Ashley manages digital marketing and strategy for a music management company or, in her words, is a “one-woman nerd department.” She has met Justin Bieber and you haven’t. Follow her.
What kind of a reader are you?
It depends, mostly on what I’m reading and how much time I have. If I’m reading something that’s well-written and I’m into the story I read like the book is oxygen for my lungs. My beauty sleep suffers, I miss my transit stop, I tune out all conversations. I could get through a book in a night or two if I’m really into it because I get into my own little world where nothing else exists, and I read fairly quickly.
If I’m reading something mindless, something I’m not that into, or something that’s a bit difficult to get through I can be very sporadic – read a few minutes before bed and pass out. A couple months ago I bought a book in the airport strictly because it was the thickest thing I could find for my long flight (bad call) and it took me almost twp months to get through it! Painful, I know, but I have a hard time not reading a book all the way through.
The worst was the time I had to read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood because someone recommended it to me as their favourite book and gave it to me as a gift. They asked me about it every week, so I had to get through it. I hated it!
I also rarely re-read anymore. I did when I was younger because I think I just had so much more time on my hands and the selection seemed more limited. Post-high school I tend to get most books from the library because they’re just too hard to constantly lug across the country (I move a lot). So sometimes it’s hard for me to remember much about what I read because I go fairly quickly and only read it once. But then I know if a book sticks with me it must be really good.
Tell me about the last book you couldn’t put down.
I just finished reading The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (note: outside of Canada the book is titled: Someone Knows My Name). Great storytelling, I couldn’t put it down and I got so wrapped up in the life of Aminata, the main character. It was a really sad and heartbreaking story in some ways, but powerful and uplifting in others. At the core it was about the characters and their experiences and relationships. I of course have never been involved in the slave trade, but I could still relate to Aminata and her pain, her struggles and determination. I love books where I get to know the characters and find a way to connect with them.
I also really enjoyed the book because even though it was fiction it was based on real events in history. It made me really think about the slave trade and how it shaped the world today, including my own personal world. It made me want to revisit my African history books. It’s awesome when one book can inspire you to read something else, or just make you really think about the world around you.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read about music?
I do work in music, but oddly I don’t read that many books on music. I tend to stick to magazine articles and blogs when it comes to music, because generally I like music for the music, not necessarily the story behind it. And I’m always looking for the next music or music trend that interests me, which is easier to find in a quick hit blog/magazine format. That said, I’m interested in reading more biographies from bands/musicians – so far none have stuck with me enough to write here. In fact, many of them tend to be pretty awful or anti-climactic. Recommends anyone?
Also, I read fiction more than non-fiction and there are not that many fiction books with music as a central theme that seem to stand out. The main character in High Fidelity runs a record shop and centres much of his life around it – does that count? Regardless, Nick Hornby’s books are fun reads.
Tell me about the first book that made you love reading.
I don’t think I can remember that far back. There were books my parents read to me as a child that made me love stories even though I couldn’t read yet.
But I do remember how I really got into reading when my family moved from Calgary to Chicago I was just starting Grade 1. When I started grade 1 at six years old every kid in the class could already read! All we had done in my kindergarten class was finger painting and these kids could read?! I think I could write my name and a couple of basic words, but essentially I was the stupid kid in class, which mortified me. So I promptly did everything in my power to get myself out of that role and made my mom do hundreds of flash cards with me.
By Grade 2/3 I was a reading machine and would read anything I could get my hands on. My teacher got me interested in the Boxcar Children series so I’m pretty sure that was the first thing that got me really into reading. I was determined to go live in a boxcar in the woods all by myself – it seemed like a great escape.
Charlotte’s Web was another one that got me really excited – it is still one of my faves. I also got really into Nancy Drew books from a young age because I loved a good mystery.
I remember being about 8 or 9 and going through one Nancy Drew a day. My mom would be calling me for dinner, but if I was reading Nancy I was so involved in the story it was like my other senses were gone, she would have to come physically shake me to get me out of my trance. I was torn between running away and living in a boxcar and becoming a pre-teen detective.
So the short version is: I got into reading because it was something I wasn’t good at, I overcompensated and ended up developing a love. Reading was truly my escape as a child, and really got my imagination working in overdrive. I much preferred books to TV as a kid because I could paint my own pictures in my head. When they came out with a Nancy Drew TV show I hated it because it kind of ruined the fantasy world I built it my head.
Do you judge a book by its cover?
Sometimes. If I’m trying to decide between two books a great cover can definitely sway me. But often I already have an idea of what I want to read and I won’t pass it by just because it has a crappy cover.
What’s your favourite book for beach reading / summer reading?
For beach reading sometimes I like best sellers that don’t really make me think too much like Dan Brown or Steve Berry‘s latest. I think I’ve read every John Grisham book. They aren’t super well-written or engaging for me now, but I got into them when I was 11 or 12 and wanted to be a lawyer. Now I have to read the new ones to continue the tradition, so the beach is a good place to do that.
Has a book ever influenced the way you think about your life or about the world?
Totally! Has anyone ever answered no to this question? In some way or another I would say every book I’ve read has influenced my life. Whether it’s my perspective on myself, my relationships or world view. Maybe a book made me dream of my future – ie: being a teen detective or lawyer. Maybe it educated me either because it was a non-fiction book, or told a story that could be true or spawned further research. Maybe it made me examine my relationships or my own personality and actions. Books are a large part of what has shaped me, and I’m going to continue reading to keep learning about the world and myself! (That sounds like a cheesy educational ad, but it’s true).
What book do you pretend to have read but never have?
Please don’t hit me, but somehow I have never read The Catcher In The Rye. I have a whole bunch of mostly lame excuses on why this is the case. I blame it on my constant moving in my teens because I would expect it to show up on the school curriculum, no? It’s been on my list for years, but it’s always missing or checked out from the library, or I forget that I keep meaning to buy it. Eek – the excuses need to end, can I borrow it from someone? Or if you’re in the bookstore with me please remind me to buy it! I’m not really ashamed of reading anything – I’ve read a lot of badly written ‘trashy’ stuff but I don’t feel bad about it.
[Ed. Note: Ashley has since read The Catcher In The Rye, as you may have noticed in the photo above. Did it live up to your expectations, Ashley?]
If you were a book what book would you be?
A well-read paperback with a few pages missing. I would have a colourful and/or obnoxious cover.
Tell me about your favourite place to read.
The deck in summer. Bed in the winter. But I tend to do most of my reading on public transit because it’s the only time I have.
Ashley’s Must Reads
Paint It Black by Janet Fitch (warning – it’s depressing)
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
She’s Come Undone and This Much I Know Is True by Wally Lamb
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Green Eggs And Ham by Dr. Suess
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Cleavage by Theanna Bischoff (we’ve been friends since jr. high and she has a book – pretty amazing!)