Blog "The Book Dumpling" matches readers to books
"Everyone is a reader; you just need the right book." That's the philosophy of Montreal blogger Andrea Borod: high school English teacher by day, impassioned book matchmaker by night. Her blog, "The Book Dumpling," uses smart, customized surveys and thoughtful reviews to find every reader his or her next favourite book.
In the latest instalment of our series on great Canadian blogs, we caught up with Andrea and chatted about reluctant readers, discovering new genres, and the book Holly Golightly should read on her way to Tiffany's.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Andrea Borod. I teach high school English, Media and Drama in Montreal, Quebec. My hobbies include travelling, writing, reading (obviously!), dancing, live theatre and listening to interesting speakers in different cities.
What inspired you to create Book Dumpling?
I was always interested in seeing what people were reading. My first "real" job was at the only Starbucks in Montreal—which was then in a Chapters downtown—and they got my entire paycheck back every two weeks! I loved discussing books with people, figuring out how to find them a book despite my personal opinion about the book. I loved finding someone his or her perfect read. I also noticed that men read books mostly written by men and women read books written by both. Just an observation.
At the high school where I work, I started a book club in the Middle School, and started experimenting with different titles, seeing what worked and what didn’t. I moved the club into Senior School as well. I also realized that I was the go-to person for a lot of people in my life for their next book recommendation.
I thought, why not offer a site that helps people figure out, in this oversaturated online/real world of "if you like this, then you’ll love this," how to find their next favourite book? And it really became a passion project from there. I couldn’t believe how well it was received after I started answering the surveys personally. I think people react well to the fact that I offer something genuine.
Can you describe the title, "Book Dumpling"?
This one’s easy. My husband calls me his dumpling, and I love the sound of two words that don’t have anything to do with each other.
Can you remember the first time you ever acted as a book matchmaker? What was the book?
I remember when I helped a kid who HATED reading find Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and was ecstatic when his father told me he found his son reading with his hockey uniform on. That was incredible.
What about your biggest flop?
That would have to involve family, right? I thought my brother would love A Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. He really didn’t. He’s a very particular reader and I thought this book would fit right into his category. It didn’t. He hasn’t let me forget it.
Do you find yourself reading outside the genres you'd typically be interested in for this site?
Yes, definitely. I typically read a wide range of books but I’m not a huge fantasy or "chick lit" reader. I’ve started to read more sci-fi and discovered that some light, "beach" reads are really, really fun and much deeper than they’re given credit for. I’m still not hugely into fantasy but I respect the genre tremendously as many of my readers are huge fans so I try and check out the latest titles (and the most loved titles from any era). I don’t like to restrict myself as a reader in any way.
Please choose four literary characters and recommend a book for each of them.
The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Golightly would feel at home with this narrative (much like a female Gatsby)—about Katey Kontent and her brushes with the upper classes of 1930s—almost like her predecessor. Golightly lacks the self-awareness.
Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Atticus would be thrilled that someone rewrote the history books so thoroughly and with such a socially conscious, rebellious spirit—as Zinn surely possesses.
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Now that he’s all grown up, Potter would get a kick out of these dysfunctional families—he must have a lot of free time now that Voldemort’s dead. And you need a lot of free time to read the series.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Caulfield would get a kick out of Ellis’ narcissistic, psychotic and disturbing Patrick Bateman—or he would view it as pretentious, contrived writing. Either way, he would have a lot to say about it.
Images courtesy of The Book Dumpling and publishers Harper Perennial, Vintage, Bantam and Penguin.
Read profiles of other Canadian bloggers:
Straight from the Arse by Ryan Arsenault
Couple of Yuppies by Jamie Munro and Kyle Foot
Obscure CanLit Mama by Carrie Anne Snyder
Le Blog du Rob by Rob Watson
The Art of Doing Stuff by Karen Bertelsen
Man on the Lam by Raymond Walsh
Ironic Mom by Leanne Shirtliffe
Clockwork Lemon by Stephanie Eddie
OffQc by Kevin Felix Polesello
Caker Cooking by Brian Francis
Maple Leaf Mamma by Michelle Tarnopolsky
Rolling Around In My Head by Dave Hingsburger
Les Incorrigibles by Mali Navia and Jasmine Papillon-Smith