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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Book Blogging Around The World (28) : San Francisco, USA

Name : Leah aka Amused
Blog : Amused by Books
City / Country : San Francisco / California / USA

Welcome Leah!

Tell us a little bit about you.
Hi there! In real life my name is Leah, but around these parts I go by Amused. Why? Because books amuse me so! Don't you just find them so amusing too? Whether I love them or hate them I blog all about them and tell you whether you should read them or push them aside for something even better!

Sometimes I like to blog about other things to, like how to decorate with books and how to use those books to cook with. I love to read fiction of any kind (and some non-fiction!).

Monterey, CA

When not reading, I am working hard for my money, exploring the great city of San Francisco, and harassing my boyfriend's cat. I work full-time but nobody wants to hear about that, so in my off-time, I also love to cook and when that fails, head out and try one of the many delicious restaurants in the city. My boyfriend and I enjoy fixing up our house by visiting flea markets and plant indoor gardens in our small space. My green thumb is getting better but if you have any tips I will gladly take them because so far I have spent a lot of money on plants that I quickly throw out! In the summer time we love to bbq and make delicious cocktails. I also love to do a bootcamp near my house in the park – it kicks my butt but it’s totally worth it!

Tell us a little bit about your blog.
I started my blog in September of 2009. I’ve always been an avid reader and I was getting a lot of my book recommendations from magazines and discovered that they were often leading me towards books that were not very good. This soon led me to searching the internet for recommendations which lead me to book blogs. A light bulb went off. What a wonderful idea! Cataloguing and discussing your books online with like minded people! It sounded like so much fun and I am so glad I started my blog because everyone is so friendly and there are always so many wonderful events going on. I have learned so much since starting my blog and believe me, the book recommendations have vastly improved since reading blogs and I hope others have gotten a lot of great recommendations from reading mine!

I love to read general fiction and some non-fiction. If you're just checking me out for the first time you might not know that I am a pretty eclectic reader. I love to read all of the books that get listed for the Man Booker and Orange Prize lists but when it comes right down to it, I also love some chick-lit and domestic fiction too. Travel memoirs and historical fiction are great for those times when you just want to escape and non-fiction and cookbooks are great when you need to learn something new. So as you can see, basically throw something at me that sounds interesting, and chances are, I'll find a reason to be amused!

me at the LA Times Festival of Books

Have you ever lived anywhere else in the world?
I am pretty much a West Coast girl through and through. I was born in a small town in Idaho but my family quickly moved us to Seattle, WA. When people ask me where I grew up that’s where I say. To me, I will always consider some of my home in Seattle. The mountains, and the ocean, and the beautiful trees all in one spot it’s hard to compare. I know some people complain that it rains too much but I think that it’s totally worth it for the natural beauty!

During college I spent a semester living in London. That was one probably the most fun 6 months of my life! I had an absolute blast living that far away from my family for the first time in my life, travelling around Europe and learning to really rely on myself. I forged some of my most lasting friendships while living there and as a result, London will always hold a special place in my heart.

After college, I lived in Portland, OR for one year. It was pretty but too much like a little Seattle for me and I needed a bigger change and that’s when I moved to San Francisco and I’ve been here for five years now and it really feels like home.

Port of SF

What countries have you visited?
I’ve been through most of Europe, the UK like I mentioned, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary and Portugal. Every time I travel to Europe there is a new place I want to visit and old places that I’ve been that I want to go back. It’s hard to pick a favourite!

Growing up in Washington, Canada was just across the border (and their legal drinking age was before that of the US, so you know, trips had to be made!) so I’ve been to Vancouver, Whistler, and Victoria in British Columbia.

Also living in California puts us close to Mexico (and again their legal drinking age is a little more lax, man this is starting to make me look like a lush!) so trips across the border to Tijuana and Ensenada had to be made. All very cultural indeed!

Oh and obviously, lots of places throughout the US but I’m not sure that counts here...

What countries would you like to visit?
Let me count the many! Well I definitely want to go to Australia and New Zealand at some point! I have a real fascination with the place. I think it just looks like so much fun and the people are so friendly! There are still lots of places in Italy I’d love to go to and I haven’t been to Scandinavia. I would also love to visit South America. Oh and I hear the Bahamas are lovely this time of year. :)

San Francisco's Coit Tower

According to you, what are the positive and negative aspects of being a book blogger in America?
As far as positives go, from what I can tell we seem to have a lot of resources at our disposal with authors and publishing houses on our shores. I would say that having so many book bloggers in the US is great because there is always someone to chat with but since the Internet is 24 hours we can chat with anyone anywhere and I love to connect with people worldwide so I don’t really think that matters in the end.

