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Interview: All About Me

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Last week I was asked who I’d like to interview, this week I’m being interviewed about my reading habit.

1. What’s your favorite time of day to read?
In the morning. I always cherish the the time when sunlight is angled through the window such that it is low and slanted. The morning is when my brain is clearest, free of any burden and stress. I read over coffee for about two hours in the morning, at the coffee shop or in my breakfast nook. On weekends I also read for a long time in the afternoon, depending on the weather.

2. Do you read during breakfast? (Assuming you eat breakfast.)
This reinforces Question 1. Breakfast is when I read for the longest duration of time on almost any given day. Cellphone is off and it’s all about privacy. It’s my time for reading and making journal entries. I usually go to this place called Castro Tarts where I situate at the usual table in one of the two alcoves. It’s a mom-and-pop joint with the usual breakfast fares and homemade pastries. I’m on first name basis with the owners. This is where I read for about two hours in the morning, undisturbed, as the neighborhood wakes up.

3. What’s your favorite breakfast food? (Noting that breakfast foods can be eaten any time of day.)
Before I became gluten-free, french toast. Two slices of brioche bread dipped in egg and cinnamon batter topped with butter and maple syrup. Strawberries and blueberries on the side. Now I have three eggs scrambled with hash brown. I’ve never been an omelet person because I am not keen on that firmness. The trip to Paris changed my opinion. L’Omelette brouillée is smooth, gently swelling, golden oval; the inside is tender and creamy.

4. How many hours a day would you say you read?
My reading time has not fluctuated much over the years since I graduated from college. Ballpark number would be 4-5 hours a day, depending on work. I’ve got at least 2 hours down in the morning over breakfast. Some days I’ve got a book in my hand all day, on another day I might only get to read in the morning. With my new goal to read 100 books this year, I try to average 100 pages a day. For many of the serious readers, 100 pages aren’t much but for me it’s good amount of reading because I take notes along the way.

5. Do you read more or less now than you did, say, 10 years ago?
I’m a much more efficient reader now than 10 years ago, so I suppose I’m reading more productively and therefore more. I try to outdo myself every year in terms of the number of books read but have yet reached the goal. But in terms of the number of pages read, I’ve been outdoing myself every year. As I become a more experienced reader, I know what my taste is and I have got much better in aligning books that appeal to me. I have to give book bloggers credit for pointing the perfect recommendations my way.

6. Do you consider yourself a speed reader?
I’m not a speed reader, but I linger on the page contemplatively. I time myself once and I average only 25 pages an hour, with speed being compromised by the excessive notes that I take. Although I can read fast when I need to–like those fluffy spermarket/airport novel, my natural inclination is to read at a very leisurely pace. Too leisurely, really.

7. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
(Hysterical laughter) In Harry Potter, The Floo network consists of a network of fireplaces magically connected to one another and is frequently used by wizards and witches to travel from place to place. The wizard grabs a handful of Floo Powder out of a container near the fireplace, throws the Floo Powder down onto the floor of the fireplace, then steps into the fireplace and states where he wants to go. The wizard is then engulfed in green flames and is magically transported to his destination. I would appreciate this power and if possible, minus the dust.

8. Do you carry a book with you everywhere you go?
Just about. Coffee shop, dog park, work, Chinese restaurant, sushi bar, and yes, even movie theater.

9. What KIND of book?
Whatever I’m currently reading, and an additional one in case I want a change of pace. Usually a soft cover that wold fit in my messenger bag. Now that I have an iPad I have more options when I travel.

10. How old were you when you got your first library card?
I don’t exactly remember when, but I do remember my first library card was one issued by the school. I attended private grade school and was lucky to have access to a sizable collection in both Chinese- and English-language. I was all excited for the idea that I could browse and read all those books for free. A public library card came much later because my ma wouldn’t let me go out on my own until I was in fourth or fifth grade.

11. What’s the oldest book you have in your collection? (Oldest physical copy? Longest in the collection? Oldest copyright?)
Probably some of the beaten-up, brittle mass paperbacks I bought with allowance money back in high school. It might very well be The Catcher in the Rye, a pocket paperback with beautiful cover art dated in 1955.

12. Do you read in bed?
Never. I fall asleep as soon as I hit the sacks.

13. Do you write in your books?
I used to scribble doodles on the margins until my note-making became outrageously excessive that I need to have a better way to keep my notes. I take notes on paper slips inserted between the pages of books.

14. If you had one piece of advice to a new reader, what would it be?
Read what is fun to you, read to have fun, because, according to John Williams, it’s stupid not to have fun when you read. Read what appeals to you. Read on your whims. Read something you’ve never read every once in a while.

15. What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask? (Actually, leave the answer to this one in the comments on this post, huh? So I can find them when I need inspiration!)
“Does reading make you a better person? Does reading change your attitude toward life and your view of the society?”

7 Responses

  1. My goal is to someday have two hours of reading time in the mornings. I am freshest then too but I’m always running around like a nut. The only time I have purely to myself to read is on my elliptical trainer. I doubt I have spent more than two hours reading this whole damn week…

  2. Interesting question 15. One can apply it to so many things, actually. I suppose one could cynically dismiss this idea: I think surely there is the possibility that reading can be part of that complex of experiences that influence our lives deeply, depending on the extant and quality of the materials we choose, and how seriously we take them. One hopes that these influences help make us “better.” I suppose the jury is always out on that latter notion. I’m very glad that some individuals were influenced by what they read — for example, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi.

  3. great reading habits, matthew!! i’m not as disciplined! i’ve learned to read more on my iPad. and, i do enjoy reading last thing at night, for about 1/2 hour in bed. helps to calm me before sleep.

  4. I’m struggling to hit 50 pages a day. I also read in the morning but first I write for an hour, read for an hour and go to work. Get home late, read for 30 mins and go to sleep. The weekends is mostly used to round up my readings. I do write in the margins of the books I read.

    Reading has helped me understand a lot of things. I have come to know more and could make deeper discussions too. Again, it takes my mind off the many distractions in our world to day, though sometimes it also makes me angry especially when the literature is on oppression.

  5. I have fallen in love with your breakfast joint.

  6. I love your daily reading ritual. I also do quite a bit of reading in the morning. It seems the only time of day that I have for quiet contemplation.

  7. I get to work very early, just to avoid a horrendous commute so I have about 90 minutes in the morning to read. However, my best reading time is while I wait in the car during rehearsals. My car provides no distractions of any kind and I am often able to knock out quite a few pages.

    I am glad you are rethinking the omelette. Most restaurant omelettes are dry and overcooked. A proper omelette is soft and creamy and quite delicate. I make a good one, but am so picky when I go out that I usually go for eggs over easy.

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