The Books of My Life: Nina Badzin

ninaNina was the very first friend I made when I dove into the world of blogging. Actually, I met her before I made the plunge. I read her post, I’m Not an Aspiring Novelist,” and something in me clicked. I’d just been hired by My Forsyth to write book reviews, and my editor had asked me if I had a blog. No, I thought, I’m going to write a book.  In fact, I’d already written a “novel” over ten years ago. It’s still in a box in my closet and I’m scared to look at it. But I wanted to write and I don’t know – that post inspired me to get serious. I commented that I was “in the process” of starting a blog. She replied back and told me to let her know when it was live. I did, and she visited and commented and kept on doing so. It was through Nina that I connected with Jessica and Stephanie and The HerStories Project. From there, I met Allison Barrett Carter, who also became a mentor. And Allison led me to my blogging sister, Kristi Campbell, of Finding Ninee. See what blogging can do?

Nina’s amazing, brilliant, funny, talented, and oh so wise. Have you read her friendship column at the HerStories Project? You must. Nina’s also a total book nerd like me. She reviews books at Great New Books, a wonderful site for readers that I’m dying to write for. Last summer, while traveling through Minneapolis on our family road trip, I got to meet the real-live version of Nina. She even wrote a post about it, which was an honor. Friends, Nina is everything she seems to be on-line – she’s the real deal. My only regret is that our visit was rushed and my daughter had hurt her leg and she wouldn’t leave us alone. That sounds bad, but the time of her accident was rather suspicious, that’s all I’m saying.


Here’s my interview with Nina about the books of her life:

What was your favorite book that you read for school?

I loved The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Some of the books I read for school I couldn’t appreciate until later, but that one I fell for immediately.

What’s a book that really cemented you as a writer?

Do you mean that made me want to be a writer? I wish I could remember. But I’ve been writing little stories every since 5th grade. I used to write “fanfiction” of sorts about the teachers in my elementary school.

Is there a book that you’ve read over and over again?

I’ve read East of Eden by John Steinbeck several times, but it’s out of my system now. I’ve read Great Expectations several times, too. Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are ones I’ve reread and I would watch any movie adaptation out there.

What’s a classic you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?

Anything by Joyce or Faulkner. I’ve tried, but cannot get through any of it. Life is too short.

What’s a book you’ve pretended to read?

Moby Dick. Does everyone say that?

What’s a recent book you wish you’d written?

The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb.

What’s a favorite movie adaptation of a book you loved? Worst adaptation of a book you loved?

The Age of Innocence was a great adaptation. I thought they did a great job with all the Harry Potter books and The Hunger Games, too. The Scarlet Letter was an awful movie.

The books I read to my children:

There’s a great, silly board book series by Amy Krause Rosenthal called Little Pea, Little Hoot, and so on. All my kids are too old for board books, but the stories are so clever that we keep reading them.

What was an illicit book you had to read in secret as a child?

Forever by Judy Blume. A classic. Learned quite a bit.

That’s a book people might be surprised to learn that you loved?

I like apocalyptic books to a point that evens surprises me.

Who’s your favorite character?

I know it’s unoriginal, but I adore Elizabeth Bennet.

If there were only one genre that you could read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Anything in the realm of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Is there a book you’ve given multiple times as a gift?

Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.

What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

When Breath Becomes Air for the cry. Mindy Kaling’s newest essay collection for the laugh.

What are you reading now?

Spiritual Boredom by Dr. Erica Brown

Books or eReader?

Books whenever possible. eReader for travel or immediate gratification.

Do you keep your books or pass them on?

I am extremely judicious about what I keep.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

My bed. Every night.

Do you have a favorite bookstore?

I frequent Barnes and Noble a lot because it’s the most convenient. I love to walk around a bookstore, and whenever I travel, visiting a local bookstore is a highlight.

IMG_20150617_101759972Nina, I’m dying to know what kind of Fan fiction you wrote. Would you believe I still haven’t watched the Pride and Prejudice move? I have to make it priority, because I know I’ll love it. I just read a review a great of the new Curtis Sttitenfeld book, Eligible, which is supposed to be a P&P adaption. Yet, I know you didn’t love the book. I have to go back and read your pithy review. Yes, many have confessed to pretending to read Moby Dick, but a few of my interviewees professes to love it. Me? I not even going to pretend. I have no desire to read it. And I agree, The Scarlet Letter was dreadful! Yes, exclamation point. Forever was my illicit book and I also learned a lot. I love The Happiness Project and have given a few copies as gifts, too. Finally, the apocalyptic confession does surprise me. Very much.

