Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Interview with a bookworm: Alyssa from Alyssa Goes Bang

Since tomorrow is Show Us Your Books, I decided we’d start the week with everyone’s favorite interview series. I’m thrilled that today’s interview is with Alyssa from Alyssa Goes Bang. If you’re not reading her blog, you are seriously missing out and you need to visit her as soon as you’re done reading her interview. She’s also the co-founder (with me) of the Long Hard Reading Challenge (details coming this summer but it is exactly what you think it is). 

interview with a bookworm




Hey Jana Says readers! I’m Alyssa, and I babble over at alyssagoesbang. I don’t really talk about anything in particular, but there’s a good chance you’ll find some posts about the things I muse over, running, yoga, New Jersey, and being an Alyssa. Many thanks to Jana for having me here to babble some more about books!


Jana: Why do you enjoy reading?

​Alyssa: I love stories. And I love exploring how people choose to tell stories. I have a hard time getting swept up in movies—I always think, “What a well-written scene!” or “That actor is doing a great job.”—but for some reason, I can travel through time and space when I’m reading a good book. I love language and seeing how other writers use it to deliver their meaning. I love a well-crafted sentence, a well-built world. Everything about the labor that goes into writing a book appeals to me on every level and it’s just something I want to always be a part of. Books and characters and authors have always been there to help me feel less alone in the world, and almost everything I’ve ever needed to know about life I’ve learned in a book.book to read
Jana: How do you decide what to read?

​Alyssa: I base my picks off recommendations from friends, or if I really like something by an author I’ll try to read the rest of their works and then move onto books by their contemporaries, or influences, or authors influenced by them. I usually alternate between heavy and light, unless I’m really on a particular kick.
Jana: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or genres?

​Alyssa: I love literary fiction first and foremost—just a good, hearty, well-told story about people. Second to that is probably satire and dark humor. My favorite authors include Kurt Vonnegut, Bret Easton Ellis, Judy Blume and Jodi Picoult so… sure, you could say I’m a bit eclectic. I love poets, from Bukowski to Lorde to Shakespeare (the latter, I have a tattoo for.) and essayists (David Sedaris) and short stories (John Updike, Raymond Carver) too. I also have undying adoration for the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, etc.) and the “Lost Generation” of post-WWI authors, with The Great Gatsby being my favorite book ever. Sorry, did you want me to narrow it down? Oops…
Jana: What’s your favorite book or a book you always recommend?

​Alyssa: The Great Gatsby is my all-time favorite, but I also always recommend Jodi Picoult’s books to everyone, Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series to every girl and woman I know, and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke to basically everyone. I like to talk to people and get a sense of what they like before I recommend books though (tell me the last book you loved!), because I know not everything is for everyone. But here’s a quick list of titles I think most people would enjoy. 
Jana: Do you watch movie adaptations of books? What do you think of them?

​Alyssa: Honestly, not if I can help it. I’m not a huge movie buff to begin with, though it has happened often that I’ve seen a movie thatI didn’t realize was first a book. But in many cases—The Hunger Games and Harry Potter series being the only exceptions currently coming to mind—there’s little point in me watching a movie of a book I loved. Almost always a disappointment, just because I want all the richness of the book to be in every iteration of the story, and that’s just not possible in movies.book to movie
Jana: Ebooks, paper books, audiobooks, or a combination? Why?

​Alyssa: I have actually never yet listened to an audiobook! I prefer paper books, but eBooks are generally less expensive and living in a studio, I need to go for the space-saving route these days. 
Jana: Do you use the library or buy books?

​Alyssa: I do use the library a lot, but I’m a re-reader so I’ll buy the book if I know I’m going to want to come back to it or leave marks of my own on it.
Jana: Does it offend you when people call you a bookworm or book nerd? Why or why not?

​Alyssa: Not at all! I don’t find those to be offensive terms. I love to read—and you can call me whatever you want, it makes no difference to me. 🙂
Jana: How do you find time to read?

