Armchair BEA 2012: An Introduction

Posted June 4, 2012 by in Miscellaneous / 76 Comments

Armchair BEA banner

BookExpo America (BEA) starts today, and unfortunately, I can’t be there. I will make the trip one of these years.

For those of us who can’t be there, though, there is Armchair BEA! To kick off this year’s from-the-comfort-of-our-own-homes conference, we have been asked to tell everyone a little bit about ourselves by answering five questions.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

For those of you who don’t already “know” me, my name is Heather and I currently live in Central Pennsylvania. I’m married to the greatest guy on the planet, and we have two children, two cats, and a houseful of books. My other passions are dancing (primarily in the living room when I have the house to myself); listening to music; learning, learning, learning; and playing with tech gadgets (an on again, off again relationship). I also own a blog called Heather’s Hodgepodge, on which I write sporadically about non-bookish topics; I am a contributor at TechFanatiX, a tech blog on which I haven’t posted recently due to a temporary disinterest in keeping up with the tech world; and I am a new contributor at 1Blog140: the verbose extension to #1book140, on which I haven’t posted yet but hope to start soon.

I have been blogging since January 2011. I’m currently a “stay-at-home” (I prefer “Domestic Goddess”); I needed something to keep my brain active and my writing skills honed. It didn’t take me long to decide that I should blog about the activity I love most: reading. I had recently discovered the world of book blogging and thought, ‘Hey! I can do that, too!’ and so it began. I have “met” so many great people through blogging–both book bloggers, and those who blog about other subjects–and all of them have kept this not-really-stay-at-home-material woman sane.

2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I am currently reading eight books, which are listed in my sidebar. I have read a ton of great books this year, but my favorites so far are (not including re-reads): Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, Home by Toni Morrison, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and In One Person by John Irving.

3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I have an aversion to belly buttons. Yes, you read that correctly. If something touches my belly button too hard (or sometimes even just touches it), my gag reflex kicks in. It has been like this for as long as I can remember, and it’s not some kind of weird health issue. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my belly button or the guts behind it. I have no idea why this happens. I have to wear low-rise jeans/pants, because if the waist gets too close to my belly button, it makes me feel miserable.

Because of this, I also have an aversion to other people’s belly buttons. I can’t stand to see someone touch their own, or to see a pierced belly button, or anything like that. Even just writing this is making me feel gaggy. Weird, huh?

4. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

I would have loved to have had dinner with David Foster Wallace. Heck, it needn’t even have been dinner–I would have settled for a conversation with him over soda and a doughnut (or a candy bar, as the case might have been). I fell in love with DFW and his writing last year when Robert of 101 Books read Infinite Jest. Robert’s blog posts about the book made me start doing some research, and I ended up watching every video of DFW talking that I could find. I read Although You End Up Becoming Yourself. I read Infinite Jest and it was one of the best reading experiences I’ve ever had. I have the rest of his books on my TBR pile, but I’ve been putting off reading them because I don’t want that DFW reading experience to end.

DFW had such a beautiful, complex mind–he was a wonderfully complex person who was so intelligent, passionate, and well-spoken–and I believe it would have been one of the best conversations I could ever have with someone. And it wouldn’t have mattered what we talked about–books, movies, pets, tennis, life, whatever. Just a normal, everyday conversation with DFW would have been wonderful.

5. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

My reading tastes haven’t really changed, but my reading habits have. I used to be a strict book monogamist; I never would have read more than one book at a time for fear of the characters in one book getting jealous of the characters in the other book(s). I know, I know, it’s a little strange. When I started blogging, though, I started joining online book clubs and read-alongs, and I was forced to read more than one book at a time. Now I can read a bunch of books at once and not feel icky about it.

Although my book tastes haven’t really changed at all, being a part of online book clubs and accepting ARCs from publishers has forced me to read outside of my comfort zone at times, and I’ve discovered some really good books that I wouldn’t have otherwise read.

(Banner design: Nina of Nina Reads; Feature image design: Sarah of Puss Reboots)


  • I want to laugh at myself a little, having read through your answers. Whenever something like Armchair BEA or Book Blogger Appreciation Week comes up (even when I’m participating) I find myself thinking, “Hell, I don’t need to know THAT much about every blogger I read.” But you’ve reminded me why I love learning weird tidbits through these events – the intense relief I felt when I read about your aversion to belly buttons. Because, me too! I’ve never met another anti-belly-button-er (there must be a name for this, right?) before, and most people seem to find it really weird. I can barely bring myself to touch my belly button, and just the thought of someone touching it…or the thought of pierced belly buttons…is enough to make me double over. Solidarity!