Thank you so much Nina. Please leave Nina a comment below. And you can follow Nina at following places:

Her Website: Nina Badzin

Friendship Column at The HerStories Project

Book reviews at Great New Reads






If you’re interested in participating in the Books of My Life series, please email me.

Related Posts:

Books of My Life: Stacey Loscalzo

Books of My Life: Lindsey Mead

Books of my Life: Jane Porter

54 thoughts on “The Books of My Life: Nina Badzin”

  1. How fun to delve into Nina’s book life. What a cool idea. Nina, your voice always comes through so clearly in everything I read of yours. I do so hope we can meet in person some day.

    Ok, now on to the books. Ditto Pride & Prejudice for rereading and Elizabeth Bennet for a character. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Charlotte’s Web or Little Women, but it must have approached the twenties. I don’t think those will ever be out of my system.

    Your comment about Moby Dick made me laugh out loud…for me as a Southern girl it has to be Faulkner that I’ve lied about reading, for the same reason you mentioned. I have picked up The Sound & The Fury and Absalom, Absalom so many times, but it just ain’t happening. Same goes with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom my grandmother adores but always puts me to sleep a few paragraphs in. So many adjectives!

    10th grade was the year that cemented me as a wannabe writer. It was a tough year for books… The Bell Jar, Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace. So moving and memorable.

    I’ve already given When Breath Becomes Air several times as a gift, and I even picked it up again the other day to begin rereading it. My Paris Kitchen is another one that goes over well with foodie friends.

    I’m the same as you when it comes to saving books. Most of them end up either with friends or at the church sale.

    There’s one category I wonder about that wasn’t mentioned: The book you always buy whenever you see a copy in the $1 bin. For me, that book is The Dance of Anger (and more recently, The Dance of Connection). Harriet Lerner is my guru. I think I must have given those books to everyone I know by now.

    1. Thank you so much!

      Yes! That 10th grade year was THE year for so many good ones.

      That $1 is a good category. For me it would anything by Anne Lamott.

    2. Hi Justine! Thanks for visiting. Okay, I think I need to go back and read Pride and Prejudice again. I cannot believe how many people have read it over and over. I guess perhaps I was too young the first time. I liked it, but I didn’t feel the passion that so many of my friends seem too have felt. Where I went to school, 10th grade was American Literature an di struggled! Oh, I did not like the Red Badge of Courage or The Scarlet Letter.

    1. What would the world be with out B&N (sorry to all the Independent Book Sellers!). I remember when our opened, Rich was out of town, and I hired a babysitter so I could go explore on my own. #booknerd!

  2. Love this idea and love your answers Nina! Teacher fan fiction made me laugh. I think Pride & Prejudice is one of the few books I read over and over.

  3. Loved reading and learning more about Nina’s favorite books! I had not thought about The Awakening in a long time, but loved reading that book in school too. And I have to agree with Allie that the apocalyptic genre does surprise me a little, but I actually enjoy it too. Have you read The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin (the third one comes out next month)? It’s a favorite of mine. Thanks to you both for sharing!

  4. I love this series and I love Nina! Laughing about Forever and learning quite a bit (me too). And also agree with you on Joyce, Faulker, and Moby Dick. xoxo

  5. I met Nina through HerStories, so maybe I met you through Nina? I can’t recall, but I do know that the two of you are two of my favorites. And not just because you are fellow book geeks!

    Forever was my illicit book too. I had no idea you were into apocalyptic books, Nina! I like them too – more than I probably should. I’m an unapologetic YA fan, too.

    I have The Happiness Project on my nightstand, and it has been sitting there for over a year. I just can’t get into it. I know, I need to try again. But there are so many good books out there.

    1. Allie:

      You know Dana, I can’t remember how our first contact came to be either?

      Another Apocalyptic fan – oh my. I do like (some :)) YA novels, though.

      Don’t feel bad, I loved The Happiness Project and gave it as a gift a few times, and two of my friends did not like it.

  6. What a great series! And I love Nina’s insights – here, and everywhere. We are also big Little Pea/Little Hoot fans in our house. “And they all lived hap-pea-ly ever after.”

    Agree re: Anne Lamott!

