Blogging Award and Q&A

I am always thankful to receive blogging awards but bad about passing them on…I think because I always feel awkward about choosing the next set of recipients for fear of leaving out someone. Anyway, the lovely Naomi at Consumed by Ink nominated me for the Liebster Award not long ago and I was intrigued by the set of questions that she asked me to respond to, which I have done below.

Thank you so much, Naomi. 🙂 Naomi writes a very thoughtful and personable blog on Canadian (and other) literature over at Consumed by Ink. I have learned about many great Canadian writers through her. I hope you will stop by and check out her blog.

1. What was your favourite book when you were a child? A teen? Now?

Child – Deenie by Judy Blume

Teen – Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews 😉

Now – Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontĂ«

2. What was your most memorable trip?

I would say San Francisco, when I was 9. My cousin was getting married and my mother took me out of school for a week. California was so different from the northeast and my uncle’s home so different from ours. I remembered waking up and seeing mountains. My aunt and uncle also had plush carpeting and a floor-to-ceiling patio screen with sliding door. And my cousin, the one getting married, wore make-up and high heels (unlike my mother). And I got to wear a floor-length dress for the first time and go to Toys-R-Us. And eat meatloaf (for the first time) at my uncle’s diner. Most of all, I started my first journal. My second grade teacher whom I was still in touch with gave me a beautiful red faux leather blank journal and told me it was for me to write about my trip.

3. Have you ever met a well-known author? What was your experience like? If not, which one would you like to meet?

Yes! Junot DĂ­az earlier this spring, which I posted about here. Years ago when Memoirs of a Geisha came out I also had a chance to meet Arthur Golden at his talk/book signing. One of the people he acknowledged in his book happened to be my Japanese teacher at the time, so I actually had something to talk to him about. He turned out to be very friendly and I didn’t feel as though I was talking to someone “famous.” Last week I went to listen to Khaled Hosseini. He’s a lovely, thoughtful man, but much more reserved than Junot DĂ­az and Arthur Golden.

4. What is your favourite reading spot?

My bed. It’s not the best reading spot (my bedroom is cluttered) but it’s where I’m most comfortable.

5. Which literary character would you most like to trade places with?

This is a hard one…because every character I remember reading experiences so much suffering! Does anyone have any suggestions?

6. If you could have anything you wanted for your next meal, what would it be?

I think I would choose this Burmese noodle dish that I last ate when I was a kid. We were friends with a Burmese family and I remember liking them so much; they were incredibly kind and gentle people. Every time we visited the parents would serve us this delicious creamy noodle that tasted like coconut. A few years later I learned that the father had died of a brain tumor and somehow we never saw them again.

7. What prompted you to start your blog? How did you come up with your blog title?

I used to write when I was younger but stopped as an adult. When Fred got to school age I decided to write again and blogging seemed like a good way to start. I could have simply written in a journal but I did want an audience and a community. I started and stopped several blogs before settling on “Only You.” Initially I was going to blog about my experiences mothering an only child, until I realized the idea was unsustainable…because, I realized, parenting to me was not about a number. But the name stuck because “only you” could mean my son, or my readers, or myself and, often, all three.

8. Are you an animal person? Which kind?

No. I always worry that this makes me sound like an unkind person but I’m really not an animal person. I appreciate and respect animals (a lot, in fact) but I am awkward around them the way some people are awkward around babies and children.

9. Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? Why?

I am transitioning into a country mouse. I lived in major cities for most of my life, including Tokyo for many years. But I think that extended period in Tokyo really kind of traumatized me as much as it had enriched me. I lived through years of midnight train rides home from work, packed bone-crunching commutes, elbow-to-elbow shopping, and miles and miles of concrete. I now live minutes from nature trails and a lake and all I have to do to be surrounded by green is step out onto our deck. I couldn’t live anywhere else. Cities and countrysides have their own places on each person’s timeline.

10. Do you have a book that you take with you everywhere you go?

No…I just take whatever I am reading at the moment but I am almost always with a book.

11. Are you a multiple book reader, or do you prefer to read one at a time?

I always start multiple books but I am realizing lately that I get so scattered and am unable to finish them. So I guess I am moving back to single-book reading.


I’d like to pass on the award and set of questions below to my friend Rudri who writes a wonderful blog over at Being Rudri. She is a writer and reader who blogs about her journey identifying small moments of joy and overcoming challenges in order to find peace and contentment. Her blog feels like a sanctuary to me and I sometimes like to start my mornings by catching up on her posts with a cup of coffee. Here are my questions for her (and anyone else who might be interested in answering!):

1. Which author’s voice is most compelling to you?

2. Where and how do you get your books – amazon, independent bookstores, library, etc.?

3. Where and when do you read? How long or how often do you read?

4. What genres interest you most? Why?

5. Do you gravitate toward or shy away from difficult and heavy themes, like death, violence, trauma, difficult moral decisions, etc.?

6. Knowing what you know now, what book would you recommend to your 20-something-year-old self? to your 30-something-year-old self?

7. What reading rituals, habits, lessons, etc. have you shared with or taught your child?

8. Is your husband a reader? Does that matter to you?

9. Have you ever belonged to a book club? If so, what was that experience like?

10. What are you most excited to read from your TBR pile this summer?

11. Do you own and collect books, or do you prefer not to have them pile up in your home?

To readers: How would you answer some of these questions? I’m curious!

