Friday Friends: Barbara Khan and Baer Books

Good Morning, Friday Friends! It is my pleasure to feature my friends in the book community on Fridays. Please welcome my new friend and bibliophile Barbara Khan! 
1. So, tell us how you became involved in the book world? I have been an avid reader since childhood. I have always read daily. I used to read on the bus & subway, to and from work, when I lived in Boston for many years. I always have a book with me, doctor’s appt, traveling, etc. I was such a regular at my library the librarian knew my favorite authors and would place reserves without my asking! When my daughter was in 2nd grade a friend started a book club. I was the only mom who worked, but I was determined to attend the monthly meetings that occurred during my work day. We eventually switched to evenings, and we continued to meet for several years. Then a few members left and we slowly disbanded. Fast forward to my daughter being in high school and I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. One of the things she suggested to do is think of the things that your younger self used to love and do that. She also advocated for starting something to foster the thing(s) you love. I decided to restart the book club with some of the old members and some new. We still meet and have a great evening of book discussion once a month. Everyone brings something to eat or drink. We always have too much food & drink. Friends started relying on my book recommendations, so I started regularly reviewing on Goodreads about 4 years ago. From there I started a blog, but felt I could reach more people on social media, so I transitioned the blog and reviews to Facebook.
2. What are some books you liked about far off places? I am a travel advisor by trade,so I love to read about far off places. I specialize in Italy, so that’s high on my list. My husband is from Pakistan, so I do enjoy reading about the region, religion, and culture. The Far Pavilions by M.M.Kaye is a favorite book of that region. One of the most interesting books I read was many years ago about a Brit who went to a remote archipelago near New Guinea. He was there to teach the students and he just immersed himself in the culture. Many of the islanders only spoke pidgin English, but it was fascinating. Recently, I read A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton which takes place Japan. It was a favorite book of 2015 for me.
3. Tell us about Baer Books? Baer Books is named after my mom. Baer was her maiden name and she’s the one that made me the reader I am today, She took me weekly to our public library and we would walk to the Bookmobile in summer. We would both come home with a grocery sack each of books. Her rule about purses, it had to be large enough for a hardback book to fit, because she went everywhere with a book. The Facebook group, Baer Books, https://www.facebook.com/groups/899272610122986/ has almost 450 members (we’re one away actually!). I post reviews, recommendations, book news, book trailers, giveaways, and plan to start author interviews & features soon. I encourage members to post their reviews and recommendations as well.
4. What us one place you’d like to visit? I’d love to visit Japan. It has fascinated me since I was young. I want to take the bullet trains, explore the various neighborhoods of Tokyo, see the beauty of Kyoto,and stay in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) somewhere in a smaller town.
5. What is one unusual thing about you? I love to sing. I am a member of a ladies choir and I am often called upon to sing solos. I entered competitions when I was in middle and high school. I loved show choir (I am from a town 30 minutes the town where Glee was to have taken place) and drama. I dreamed of being on Broadway or singing in a cabaret or supper club.
6. What music inspires you? I am a big 80’s fan, but I love 70’s rock like Aerosmith, Queen, AC/DC, and Eagles. I love to listen to Broadway show tunes and belt them out with the best of them.
7. How many books did you read last year? I read 79 books in 2015.
8. Ranch or Blue Cheese? Usually ranch, but I’m learning to like blue cheese.
9. What are you reading right now? I just finished The Assistants by Camille Perri and posted my review on Baer Books.
10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days? We cancelled cable, so I watch Netflix and Hulu. I love House of Cards on Netflix, and I watch a lot documentaries and foreign films. Recently I enjoyed Bill Cunningham New York (about the NYT on the street fashion photographer), Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation, and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (about the women’s movement of the 60’s & 70’s).
11. Do you have a theme song? Not really, but I have a funny story. Our wedding theme song was Eye of the Tiger! The videographers in Pakistan, where we were married thought because it was such a popular song in 1987 they should use it on the video of our reception.
12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self? Take more chances, be afraid to fail, and find a way to pursue your musical passion.
13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today? I would just like to list some of my favorite authors. These are authors I have been reading for years,always read their book,and some may not be familiar to everyone. Jo Nesbo, Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, Deborah Crombie, and Sue Grafton. I love mysteries, thrillers,and historical fiction.

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Thank you for spending time with us, Barbara! See you in Baer Books!

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