  7. I still haven’t read Forever by Judy Blume, and I have wanted to.. forever.
    And the same for Pride & Prejudice. One of these days! So much fun to see you two together.

  8. I loved this interview! So fun to get into the mind of one of my favorite writers/ bloggers/book-nerds! Also I can’t believe I’m so late to the party re: Sittenfeld’s latest. I love her and I literally found out two days ago that she has a new novel.

  9. What a great intro, Allie. I adore Nina. And hope one day I can meet her in person. :)

    Nina – I will never get Moby Dick or Herman Melville. But I am a huge Austen fan and did my senior thesis on Pride and Prejudice.

    Love this series, Allie. Thanks.

  10. Love this series, Allie! And I am surprised, Nina–apocalyptic stories?! The illicit book question is such a good one. Mine was surreptitiously reading my mom’s nightstand copy of Looking for Mr. Goodbar. I’m not even sure I ever told her!

  11. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who reads more than Nina. Except for my mom. I’ve definitely purchased a couple books as a result of her reviews.

    So glad to see Nina featured here. Here’s why. I just started a blog a little over a year ago as a way to find my way back to my own voice, which I’d lost in the swirl of motherhood for the past several years. Because Nina is also from Minneapolis and because she’s all over the place in the blogosphere, she caught my eye in those first couple months. And then one day out of the blue, she stopped by and commented on my tiny little blog! It meant so much to me that she made the time to do that. And then one day, I had two essays published in two different publications on the same day, which was huge for me, and she noticed, and tweeted me “Nice!” That made a huge impression on me. I don’t forget those small, thoughtful details.

    Anyhoo, since then, I’ve gotten to know Nina through the Twin Cities Writing Studio she launched with Julie Burton in 2015. And you’re right, Allie, she is the real deal. She has a genuine interest in helping open doors for other writers. She’s encouraged me in ways she probably doesn’t even know, nudging me forward in big ways and little ways and believing I have something unique to bring to the table, even when I struggle with believing that myself.

    Nice work here, Allie:)

    1. Thanks Julie. I didn’t realize you lived in Minneapolis as well! Next time, we’ll all have to get together. And oh, how I wish I could join one of Nina’s workshops!

  12. Loved this post, Nina! There was one contraband copy of Forever that floated around my school with all the “good” pages dog-eared. Same was true of Wifey.
    Moby Dick? Nope, can’t do it, either.
    I loved The Awakening when I read it in high school. I’d like to reread it now and see if I feel the same way.
    You know how I feel about P&P! What is the next Austen book I should reread?

    This is a great series, Allie! So much fun to read everyone’s answers.

  13. And…. ANOTHER blogger I do not know! Hi Nina! Isn’t it amazing how glorious this blog world is and how we end up connecting with so many different people? I love how you shared that, Allie!

    So Nina, what is Spiritual Boredom about? That sounds interesting…

    And I wonder if you were ever interested in the “Left Behind” series? I think there are twelve books in all.

    I am going to read the series with my kids this summer. I have wanted to read it for YEARS- and it’s about time. I went to half price books and bought the kids (clearance- and it took one full year of scanning the shelves weekly) their own copies of the entire series. It just fascinates me- the book of Revelation and I am guessing that the authors (who REALLY know Revelation) did an incredible job of accuracy built into the story. I’m ready to learn, and walk along this path with my kiddos. I think they are ready too. :) I just wondered- with that apocalyptic reference!

    And well, I suck at reading the classics. I have never read Pride and Prejudice- or Moby Dick or any of those Literary gems. Shame on me. And I have never even heard of The Awakening. Is that horrible?

    *Hangs head in shame*

    1. You don’t know Nina? I can’t even imagine how – she’s legendary:). Kidding, not kidding. There is no shame in not reading the classics, I promise. I only read the classics in school – and have yet to pick one up on my free time as an “adult.” But I did read Romeo and Juliet this spring, cover to cover, so I could help Hunter. I was impressed at how much easier it was to read it now! So who knows…

  14. I love this! Two of my most favorite people – and I love what you say about her being so “real.”

    Also made a note to skip the Scarlett letter movie. Thanks for saving me the time! :)

  15. First, congrats on your new job as book reviewer! That’s awesome! Second, I love that you are both here discussing books. I believe Nina’s blog is how we found each other as well. :)

    I never read Moby Dick, either. However, I will reread Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and Outlander until I die. :)

    xo to you both!

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