Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Featuring: Chris of WildmooBooks

Today please welcome Chris, who blogs at WildmooBooks!

What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?

I have an affinity for cows and years ago my mom (or was it my sister?) gave me a cow print sweater. (I swear it was in fashion at the time!) I was often moo'd at by students and friends when I wore it and that morphed into calling me Moo. Then one day while driving a bit too fast (behavior I do not condone) the words "wild" and "moo" came together and there you have it. WildmooBooks seemed to fit as a blog name and I thought it sounded fun. It's also a reminder not to take myself too seriously (I'm a recovering book snob). Over the years I've thought about changing my blog's name to something more literary sounding (snob creepage), but so far have not come up with anything that makes me as happy as WildmooBooks.

How long have you been blogging?
I started in January 2010. In the fall of 2009 I stepped down as a manager at Borders to pursue my interest in massage therapy. Although I continued to work at Borders part-time until the company went belly-up, I missed the daily engagement with readers and books. I also missed writing about books--for much of my time with Borders I held positions where I wrote newsletters, press releases, event signage, etc. Through Goodreads I noticed more "regular readers" starting book blogs. "I can do that!" I thought, and so here I am.

Tell us a bit about your book blog. What makes it unique?
I still feel so new at this so I'm not sure. I enjoy attending author and other literary events and then write about them. That's probably a hold-over from my Borders days when I had to write event recaps for the home office. I think its a nice way to get word out about authors even if I don't read their books.

What's your earliest memory of reading?
Spending hours pouring over The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary. I have a strong visual and sense memory of sitting against the couch on the living room floor doing my best to read the words that explained each letter and trying to remember the letters in order. When I got tired doing that, I'd make up stories about what was going on in each picture. I think I was probably 3-4. It was before I started pre-school. I still have that book!

What was the first book you read over and over, or the book you've reread the most?
DRACULA, hands-down. I wasn't a big reader as a little kid. While I read books that people gave me and didn't dislike reading, I was just too busy playing outside. After dinner my parents usually read and I'd often join them. I'd spread out on the floor with the book about golden hamsters that I repeatedly checked out of the library or the latest issue of Cricket magazine that my parents subscribed to for me and feel quite content. Then I'd hear the delicious sound of a baseball smacking the well-oiled web of a glove or a skateboarder zoom by and I'd be out the door (I was a tomboy).

Then one day in middle school Mr. Fruits (real name), our English teacher, gave us time to look through the latest Scholastic catalog. My desk was directly in front of his, so I complied. It may have been the first time I actually looked through a book catalog. I turned the page and saw DRACULA. I almost jumped up and shouted out in my excitement, but instead restrained myself and thought, “NO WAY! They made a book out of Dracula?!” I grew up watching Creature Features and Sesame Street. Bela Legosi and The Count where my favorites.

That evening my parents where thrilled when I asked if I could get the book. They were younger then than I am now and I imagine their eyes filled with tears and they did a thumbs up behind my back.

I remember long summer days spent reading DRACULA in the hammock in the backyard. It seems like it took the whole summer to read the book and maybe it did. The language was a little tough for me to get into, but I kept going because the story was similar enough to all the vampire movies I'd seen up until that point, but different enough to keep me wondering what was going to happen next. The book was so much richer than the movies!

I've re-read DRACULA at least a dozen times since then. It is the book that turned me into a self-selective reader. After Bram Stoker's DRACULA I went on to Stephen King's Salem's Lot, The Stand, and a host of now forgotten “trash” novels. I believe it was reading these novels for pleasure that helped me enjoy the novels we were reading in school, classics like Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth and John Steinbeck's The Pearl, much more than my non-reading or not-yet reading for pleasure peers.

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?
I'm all for writing in books, but I don't do it as much as I used to. If it's a book that I think I'll read again, I don't want my prior reading to influence the new reading. I'm one of those who never buys used books that have been underlined. Still, sometimes I do underline and I tend to do it more with non-fiction than fiction. Most of the time I use those little sticky flags to mark a passage and will later (the same day or the next while things are still fresh) go back to the passage and see if it's something I want to write a note about. I use a sheet of printer or loose-leaf paper, tri-folded, as a bookmark and upon which I take notes. When I finish the book I read through the notes I've jotted down and then write a few paragraphs about what I thought of the book. This has given me a pretty nice reading journal and I can go back and skim the notes, read my concluding thoughts, and have a much better refresher of the book than if I'd just underlined certain passages. That said, it has been interesting to re-read a book that I have underlined and in which I've written marginalia—sometimes it's blatantly clear how much I've changed since that first reading and other times I'm still “on the same page.”

