Read All Over: Taryn Boyd


Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.
Taryn Boyd works for the Literary Press Group, a non-profit organization that supports independent Canadian literary publishers. She has recently switched roles from sales rep (placing titles from indie presses in bookstores) to working as the Education and Engagement Coordinator. Taryn lives near the Vancouver airport in a little throwback neighbourhood called Burkeville (which is technically in Richmond!), and she spends all her time with her hound dog, Watson.

What are you currently reading? Your thoughts on it?
I just finished Flipturn by Paula Eisenstein (Mansfield Press). It’s a novel written entirely in short, sometimes poetric, paragraphs. I thought it was a convincing peek into a young woman’s psyche. The narrator is just beginning to explore and experiment with her ability to articulate her experiences in a really complex social situation, and she’s constantly negotiating her place and her value in comparison with everyone around her. I really appreciated the narrator’s voice.

How do you like your books served up best – audio books, graphic novels, used paperbacks, library loaner, e-reader?
Oh, definitely good ol’ paperback. Whenever I read a hardcover book I feel like I should be sitting straight up in a wingback armchair, sipping tea and making notes. And I prefer to lounge in my pjs and slurp wine while I read. I usually buy a book or two when I visit independent bookstores, which I do regularly for my job. I’ve convinced myself that spending money on books doesn’t really count. I have no problem dropping $100 on books, but I balk at spending money on clothes. I remember where I buy my books, too: the Penguin classic clothbound edition of Sense and Sensibility (designed by Coralie Bickford Smith) at Cadboro Bay Books; February by Lisa Moore and One Native Life by Richard Wagamese at Laughing Oyster Bookshop, Rosa Jordan’s Far From Botany Bay at Coho Books; Annabel by Kathleen Winter at Bolen Books; When the Other is Me by Emma LaRocque and The Sisters Brothers at Blackberry Books; Love and the Mess We’re In by Stephen Marche from 32 Books at the latest WOTS festival; Michael Crummey’s Galore at the Bookery on Signal Hill (in St. John’s); Lakeland and Dog Boy at Ardea Books and Art. The Outlander (Gil Adamson) and the Zero Mile Diet at Galiano Island Books. Etc. I don’t own an e-reader. I actually don’t really know how to work gadgets into my everyday life. For example, I have an iPhone, but I don’t have one app that I use on a regular basis. Every time my friend has her iPhone out, I’m like, “Wow, what is that neat little program thing?” Her: “This is an iPhone application. You can buy them in the App store. Right on your phone.”

What books have changed your life?
Hmm, how many can you stand to read about? Books in general changed my life, of course. I remember learning how to read and I remember wondering afterwards why no one had showed me how to do it sooner. I felt sort of ripped off. I was about four. I mean, all those lost years. I think my milestone books are the ones that introduced me to a whole new level of writing. I remember my first chapter books because they were a refreshing departure from picture books. Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing and Super Fudge both by Judy Blume stand out. The Incredible Journey and Where the Red Fern Grows inspired my short-lived writing career at about age ten or eleven. I wrote dog stories on my mom’s typewriter. After reading the first three books in the Anne of Green Gables series, I sought out other LM Montgomery books and found Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea. That was my first introduction to stories that explored yearning and desire and loss, and all that through a female perspective. It awakened my sense of romantic tragedy and sentimentality. In university, William Faulkner rocked my world. A Light in August and The Sound and the Fury especially. One of my favourite English profs told us that if we could read Faulkner we could read almost anything. Reading Faulkner was my first arduous exercise in meaning-gleaning; just going with my gut in terms of interpreting literature. My knowledge of the bible (from Sunday School days) turned out to be very useful in my Faulkner class. Some theory changed my life, specifically Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. And a book that’s kind of like eco-phenomenology: David Abrams’ The Spell of the Sensuous. The Colonizer and the Colonized by Albert Memmi was also hugely important to me. Three specific poetry collections stick with me: Blue Marrow by Louise Halfe, Strike/Slip by Don McKay, and Immigrant Blues by Goran Simic. Alice Munro’s stories validate me, and actually just makes me feel like a more valuable being. She changes my life every time I read her.

The one book you always recommend is?
Lately it’s The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt because it’s such a crowd-pleaser. I just found it delightful (and I do not use that word lightly). I gave my copy to my mother-in-law before she went to Mexico and after reading it she passed it around to all the ex-pats. They were all making inside jokes about Tub over cervezas! At the dog park, I recommend Dog Boy by Eva Hornung. To everyone I recommend Tracks by Louise Erdrich (or anything by Louise Erdrich). I still recommend A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

Where is your favourite place to crack open a book in Vancouver?
On my couch, or curled up in my bed. I almost never read in public (unless I’m on a plane) because I feel too exposed. I mean I’ll flip through a magazine in public, but when I’m reading a book I need to feel safe and completely invisible so I can totally lose myself. You know those pods in The Matrix where the humans have to go to be inserted into the System. It’s kinda like that.

What’s next on your reading list?
Love and the Mess We’re In by Stephen Marche and Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson (I think there’s a sasquatch in it!).

What book or story impressed you as a child? Were you obsessed with any particular ones?
Little Black, A Pony was a picture book about a horse who was too little to do anything. But then he saved his little boy who was stranded on ice because he was light enough to not break through. Little House on the Prairie also was loomed large. I was the second of three girls just like Half-Pint. (Plus I have a little brother, but he was hearty enough to survive infancy.) Books about dogs were always a hit: Go, Dog, Go!

Your life story is published tomorrow. What’s the title?
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

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