BOOK’D: MADELEINE OF TOP SHELF TEXT
I’ve been following Madeleine on Instagram for a while now and hers is one of those accounts I truly enjoy and engage with. While we have very different reading tastes, I admire her dedication to reading and the way she balances all aspects of her life. As a special education teacher for kids in the primary grades, she reads quite a bit of childrens’ fiction and she loves fantasy novels. In this interview, she talks about trying to read more outside her comfort zone, her favorite authors and her love for book clubs! Enjoy!
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
Right now I’m reading The Mothers by Brit Bennet as a buddy read with my friend Lori (@thenovelendeavor on Instagram). It’s a contemporary novel (recommended to me by Anne Bogel on episode 72 of What Should I Read Next?) about a secret that follows three characters from their teenage years into adulthood.
I’m also listening to A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle on audiobook, as I’m re-reading the series before the movie is released in March! I have tried so hard in the past to read more than one book at a time, but I find it disorienting, so I usually stick to one hard copy book and one audiobook. I find that the different formats helps me keep them compartmentalized!I have tried so hard in the past to read more than one book at a time, but I find it disorienting, so I usually stick to one hard copy book and one audiobook. I find that the different formats helps me keep them compartmentalized! Click To Tweet
2. Have you always been a reader? What is the first book you remember ever reading? What drew you into reading/why do you read?
I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. My parents are both readers as well and set a great example for me all throughout my childhood. The first time I remember feeling really passionate about reading was when my grandmother introduced me to the Nancy Drew mystery series. To this day, mystery series are always a go-to choice for me. I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experiences.The first time I remember feeling really passionate about reading was when my grandmother introduced me to the Nancy Drew mystery series. Click To Tweet
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)Because I really strongly believe in the right book at the right time, I’m not afraid to abandon a book if it isn’t serving me in the way that I need. Click To Tweet
I believe that reading can serve dual purposes — it can be a form of escape or a tool for growth. I’m a mood reader, so I choose a book based on which purpose I need the book to serve. Because I really strongly believe in the right book at the right time, I’m not afraid to abandon a book if it isn’t serving me in the way that I need.
I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experiences. Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I read every day! I try to read whenever the opportunity arises, so I always have a book with me whenever I leave the house. Even when I can’t build reading into my day, I always read at night before bed; it’s been a key part of my routine for my entire life and it’s my favorite part of the day!
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
Most often, I read in bed before going to sleep, but on weekends I love to take my book down to the beach or a park to read. I think that reading outside is such a peaceful experience — I can’t wait for the warm seasons to arrive so I can resume this habit! The strangest place I’ve ever read a book was at a party in graduate school. I had brought it along with me just in case, and because it was with friends who I had known for years, no one was surprised when I pulled it out of my bag!
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
The best books are ones that provide an immersive experience. My favorite books have always been ones that I’ve felt totally enveloped by as I’ve read.The best books are ones that provide an immersive experience. My favorite books have always been ones that I’ve felt totally enveloped by as I’ve read. Click To Tweet
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Louise Penny, who pens the Inspector Gamache mystery series is one author whom I absolutely adore — her ability to craft characters is just incredible. Charlie Lovett writes enchanting stories for book lovers, and Brunonia Barry writes captivating stories that marry contemporary and historical fiction with a little bit of magic.
8. What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?
Over the summer I discovered Dane Hucklebridge, who has just one novel out but whose writing I adore. I also love everything by Ariel Lawhon, who writes fabulous historical fiction novels that I think deserve more praise!
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
I do own a Kindle and love that it’s a convenient way to bring more than one book with you on travel days, but I’m loyal to the classic paper copy. I just started listening to audiobooks a few years ago and love them as a form of entertainment while I’m completing weekly chores or doing mindless tasks. I don’t make notes in my books, but I’ll occasionally use the highlighting feature on my Kindle.I do own a Kindle and love that it’s a convenient way to bring more than one book with you on travel days, but I’m loyal to the classic paper copy. Click To Tweet
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
I am much more inclined to read fiction over non-fiction, but I’ve been making an effort this year to include more non-fiction. To me, fiction is much easier to immerse yourself in, while non-fiction can feel too much like a lecture. I prefer non-fiction genres like memoir, or narrative stories that hold my attention.fiction is much easier to immerse yourself in, while non-fiction can feel too much like a lecture. Click To Tweet
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
I get completely immersed. When I’m reading a good book, I can go hours without looking up from the pages. Often I’ll exclaim aloud as I read.
12. Do you reread books? Why?
I re-read only my lifetime favorites. The Harry Potter series is one that I read about every other year.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Anne of Green Gables. I read it for the first time while in graduate school and fell head over heels in love with Green Gables and with every character in the book.
14. What was the last great book you read?
One of my favorites from the past year was Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig. It was a heartbreaking and anxiety-producing story that hooked me right from the start.
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I never feel embarrassed about having read a book! All books serve a purpose when we’re reading them. There are a lot of classics on my list that I haven’t read yet, including the majority of Jane Austen’s works. I’m slowly working my way through them, but most people expect that I’m already an Austenite!I never feel embarrassed about having read a book! All books serve a purpose when we’re reading them. Click To Tweet
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
I appreciate the role that classics have had in advancing our reverence for literature, but I do think there’s an unfair advantage for a certain perspective in classic literature (namely, that of white males). Classics are generally books I aspire to read, but I don’t think they represent the whole human experience.I appreciate the role that classics have had in advancing our reverence for literature, but I do think there’s an unfair advantage for a certain perspective in classic literature (namely, that of white males). Click To Tweet
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
I love them! At this time I don’t have a real-life book club, but I belong to a few online clubs, which are perfect for this season of life. Participating in book clubs (especially the Diverse Books Club) pushes me outside of my comfort zone.
19. What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel was a beautiful book about family dynamics and the experience of one child’s transition from male to female. It didn’t change my views on transgender rights (I already support that as an extension of our right to be who we are as humans), but it did give me a new perspective on parenting and its importance in a child’s freedom to shape his/her own identity.
20. How do you choose books to read?
Recently, much of my reading list comes directly from my publishing partners. I try to read books around the time that they’ve been released, so many of the books I’m reading are brand new. I try to balance that with re-reads of old favorites (such as Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time) and reads for my Newbery Project, plus anything else that happens to catch my eye from my own unread shelf or the library.
21. What books are currently on your to-be-read list?
There are so many! I have a few that I’m committed to reading (at some point) in 2018: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m also working my way through the Maisie Dobbs mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear.
Madeleine Riley has lived her entire life with an infatuation for books and reading. She’s a twenty-something New Englander who loves the ocean, quiet stretches of hours spent reading, and trips to the bookstore. Madeleine works as a special education teacher for students in the primary grades. She’s also the author of Top Shelf Text, a literary blog and Instagram account celebrating the bookish lifestyle. As an extension of her reading life, Madeleine is the founder and lead moderator of the Diverse Books Club, an online book club dedicated to reading diverse literature of all kinds.
Book’d is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversation on books and reading. If you enjoyed this, please share with someone you think would too. Read our last interview with booktuber Motunrayo Akande.