Do you have any reading accessories you can't do without?
Sticky flag notes and a piece of paper to take notes on (see above). Also, a cat or dog. Although we're currently catless (we had four at one time, but they've all gone to kitty heaven), I love it when a cat lounges on me while I read. My dog Lola reminds me when it's time for a break. Rather than being annoyed, I've since learned that taking regular breaks actually increases my reading endurance!

Finish the sentence: My bookshelves are...
...currently a mess! We moved into our new house three months ago and although my books are on shelves, they are in no order. I have two bookcases in my office and we have shelves in the den. Fiction is mixed in with nonfiction, Edith Wharton is next to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willa Cather is in two different rooms...its scary. It used to be that the first thing I did upon moving into a new place was unpack and organize my books into categories and alpha by author. Times have changed. Maybe I'll get them organized by this summer.

To DNF or not to DNF?
DNF. I used to feel compelled to finish every book I started, but those days are long gone. When I got out of graduate school I vowed to never again read a book I didn't want to read. That said, I will finish a book that I'm not thrilled about if there's a reason to, like a classic I want to read or a book that I know I am learning from even if the experience isn't all that pleasant.

How about non-book related hobbies? What do you do when you don't feel like reading?
I enjoy gardening, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing. I also like to draw mandalas and cartoons.

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

I love movie adaptations, even "bad" ones. I find the translation of a story from one artistic form to another fascinating. Why was that changed? Did doing it this way make a "better" story? What is left out? What is included? Why?

One of my favorite "faithful" adaptations is The Reader by Bernhard Schlink starring Kate Winslet, David Kross, and Ralph Fiennes. I appreciated how closely the novel was followed, and the way the time period(s) and characters were brought to life is visually subtle, yet stunning. The story is one of the strongest pleas for literacy that I've read/seen.

A favorite "unfaithful" adaptation is Slumdog Millionaire, which is based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup. It didn't bother me that the movie took so many liberties with the novel's story because the movie was so visually stunning and the storyline compelling.

What are 3 of your must-read blogs?
My Porch
Tif Talks Books
The Classics Club Blog

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)
That was interesting. Turns out I'm an All-Rounder.

Thanks so much for this opportunity to talk about myself and take a bit of a walk down memory lane.

Thank YOU for joining us today, Chris! Loved getting to know you better!

Remember to check out Chris' blog, WildmooBooks, and leave a comment or question for Chris below!


  1. I think Wildmoo is an adorable name!

  2. Oh I just love this :D Snob creepage! LOL, that cracked me up!

    Last year I bought a book that contained, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Jekyll and Hyde. I've read the last two. It's time for me to get to Dracula!! (Probably in October) When I do read it I know I'll be thinking of you. :D

    1. Yay for the classic monsters of literature! I can't wait to hear what you think of Dracula. :)=

  3. LOL!!! I never knew the inspiration behind your name and I adore it!! And, I absolutely loved your story about Dracula. You make me want to revisit it again. I honestly don't remember much about it at this point.

    I cannot wait to get my books out of boxes! Having just the one bookcase right now is actually driving me crazy!! I'm the nerd who loves to spend those hours organizing my books and secretly sniffing and reminiscing over them!

    I didn't know you liked to draw!! You should post some of your pictures on Instagram so I can see them!!

    I really need to read The Reader. I have it somewhere and refuse to see the movie until I've read the book. I also have not seem Slumdog. I am now feeling very behind the times on my movies too!

    What a great interview!! Thank you so much for the mention!! I had a lot of fun with this one!

    1. One bookcase...what a challenge!! I think one of my problems is I have a case dedicated to my TBR pile. I've never separated out my unread books like this before and I recently realized its messing with my habit of organizing and puttering around with my books. Well, I gave it a try and think I'm going to (re)organize soon. I hope it won't be long until you are settled and get to play with all your books again--and sniff them! I understand that. :)

      I've thought about sharing some drawings online but feel a bit insecure about that. One of these days....

  4. I loved reading your responses to these questions and getting to know you! And now I'm off to find The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary for my little one. :)

  5. good to see you here! and I didn't know you like drawing mandala. do you know zentangle? just discovered it, trying to do some on rocks. I didn;'t know they made a movie out of The Reader!


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