Curiosity and Candor: Insight into Another Reader’s Recommendations
Today is an exciting day: I’m starting a new feature on the blog! Introducing Curiosity & Candor: Insight into Another Reader’s Recommendations. I’m going to be asking authors, reader-friends, bookish family members, and industry professionals 11 questions about books, reading and everything in between. I’m curious, and I want their honest opinions. So many of us love books, but we don’t all have time to write down our recommendations and reviews, or to list our favourite most recent books for someone, or even get into an in-depth discussion as to why we like the books we do, and how books make us have all the feels. I hope that Curiosity & Candor will give my readers some new perspectives and offer insights into a variety of genres, and I thought it would also be a great exercise for my interviewees to reflect, share and get real with the emotions that may spark when they read. Most importantly, it’s going to be fun!
I’m thrilled to announce that my first Curiosity and Candor segment will feature the one and only Gavin Reynolds. Gavin is one of my closest friends, who I met while working in advertising in January 2010. We instantly hit it off and have been stuck together like glue ever since. He’s smart, witty, fashionable, and educated in many categories, but especially celebrity culture. Gavin keeps busy in his Client Solutions position at Facebook, and he’s also a frequent Fashion Contributor for OUTVisions Magazine. One of our many shared passions is reading, and Gavin motors through autobiographies faster than anyone I know, so enjoy this recommendations! I know I will…
Curiosity & Candor | Take 1
Featuring Gavin Reynolds
KFT: Gavin, thanks so much for doing this interview for Write Eat Read Repeat! Before getting to the questions, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your book personality, and a little bit about yourself in general?
GR: Oh wow! Well, for the purposes of this exercise I am a huge fan of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. I’ve always been less interested in the decisions people make in life but rather, the series of events that led up to those defining moments. I really do believe every person has a story worth hearing and sometimes, we’re lucky enough to hear it. Is that corny? Oh well…
KFT: Not corny at all. It’s perfect. What are you currently reading?
GR: Interestingly enough, I am currently reading The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. It was a Christmas present from my partner (Zain) who knows me better than anybody. I am not only a biography junkie but also a huge sci-fi geek. Typically, I gravitate towards stories told by smart women and Carrie Fisher was truly one of the greats.
KFT: I love Carrie Fisher and I’m glad you’re enjoying her story. What is the best memoir you have read this year?
GR: I would probably have to go with Can I Go Now? by Brian Kellow. It’s the story of Sue Mengers who was really the first female super-agent in Hollywood who represented almost everybody at some point in her career. She was this fearless force of nature who was unapologetically brash in an industry that up until that point, was ran entirely by men. She had a nose for talent, both in scripts but also in her ability to put people together. She was instrumental in assembling the casts of some of Hollywood’s greatest films. What’s more fascinating though, is that she was an incredible hostess who through these legendary dinner parties at her Beverly Hills home. They were intimate, usually no more than 6-10 people consisting of the hottest actors/actresses, writers, directors, politicians and thought leaders of the day. She was meticulous when it came to putting together the guest list and for years it was always the hottest ticket in town. I could go on…
KFT: Wow, that sounds really interesting. It would be riveting to read about a female agent in Hollywood at the time she was in the prime of her career. You have read such a variety of interesting biographies; what are your top three favourite memoirs to-date?
KFT: All three of those people have had seemingly fascinating lives, so I can imagine their autobiographies are beyond captivating. As a fan of non-fiction, what book would you recommend to someone who is looking to try out the genre for themselves?
GR: I would say choose a subject that you have a genuine interest in, who can really capture your attention. For me personally, a story is so much more powerful when I find myself reading it in a way where I can almost hear the author’s voice reciting their story directly to me. I think everyone has someone in the back of their mind who they wish they could have met and chatted with face-to-face. If you’re lucky enough, that person might have already laid the ground work for you and shared their story.
KFT: Great advice. As you know, I am not an avid fan of Katie Price like you are, and I’m sure you’d like to chat with her face to face. That being said, I know you really enjoy her books. Which one is your favourite and why?
