For today’s Booklist Reader profile, we turn to Caitlin Brown, our Summer 2016 intern and a Chinese Studies major at Lake Forest College. Since May, she’s helped with the daily tasks for the Adult and Youth sections of Booklist, all while writing book reviews and blog posts. Come fall, she’ll be spending a year in China to undergo a language immersion study through a scholarship from the Chinese government.
Adult Books Editor Donna Seaman has nothing but praise for Caitlin’s talents: “Not only has Caitlin been adept at all those detailed, laborious, and essential intern duties, from opening and organizing the mail to working with the unforgiving pub system, she is also a smart and eloquent reviewer with a true love of books. I will very much miss working with her at the office, even as I look forward to dispatches from China, and hope for future reviews.”
Are you an expert on anything?
If I had to consider myself an expert on anything, it would have to be Chinese Studies. After visiting China through a high school program, I’ve spent the majority of my academic career studying Chinese language, culture, politics, and history. I can safely choose Chinese studies as my particular area of expertise because I know more useless facts about this field than anything else.
What’s one book you were surprised to find you liked?
I was enormously surprised to find that I love One Hundred Years of Solitude. I didn’t put much effort into giving magical realism the chance that it deserved, but upon rereading this work after a little more time and life experience, I developed a great love for Marquez’s writing style.
What’s the last book you re-read?
The last book that I reread was also the last book that made me cry: The Hobbit. When I was first introduced to The Hobbit, I was at an age when so many literary heroes that I read about were clever, reliable, kindhearted, and generally perfect. So, The Hobbit presented me with a new type of protagonist—one that was fearful, weary, and fallible. At the end of August, I’ll be leaving for a year abroad in China. Recently, as I was rereading The Hobbit, I was struck by the extent to which I could identify with Bilbo Baggins. In actuality, I’m just as apprehensive for my journey. Personally, reading this novel was a good reminder that that not all great adventures begin with great adventurers. The Hobbit not only gave me a platform to confront my fears about my upcoming adventure, but it also provided me with courage to face this new experience.
Have you ever literally thrown a book across the room in frustration? If so, which one?
While I can’t say that I remember the last time I threw a book across the room in frustration, I can recall that last book I threw out of fear. I love Ray Bradbury’s writing, so I recently decided to try out Something Wicked This Way Comes. I chose the absolute worst (or best?) setting for my reading: an old, empty building with decaying furniture and creaking floorboards, in the middle of the night. . .although I generally find it difficult for written horror to compare to the jump-scare factor of contemporary films, this page-turning novel was truly nightmare-inducing.
If books suddenly became literal food, what genre would you find most appealing and why?
Magical realism or sci-fi. I’ve always been responsible, focused, and logical—honestly, I take myself way too seriously. Magical realism and science fiction remind me to laugh at the inexplicable, peculiar ways of the world and teach me to live without logical answers to every question. If reading became a form of eating, I would definitely be drawn to the magical realism/sci-fi cuisine.