10 November 2012

Saturday Spotlight: A Novel Toybox

What is Saturday Spotlight? It's where I drag bloggers onto my blog for an interview. It's not part of a hop or any organized event. It's merely a way to feature bloggers and get inside their heads a bit. Like a psych session, but fun.

A Novel Toybox: It's A Bookish Blog
Lilian @ A Novel Toybox


When did your blog come into existence?
Beginning of 2012!
Your blog in three words:
We have cookies.  (Clearly I'm trying to bribe people into reading my blog.)

Better (and perhaps an arrogant) answer: Critical. Wry. Hilarious.
What makes your blog yours, meaning unique?
I have a gigantic ego, but I don't dare say my blog is “unique.” I suppose if you want a blog that rarely updates in the school year because its owner is too busy writing thesis papers, reading textbooks, and fighting evil professors, my blog is your thing. Plus, I also often make stupid grammar/spelling errors. That's unique, right?

I guess I am also one of those blogs who don't care for monetizing their blog. I suppose I should care about SEO and making a schedule, all great things to do, but my stance is: I would rather spend time reading and chatting with fellow readers.
If you ever had to retitle your blog, would you? And what would the new title be?
Nope, I think I'm okay in the naming department and strayed away from anything starting with Confessions of (something) or The Musings of (something something); not that there's anything wrong with those names, but I've had times where I had to ransack Google to find the blog I wanted because I only remembered the first two words of their blog name. *flips table*


How did the blog-bug bite (why did you start blogging)?
I wanted to record my thoughts, and analyze a book even after I finish the last page. Full disclosure: I admit the piles of shiny books I see in other people's book hauls fueled the delusion that having a book blog would get me free advanced copies so that I can be a hipster. Which is partly true, but I quickly realized receiving a book from an author or publisher also came with its obligations.
Do you have a review that you’re particularly proud of?

A word of warning: I didn't like Insurgent—at all.

Not because it was particularly introspective or enlightening, but I felt like I was truly myself while writing that review; it was the whole “whatever. I don't care what anyone thinks! I will just put my two cents out there and if they don't like it, LET THEM THROW TOMATOES!” feeling. And I also secretly think I am hilarious in the review. I told you I have a big ego.
Is there a blog that inspired you/still inspires you?
Any blog? TheBloggess and Thoughts From Paris (it has nothing to do with Paris, it's just the guy's last name).

Neither are book blogs, but both hilarious. But more importantly: their guts inspire me the most—not everyone can write about buying a giant metal chicken and naming it BeyoncĂ© or pooping in their pants on a drunken night.
What excites you most about being a book review blogger?
Having the notion that people are reading my thoughts. Gigantic ego right here once again.
With a book blog I am more accessible to other book lovers. Finding a new favorite book is wonderful, but what's even better is being able to discuss the book with someone—even if we have differing opinions. I love being able to see a story in a new perspective, and to have an intelligent, enlightening argument.
Five books everyone should read:
  1. Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner
  2. Ready Player One By Ernest Cline
  3. The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian
  4. Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
  5. A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Only five?? Hardest question ever. I must've spent thirty minutes coming up with this list and switching out titles. I tried to pick fairly underrated, or unconventional titles from a variety of genres: humor, sci-fi, romance, fantasy, non-fiction. Death Note is a manga, but I believe everyone should at least give manga a shot once in their life. But at the end of the day, everyone should read whatever they want to read. I believe that everyone loves a good story, and everyone likes reading—if they don't, they just aren't reading the right things.

Now I must scroll down before I start switching out titles for the hundredth time.
If a new blogger came up to you for advice, what would you tell them?
Ask yourself, “if an author/publisher sent me a free advanced copy of their book, but I hated the book's guts, would I be willing to write a negative review even if the author/publisher would never send me anything again?” If you can answer that, then you know where your priorities lie and I think that is the most important step.


What got you into reading?
I can think of three things:

My mother who decided to read me bedtime stories as a young child. It never became a habit since she ended up forgetting, but I kept wanting to know what happens next, so I thought, “I will just read it myself!”

Secondly, the public library. I am Chinese, and my Chinese parents fit the stereotype perfectly. “Y U PLAY BARBIE? THAT STUFF SO EXPENSIVE! Y U NO READ BOOKS? THEY FREE FROM LIBRARY! U GO LIBRARY!” I also was the youngest in my family (my sister is twelve years older than me,) so nobody really “played” with me, unless you count my sister stuffing me into the hamper and then turning it upside down (before you freak out, being turned upside-down in a hamper is surprisingly more fun that it sounds.) So books were my toys.

And there was also Pokemon. I was in 1st or 2nd grade when my older sister brought home Pokemon Yellow and I was addicted. HOWEVER, I NEVER GOT PAST THE FIRST GYM LEADER (BROCK) because I was too stupid to realize electric types (my beloved Pikachu) don't work well against rock types. So I had to read the entire training manual thingy.
Do your friends and family know about your blog?
I don't know. I told my old sister, but I think she only visited once out of courtesy.

I also mentioned to my parents that I wrote book reviews because they were like “WHAT DID YOU DO?” when book packages kept showing up for me. But I don't expect my parents to read my blog because they are much more comfortable reading Chinese. I don't mind, because that means they will probably never come across this interview and read my answer for the question above.
What are three things people may not know about you?
I was born in Hong Kong. I didn't start learning English until I moved to Hawaii and started preschool. I was the shy kid who stayed silent most of the time and when I did speak, I didn't have much confidence so people barely heard me. Perhaps of my shy demeanor, my kindergarten teacher thought I was deaf and she believed the only reason I could follow directions was because I knew how to lip-read. My dad was amused. I think he would've been proud if I really could lip-read in a language I barely knew. My dad didn't taken my teacher seriously after that. I had to take a hearing test to prove my hearing was indeed normal.

I wanted to be a sexual offender/pedophile catcher (lurer?) as a kid. I would always see news reports about police officers posing as thirteen years olds to lure out perverts by chatting online and I was determined that it was perfect for me. I didn't know the official name for that occupation, nor did I know how to write it down on my “What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up” assignment without getting weird looks in 4th grade, so I probably told people my second choice, an editor. I also remember wanting to be an author in fourth grade, but I was like “I only want to read good stories, I don't want to actually WRITE them.” So lazy of me, I know.

Lastly, I have an irrational fear of dead birds. Give me cockroaches and bees anytime, but dead birds? AHHHHHH!! Why can't I find their heads half the time? And why do they keep flying into my windshield when I am driving? STOP STALKING ME, DEAD BIRDS. Was I Snow White's evil stepmother in my past life?
If you had a superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it?
Teleportation. So I can literally wake up five minutes before class and still show up on time. I can do without the three hour commute to and from campus everyday. More importantly, I can also save money from gas and airfare! I'm Chinese, being frugal is in my blood. 

Hi people who lasted until the end of this interview! My name is Lilian, let's be bookish friends! I think we should throw a party where we all show up with our tea mugs, sit in bean bag chairs in our respective corners, and read. Fun party, no? 

And many thanks to Amelia for having me! Here, have a cookie.