Reader Profile – Chad Cunningham

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Chad for blogChad Cunningham is Head of Circulation Services at the Gates Public Library and is most definitely a Reader. Chad probably knows more about the Monroe County Library System than anyone, and he is known for his eclectic and varied reading recommendations. If you’re in the mood to talk books, go visit him at Gates!

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

My name is Chad and I read because the alternative is not reading and that just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

What are you reading right now?

  • Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez
  • Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
  • Promethea by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III
  • Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
  • Truants by Lee Markham
  • The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford

It is entirely possible that I read too many books at one time.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Invisibles Omnibus by Grant Morrison and various artists
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

Absolutely not. Life is too short to finish books I hate. One of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes (and I think the fact that I have multiple favorite Dorothy Parker quotes says something about me) is

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

My all-time least favorite book of all-time for all of time is Moby Dick. I hated every single letter of it that I read. I was forced to read it for an English class, I skipped 100 pages, and I still did well on the test. That was the book that taught me that is perfectly acceptable to not finish a book.

The last book I decided not to finish was one of those incredibly silly cozy mysteries. This one featured a librarian as the main character. Her library was in a lighthouse. 20 pages in I realized that I was criticizing all the library-related information and that this book was going to be nothing but a headache. I mean, who puts a library in a lighthouse.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

Nope! Never! That takes away the fun of following the story! Noooooooooo!

I have skipped to the end when I am ready to quit a book and I have vague curiosity about how it will turn out.

What is the funniest or strangest thing you have ever found returned inside a library book?

I once found an old postcard with nothing written on it. It had a picture of a woman standing in front of a storefront. It was in black and white. There was nothing overly unusual about it, but it really creeped me out.

What is at the top of your TBR pile?

Séance Infernale by Jonathan Skariton. One of my friends recommended it to me.

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

I recommend Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean a lot. Jacqueline Winspear is another author I recommend a lot. If someone has even a slight interest in science fiction I recommend my favorite sci-fi author: Octavia Butler.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…probably my favorite character. My favorite character is Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I would love to be able to unabashedly revel in my stubbornness the way Granny does.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

Have I mentioned that Moby Dick is a monstrous abomination and should be erased from history?

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

There are three books that have helped define me as a person:

  • A Wrinkle in Time (which I read at exactly the right time when I was a kid) helps me to see that our unique qualities are what give us the power to truly love one another.
  • Weetzie Bat inspired me to indulge my imagination and to embrace the fantastic all around me.
  • The Invisibles (which is a comic book series that is one very long story) really encouraged me to believe that anything is possible and that it’s perfectly acceptable to live a life of glamorous rebellion.

Is there a genre or type that you are over and wish would just go away?

Are they still making teen dystopian fiction books? If so, then that.

Describe your favorite place to read.

My absolutely favorite reading experience happens early on a Sunday morning. I sit at my dining room table with bagels and a cup of coffee and quietly read for an hour or so. That’s the most fulfilling reading experience of my week.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

I usually prefer the book, but there have been times when the movie was better. I think the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley – the one with Matt Damon- was an excellent complement to the book and I liked it a touch better.

Jurassic Park was also better as a movie- but mostly because you could see the dinosaurs.

What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?

I don’t do audio books- they usually put me to sleep- but otherwise I’m good with whichever format. I just really love to read. There’s a character in Wonder Boys who loves to read so much that if she runs out of books she’ll read the back of cereal boxes. That’s me in a nutshell.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?

Mrs. Who’s glasses from A Wrinkle in Time.

Rochester Reader Profile – Tate Ellen DeCaro


IMG_3600I’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.