For my first Book Blogger Q & A of 2016, I caught up with Brit-Bondi book lover, Lucy Pearson, who blogs over at The Unlikely Bookworm. In addition to making the move from the UK to Sydney to train as a yoga instructor, Lucy has been reading the BBC Top 100. Her blog is absolutely gorgeous, with summery snapshots of Sydney life mixed in with her reviews.
Here’s what Lucy had to say:
Can you tell us a bit about your site: how long have you been reviewing and why did you start?
I started my website – www.theunlikelybookworm.com about four years ago. I had recently decided to read my way through the BBC Top 100 and wanted to document which books I had read and how I found them.
What kind of books do you review?
Initially I dedicated my site solely to reviewing books from the BBC Top 100, but I soon developed relationships with publishers who began sending me new releases to review. I predominantly review novels – both classic and contemporary – with genres spanning women’s’ literature through to fantasy and sci-fi.
What’s your reviewing process?
I try to write recommendations rather than reviews – the aim for my site is to encourage others to read rather than critique a book just because it wasn’t for me. I don’t have a reviewing process per-se and tend to just write my blog feature as soon as I have time once I’ve finished the book.
How do you share your reviews and connect with other bloggers?
I share my books on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and connect with other bloggers through those forums. I’ll often go through hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to see what others are reading as I’m always on the look out for a new recommendation.
Do you post anything other than reviews on your blog?
I recently moved to Australia to train as a yoga teacher so have also blogged about settling into a new country, my favourite things about Sydney and the various stages of the yoga teacher training. Books and reviews will always be my website’s main focus though.
How do you decide what to read next?
At the moment I’m only reading books from the BBC Top 100 as I’m trying to finish the list before my birthday in February so it’s simply been a case of seeing which books I can hold of at my local bookshop in Bondi. Apart from that I tend to keep an eye out on prize shortlists (I’m hoping to read the Stella shortlist when its released later this year) and always ask booksellers, fellow bloggers and friends for suggestions on what to read next.
What are three key things you look for in a good story?
An interesting backdrop, a compelling plotline and a fluid writing style.
What do you love most about reading, and why is it important?
Everything! I love how reading can transport you to faraway lands, how it can educate you and the absolute escapism simply picking up a book can offer you.
Why are book reviews are important?
They offer a unique perspective on the readability of books and help spread the magic of reading.
What’s been your favourite read so far this year?
I’m currently half way through The Magus by John Fowles and absolutely adore it. It’s one of the final four books I have left from the BBC Top 100 and I didn’t think it sounded like the kind of book I’d enjoy so it’s been a wonderful surprise to find it so engaging.
What five books should everyone reading this add to their TBR pile?
I’m afraid I can never narrow it down to five so I’ll have to give you my all-time favourite seven: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Life Drawing by Robin Black and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
If you could live inside a book, which one would you pick?
Ooh – tough question! I love the quintessentially British Rosamund Pilcher so I would happily live in any of her books, but also adored the ‘Chocolat’ series by Joanne Harris and having always had something of a love affair with France I would probably choose the latter.
Which three fictional characters would you most like to meet and why?
Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind purely because I absolutely adored him and was quite bereft when I finished the book, Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye because he’s one of literature’s very best characters and Theo Decker from The Goldfinch to find out more about his journey.
Who is the one character you’d never want to run into in real life?
The Woman in Black! Susan Hill’s horror story is one of only two books that have genuinely scared me.
What advice would you give to new and aspiring reviewers?
Write about what you know; read what you love. Review for yourself and the rest will follow.
What advice would you give to emerging writers?
Read, read and read some more; make time for writing and as Benjamin Franklin said: ‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’
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