Name: Amy Jo Bunselmeyer
Where you live: Springfield, MO
Insta handle: @literaryjo
Current read: One Day in December by Josie Silver
What has been your favorite read of the past year?
This question is so hard… there have been so many good books this year that I’ve loved for such different reasons. But I’ll narrow it down to My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, and The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
What is one book that you think will (or should) become a classic in the next 30 (or 50) years? Why?
Hmm I can think of several, but since you’re limiting me to one I am going to say Beartown by Fredrik Backman. This book had me sold from the very first line and I was completely captivated by it the whole way through. I definitely think it should be a classic and with the gorgeous and unique writing, I think it will.
Imagine this. You and a celebrity of your choice are becoming friends. They have asked you for a book rec. Who is the celebrity and what book do you recommend?
I am becoming friends with Jeff Goldblum (and majorly freaking out about this but I somehow manage to hide it). He asks me for a book rec and after hyperventilating for a while, I am able to recommend that he pick up The Trees by Ali Shaw, which is an incredibly weird but beautifully written book that I happen to love… and I would just really love to talk about it with my new friend Jeff.
How do you choose your next read?
This has changed a little bit over the past couple years as I’ve gotten more into reviewing and I’m more inundated with all of the popular reads on Bookstagram… but I still mostly choose my next read by mood. If I have something specific to read by a deadline, I will schedule it in. But honestly I am terrible at planning and sticking with a TBR. Usually I don’t know what I’m going to read next. One of my favorite activities has always been sitting on the floor and staring up at my shelves, grabbing the books that stand out to me and reading the first couple pages until I decide which one I’m in the mood to start next.
What book meant the most to you as a child?
I’ll apologize in advance but this question has to have a several part answer. The books that got me into reading as a kid was a series of horse books called Heartland by Lauren Brooke. There were 20+ books in this series and I read them ALL. I remember getting the first ones for Christmas and always going to the store to buy the new ones as soon as they came out. I also have to mention Tamora Pierce and The Immortals quartet. I’ve read them more times than I can say and they’ve been a source of comfort ever since I picked them up in that middle school Scholastic Book Fair. And last but not least, I have to mention Inkheart. This book was another one that I’ve read over and over and my battered copy is taped together but still one of my favorite books I own. It’s a book about books and people who love books and that was so magical to me (not to mention the fact that they can actually read characters out of those books).
What is your favorite adaptation from book to film, theater, or television? What book do you wish would be adapted?
I love Jane Austen adaptations. My favorite books are Emma and Pride and Prejudice and I’ve probably watched every adaptation out there. I don’t have one particular favorite, but I just love seeing the different ways these stories are reinterpreted and imagined.
I would love to see an adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, which is one of my absolute favorite books. Probably as a mini-series though… the book is 900 pages and it’s complicated so a lot could go wrong with an adaptation.
What’s the one book everyone loves that you just cannot stand?
I couldn’t stand Gone Girl. Or any book claiming to be the next Gone Girl. I’ve tried… because psychological thrillers and unreliable narrators in that genre are so popular, but I just can’t get into them.
What is one classic you think is not overrated?
Well I’ve already confessed my love of Jane Austen, and I don’t think she’s overrated at all. But I’d also have to say Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
If you had to declare yourself an expert in one extremely specific genre, what would it be?
Wow I think I’m having a little bit of an identity crisis with this question because I don’t know if I have an answer?? I have such eclectic reading tastes and I jump around all over the place, so I don’t feel like I’m an expert in any specific genres… although maybe after my “LiteraryJo Reads About Mermaids” reading marathon over the summer I’d say I’m somewhat of an expert in contemporary fiction that somehow includes mermaids?
What is your go-to book recommendation?
Honestly I try not to have a “go-to” recommendation. Just because I loved a book doesn’t mean everyone else will, so when someone asks me for a recommendation I spend a lot of time trying to recommend something I think they’ll like based on what I know about them.
What book changed your worldview in some way?
I think so many of the best books change your worldview… One that stands out to me is Rebecca Solnit’s essay collection Men Explain Things To Me. That collection really shifted my understanding of feminism and helped me realize the importance and necessity and the urgency for it. The statistics in that book of violence against women all over the world was shocking to me and I’m so glad I read it when I did.
If you could inhabit the life of one fictional character for a day, who would you choose?
I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a clever answer to this question but if I’m being perfectly honest, I would want to inhabit the life of Daine, the protagonist in the Tamora Pierce fantasy books I grew up loving. She can talk to animals, shape shift if she wants to, she has a pet dragon, and her love interest is Numair, who just so happens to be the first character in a book I ever had a crush on. (insert shrugging emoji here.) But in all seriousness, Daine was one of the first strong, badass female characters I read and I wanted to be her for so many reasons.
Who do you think is the greatest female author?
This question is SO HARD but I think I’m going to say Virginia Woolf. I’ve read To the Lighthouse four separate times and I get something completely new from it every single time. Virginia Woolf is incredible.
For me it’s always been reading… It’s an adventure, it’s always learning new things, it’s new friends and new places, and it’s the freedom to imagine. It’s stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing the world through their perspective. It’s holding a physical book and visiting a bookstore and getting really excited as you talk about a book that changed you. I love the endless possibilities of reading and I love the fact that I am constantly finding new reasons to love it. Reading has taught me empathy and kindness and it has brought so many friendships (like this one with Morgan) and opportunities for growth into my life. I honestly can’t imagine who I’d be without books.
What’s at the top of your TBR or wish list?
The list is never ending… but here are a few near the top right now…
- The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
- Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
- A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
- The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
- My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite