As a new book blogger, I’ve virtually met some great bloggers through various social networking sites, like Twitter and Goodreads. Natasha from Maw Books is one of the more experienced bloggers, who I’ve been following for some time, but we haven’t communicated very extensively. Having the chance to pick her brain and get to know her better was a great experience, I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!
YA Book Shelf: One of the questions that everyone likes to know about people in the book blog community is what got you into book blogging in the first place. Clearly you love reading, but what made you finally take the plunge to set up a blog and start sharing your opinion about books with the world?
Natasha: I blame it all on my sister, who got me involved in a home business, which involved selling books. She told me that blogging about books would not only be fun, but also bring exposure to the books. The business lasted only a few months, but the blogging was too addictive and fun to give up. When I started my blog I had NEVER seen a book blog before. I had no idea what I was doing. I think four or five months into it, I was only getting 4 or 5 hits a day. I had to call my mom over the phone and walk her through leaving my first comment, so it would look like somebody was reading my blog! I was clearly in my own little corner of the Internet. Luckily, it has only gone up and out from there!
YABookShelf: Book bloggers know that a good title can attract or detract people from picking up a book or browsing a blog. How did you come up with the title for your site?
Natasha: Simple. I wanted a name that nobody else would have or could potentially have. My last name, Maw, is rather unusual, and I was blogging about books. So Maw Books it was. Boring, but I have fear of somebody confusing me with somebody else.
YABookShelf: On your blog, you review picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult novels as well as non-fiction. With such a wide range of reading material to promote, is there anything that you won’t read or review for your site? A particular genre perhaps?
Natasha: You normally won’t find me reading romance, thrillers, horror, crime, science-fiction, high fantasy, urban fantasy, heavy paranormal or erotica. I also tend to dislike books that are particularly vulgar, overly sexual, gory, extremely graphic, and have an unusual amount of foul language.
YABookShelf: When asked, you said that you had no idea what your favorite book is – too many favorites to choose from I presume. Instead, since I have a young adult book review site, what is the best YA book you’ve read in 2010? What did you like so much about it?
Natasha: That’s a good question. Although I haven’t reviewed hardly any of them yet, I’ve read a little over 30 young adult books this year. And I still don’t think I could narrow it down to just one favorite. They are all so different and often times incomparable. How about three instead? Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins, Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards, and Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams. Interesting I picked two free verse novels. I ADORE free verse novels, and it’s pretty safe to say that they’ll always be a hit with me.
YABookShelf: Were you always someone who loved reading? If so, what books made the biggest impact on you during your teen years and why?
Natasha: Yep. I’ve always loved reading. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. I remember when I was a teen, I would go to the library and read every Star Trek book on the shelf. I loved them. Which is funny, because I wouldn’t consider myself a reader of science fiction now. But I also read through every single John Steinbeck and Willa Cather book on the shelf as well. As a preteen, it was definitely Anne of Green Gables, which I remember loving so much. I suppose the biggest impact was the sense of accomplishment I felt as I was making my way through all those Steinbeck’s. I loved that I loved to read. And that was enough for me.
YABookShelf: Many of the books that you read and review are part of reading challenges that you’ve set for yourself. Why do you think it’s important to set reading goals for yourself in the form of challenges?
Natasha: Two examples of such challenges that I’ve set up for myself are to read all of the Newbery Winner and Honor books and also to support my local Utah authors. Like the previous answer, in regards to the Newbery, is that I like the sense of accomplishment. But I also feel that I missed the boat in regards to children’s literature and once I became a teen had moved on to books written for adults. Now as an adult, I’ve come to realize that I LOVE children’s literature and feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. I want to be able to know where children’s literature has come from and reading the Newbery’s was just one way to begin that study.
I LOVE LOVE reading books by my local Utah authors. Of course, it really helps that we have such a large presence of authors here. There is always something on the calendar here in regards to signings, festivals, and what-nots that one begins to feel guilty after meeting an author for the fifth time that you that you haven’t read their book yet. But reading is the easy part. Our Utah authors are putting out some FANTASTIC books and supporting them is not challenge at all.
YABookShelf: It’s always good to learn some other fun tidbits about fellow bloggers. On your site you mention that your two other hobbies are photography and gardening. What got your interested in both of these activities?
Natasha: I was the girl in school, who during her last semester of high school had four art classes in her schedule and received the school’s art scholarship. I was always drawn to the arts more than anything else. I took a photography class in high school and after that experience of developing my own film and watching that image appear underneath those trays of chemicals I was hooked. I went on to receive my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from BYU. I can’t think of a better major to have.
Gardening is in my blood. I have incredibly fond memories of visiting my grandmother’s house who had a HUGE garden, an orchard, and as if just so happens, also grew trees on her roof (I’m not kidding). I was fascinated with everything that she had. It also helps that I grew up with a rather impressive vegetable garden in the backyard cared for by my parents. Gardening was always important to my mother, who is also a Master Gardener. I learned that gardening is a way of life and gardens would always be a part of mine. Having only known how to vegetable garden, I decided to take the Master Gardener course right after we moved into our first home. I wanted to be able to do my own landscaping and plant a perennial garden. I love almost nothing more than being outside with the sun on my back as I’m caring for my vegetables or flowers. Perhaps reading a good book in the sun while gazing upon my garden could top it.
YABookShelf: Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses to my questions, Natasha. I haven’t participated in any reading challenges for my site, but your passion for them is making me reconsider trying to finish one or two this year.
Stop by Maw Books to learn more about me!