Introductions & Literature (#ArmchairBEA)

book heart armchairbeaHappy First Day of Armchair BEA 2014!

Today is all about Introductions and about “Literature” in general.  This should be interesting! I’m also a Cheerleader, this year, for the first time… and I’m planning to participate as usual (my third or fourth year?).


Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from? 

Okay, well, for those who don’t know me already: My name is Adam. I teach college unnamedliterature and composition and I am the Classic Literature Expert for I’m about to begin my third year of doctoral studies (Ph.D. English with emphases in American Literature, Literary Theory & Criticism, and LGBT Studies).

I’ve been blogging here at Roof Beam Reader for 5 years (as of June 1st – and there’s a big celebration to come on that day, so maybe stick around?). But, I’ve been book blogging, and blogging in general, for much longer than that. I believe I started blogging when I was 19, and I’m currently 31, so there’s some math for you all to do! I started blogging as a creative and emotional outlet – mostly journaling, creative writing, etc. I still do that (elsewhere and in private) but in 2006 I started graduate studies in English & American Literature, and I realized that I needed a place to keep my thoughts on all of the reading I was doing. Thus, the book blog was born.

 Currently, I live in a western suburb outside of Chicago, in a little river town that is conveniently located about halfway between the city of Chicago and the University where I teach and study.

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. — so we can connect more online. 

 My blog is my virtual baby – no joke; I don’t have (and don’t plan to have) kids of my RBR-Buttonown, but I love to read and to write. I buy and read only physical books, because real books are true treasures to me. After all, what will happen when this digital age fails us, eh dystopia fans?

 My blog is where I get to express this love for my little ones, as people do when they share pictures of their cats and kids on Facebook and such. Sound silly? Oh well! And that was more than a sentence, sorry (not sorry). I would love to connect with you all on the social media. Twitter & Facebook are my primary modes:

Facebook: Roof Beam Reader

Twitter: Roof Beam Reader

Instagram: Roof Beam Reader

Tumblr: Roof Beam Reader

What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ . 

What I read most often, and what I most enjoy, are the classics. I can’t specify a genre inde3xbecause classic literature transcends genres (I love Sherlock Holmes, does that mean I love detective novels? I love Thomas Hardy, does that mean I love semi-gothic pastorals?) But in terms of contemporary fiction, I suppose I enjoy almost everything: science-fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, etc. I like dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction and gay fiction, too. I’m not a fan of romance or anything too saccharine (Christian fiction, morality fiction, Nicholas Sparks type stuff, etc.).

I do have eclectic taste, and I love to read because I love to get to know the world. All of it, across all time. Literature (hey, there’s that word!) teaches us so much, but most importantly, it teaches us how to empathize with others and how to understand a little bit of what we don’t know or cannot experience. This is a great thing.

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year? 

Oh, boy. What a question. I think if you visit my wrap-up post for 2013 you’ll find a list 46133of my favorites for the year. I don’t usually ever pick one “favorite” book for any list, but for YA readers, I really loved Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and Winger by Andrew Smith. For adult/classics readers, I enjoyed A Room of One’s Own and Orlando, both by Virginia Woolf.

So far this year, some of my favorites have been The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (yes, I’ve just finally gotten to it!) and Ulysses by James Joyce.

What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like? 

Just someplace quiet, comfortable, and private. I’m pretty easy. I like to read alone, though, so you probably won’t catch me with a book at Starbucks or whatnot (unless I’m on a deadline and trying desperately to multi-task!)

What is your favorite blogging resource? 

Twitter? I’m not sure I have any blogging resources, other than Twitter. If I have questions/issues, etc., I just chat with the folks I’ve friended on Twitter who also have been at this a long time. They’re a wealth of knowledge.

Spread the love by naming your favorite blogs/bloggers (doesn’t necessarily have to be book blogs/bloggers). 

I usually give a few names of favorites, but this year I just want to send out mad props to my team at The Classics Club (which I co-moderate) and to the members of the club in general. It’s such an awesome group and it has faced its challenges, butclassicsclub we continue to go strong. If you love reading the classics or would like a friendly group to help you get into them for the first time, I highly recommend you check us out!

The Classics Club Blog

 The Classics Club Twitter

The Classics Club on Facebook

 Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 

 “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! – When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” -Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why? 

 Book: 1. The Harry Potter series (yes I’m counting the whole thing as one!) Because it imagesalways keeps me entertained and comforted.

Book 2: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. To remind me who I am, where I came from, and why I fell in love with reading, friendships, life, and all that – particularly helpful when stranded alone, I think!

