Chatting with Karen of Pumpkin Sunrise
Welcome to the April edition of Book Talk, an ongoing series where I talk with creative kinfolk about their reading lives. This month's guest is knitter and writer Karen A., who shares her love of knitting, reading and homelife on her blog Pumpkin Sunrise.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
Currently I’m reading Home by Marilynne Robinson, I love her writing style and the extensive character development that slowly evolves. Sadly, I’m not reading as fast as I would like, so this book has been lingering around. I also started the sixth Inspector Gamache novel Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. Oh, how I love the long story arch amongst her books and the quick murder mysteries within each book. This book is on my Kindle, which allows me to knit and read at the same time. That’s when I feel like an epic multi-task master.
What's the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?
I learn a lot from cookbooks by getting different ideas for some new recipes to add to my menu plan rotation . Whenever I have meal planning ennui, I search my bookshelf in the kitchen to remedy the situation. Heidi Swanson’s cookbooks have many interesting recipes.
Is there an author you admire whose writing particularly resonates with you?
Oh, how to choose? Lately, I’ve been sinking into Margaret Atwood’s books. I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace. She can weave her words into magic over the simplest daily tasks. She inspires me to write more often and with purpose. Anne Lamott is another author whose writing is funny, personable and readable.
Which genres are you drawn to and which do you avoid?
Originally, I would have said literary fiction and historical fiction are my go to genres. However, I’ve found out that I do love dystopian fiction immensely and young adult fiction. I avoid true crime murder and thriller genres (except Stephen King), I am highly sensitive and I do not like explicit violent scenes or disturbing ideas.
Are there any books that people would be surprised to learn that you own?
I read (and own) The Once and Future King that my daughter recommended when I mentioned I wanted to read a fantasy book. The fantasy genre isn’t one I dabble in either, however I thoroughly enjoyed being in Camelot and reading adventures. I used to read historical romance when the kids were little but now that they’ve grown up I like to read literary fiction.
What was your favorite book as a child? Is there a particular book or author that had an impact on you as a young reader?
I loved: Anne of Green Gables, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, A Lantern in her Hand, Little Women, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
When I was 11 years old, we moved from the city to the suburbs and I attended a new grade school for seventh grade. I wasn’t a reader at the time nor did my mother take me to the library. In fact, I hated to read! However, I remember going to the library and on a whim borrowed out Little Women and I was transported and decided then and there that I was going to be a famous author like Jo. That was the beginning of my relationship with libraries, with reading and escaping into a novel. I spent that first summer on the front porch swing with a glass of iced tea and a book. I also kept a log of what I read that has since gone missing, but I remember nearly all the books from that magical summer. During our early marriage years, I’ve lived in Ohio, Texas, Michigan and then back to Pennsylvania, we would rate how liveable our towns were by the libraries.
Are there any books from your childhood that you introduced to your own children?
When the children were little, we read together The Steadfast Tin Soldier and The Velveteen Rabbit. I introduced Anne of Green Gables to my daughter when she was eight years old and she also read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn .
Are there any books or authors that your children have gotten you hooked on?
My son is fantastic at recommending books to me. I read over the summer The Hate U Give on his urging and loved it. Both of my children encouraged me to read the Hunger Game Trilogy which was brilliant. I’ve read The Harry Potter books twice through because of their love and enthusiasm for J. K. Rowling’s novels.
Which three authors (living or dead) would you invite to join you for dinner and why?
- Margaret Atwood - because she seems like she would be funny and she’s an advocate for the environment so the dinner would be informative and enlightening.
- Stephen King - because he is hilarious to follow on Twitter. He would keep all the dinner guests on the toes which his quippy responses and observations. Maybe I could get some personal writing tips from him.
- Fredrik Backman - because he is a newer author who has a brilliant way of weaving a story with relatable characters who remind you of people you’ve met or a little of yourself. I would enjoy a conversation with him and find out how he starts crafting a novel.
If a beginning knitter asked you to recommend a book about knitting what would you suggest?
Any book written by Elizabeth Zimmermann who was a genius before her time. I’ve read all of her books and she can expand your understanding and give you some simple guidance at following directions and experimenting with designing your own knitwear. She has a delightful sense of humor.
What are you planning to read next?
My pile of books is vast. I have all the Gamache books on my Kindle bought when they were each on sale (sign up for the Kindle daily deals to be delivered to your inbox). I have Ron Chernow’s book Washington: A Life on my shelf, I read Hamilton and enjoyed the journey while learning so much. I recently picked up the paperback of Beartown by Fredrik Backman while toodling about in Barnes and Noble.
Karen A writes on her personal blog, pumpkinsunrise.com, where she shares current knitting projects, thoughts of ordinary life and recent antics of her pets. Karen documents her love of family and living an authentic life while chasing creative pursuits through her stories and her photography. She can also be found on Instagram and Twitter (@pumpkinsunrise).
Many thanks again to Karen for sharing her reading life with us! If you have a chance I recommend you click on the link to her blog and pay a visit; I know you will be charmed by her lovely posts and beautiful knitting projects. If there are any questions you would like me to ask my next guest please share them in the comments section. Next month I will be talking with author and blogger Corinne Noel Cunningham. Cheers!