I’m starting a new feature here on It’s All About the Book. I’ll be profiling Rochester Readers a couple times a month in an effort to introduce you to like-minded folk who love to read. I’m kicking off this feature with a profile of Tate Ellen DeCaro, Director of Development for Writers & Books. A graduate of Bard College, Tate has traveled extensively, and studied the “brain drain” in Rochester. She manages Writers & Books’ Turning Pages Readers Circle, which has provided me with some eclectic reading and very creative packaging over the years. Read on and find out what makes Tate a Reader with a capital R!
Using one sentence, describe yourself as a Reader.
I am basically always reading something, almost always fiction, with beautiful language and a good story line – though in recent years I’ve written myself a yearly Reading Challenge (last year with 12 items, this year with 18) to try to stretch my reading habits out to other genres.
For example, a book by a diverse author and a book about a diverse character – diverse meaning from a marginalized group due to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or mental or physical disability; a book you should have read in school; a book that has been translated from another language; a play; a memoir, biography or autobiography; etc. I usually manage about 40 books in a year, but this often includes a couple of re-reads of childhood favorites each year. (Sorry, that was a lot more than one sentence!)
What are you reading right now?
As mentioned above, I’m actually re-reading a childhood favorite as I write this – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. But I’ve also started listening to a book called The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, by Mark Forsyth. And next up on my list is Bad Feminist, by Roxanne Gay.
The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
The first 5 things that popped into my head…
– Ok, first of all, can the Harry Potter books count as one or do they have to count as seven? I’m going to count them as one because… I want to. Let’s just say “The Harry Potter Collection” as number one. It might be cheating, but let’s be honest, if I’m really able to PLAN for my stranded-on-a-desert-island trip, I’d probably be able to plan for someone to make me one book with tiny text with all the HP books. 😉
– The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
– The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
– The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
– The Phantom Tollbooth, Norman Juster
Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it?
I am NOT what I call a “bitter-ender.” If I hate it, I stop reading it. Too many other things to do and read to waste my time on something I’m not enjoying. But I do try to give it a good go before I decide to quit.
What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?
I want so badly to like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon because so many people I know really love that book, but I’ve given it two really good chances now, and given up both times. I also bailed on Game of Thrones, which seems like it would be fun, but I just couldn’t get into it.
Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?
I don’t think I’ve ever done that, no. But I have definitely skipped to the end of a chapter sometimes, if it’s particularly stressful and I just want to know what happens so I can stop hyperventilating.
What is at the top of your TBR pile?
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Adios Cowboy, Olja Savicevic
Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
What book do you wish you’d never read?
I never finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It affected me deeply when I was attempting to read it many years ago, and I ended up putting it down and never picking it up again. It’s the only book I can think of that affected me in that way and that I sort of wish I’d never picked up in the first place. But also the only book that haunts me in the sense that I really want to find a way to read the whole thing some day.
Is there a genre or type that you are over and wish would just go away?
I’m not that interested in apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic novels. I feel like I’ve read too many of them that just feel too similar. Every time a new one comes up or someone recommends one to me I cringe a little and know I probably won’t read it.
That said, every once in a while I come across one in my work at Writers & Books or just on my own that feels really unique and different. For instance, I loved Blindness, by Jose Saramago, which I read for work as a part of our Turning Pages Readers Circle membership program, and I also loved Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, which I read on my own first and then we also read in the W&B young professionals book club called the Book Thieves. Those two felt so unique to me.
Describe your favorite place to read.
On the couch at my family’s cabin in the Finger Lakes – feet up, door open nearby so there’s a breeze, sound of birds chirping outside, cup of tea beside me, and nothing to do but read all day.
Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?
Almost always book. But yes, there are a few (very few and far between) movies that I’ve preferred to the books. For instance, I’m a big baseball fan and I love the movie The Natural. I tried to read the book it’s based on by Bernard Malamud and couldn’t even get through it.
What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?
I’m not a fan of hardcover books. My favorite is paperback (and I like to keep it crisp and new looking). But I also have an Audible account and listen to books too. It helps me get through more books, since I don’t always have time to sit down and read.
If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?
A Shakespeare quote
If you would like to be profiled here, or have some cool questions you’d like to see answered, contact me at patricia.uttaro (at) gmail.com.