​ Alyssa: I make time—the same way I make time to run, to do yoga, to clean my home. No one magically just *has* time. I make sure I read daily by making it a part of my going-to-bed routine (it helps that I’m an insomniac and reading is one of the only things that helps me fall asleep some nights) and carrying a book with me everywhere…lunch breaks, doctor’s office waiting rooms, etc.
good book
Jana: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to people who say they don’t enjoy reading or don’t have time to read?

​Alyssa: The almost-English-teacher in me wants to believe that it’s just a matter of connecting to the material. You may detest the Classics but embrace graphic novels, or abhor fantasy and adore YA. I think reading opens so many doors for a person—an exquisite imagination, passive education, unexpected intelligence, a sense of critical thought and examination—and I really do believe there’s something out there for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. But people won’t make that connection unless they’re willing to make it a point to, and a lot of people just won’t. So I won’t force you…but I’ll probably recommend you a title or two every once in a while :)​
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  1. Kristen

    have i mentioned i love this series? and i love the name of your challenge, can’t wait to hear more about it!
    love your last answer Alyssa!! so true. and that hell hath no fury picture is hilarious. sometimes KC gets really chatty when i’m reading a good book and i get really snappy.
    Kristen recently posted…Bad habits I’ll probably never breakMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I can’t stand when Scott talks to me when I’m clearly more interested in what I’m reading than what he has to say. Book in hand=no talky.

  2. kathy @ real talk

    love this series 🙂 i tried going ebook but i much prefer the paper books; i love the smell of books.
    kathy @ real talk recently posted…living in toronto, canadaMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I prefer paper books but I’ll read eBooks, too, especially if it means less of a wait time for the library book.

      If you want to participate, just let me know and I’ll send you the questions 🙂

  3. alyssa

    Thanks so much for having me Jana! This series is such a great idea and I love being a part of it 🙂 And those graphics are great too; completely true. Thanks again for having me here!
    alyssa recently posted…Sunday Sweats Vol. 23My Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks for participating! Happy to have you!

  4. Kateri Von Steal

    This is a great series of posts.

    I love reading what other people enjoy about literature.

    Great Gatsby is one of my favorites too!

    And making time to do things – especially reading. Can I get an Amen?
    Kateri Von Steal recently posted…Weekending – Steampunk in the Catskills – ReadingMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      You make time for what’s important to you, whatever it is. I can’t stand the excuse “I don’t have time to read”. Yes, you do. You just choose not to do it.

  5. Nadine

    Love this series! I am with you, I prefer a paperback book to an ebook but tend to have more ebooks based on space and price! Loved The Great Gatsby!!! My most favorite school read by far! I would have read it even without the list of books from the school for sure.
    Nadine recently posted…Weekend ShenanigansMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Confession: I’ve never read it. I didn’t have to in high school and it’s never made onto my list. I know it’s a classic but…yeah. No excuses. I just haven’t read it.

  6. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I love this series!

    I am a huge sucker for a well-written sentence and a solidly built world as well.

    Gatsby is one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve always been a Shakespeare fan. That was one of my favorite classes in college.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…TWTW – it was the June-iest of weekends.My Profile

  7. Kerry

    Love this series. I am a fan of the beat generation too, such travelers and soul searchers. I totally agree that people who don’t like to read just haven’t found the type of books they prefer. t’s shouldn’t ever be a struggle to read a book.
    Kerry recently posted…Good Times Good LaughsMy Profile

  8. Amber

    I also use the library a lot. But I also buy a book if I love it. Or if I love the author, I will buy the book.
    Amber recently posted…5 Things My Eight-Year Old Still DoesMy Profile

  9. lisacng @ expandng.com

    I can relate to you on the movie adaptations. They never do it for me, except for Hunger Games. They did a great job with it.
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Friday FundayMy Profile

  10. Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand

    I seriously loved the most recent movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It was quirky and a feast for my eyes. If you liked the quirkiness of Moulin Rouge, then give it a try.
    Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…Sunday’s Seven Snapshots vol.24My Profile

  11. Kay R.

    I love me some Alyssa!! She is such a gem. I actually have never listened to an audiobook either though I do have some downloaded. I have ebooks and real books and interchange.


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