C-SPL February Reader of the Month

Meet February Reader of the Month: Calasandra Spray

Check out Calasandra’s Favorite Books
Be the next C-SPL Reader of the Month!

About Calasandra:
I am an avid reader as well as a writer. This led me to a career path as a library aide. When I am not immersed in books I love to hike, cook, and quilt.

When I was younger I was interested in any book that could take me on daring adventures. My favorite was the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. Annie and Jack were my best friends. As I got older my tastes changed so that I preferred dystopias, then cheesy romances, then suspense dramas, then paranormal romances, back to dystopias, then classics.

In recent years my reading tastes have delved into exploring as many genres and authors as I can. I often have a teetering pile of books on my bedside table. Each one will have a bookmark poking out from various places. I often get asked how I keep track of all the books I’m in the middle of. There is an easy rule for that, I never read two books of the same genre or topic at the same time.

Q & A:

Q. What is the best book you have read within the last year (or ever)?
A. Every book lover’s nightmare – what is the best book? The best book I’ve ever read is probably the one I’m currently reading at any given time. However, I can say that this year has opened my eyes to classic novels and the humor, character development, vivid depictions of the past, and questions about humanity that they contain. Some of these are “Persuasion,” “Jane Eyre,” “The Rise of Silas Lapham,” “The House of The Seven Gables,” and “My Antonia.”

Q. What is your ideal reading environment (location, sound, snacks, etc.)?
A. My ideal reading environment involves oversized sweatpants, a fleece blanket, and a hot cup of tea– preferably Chai with milk and honey stirred in. I would be curled up in my favorite chair with classic piano playing in the background. A candle would provide both mood lighting as well as a rich scent like pine or coffee. It would be a rainy day – the kind of day you don’t feel guilty for staying indoors on.

Q. What book are you most excited about reading next, and what about it is most exciting?
A. I am actually really excited for 2023 as I’m challenging myself to read all the fiction books in my personal collection that I have not yet read. This totals 39 books – which should be no problem as long as I can resist checking out new books that I see at the library. One book I look forward to reading – and dread – is “Wings of Shadow” by Nicki Pau Preto. Despite purchasing it the day it hit the shelves, I’ve been putting off reading the novel because I’m so attached to the characters that I don’t want the story to end. It will feel like saying goodbye to close friends.

Q. What book do you think more people should read and why should they read it?
I think more people should read “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book is a comfort to me in the face of the spiritual and environmental crisis that I’ve grown up in. Since I can remember, people have been talking about climate change. Everywhere I looked I saw people romanticizing both the past and the future, but unhappy in the present. This series of essays addresses both things for me. Kimmerer writes about her native and indigenous upbringing and how it both aligns and clashes with her formal education. Through these essays readers are encouraged to connect with the world as it is, to find value, promise, solace, and joy in a modern mother nature. These practices are incredibly humbling and grounding, and most important romanticize the present and our place in it.

Q. What book has been the most challenging for you to read? How did it challenge you?
The book that has challenged me the most was “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. This novel challenges the American beauty standard of white, with blue eyes and blonde hair by demonstrating the consequences of it in the life of a young black girl faced with poverty, sexism, racism, internalized racism, and much more. The novel made me re-evaluate my own perception of beauty and to understand how this widespread perception can have detrimental effects.

Q. When do you decide to stop reading a book? In other words, do you read every book to the last page or is there a moment when you decide to stop?
A. I hardly ever stop reading a book. Some books that have taken a long time to get into or to comprehend have turned out to be some of my favorites. However, if I do finish a book and still didn’t like it by the end, then I will abstain from picking up another book by that author.

Q. Do you remember when your love for reading began?
My mother would read me bedtime stories since before I can remember. As I grew, the stories got more complex. The first stories I can cognitively remember are Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter,” and C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia.” Long before I would have been able to read them myself, my mother was reading them to me. I think this bonding time is what stimulated my love of reading. When I find myself in a reading slump, I still go back to these childhood favorites.

Check out Calasandra’s Favorite Books
Be the next C-SPL Reader of the Month!
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