9 thoughts on “Blogging Award and Q&A

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Cecilia! I loved reading your answers, and learning more about you. Even more so now that I have forgotten what I asked. 🙂

    I can see why that trip to San Francisco would be so memorable. There were a lot of ‘firsts’ for you on that trip. It’s always interesting to think about why we remember certain things so well. (You should write something about that!) And, your home sounds so wonderful and peaceful.

    So many good questions; a couple of them would take some serious thinking. I especially love questions 5-8. 5) I definitely gravitate toward heavy themes. I love question 6, but would have to think about that one a long time. 7) I just try to share the love of reading with my children, and hope that it catches. I also share my own favourite children’s books with them, sometimes with luck and sometimes without. 8) My husband is not, and has never been a reader. He struggled with reading in school when he was young, and I wonder if that has had an affect on him his whole life. He has read the odd non-fiction book, but he tends to prefer to just read the news, mostly on-line. He will also sometimes read gardening books and other reference material. I have been trying our whole married lives to get him to read a fiction novel, but he still hasn’t done it. It does bother me a bit, because I feel like he is missing out on something big and wonderful. And, I believe in the power of fiction to help influence who we are and how we see the world. He doesn’t buy into it, though. Any suggestions? Because, I will probably never give up this particular fight. Also, the fact that you asked this question makes me wonder if your husband reads? Because of my own experience, I am always curious about the reading status of other people’s husbands. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for responding to some of the questions, Naomi! I loved reading your answers. Very interesting, about the hubby question, and now I am thinking of maybe even turning that topic into a blog post. My husband reads, but he is not “into” it the way I am. He’ll look a bit anxious, for example, when I start coaxing him to join our library’s summer reading program 😉 But when we travel back to Japan (his home country) he does go to the bookstores to stock up. Have you ever given books to your husband as gifts? If you have, how has he reacted? What kind of fiction do you think he might like? I am wondering if there is maybe a movie that he’s liked, and a book that it was based on…And this may sound hokey, but would it ever work if you read parts of a book out loud? That’s my tactic for getting my son into a book that he resists without having given it a try. For example, I just knew that he would like Percy Jackson but he was so stubborn about trying it. So one day I start reading one of the books out loud, as though I were reading it for myself, and he was off in a corner playing but then I could tell his ears were starting to perk up. I can imagine that if he had had a negative experience when he was younger that it may have colored his entire perception of reading. I really bet that if he gave it a chance he would love it! He just needs to find the right book 🙂

      • I think this topic would make a great blog post! And when it comes out, maybe by then I will have some more insight into my husband’s reading status. You’re idea is really good, actually. I had never thought of reading out loud to my husband. Just my kids, like you. I wonder if he’d go for it. I’m even feeling excited about finding the perfect book, although I really don’t know what it would be. Maybe I’ll ask him some questions. I don’t think the movie thing would work, though, since he also considers fictional movies a waste of time. He likes documentaries. No, I don’t really know how this has happened to me. 🙂
        I have given him books as gifts. For his birthday, I bought him a memoir about a man who cycled across the U.S., because my husband likes to cycle. He seemed excited about it, but hasn’t cracked it open yet. I could start with that one, even though it isn’t fiction. Often memoirs read like fiction. Plus, I’m interested in reading it, too. I’ll have to keep you posted. Thanks for the idea! It’s funny how your award post turned into a conversation about my husband’s reading habits. 🙂

        • Ha ha, it’s been an interesting conversation! I think I will definitely write a blog post about this. Imagine all the different potential conversations! I think it’s just fine that your husband prefers non-fiction and you are right that many memoirs read like fiction. Maybe that can be a good launching point, and the more he reads the more he may be able to branch out. My son started out really focusing on nonfiction, to the point where his teachers were telling me that they wanted him to read more fiction/literature. Now he almost only reads fiction and is currently in love with the Harry Potter series. Anyway, yes, keep me posted on your “husband reading project”! 😉 And good luck!

  2. Thanks, Cecilia. I am honored that you tagged me in this meme. I love the questions you asked and I am happy to excavate my answers. Although, I might have to let some of the questions linger in my head…

    I absolutely love that you remember the first time you started journaling. How fortunate that it coincided with travel. I found your answer regarding Tokyo intriguing. A place can transport, but also cause disruption – an apt metaphor for life, right?

    • That’s an interesting point about the metaphor for life, Rudri. You are right. That experience really is like life in its extremes (and everything in between).

      Thank you so much for being willing to do the questions. I thought of those as I would really be curious to read your answers. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

  3. Great Share 🙂 I am a reader who still likes having a book in my hand and with all the reading I do the library is my best bet. Otherwise I would be broke – ha! I always have a book with me to read and it is a great conversation starter too. Happy Weekend!

    • I know what you mean! I can’t believe I used to spend $15 on a book I’d only read once. Then I discovered library book sales where I can build my own collection for $1/book. I can handle that though, with my obsessiveness, even that adds up!

      Always smart to have a book with you for unexpected down times. Have a great weekend too!

  4. I appreciate your honest answer to #5! I can never think of anyone I’d like to trade places with, either. Or a fantasy world that I’d like to live in. Most of them are pretty fundamentally disturbing! Your answer to #8 made me smile as well. I know exactly what you mean.

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