What book are you currently reading?
“I’m reading a lot of books. I generally read about three or four a week. One is called The Attack by Yasmina Khadra. It’s about a doctor, a Muslim living as a citizen in Israel. He works with Jews, and he’s never gotten into the conflict. Then, all of a sudden, he hears that his wife ended up being one of the bombers — the people who strap the explosives to themselves. First, he can’t believe that his wife did it. They had everything, and her best friend was a Jew. Then he’s kind of obsessed with finding out why she did it. He’s going all over — Jerusalem, Bethlehem. You’re trying to figure it out, too, and as he goes along, you see that he was so busy with his job that he was neglecting his wife, making her more of a dream. He just assumed everything was great — just like a lot of people who are oblivious to what’s going on.”
Tell me about the style.
“It starts out kind of strange, with a car explosion. It’s almost like the guy who’s talking is dead, like he’s out of himself. He’s talking about the bodies and how everyone is crying, and then he looks down and says, ‘Oh, my leg has been almost totally detached.’ That’s how it gets you going — Now I need to find out the rest of it. It’s suspenseful.”
What book has been most life-changing for you?
“Everybody says, ‘I grew up in a Christian home, so I must be a Christian.’ But that doesn’t mean that you are one. Everybody has to make a decision. I was at a low point in my life. I was very depressed; I thought there was no hope. But then I decided to go back to what I knew; I started reading the Bible. I was in a bad relationship, and I was looking for something to kind of glue myself together. I went to the Book of John, and it was almost like it was...giving me what I needed to see, what I needed to do. I was getting angry, like the man in The Attack — ‘I want to know who did this; I’m going to make them pay.’ But a lot of times, you can’t do that. You can’t correct the decisions people make. You can just correct yourself.”
Who are your favorite authors?
“I like C.S. Lewis; I just like his writing. I’ve always had this thing with men that are kind of strong, intelligent men. They call them ‘nerds’ now. There’s something stimulating about a man who really thinks. I like [Lewis’s] Mere Christianity, and a friend turned me on to his science-fiction trilogy.”
What magazines or newspapers do you read?
“I generally don’t read newspapers. On 30th off of University, there used to be a newspaper store — you could get papers from all over the world. If I was going to read a newspaper, it would be from there, from another country. That way, you can get an outlook on what’s going on in that country. I travel a lot. I went all over.”
Do you talk to your friends about reading?
“I have this group of people; we pass along books. I do like when you can sit down and really discuss a book: ‘What did you see? What made you laugh? What made you angry?’ They meet once a month, but it’s always during the time when I’m working.”
Name: Mary Jane Oliver | Age: 57 | Occupation: Bus Driver
Neighborhood: Golden Hill | Where interviewed: Barnes & Noble, Grossmont Center