Library Culture Picks by Mike Duffy: September 2018
3 September 2018
Festival America in Paris (and the Library!)
5 September 2018

A literary interview with bibliophile volunteer Olga Ospina

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

A literary interview with bibliophile volunteer Olga Ospina 


When and where do you enjoy reading?

I love reading in the living room when I’m alone, otherwise I hide in my room and read on my bed for hours and I ignore my family for long stretches of time. I’ve been training them for years! In the weekends I wake up around 7am and I have at least 2/3 hours by myself. I love reading at that moment in the living room, otherwise I love reading at night in my bed. I don’t really like reading with people around. The only thing I’ll read with family of friends around are magazines, and The Economist is always my first choice. I’m a book maniac and the books I read look all brand new at the end, so I don’t eat while reading BUT I love dark chocolate and I’ll eat at least a small piece. But my books don’t show it!

How do you keep track of your reading?

I started tracking the books I read since 2013. Before that date is an exercise of memory. Nothing sophisticated, I use the notes of my iPhone and enter the date, book title and author, and an asterisk if I really liked it and would like to reread it. And I use 2 different totals, one showing the books that I borrow from the library and the other the general total, that way I can tell if I’m reading the books from my TBR pile (just to make sure I’m reading what I buy so I can silence my conscience). But the list does not differentiate between fiction and non fiction.

You’re originally from Colombia, do you read lots of Latin American literature? 

I read in Spanish for literary reasons. I love Latin American literature and grew up immersed in it. Also this is the language that resonates emotionally for me. I’m surprised and thrilled when I encounter phrases and words that touch me and manage to express my feelings in my mother tongue (which I don’t use that much). I grew up Colombian in Colombia so my choices were not original and I’ve been living in France for too long and I don’t identify myself anymore with the experiences of Latin American literature. Maybe we should identify now with literature about living in a foreign country? I loved Brooklyn by Colm Toibin as he really managed to describe the feelings of living in a new place, but mostly, the feelings when we come back home. Thus my quest is literary: I’m always looking for beautiful prose. Mother tongue will always resonate better.

What were your favorite books of 2018, so far?

I counted the books I’ve loved this year and leaving some aside (tough) my list is pretty long. It’s been a good year. Maybe it’s easier to start by those that I preferred above and beyond the others: In The Distance, Hernan Diaz;  Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor; The Heart’s Invisible Furies, John Boyne; Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi; Circe, Madeline Miller; The Only Story, Julian Barnes; Never Anyone But You, Rupert Thomson; An Odyssey, A Father, a Son, and an Epic, Daniel Mendelsohn; Mythos, Stephen Fry; The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson ; and Kudos, Rachel Cusk.

What books are you most looking forward to reading in the fall?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
I’m curious about this book. The main character plans to sleep for the better part of a year, hoping to be reborn at the end of it. For her, sleep becomes a goal in itself. I loved very much her book Eileen and I’d love to find again her writing style.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
I usually avoid books about the violence in Colombia brought about by drug cartels, as having lived it was enough for a lifetime. But this author aims to present the war from women’s point of view. This is an original approach and I’m looking forward discovering a side of this war that I don’t know anything about.

There, There by Tommy Orange
Maybe this is the book I’m more curious about. A lot has been said recently on every literary review. This book tells the story of 12 contemporary Native Americans who come together at a powwow in Oakland.

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
This is one of my favorite authors, so I’m biased. So far I’ve heard is about love and loneliness, war and art, and an homage to The Great Gatsby.

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin
The book develops the lives of two different families across generations. A story about relationships and the reviews are very positive.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
I love all things Greek literature, and all modern and feminist takes on it are rich and very rewarding. This is a take on The Iliad from the perspective of the captured women.

21 Lessons For the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
I loved Sapiens and Homo Deus. His books are interesting, gripping, accessible and well researched. In this new book, the author tackles the present and analyses the issues that concerns us today.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte
A new history of the dinosaurs, well written by a leader in the field. I hope to impress my friends with it!

Other books I’m looking forward are Brother by David Chariandy, Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, and Sharp by Michelle Dean.

Guest blogger:  Olga Ospina was born in Colombia and has been living in France since 1995. She has been holding a book since she learn to read. She discovered early Enid Blyton, Karl May, Jules Verne and L.M. Montgomery. Her voracious tendencies pushed her also to read encyclopedias, yellow pages, cereal boxes and shampoo bottles. When not reading, she’s a business lawyer and she has worked in law firm, private sector and government, and she’s passionate about infrastructure and transportation issues. As a Library volunteer, her insatiable appetite for reading is invaluable to the Collections team, as she reads an abundance of book reviews in print and online, to ensure we’re up-to-date in our orders!

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