Thursday, May 2, 2013

By the Book: Grammy Jean

She doesn’t make blog appearances very often, but guys, my grandma is awesome. She’s 88 and writes me letters regularly, updating me on life in Los Altos, the Stanford art classes she audits, the garden and antique shows she goes to, the family’s odds and ends and parties I’m missing, and of course, the books she’s reading. I respond by printing out my blog posts and mailing them to her, so she can stay updated on all the action in my life. And in true family-member fashion, she is both my biggest fan and my most honest critic. (McKayla is Not Impressed has NOTHING on Grammy Jean.)

Grammy Jean serves as the family conduit for books.  She hears of something or reads it first, then passes it to my mama, who then passes it on to me and my sisters. Eventually we give it back to her, and she passes it to one of my aunts, who then pass it on to cousins.  So until recently I’d never met my cousin (LLC) and her family in Michigan, but turns out we’ve read most of the same books – thank you Grammy Jean!

When I told her about my Young Adult Fiction Challenge, she got super-excited (“Very good dear!”), because she’s been in a Children’s Lit Group for yeeeears (I mean really, possibly longer than I’ve been alive). Most recently I recommended they read Quest for a Maid, and at least according to Grammy Jean, all the ladies loved it!

She also thought my By the Book series was particularly fun, so she asked me to print out the questions for her to bring to her Lit Group. She was a bit disappointed by how few group-members took the time to fill them out, but then, as she says, “It is difficult getting people in their 80s and 90s to remember anything. Oh well.”

So, without further ado, here it is...

Grammy Jean, By the Book!

What book is on your night stand now?
Let’s say “on my kitchen table.” The Gardener Heist by Ulrich Boser [I've read this  it's good! It's about the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston]

What was the last truly great book you read?  
Ben Hur by Lew Walace; and Depths of Glory by Irving Stone

Any literary genre you simply can’t be bothered with?  
Romance and Mystery. [Agreed.]

What’s your favorite Shakespeare?  
Julius Caesar and Henry V

What was the last book that made you cry?  
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

The last book that made you laugh?  
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Name a book you just couldn’t finish.  
I can’t remember not finishing a book. [Yet another reason Grammy Jean is awesome, right? #champion]

What were your favorite books as a child? Did you have a favorite character or hero?  
My favorite book was Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter, and my favorite author was William Wallace. My heroes were Skeezix and Uncle Walt [has anyone else heard of them? I haven’t…info here], and Peter Rabbit.

What’s the best book your mother ever gave you to read?  
When Knighthood Was in Flower by Edwin Caskoden (aka Charles Major) [Grammy Jean lent me this when I was in junior high, and told me, with a very severe look, “Now listen dear. This is the most wonderful book and you will love it. Usually I don’t mind if you girls give me books back or not, but this one you MUST give back to me. If you don't I will be very upset with you.”], and Miss Minerva and William Green Hill by Frances Boyd Calhoun.

If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be?
Jane Austin

Have you ever written to an author? Did he or she write back?  
Brian Wildsmith – yes. [Grammy Jean! Give me details!]

You’re organizing a literary dinner party and inviting three writers. Who’s on the list?  
Jane Austin, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens.
Emily Caar, Tasha Tudor, Beatrix Potter.

What’s the best movie based on a book you’ve seen recently?  
"War Horse"

What are you going to read next?  
I’m currently reading A Place of Hiding by Elizabeth George

This interview is part of my By the Book series, in which I interview interesting people about their reading. Any readers out there interested in being featured here? If so, email me: