Whenever I find a really good book to read I think of things that I would like to ask the author; what gave you the idea to write this? What life experiences inform your writing? How did you find a publisher? And so on.
Many of my questions are purely theoretical. OK, call them fantasy. Perhaps the author is no longer living. Or she doesn't speak English. Simply too famous to do any interviews? I can still imagine the questions I would like to ask....President Clinton, I know it is none of my business, but...
Fortunately I do get to talk to a lot of writers about their work. Every year I compile lists of my favorite books. I find that interviewing authors enhances my appreciation for their work. It gives us a deeper sense of their craft and their personalities. And it can be a lot of fun.
Recently I compiled a list of my favorite fiction and non-fiction titles from 2010 for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun. It's no coincidence that my favorite fiction and non-fiction titles were written by authors who appeared on this program last year.
This week I have some excerpts from those interviews with Julie Klam and Gary Shteyngart. While these authors do have some things in common; they're both superb humorists, they live in Manhattan, they're Jewish, they both love dogs, they could not be more different.
Julie talks about her sparkling memoir "You Had Me at Woof - How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness" (Riverhead). Gary discusses his brilliant futuristic novel "Super Sad True Love Story" (Random House). It's my best of the Book Nook from 2010.