    • AWESOME! What a relief to know I’m not the only one. There must be a name for it. There must. And if there isn’t, we should make one up. Haha! *high five*

  • And, this: Omphalophobia: It is an irrational and rare fear of belly buttons. People having this phobia experience anxiety and discomfort when anyone’s navel area is subjected to touch, especially their own.

    • THERE IT IS. I even like the sound of the word. Omphalophobia. Wow. I have no idea where this phobia came, either–there is nothing I can pinpoint that would explain my aversion to belly buttons.

      • Haha same here. I feel like I’ve really accomplished something today in learning that (a) I’m not the only one and that (b) this is a real phobia, but I need to stop googling this – every article starts with a giant photo of a belly button.

        • *GAG* Hahaha! I’m glad you googled it before I did (now I know what to expect when I go Omphalophobia google-crazy later).

  • Love that you can now read multiple books. I usually have 4+ going and my husband thinks I’m strange. There are just too many good stories to limit yourself to one at a time.

    • My father always reads a few books at a time, too, and I always thought he was nuts. Not anymore. Haha!

  • I’m originally from PA too, although I was from Eastern PA 🙂 And I agree about the multiple books – I was strictly a one-book-at-a-time gal until I started blogging. Now it’s not uncommon for me to be reading 2 or 3 at once (although eight still seems kind of daunting!)

    Pleased to meet you, and thanks for stopping by my Armchair BEA Intro Post.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lauren!

      I’m originally from the Fingerlakes region in NY, and the main thing I don’t like about where I live now is the lack of water (lakes). It’s all mountains around here and I really miss living so close to all of those beautiful lakes and falls.

  • My reading habits haven’t changed that much! Except for starting to take notes when I read…I guess that’s significant. 😉

    DFW would be awesome to eat dinner with. Actually, I think most authors would be! I’d love to pick their brains a bit.

    • Taking notes when you read is a pretty significant change. I forgot to mention that I also underline things and take notes in books now. GASP. The thought of writing in a book used to make me cringe. I use pencil, though, so it’s easily erasable.

  • yes, us bookish stay at home moms need to unite and hang on to our sanity!

    • Definitely! Thanks for stopping by!

  • “Two cats and a house full of books” – that sounds so lovely and perfect. We have four cats and tons of books. 🙂
    Have a great week!

    • Nice! Have a great week, Sabrina!

  • Have you read “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace” by David Lipsky? I have it in the real and/or virtual mountain of books TBR.

    The belly button thing…I have a thing about toe cleavage. I hate looking at people’s feet- especially if their shoes don’t cover their toe cleavage. It was one of my dad’s “phobias”- he would scream at my mother if she bought me shoes that didn’t completely cover the toes. I don’t know what his issue with toe cleavage is or why it’s so bad he passed it along to me. It’s just one of those things you don’t want to discuss with dad. (I don’t need to develop another issue)

    • I read Although… before I read Infinite Jest, actually. I wanted to get a better feeling for what DFW was like and what I could expect from IJ. It was a very good interview.

      Toe cleavage! I can totally understand that. I mean, feet aren’t that great to begin with, let alone toe cleavage.

  • I come across so many good books and I want to share them all with my book club. I think they get tired of me suggesting so many books though so I just started passing them around

    • It’s hard when you love a million books and you want everyone to else love them, too. I know the feeling. 🙂

  • The Warmth of Other Suns and The Bee-Loud Glade were two of my favorite books last year.
    I agree that blogging has got me to read some books outside of my comfort zone, and I’ve often been pleasantly surprised by a book that I didn’t expect to like.

    • There have been quite a few books now that I really enjoyed that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. Book blogging has definitely been a great experience for me.

  • I have a thing about belly buittons too. I get stomach ache anytime it is touched, even accidentally. ‘Omphalophobia’ Wow, this is new to me. Glad to know a bit about you, Heather. I have always been able to read more than one book at a time, though this time, it is laziness that prevents me from doing that and I am now reduced to one book at a time.

    • Another belly button hater! I am so glad that I brought it up–I had never come across anyone else with this problem before today.

      I get in ruts where I don’t want to read a whole lot, too. Those are the times that it takes me weeks to finish one book. It hasn’t happened to me yet this year, though.

  • H. You know, I also have that weird aversion to belly buttons…

    • We belly button haters need to stick together. 🙂

  • Hearing “Invisible Man” as a favorite is new to me. 🙂 It’s nice to hear that someone else struggled with reading more than one book at a time. I’m trying to work on reading multiple books (like one for work & one for home) but don’t find much success. I’m glad you joined ABEA! Tattooed Books

    • It took some getting used to, honestly. I had to kind of ease my way into it. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

  • oh gosh finally finishing Infinite Jest is one of my life goals but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen any time soon. It would have been nice to have dinner with him. RIP DFW. It’s very nice to meet you!

