Sunday, August 7, 2011

Interview With Someone Slightly Nerdy On What They Think About Books

My father's look-alike. Ha!
Awhile ago, I did an interview with my brother on his reading habits here. I've thought about continuing this theme of interviewing people on their reading habits, but never got around to it... until now!!

I've decided to call these similarly-themed blog posts a "blog series" called Ask The Reader.

Today, we'll be going into the head of someone who, like my brother, is slightly obsessed with soccer... along with car racing, astronomy, science, and organization. He also thinks of relationships in terms of graphs and talks a lot. Which is why I ended up having to compress a 28-minute interview recorded on my Olympus digital recorder (you're welcome, Olympus) into a blog post that would be short enough to keep you short attention span, internet-loving bugs' interest. (It's okay. I'm one too.) He doesn't have a blog, or a twitter, but he does have one link here. 

Now, I present to you... my dad! Oh, and, by the way... my dad does not actually emphasize every second word. I just bolded some words so you could skim (if you so please) the interview and still get the most interesting/important parts. I know, paragraphs are daunting, aren't they? :) Enjoy!

Me: What types/genres/topics of books do you enjoy the most?

Dad: Well the last year or couple years, I’ve been reading a lot of biographies... biographies of astronauts, motorsports things, like Murray Walker.  I also enjoy reading things about science, science history. History of certain development of ideas, like how they determine the expansion and size of the universe... or just history... I’ve read books on history of mathematics by different mathematicians... Natural history, like palaeontology all that sort of thing I’ve always found that kind of interesting. And.... there’s probably a few others as well, but... it tends to be nonfiction. Oh, and I also read adventure things... like I read The Adventures of Marco Polo (that was nonfiction too).

I hope that from all that, you at least get that he mostly reads nonfiction. But read on, my friends!

Me: How do you go about picking books out to read?

Dad: You know, I see books in some of my astronomical magazines or the journal I get from the RASC [Royal Astronomical Society of Canada]. Occasionally someone mentions a book in some of the car magazines I read or motorsports things that I read or science things that I read and then I always make a note of it and then I’ll go and look up reviews and if it seems reasonable I’ll save a link to Amazon reviews or something and I have a whole folder with probably several hundred books listed and whenever I want to buy some books or whatever and then I look at that folder by date... usually the most recent things...

Kind of crazy, huh? I just have a small notebook with a cat picture on the front... what is your TBR list like?

Me: Have you ever not finished a book?

Dad: I know there was one... uh-oh, you’re not going to like to hear this... it was a huge book that I thought “this will be good” on the Incas (an ancient civilization in South America). Fascinating things, but when I started to read it, I realized quickly it was not a history but a sort of fictionalized account, with people and characters. Like historical fiction. If that’s what you’re after that’s fine, but if it’s not then...  There was another book by creationists that I had so little respect for and his ideas were so easy to dismiss... and since then, he has abandoned those ideas. I read all of that book, but skipped over some of the appendices.

Me: What do you think makes a book a bad book?

Dad: The books that I read, those type of books, it’s very easy to write something on history or science and make it extremely boring –reciting facts, and too much of that sort of thing and someone has to be a very gifted writer to make it interesting. So a book like that that has good possibility, good material but it’s just... poorly presented. There’s also the attitude of the writer. There was one book I read, Time Among the Maya or something, and it was kind of like it’s kind of fun to be with this guy for the first week or two, but by the end you just want to strangle him and just want to get away from him.

Read that, nonfiction writers? You've got to have a good personality in order for your book to be appealing.

Me: What are some of your favourite books or authors?

Dad: William Sheehan, who has written books on Mars and Venus and articles in Sky & Telescope... and Owen Gingrich, who I've heard speak at the university. He is a Christian but also one of the foremost astronomical historians.

Me: Have you ever read fiction?

Dad: I used to read a lot of science fiction. I read Lord of the Rings of course, and this book Dune by Frank Herbert, and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I think I also read Moby Dick... and for awhile I was reading Sherlock Holmes (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). I tend to gravitate towards classics, just because they’ve stood the test of time and so on.

Me: What is so appealing to you about nonfiction? 

Dad: I just have an insatiable curiosity about the world around me and about history and I love to sort of see my place in where we are now in relation to time going back. And to me, it seems so sad when people are so focused on now and even their own history they couldn’t care what happened yesterday. There's just so many fascinating stories about the past.

What say you about nonfiction? Fiction?

Me: When you read nonfiction, how much of what you learn while reading do you retain?

Dad: It depends... but I like to work fairly hard at understanding when I’m reading. I don’t like to sort of gloss over things. Sometimes when I read books with math in them or formulas, or discussions that are a bit more in-depth like that then I don’t want to just skip over it. Because I know you benefit from [going more in-depth]. Certainly as time goes by it fades, but I think in general I remember a bunch of stuff.

Me: How long does it take you to get through a book usually?

Dad: I don’t like to rush through books. With the books I read, I wouldn’t want to read them all in one sitting even if I could. I usually read for ten or fifteen minutes to a couple of hours at the most but then anymore than that and I feel the stuff I’ve learned is already fading and I’d rather have it sort of sink in a bit... savour it a little bit. On average it takes me a month to get through a book. If I’m reading regularly, then at least several weeks.

So if you're amazed at those people that read a gajillion books per year... then just know that they aren't getting any soak time.

Me: That's all my questions! Thanks! You did better than bro did.

Dad: Well, when it comes to talking, you can count on me... for quantity, anyway.

That's for sure!


Do YOU want to be part of the Ask The Readers series? Just e-mail me (kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com) and I'll send you some questions specific to your reading habits/routines/personality. Then the interview will appear up on the blog so other people can learn about your unique reading habits!


  1. That's awesome to interview your dad! I really respect people who read a lot of non-fiction because of their insatiable appetite to find out about everything. Those kind of people are extremely helpful to have as a parent, too. :) Especially when you need to know so much about everything when you write!

  2. People who want to learn are very cool, I agree... and it is very helpful to have someone like that in my house. :D I learn something new everyday!

  3. Great interview! Your dad sounds pretty awesome. Neither of my parents read much at all (maybe a couple books a year), so you're really lucky that at least your dad reads.

    I have a long-term TBR list that's just a list of books I typed up at the beginning of the year, some series books and a lot that I'd just heard of. Now there are a bunch of other books I've scribbled down over the year so far. I also have a short-term TBR list which is my TBR list on Goodreads- books that I'm planning on reading within the next few months or so.

    I don't read much nonfiction at all, though I'd like to read more, I'm just not sure what to read.

  4. I think it's so cool that you interviewed your dad. Is he a writer, too? I've discovered that many boys prefer nonfiction over fiction. And I know a lot of men who are like that, too. I prefer fiction, but I like nonfiction, too, especially true stories.

    Gracie, last week I posted your link when I accepted your award. Tomorrow I'm going to publish a new post. Thanks for the award. I copied what you did!

  5. My dad isn't a write like I am... but he is fairly good at being creative sometimes. :)

    I saw your post about the award! Thanks for posting a link... and you deserve the award. :D Your posts are so funny.

  6. Speaking of awards, I've awarded you the Liebster blog award- the link to that blog post is HERE. :)

  7. Oh, cool... thanks Brittany!


Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)


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