BBAW: Second Treasure: Interview Swap
For the second treasure of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we get the opportunity to interview a fellow book blogger. I was randomly assigned Courtney of Stiletto Storytime, and she was an absolute pleasure to work with. She’s a 20-something children’s librarian, currently a stay-at-home mom. Her love of encouraging a love of reading at all ages shines through on her blog.
I wouldn’t be interviewing you today if you didn’t start blogging about books. When and why did you start book blogging?
I started blogging in December of 2007. I had just graduated with my MLIS and gotten a job with the Charlotte Public Library System as a Children’s Librarian. The library I worked at shared a main desk between children’s services and adult reference so I found myself really doing a little bit of everything straight out of library school. I also found myself reading voraciously to try and pump up my reader’s advisory skills. So I decided to start a blog about what I was doing at that time. It began with book reviews and storytime plans…and moved into a little bit of anything that interested me. Stiletto Storytime really began as a way for me to keep track of this new adventure I was beginning and also a way to record my reading and reviewing in a more personal and at the same time public manner. It’s now become so much more than I ever imagined.
Has it been what you thought it would be or something entirely different?
I have to say it’s been beyond what I imagined. When I began there weren’t nearly as many book bloggers out there as now. And the concept wasn’t even really something I was aware of. I was kind of doing my own thing and then found others doing the same. I had some inspiration in sites that I followed that were book related, I would have to say that my Jane Austen roots led me to sites such as Austenprose and that really inspired me. It was nice to find other people obsessed with “Masterpiece Theatre” and Jane Austen. I thought…wow..I’m not alone! Now looking back I never dreamed of having my blog lead me into writing myself or of traveling to New York for a convention just for Book Bloggers. These have been things that I never could have imagined at that time.
What genres do you usually cover on your blog?
I cover a wide variety of books because I read a wide variety of books. I love classical literature but also am really interested in young adult, literary fiction and historical fiction. Gothic and dystopian specifically are some of my favorite genres as well. And of course children’s books. It’s hard for me to really limit myself to one area so I don’t.
Are there any genres you don’t like to read or review?
I read paranormal to a degree but I am not really into romance or really deep fantasy. I generally don’t read self help or non-fiction on topics that don’t interest me personally.
Say an author, agent, or publishing house contacts you about an ARC, book tour, etc… How do you decide whether or not to participate?
Well first I ask myself if this is something I would enjoy reading and my readers would enjoy hearing about. Then I check my blog schedule to see if the date is open. Sometimes with ARCs I am really looking forward to, I will read and post in advance in order to cover more than one release on a certain day. I also try to keep track of what is coming out and when to get my ARCs and also manage my review dates, author guest posts and other content.
You’re participating in a few reading challenges, including, but not limited to, 2010 Debs, 2010 YA reading challenge, and A to Z challenge. How do you decide what challenges to participate in?
The challenges are a way for me to have fun personally in my reading. Since I have become a reviewer, I always feel the need to be reading and reviewing new works but the challenges allow me to read what I want and to have some flexibility. I also really like completing challenges and reading towards a goal with other people. You’ll notice a lot of my challenges are Jane Austen related, classical literature or Young Adult since these are my personal favorites. .
Do you limit the number of challenges you participate in?
I try to keep it doable and make sure that I am not in so many that I am overwhelmed. I want it to be fun.
What made you decide to include the “Little Man Reads” page featuring photos of your son with books and his current read on your blog? Or where did you get the inspiration for that page?
‘Little Man Reads” is just my way of trying to lead by example and remind everyone to read with and to their children. It’s such an important message for me. One that I based my library career on and I just think that I need to show that I practice what I preach in that area. I also love to show what books he “loves” at different times. Some times he doesn’t mind what we read but then at other times he has his favorites and only they will do.
What goals do you have for your blog in the future?
I just want to continue to help people find books that interest them and have fun reading along the way. I guess I’ve never really been in it for the number of followers or hits, I just want to connect with people about books. It’s kind of like being a digital librarian now that I work from home.
What makes you not only decide to subscribe to another book blog but stick around in the long term?
For me it has to have content that I am interested in and also have a special something that keeps me coming back. I also really like people who know their areas of interest. I like people who dig deep into what they love. Passion like that can be contagious and inspiring.
Courtney The Librarian
You, like me, are a librarian. Do you see your book blogging as innately connected with your career or a separate hobby?
I have always kept my blogging separate from my career as a librarian. When I was working in the library, no one knew what library I worked at from my blog or even my first name for that matter. I just gave out my first name last year. I always wanted to keep in separate because my blog is based on my opinions and feelings and it’s a very personal space in a lot of ways. I don’t want to expose too much so I keep my last name to myself for the most part and my son is called “little man” whenever referred to.
Your area of concentration is public libraries’ children’s services. What made you choose this area of concentration?
Well I thought after being a 18th-19th century British English major, that in library school I would go academic and keep the same concentration but once I got into library school I became obsessed with children’s services and the idea that you have to build a reader young. Yes, I want people to read classical literature but if I don’t help children simply like the act of reading in general…well that’s not gonna happen. So I started at square one. I may still be trying to lead them to classical literature, I am just sometimes only doing it in “baby steps”. Public libraries drew me in because that’s where I knew I could make the most impact. It’s where I could share my love of reading with kids who might otherwise never be exposed to books. My first library job was in a low income urban area of a large metropolitan city, I wanted to work with the kids that didn’t have books at home. I wanted to make a difference.
Currently, you’re a full-time mom. Do you foresee going back to work at libraries? Why or why not?
I don’t really see myself going back into traditional librarianship. First off, I want to raise my son and hopefully another child sometime in the near future. I want to be at home for them and be hands on. I want to take them to storytime and bake cookies in the afternoon or make a fort. I love being a stay at home Mom and feel blessed to do so. Secondly I have been very lucky to have opportunities in professional reviewing, freelance writing about books and even the possibility of writing a children’s series come my way so I feel drawn to those areas now in my career. I see my future more in that sphere than back in the library setting.
Courtney on the Deserted Island
The classic, you’re stranded on a desert island and can only take 5 _____?
- Books: The Bible, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Monk by Matthew Lewis, ,
- Movies: You’ve Got Mail, Gone with the Wind, Steel Magnolias, Jane Eyre (Cyrian Hinds version), Pride & Prejudice (1995 Colin Firth version)
- TV shows: True Blood, Masterpiece Theatre, Top Chef, The First 48, Intervention
- Foods: Tacos, White Chocolate Covered Oreos, A Cobb Salad, A Turkey BLT with Avocado, Vanilla Ice Cream