    • It took me about six weeks to read, if I remember correctly, and I didn’t want it to end. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I what I got out of the experience was definitely worth the work I put into it.

  • I’ve had The Invisible Man on my wishlist for years. Have a great week!

    • It’s a great book. Thanks for stopping by, Ryan, and have a great week!

  • I may need to take some tips from you in the future on not stay at home mommy type. Really I think it must just be a complete change in mindset but think I have another year before baby 2 comes.

    So so so want to read Home! Great to know more about you Heather!

    • It was really hard for me to adjust at first, but it’s not so bad now that I’ve found things to do that don’t revolve around the kids. My only complaint is that there isn’t a whole lot to do in this area, so I don’t get out much. The majority of my “me” time is spent reading and blogging now, but it’s definitely enjoyable. Staying connected with people through blogging and Twitter has been a sanity saver. 🙂

  • Your year of reading sounds amazing. Invisible Man might be my all-time favorite! I also loved A Sense of an Ending and Home, so I’ll be sure to check out your other favorites: it seems our taste is closely aligned!

    • I just recently started following your blog, and we definitely have similar reading tastes. Thanks for stopping by!

      • You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by my blog and bringing yours to my attention. I’m always glad to find a reader with similar taste!

  • Aw, about the belly buttons! Although I have to admit, I really don’t like touching, or having anyone touching it! It feels super weird. I don’t mind other’s belly buttons though!

    Oh, and I so recognize the habit change to. I admit my habits have changed some as well.

    Nice to meet you! 😀 Thanks for stopping by.

    • It’s nice to meet you, too, Rebecca!

  • Sorry but I had to laugh at the belly button thing 🙂 And I’m so with you about reading 1 book at a time way back when, and now being in the middle of a few is quite common – although I’m not quite up to 8 🙂

    • You don’t need to apologize. Even I recognize that it’s kind of goofy, but that’s the thing about irrational fears, isn’t it? They just aren’t rational. Haha!

  • I can’t believe you are cheating on your books. 🙂 I can rarely read more than one books at a time. I get a bit confused and as I am already a bit lost upstairs I have to keep confusion to a minimum. That is awesome about the belly buttons. I am glad to know there is one person out there I wouldn’t have to be worried would want to touch my pregnant belly. I just don’t get the urge to rub pregnant bellies. Trust me I am not a good luck charm. I understand the stay-at-home thing. I don’t know I would label myself a domestic goddess, more power to you. But I don’t often feel I belong. I am far too selfish.

    Glad to meet you and hope to see you around again at ABEA.

    • The rubbing pregnant bellies thing is weird–I don’t know why people do that. I think I would slap their hands. Hahaha! So no, you definitely wouldn’t have to worry about me touching your belly, belly button fear or not.

      I’m also too selfish to enjoy being a stay-at-home. The only thing I really like about it is the huge amount of time it gives me to read. I’d never be able to read as much as I do if I had a job outside the home.

      Nice meeting you, too, and thank you for stopping by to comment! Have a great week!

  • I’ve never heard of the belly button thing before. I think it’s weird and kind of cool at the same time. 😉 I checked out Invisible Man last week. I can’t wait to read it. Just in case you didn’t know, I am so glad that we’ve “met”. You’re a wonderful blogger and always inspire me to read (and write) more. 🙂

    • Aw, Vasilly… thank you so much. That just made my whole day and made me a little teary-eyed. 🙂 I am so glad we “met,” too. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you and sharing book recommendations.

  • I just bought The Sense of an Ending and I also love John Irving! I also like the feeling of using my brain that writing my blog gives me as I’m a domestic goddess too…except you know, I don’t actually -like- cooking. Or cleaning!

    • I haaaaate cooking and cleaning. “Domestic Goddess” is really an empty title. HAHAHA!

      I look forward to hearing what you think of The Sense of an Ending. And three cheers for John Irving!

  • It’s nice to meet you 🙂 I think I am going to introduce myself as a ‘Domestic Goddess’ now, it sounds great!

    • You should! It’s much less Martha Stewart-y. Haha!

  • Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog

    I will admit, the belly button thing is weird LOL! But you aren’t the first person I’ve heard of to have that kind of aversion, actually, so it’s not really that weird!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    • It’s weird, but I’m okay with that…especially now that I know I’m not the only one! Hahaha!

  • I’m okay with belly buttons, but long nails on anyone will get me gagging. I used to work in a bank and was forced to handle money from some of the most unkept and disgusting hands/nails I have ever seen. Even my family cannot touch me with their nails before I start shuddering. Yuck.