Book 3: Something to revisit again and again and find something new in it – and to remind me of the beauty of language. Maybe Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I’m not sure, I’d have to think about this last one.

Other things: An e-reader with permanently charged battery and all the books I could ever want loaded onto it (Haha! Yeah, I’m a cheater). Notebooks & pens to write with. And as for the third thing, hm, I don’t know. Maybe some kind of survival guide?

 What book would you love to see as a movie? 

I think A.S. King’s Reality Boy would make a pretty rad movie.

 On Literature:

Today’s question is “What do you think of when you think of Literature?”

Well, as the Classic Literature Expert for, I know only enough to say this: I cannot define literature. And I don’t think anyone else can, either (if they say they can, they’re liars!). The only way to go about this would be to define it in terms of opposition (what is not literature?) Are Archie Comics? Is the phone book? I’ve spent entire semesters of graduate school trying to answer this question, and the only answer is – well, it is whatever you think it is. Just be prepared to defend your definition.

15 Comments on “Introductions & Literature (#ArmchairBEA)

  1. I feel like I haven’t stopped by in ages! Classics are definitely my favourite books as well but they are impossible to put in one genre, which has the benefit of me being able to read a lot of different genres! I had to read the Sherlock story ‘The Man with the Twister Lip’ last term and I really enjoyed that one, although before I had never really considered reading the Sherlock Holmes stories (don’t ask me why). I think in my attempt to define literature I just spent a lot of words trying to explain my own thoughts before coming to the same conclusion as you, namely that it is a personal choice. I’ll be stopping by again during the BEA week and just in case, an early congratulations on your Blogoversary!
    My BEA Intro
    Juli @ Universe in Words


  2. “Classics” (whatever that means, but we both know well enough what we mean) are far and away my favorite. For every fad childhood read I devoured, three or four classics have stayed with me well into my adulthood (Narnia, Christian moralizing aside; The Secret Garden; The Phantom Tollbooth….); when combing through my library to downsize for a trans-Atlantic move to a shoebox apartment, what remained in the fiction was the classics.
    Sometimes I wonder if I should go to grad school and take my ENG CRW degree further, but I don’t think I could hack it. Kudos to you.
    (Incidentally, I gave The Demon-Haunted World a try in high school, but couldn’t finish it. It didn’t quite stack up to my massive coffee table book edition of Cosmos, I suppose. How do you like it so far?


    • You know, I still have to read The Secret Garden. I received a copy as a going-away gift some 8 years ago and still haven’t read it! I am enjoying the Sagan book…I chose it instead of Cosmos because many have said Cosmos is now pretty outdated. I also want to read Contact at some point, because I love the movie.


      • Cosmos is kind of timeless to me, but then, I think I was more awed by the large glossy pictures of SPAAAAAAACE than anything else.
        The Secret Garden was one of my all-time favorites and I re-read it so often that the front cover fell off!


  3. I’m a HUGE fan of Sherlock so I love that drawing of Benedict C. in the classic Holmes outfit. And my favorite quote was from P&P too! (The one where Mr. Darcy explains his resentful character and ends with ‘My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.’ I’m just like that so I understand. 🙂

    Love your definition of literature. 🙂


  4. I’ve always thought that if I was stranded on a deserted island, I’d love to have “How to Get Off a Deserted Island for Dummies” with me, LOL! For fiction, I’d choose GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but the Harry Potter series are definitely a great choice! Happy Armchair BEA, Adam! And an early happy 5th year anniversary to you too!


  5. What an interesting post. I like your definition of literature – it really isn’t that easy to define. Good choices for books to read on a desert island. I agree, I would count the Harry Potter series as 1 book. Thanks for visiting our blog.


  6. Good answer to that question on literature. I could define it only in opposition to what it’s not also. Now you’ve neatly tackled that conundrum, how about the other one – what is a classic? Would love to know your thoughts on that.


  7. I think I might end up with the same books on a desert island, though I’d have a hard time deciding which Austen novel to take (I’d end up with Persuasion!)


  8. I love physical books, but I love my Kobo as well. An e-reader can be really handy and it makes receiving books for review so much easier, I live in the Netherlands and not many authors are willing to ship books there. I really hate picking favourites as well, but i did manage to pick my favourite book of last and this year in my post.


  9. Thank you so much for cheerleading and stopping by my blog yesterday! I love what you have to say about literature. I was working on my BA in English and that was always the question we asked. Congrats on being in your third year of doctoral studies! That’s so exciting! 😀


  10. Great to meet you. You share similar tastes to the hubby so I look forward to reading your reviews and passing along recommendations to him.


  11. Pingback: Armchair BEA Wrap Up | Book Musings

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