I was pre-recording a new entertainment show for a radio station this week, talking about the release of Set Free, when the interviewer asked my least favourite but most often asked question. Because the interviewer and I are old friends going way back, I felt okay being honest with my response: I hate that question!
I completely understand why writers are asked the question, and I may very well be alone in my opinion about it, but that question is: What books are you reading right now?
I know the idea is that we, as writers, should have sage advice about what great reads are out there. But I don’t care for the question for two reasons.
One: Its sets expectations too high for a brilliant response. I feel if my reading list doesn’t include the latest Hungarian bestseller, a treatise from a Slovenian dissident, or the latest winner of the Carlos Fuentes International Prize for Literary Creation in the Spanish Language, then I’ve disappointed.
Two: I see books and reading preferences as very personal things. Like vacation spots. Or food. Every time we’re in a restaurant, my husband always asks our server what their favourite dish is. Well, unless you know that you and your server have the same taste in food, why would you do that? It’s one thing to ask: what’s good, based on the chef’s recommendations or reactions from previous customers, quite another to ask a complete stranger’s personal favourite and base your decision on it. Once you do, you feel beholden to order the dish or risk hurting the server’s feelings. I cannot count on one hand how many time’s Herb has been disappointed.
Many many years ago, before we had travelled much, we asked one of my work colleagues about their favourite spot to go in Florida. They raved about a place. We went. We did not enjoy it. The place itself was perfectly fine, just not to our taste.
Travel. Food. Books. Personal taste plays a big role.
The rest of the interview was tops! 🙂