    • I’m not a fan of really long nails, either. I keep mine clipped all the way down for a few reasons, but mainly because I’m a germaphobe and I can’t stand the thought of invisible yucky stuff getting caught underneath them. *shudders*

      Thank you for sharing your phobia with me!

  • Love the blog, Heather! I am taking a look at your current reads, as they have grabbed my interest. Thanks!

    • Thank you for checking it out, Kathy!

  • I’ve been a reader of your blog for a while now but it’s nice to finally “meet” you! I totally agree that blogging has definitely opened me up to reading outside of my book comfort zone and I’ve discovered some awesome stories that way. Which, has become my favorite part of blogging!

    • Discovering all of those wonderful books is a blessing and a curse, though. I am learning about them faster than I can read them, and it’s so frustrating! Hahaha!

      Have a great week!

  • Wow – I completely get that about reading habits changing. It’s almost a necessity isn’t it?! Loved your responses!

    • It did become a necessity, so I’m glad that I was able to adapt. Thanks for stopping by, Donna!

  • Hey, Heather! I can’t stand to have anyone touching my ears, so I can understand your belly button aversion. It just squicks me out.

    • I know quite a few people who can’t stand having their ears touched, and I can understand why. It is kind of a sensitive area to begin with, like a belly button is. I certainly hate when a bug or something gets too close to an ear. Yuck.

  • Hello Heather! Nice to “meet” you. Thanks for the advice on my blog re: studying abroad. I’ll only be in England (University of Essex) for 2.5 months so I’ll have to explore & settle simultaneously, haha! Wow, the belly button thing is interesting! Belly buttons ARE kind of weird, come to think of it, LOL. Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂 I hope you have a fun ArmchairBEA week!

    • Whoops, sorry Heather I mixed your comment up with another re: studying abroad. But you are right, I AM excited (and a bit scared, LOL!)!

      • Haha! That’s ok! I’d be a bit scared, too, believe me. But I’m sure you’ll have a great experience. Thanks for checking out my post, and have a great week!

  • The way you feel about bellybuttons is exactly the way I feel about my throat. I hate people touching it and I hate watching people touching theirs… I’ve just bought In One Person – Irving is one of my favorite authors and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    • It’s so nice to hear how many people love John Irving’s writing. 🙂

      Not liking your throat touched is completely understandable, too. What I’ve noticed is that everyone who has some kind of issue like this, has an issue with a place on the body that’s rather sensitive. That makes sense.

      Thanks for checking out my blog!

      • It is weird though. Since having children and having them crawl all over me all the time, my throat issues have diminished somewhat though – still, I prefer people keeping their hands off their throats. And I hate watching men shave them!
        And John Irving is just plain amazing!

  • It’s so great to find out so much about you!

  • It has been hard finding the time to read, blog, and making bloggy friends since I had my sone a year and half ago, but it’s my adult time. Sometimes I willingly give up some of the little sleep I have for it. Like you, it keeps my mind sharp 🙂

    • I imagine your one-year-old takes up a lot of your time. It’s good that you still find sometime for yourself to read and blog. 🙂

  • And I thought I knew everything about you. 😉 That’s pretty bad because it’s hard to avoid the BB what with clothing and all. I wonder if there is a phobia name for it? LOL! I’m really going to have to read David Foster Wallace. If you’re that passionate about him, I have to at least give him a shot. I’m happy to say that TuesBookTalk was instrumental in your change to reading more than one book at a time and expanding your horizons. Yes! My brainwashing plan worked on one person anyway. *snicker*

    • There is a phobia name. Read the first four or five comments on this post. Hahaha! IT’S A REAL THING. 😀

      Shirts don’t usually bother me–just waistbands. Everything has to sit well below the waist.

      You have been a HUGE factor in the different books I’ve read. I think I’ve thanked you before, but if not, thank you.

  • Another “Domestic Goddess” with two little ones who joined the blogging world for the sake of my own sanity. And also because I like to think other people are intereste in what I have to say, because my 3yo certainly isn’t 😛 I don’t have an issue with belly buttons, but I cannot stand feet. They creep me out. I don’t even like mine, except when they’re painted all cute in the summer. Then they’re tolerable.

    • Feet are pretty gross. I’m not a fan of feet, either. Although I do like having my feet rubbed, but I leave my socks on. Hahaha!

    • Somehow I can’t make my 3yo listen to me either. Well, if I mention cookies, her ears work fine but else she always seem to have trouble hearing…

  • I like reading outside of my comfort zone. I’ve found some amazing books that way. 🙂