If you don’t already know about HarperCollins Canada’s new Savvy Reader website, I want to be sure to tell you about it! It’s run by an absolutely wonderful group of book lovers and employers of HarperCollins Canada, and there’s something delightful to be found there for every book lover!
I was honoured to be asked to contribute to The Savvy Reader’s new Blog Spotlight feature, and today, they published my article on What Books, Writing and Reading Mean To Me.
This is my original version which is a little bit longer and was edited for space:
My mom told me that ever since I was a toddler, my favourite toy or present was always books. She read to me constantly from the time I was a baby to the point when I could read on my own at five years of age. The fact that I could read at that age allowed me to skip kindergarten, and ever since I was in grade school, I have written poems and stories myself.
I always dreamed of being a writer, and I guess you could say that I am one, even though I don’t make a living that way. When I was fourteen, I wrote a poem about Shaun Cassidy that was published in Scholastic Book Services’ Rock’s Biggest Ten. Since then, I’ve had quite a few poems published in newspapers, magazines and poetry anthologies and in 2008, I self-published a book of poetry called Eden Refugee after being encouraged by my mentor – author, actor, former head of the CBC and all-around Renaissance man, Patrick Watson. It’s safe to say that I simply cannot imagine a life without writing or books!
There are so many reasons why I love books. I love the look of them, the smell of them, and the way they feel in my hands. Holding one is always like anticipating an unknown, wrapped gift and wondering what it could contain inside. A good writer’s ability to transport you to different times, places, and worlds and to allow you to envision in your own imagination what it’s like there is extraordinary. I love to read on the couch, under a tree, on planes, trains and automobiles, and especially in bed in the morning while I enjoy my first coffee of the day. That’s the epitome of luxury to me! I haven’t purchased a Kindle or Kobo yet, but I imagine that I soon will because I have three full bookcases in my home and little room for more. I think they’re pretty cool, even though a printed version of a book will always be special to me. I love to read literary fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, historical romance, chick lit, horror, poetry, spirituality/philosophy, biographies and memoirs.
I have been writing book reviews for years, but it has only been in the past two years that I’ve really made a conscious effort to write about every book I read. I started my blog Scully Love Promo Reviews on Blogger in 2008 and switched to WordPress at in December 2009 (my business name changed to Bodacious Copy in November 2020). I write book reviews because I enjoy the process. I love to read, and I like to do what I can to help promote authors, whether they’re making their publishing debut or are already well-known names. I also write to give my blog content and to drive traffic to my website. I not only write book reviews, but I write CD and live performance reviews as well as blog about the arts in Kingston, Ontario (where I live), my clients and about social media.
I read other people’s book reviews but not as many as I’d like to because I’m busy reading books and writing my own. I look for intelligent reviews that are well-written and thoughtful, as well as those about the work of my favourite authors or, in particular, Irish authors that I haven’t heard of. To say I am very fond of Irish writers is a glaring understatement, and I go out of my way to look for books on the sale tables of Chapters or Indigo Books & Music that are written by them. My favourite Irish writers include Patrick McCabe, Colum McCann, Neil Jordan, Roddy Doyle, Edna O’Brien and Maggie O’Farrell.
My reviews of books are usually based on my emotional reaction to the story. However, I also look for the following factors:
1. Did it move me?
2. Could I relate to the characters?
3. Was I captivated, fascinated, or held spellbound?
4. Did it make me laugh, cry, or think about it long after I finished the last page?
5. Was I intellectually challenged by the story?
6. Did I learn something I didn’t know before?
7. Would I want to read more work from the same author?
If the answer is yes to all of the above, then it would be more than likely that I would give the book a high rating and recommend it to my blog readers, and these are the kinds of things I look for in a fellow blogger’s review as well.
My top 5 favourite reviews that I’ve written since I started blogging are:
1. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
2. Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
3. Thaw by Fiona Robyn
4. The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen Vol. 1: 1995-2005
5. The Wizard Within by Albert Thor
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is a book I just finished reading, and it’s absolutely the best book I’ve ever read! This is the kind of read I always hope for but seldom experience, and it’s why I’ll spend the rest of my life reading as much as possible.
Follow me on Twitter @BodaciousCopy.