GR: (laughs) I KNEW this was going to come up. For your self-respecting readers who may not know, Katie Price is this controversial UK tabloid, reality TV figure who has built (what is arguably) a $100M+ empire out of sharing every detail of her life with the public. She’s (and I use the term loosely) an ‘author’ of 45 books including several best-selling autobiographies. She usually releases a new autobiography every 2 years because her life is just that eventful. My favourite would have to be ‘Being Jordan’ which chronicles the rise of her alter ego in the spotlight. British retailer WH Smith still cites it as the record holder for most copies of an autobiography sold in one week.
KFT: Not sure I’ll ever get around to reading one of her books, but I do love that you enjoy them so much. What is it about well written memoirs that you love most, and what kind of memoirs really speak to you?
GR: I would have to say a memoir celebrating a life well lived. We live in a world that moves so fast and most people rarely allow themselves that moment of self-reflection, let alone write it down. When someone takes you on the journey of their life, its like time traveling and sitting on their shoulder. It’s a very cool experience.
KFT: Who is one celebrity you wish would come out with an autobiography and why?
GR: I think it’s always the people who never got a chance to. The people we’re often most fascinated by are the ones who never had the time to share their story. I’d probably have to say somebody like Kurt Cobain or Amy Winehouse. They both wrote the most incredible lyrics. It would be fascinating to get a glimpse into the world as they saw it and better understand how their mind’s worked.
KFT: Those are two people I wish had memoirs as well. Can you tell our readers a lesser-known memoir that you have enjoyed reading?
GR: Probably JFK Jr., George & Me by Matt Berman who was a close personal friend of JFK Jr. and also the Creative Director of George Magazine. The Kennedy’s have always been this incredibly dynastic, private and tragic icon of American history and Berman really humanizes JFK Jr. as this amazing friend and mentor. He had this incredible passion, drive and a real vision for George Magazine and unfortunately, I don’t think the world really got the chance to see its full potential.
KFT: Let’s switch up the questions a bit. What is your ideal reading setting?
GR: A cold night, in bed with the blankets and pillows piled high, candles lit and the windows open just a crack.
KFT: That sounds like the perfect night in. That’s the kind of setting I love to fall asleep re-reading in. I know you have a book or two that you re-read as well. What is one book that you wish everyone would read and why?
GR: One book I find myself re-reading every few years is Walter Lord’s 1955 best-selling book A Night To Remember which is widely regarded as the definitive resource about the sinking of the Titanic. It’s not exactly a biography. Its more so a collection of many biographies and it chronicles the lives of the crew and passengers who traveled on the Titanic back in 1912. Lord had this incredible ability to capture the stories of so many people and kind of connect the dots of everyone who was on board for the reader. Reading his book, you kind of feel as if you’re floating above, navigating your way through the ship during its final hours, taking everything in. It’s also a brilliant piece of history.
KFT: I’m intrigued. I’ll have to borrow it from you! Speaking of borrowing books, who is your favourite person to book-swap with?
GR: Don’t be jealous but it would have to be your mom (Joanne Doan). I mentioned earlier about being drawn to strong, smart, funny women and she definitely fits the bill. We have a lot of the same interests and both usually gravitate to the stories of these larger than life icons from film, television, politics, etc.
KFT: Well, you’re both larger than life icons yourselves, so I have to say I’m not surprised! I appreciate all of your insight, Gav. Your 11 questions are up! Anything else you’d like to add?
GR: To sum this up, I would just say that ‘everyone has a story to tell’, so find one that interests you.
A big thank you to Gavin for his articulate and thoughtful answers. He’s the autobiography buff, and I’m sure we are all adding at least one new memoir to our reading lists, based on Gavin’s answers. Do you have any favourite memoirs that you would add to this list? Share either in the comments below, or send me a note!
Stay tuned for the next Curiosity and Candor interview, and in the meantime, happy reading!