What Writers Read: Sheryl McFarlane

What do children’s writers and illustrators read in their spare time? In this series of interviews with B.C. book folks, we discuss everything from guilty reading pleasures to the best literary villains. If you’d like to share some favourites of your own, please leave a comment!

Sheryl McFarlane

What books are on your end table right now?
My end table is an eclectic mix of adult and young adult fiction with a very occasional non-fiction title thrown in, and yes, it is overflowing onto the floor as usual. I have Comeback by Vicki Grant, Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (part of a quartet), The Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills, 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs (a little gruesome, but oh so interesting), Flower Power by Ann Walsh (hurray for BC writers!), Memory Book by Howard Engel, Gifted by Beth Evangelista, Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, Mercy Unbound by Kim Antieau, Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, The Bolter by Frances Osborne (my one non-fiction title, but it reads like a novel), and on my Kobo, I’m almost finished Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan.

Who’s your favourite author/illustrator of all time?
Impossible…just too many to choose from…

I just finished a gritty young adult Ellen Hopkins novel in verse that blew me away, and I am super impressed with other young adult writers like Susan Juby, John Green, David Levithan (who is also a publisher) and Sherman Alexis who, in my opinion, ought to be required reading.

I don’t read a ton of middle grade fiction, but I really enjoyed the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and I’m a huge fan of Kit Pearson, with Awake and Dreaming being one of my all time favs. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman remain stand-outs for me.

When it comes to picture books, I can’t get enough of the Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith combo, am floored by the rich and resonant language in Andrea Spalding’s picture books, and can’t keep a smile off my face when reading Sheree Fitch’s picture books. I also love love love Eve Bunting who also writes for older readers.

On the adult front, I have devoured all of George R. R. Martin’s dragon books, will drop everything to read Ursula K. LeGuin and am a sucker for Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction.


Where is the best place to curl up with a good book?
The thing about a good book is that you can read it anywhere. You’ll find me reading everywhere… in bed, in the bath, on the couch in front of a toasty fire, in the back yard in the shade, on the beach, in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, waiting for a flight at the airport, and at the coffee shop where I sometimes go to write but sneak a few minutes of reading in.

Which is best: hardcover, softcover, or e-book?
I have a Kobo, which I adore, especially when I’m traveling, but I use it at home too; especially when I hear about a title I have to have instantly! I love that I can download it and start reading minutes later but I hate it when my battery runs low. Overall, I really do prefer the feel of a book in my hands. I tend towards paperback over hardcover though for two reasons… my book-buying dollar goes farther (hurray more books to read!) when I buy soft cover, and because I have a touch of arthritis in my hands and fingers; paperbacks are lighter and easier to hold for hours, and who doesn’t want to read for hours!

If you could have dinner with three writers or illustrators, whom would you choose?
The three writers I’d choose would to dine with are: Lois Lowery, Ursula LeGuin, and Philip Pullman; three great minds, three great writers. I think I might be too giddy to eat, but the discussion would be amazing.

To learn more about Sheryl and her books, please visit her website.
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