As far as negative aspects, I have noticed that there are times when it can take forever for foreign books, and by foreign, I mean even British books that have been nominated for major awards to reach our shores! And as someone who tries to read all of those books that can be incredibly frustrating. I think American publishers can be very “American-centric’ if you know what I mean.

What American authors and books would you recommend?
Fun question! What book enthusiast doesn’t love to discuss questions like this? I would have to put Barbara Kingslover at the top of my list. Most of her books are by far, some of my favourites (let’s just not talk about her most recent!). If you haven’t read The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees please do! Some recent books by American authors that I’ve loved include Kelly Corrigan’s The Middle Place (Northern California Author!), Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

How many languages do you speak?
Well, English is what I was born and raised on. My family (from way back) is German so I took that in high school and some classes later on. I was able to practice this when I visited Munich multiple times. I thought what I was saying sounded exactly like what they were saying, but honestly they probably spoke better English than me so we stuck with that!

Where do you usually buy your books?
Honestly, I use a book swapping site called paperbackswap.com. It’s the best thing ever to feed my habit! I couldn’t afford to continue to buy new books all of the time. It was getting too expensive. When I do though, I’ll use Borders, Amazon or some of the many specialty local bookstores in San Francisco. San Francisco likes their quirky bookstores, like bookstores that just do travel or just do cookbooks, so it’s not really one stop shopping!

Is getting your hands on foreign books tricky or easy (not mentioning online stores)?
Well like I said earlier I would say that American publishers, I think, tend to favour American authors unless they are big names. Even if they are award winning. Once they get recognized then we can get them pretty easily. It takes time though!

Every country has its clichés. What cliché about America do you consider disproportionate?
What, the cliché that we are all fat and loud? What don’t say everyone doesn’t say that about us! Here’s what I think, I live on the West Coast which is known for its good weather and it’s outdoorsy healthy types. We’re generally pretty fit but you travel around a bit, and yeah there are some pretty obese people up in this land of ours but there are in lots of 1st world countries so good luck with that. Loud, well, say it loud, say it proud! When you are in a foreign country just try not to bring your US of A hat, ok people?!

The fortune cookie was first baked in San Francisco at the Japanese Tea Garden. If you opened a fortune cookie right now, what would you want it to say?
That’s true, I’ve been there! I’d want it to say something like “You live long, happy life and will be loved’.

Quick Q&A :
Favourite thing about living in America : Mexican Food!
Least favourite thing about living in America : Strip-Malls
Favourite typically American food : Pie
Favourite place in San Francisco :
Dolores Park
Favourite bookshop: Omnivore Books
Favourite American author: Barbara Kingslover
Favourite American singer/band: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Favourite book to read while travelling: Anything by Bill Bryson
Plane or train: Plane
Boat or bus: : Boat – Cruise preferably!
Bike or feet: Feet
I’ve always been crazy but at least I’m not going insane (quote from an awesome Waylon Jennings song!).
I would never say never in California.

Thank you Leah! It was a pleasure having you up on the hill!
Next week we'll be traveling to England!
If you'd like to be featured, this post is for you.


  1. What a great interview! Love the part about her boyfriend's cat LOL! Will have to check out the books she recommended... some of them are already on my TBR list and sound excellent!

  2. great guest post, Leah! Kingsolver is a great recommendation!

  3. Steph - Thank you! Glad you understand my humor ;) Let me know what you think of the books I've recommended!

    Booksnyc - Thansk! So glad you agree with me about Kingslover!

  4. I enjoyed reading your interview. I do feel sorry for your bf cat! LOL I visited San Franciso once and enjoyed it but it was just a tad chilly for me.
    Wanna Check Me Out?

  5. SenoraG - Haha! Yes San Francisco is often the same temperature all year round - a little bit cool! Hope you enjoyed your visit though :)

  6. Another Kingsolver-admirer! And The Help is another favorite of mine! Must visit your blog!

    But what is a strip-mall? Something adults-only? :-)

  7. leeswammes - Haha- I guess I should have put an explanation with 'strip mall'! Basically it's plots and plots of land taken up with stores. They build out instead of up in the suburbs here and it is very ugly! Full of parking lots. Bad name for it huh? :)


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