Meet Our Writers: Kim Ukura

Jeff O'Neal

CEO and co-founder

Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.

We have a bunch of crazy-passionate book folk writing here at Book Riot, and we want you to get to know them a little. We asked them to answer some questions, and they did. Kim Ukura is a community newspaper editor and blogs about non-fiction and literary fiction at Sophisticated Dorkiness. Follow her on Twitter: @kimthedork



When did you begin to think of yourself as a reader?

I think I’ve always thought of myself as a reader. From the moment I could check out books for myself at the library, I was one of those kids that carried out stacks that were almost larger than I could manage. I always had at least one book with me when I left the house and would leave family gatherings and social events to read. I can’t ever remember thinking that was odd. No one in my family ever did anything to discourage me from reading. I feel like it’s always been part of my identity.

What is your favorite word?
Margaritas. Ok, just kidding, I’m just thinking about margaritas now because it’s a beautiful day and I want to be outside. Really, I can’t think of a favorite word.

What is your least favorite word?

Moist. I know that’s totally cliché, but that word always makes me squirm a little.

What is your genre kryptonite?

There are so many… I’ve already written about stunt memoirs and high school investigations, so… nonfiction with one-word titles, memoirs by foreign correspondents, memoirs about reading books, true crime… honestly, there are so many.

What is your literary pet peeve?

Pretentious memoirs. I can’t stand memoirs written by people who think they are better than you, or that glorify a troubling experience to gain sympathy or recognition.

What is your favorite quote/favorite line from a book?

My favorite quote is from Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” My favorite bookish quote is actually from Albus Dumbledore in, I think, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone movie, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

What is the craziest/funniest/nerdiest/most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done because of a book?

When the sixth book in the Harry Potter series came out (July 2005), I was living at home for the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at college. I was working part-time at Target and was scheduled to work the night of the release. One of the managers found out how absolutely crazy excited I was for the next book to come out, so after our nightly team meeting she pulled me aside and said she needed my help with something. We headed back to the electronics stock room, where she let me open up the super secret boxes that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was being stored in until after the store closed and it would be put out on the shelves. I got to flip through the book, read the first chapter, before I had to go back to stocking shelves. That’s not really crazy or embarrassing, but I must be a huge nerd if my glee about the books coming out was so palpable.

What’s your favorite Book Riot post that you’ve written? What’s your favorite that someone else wrote?

I was proud of a post I wrote about the book lists I’ll never read (I love, love, love writing book lists, and it was fun to share that nerdy obsession). For a similar reason, my favorite Book Riot feature is Genre Kryptonite – some of my favorites have been Jennifer’s Girls in Crumbling Estates and Rebecca’s “Losing My Religion” Memoirs.

What is the best thing about being a reader today?

The best thing about being a reader today is that there are so many ways to connect with other readers. The online book community is so vast and so active, it doesn’t take long to find readers that have tastes similar to yours to talk about great books with. That sort of virtual community building is amazing, and part of what I love about being a book blogger.

What do you do when you’re not writing for Book Riot?

By day, I work as an editor at a weekly, community newspaper. By night, I work on my blog, Sophisticated Dorkiness. I have two current blogging projects – one is to try and read an essay a day in 2012, and the other is helping organize an online discussion of nonfiction called the Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees (BAND). Each month, a different blogger posts a question related to reading nonfiction and others are invited to discuss it. I’d love to expand that project even more, perhaps host a monthly discussion about a nonfiction book, but we haven’t gotten there yet.

What’s the next book you can’t wait to read?

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – I bought it last month and am planning a buddy read with a fellow blogger. I can’t wait to read and discuss a book in-depth like that again.