My Reading Life: with Jess L. M. Anderson
How did you first fall in love with books?
I had a rough childhood, so reading became an escape for me, as it is for most. The first series that really drew me into the reading world was probably Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Before that, I saw reading as a chore and spent most of my time making up my own stories, but one of my friends in junior high had been raving about the book. I finally picked up a copy at the library and began to read it. I instantly got drawn in. It was the first series of books I begged my mom to buy me. I remember keeping them all in a basket in my room and just rereading them to tide me over until I could check out a new book from the library.
What is a funny/interesting/unique anecdote about you as a reader?
If I’m writing my own works, I won’t read. It drives my friends nuts. When they want to send me their work or a recommendation to read, it can sometimes take me months to get around to it. Not because I have a list of books to read, but because I’m just not reading at all. If I’m working on one of my own novels (which lately, I usually am!) I won’t read anything, and if I do, it’s just a couple chapters a week. If I’m in a slump though, I’ll read book after book after book, trying to distract myself from my writer’s block. If you want me to read a novel you suggest, you just have to catch me at the right time.
What is a book you didn’t like, and why?
Unpopular opinion… but the Harry Potter series. I tried reading the series a couple of times but just can’t get into it. I’ll watch the films from time to time because my friends and family love the books and I want to know what they’re talking about, but personally the novels just weren’t for me. I could never make it passed the 3rd installment.
What book do you always recommend?
Freeze Frame by Heide Ayarbe. I’m a big film nerd. I even have a Masters in Film! This book combines my love of film with a very compelling story, so I always recommend it to my friends. I just love the writing style and the use of film and directing styles within in the novel. It just really spoke to me as a reader and a film nerd. It’s one I carry with me frequently. Especially when I have to travel on the train.
What was your favorite childhood book?
From childhood? The Giving Tree! Junior High I remember I read the Gregor the Overlander series three times as well as Maximum Ride. I loved those books for some reason!
What book have you read that has most influenced your life?
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I think I had to read The Outsiders two or three times throughout junior high and high school, but when I actually picked the book up and read it myself as an adult, I was able to really appreciate what I was reading and understand what Hinton was trying to get across. It really shows that we are all the same, no matter our backgrounds. We all hurt, we all experience grief, we all get scared, we all experience happiness, etc. You can put a label on someone, but that doesn’t take away their humanity. That’s something I’ve put into my own life everyday and try to explain to people. It doesn’t matter where that person came from, they are a human being with complex thoughts and feelings, so treat them as such. The worst thing that can happen by showing understanding, is your kindness makes them look like a fool.
Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?
Physical books all the way! I love having the book in my hand and the smell of the pages. Nothing beats the feeling of holding an actual book in your hands.
What impact can a book have on the reader?
A book can change someone’s way of thinking and show them they are not alone. They can see themselves in the characters and events that are painted on the pages and can find their own sense of purpose through that character’s journey. I think that’s the most fascinating thing about reading. One quote from a book can change the way you see yourself or others, and that just astounds me. Being able to find characters or a story that resonates with you enough to change how you see the world is always a true blessing.
End of Interview
Jess L. M. Anderson grew up with a love for story telling. From a young age, she was entering writing competitions and filming short videos with friends and family in her hometown of Red Bud, IL. She began writing as her main form of expression in 2015 with the encouragement of her family and late friend Cloe Beck. After losing Cloe, unexpectedly in 2017, Jess stepped away from her writing to focus on obtaining her graduate degree. Following her graduation from DePaul University in 2019, where she completed her Masters in Cinema Post Production, she began using her free time to write again. This was after a professor voiced how much he enjoyed the story ideas she presented in his class. One of those ideas was Mercy's Light, which she had been working on since she was 12 years old. With the support of her friends, family, and followers of her social media accounts under stressinabox, Jess has found herself ready to take that leap by self-publishing her debut novel Mercy's Light as an indie author.