrophic Happiness on Goodreads and pre-ordered it. It sounds fantastic! I love that you love legal thrillers (I don’t know why, but it made me smile to read that). I, too, laughed while reading Amy Poehler’s book, but I will not even attempt to read When Breath Becomes Air. I don’t think I could handle it. Finally, The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenision is a book I read based on your blog and I loved it! I highly recommend.
You can follow Lindsey by clicking on these links:
Please leave Lindsey a comment! On a personal note I miss you (my loyal LKM readers) all terribly – and I promise an original Allie blog is coming soon! If tyou’re interested in participating in the “Books of My Life” series, please email me.