2020: Meet the Team —Betsy

Hayley plays interviewer to introduce the Redeemed Reader team. Today, she’s chatting with our managing editor and staff writer, Betsy Farquhar.

Last year we started our meet the team with some memories.  What is a fun book memory from this past year?  (It could be reading aloud, discovering an exciting new book, meeting an author, or some other bookish memory.)

One of my favorite bookish experiences in 2019 was working on the Faith, Fiction, and Fellowship Read Along.* I got to know three of the authors better (Elizabeth Byler Younts, Christina Fox, and Mitali Perkins) because I had email conversations with them, some actual phone conversations, and a zoom interview with each.

*We’re in the process of updating these materials; if you purchase it before the update is released, you will get an updated link when those materials are ready.

They are such amazing Christian women whom the Lord is using in their various spheres. It was a highlight of my 2019 bookish experiences for sure. I haven’t read Younts’s newest book (The Bright Unknown), but I’m looking forward to it. I did get to read Mitali Perkins’s, Jason Reynolds’s (review coming), and Christina Fox’s newest books this year, so I’ve got The Bright Unknown on my radar for 2020.

Another fun memory was hearing Nate Wilson speak at Paideia NW in November. One of my 12 year-old boys was insanely jealous, but I did get his books signed.

As you like to ask, for Back Porch Book Chats, what is your preferred drink as you sit down with a book?  And do you have a favorite place to read?  (Or an animal that keeps you company? 😉)

Betsy’s Barley

My preferred beverage used to be hot tea (black, with milk). My Renaissance man hubby finally pulled me to the dark side, though, so I now drink coffee in the morning. Afternoon is always tea.

Ever since my children were born (my oldest is 14), that afternoon cup of tea is drunk while sitting down and reading a book. It’s an afternoon break I treasure, but I can only let myself read while actually drinking the tea (or I’d get swept away to Narnia, the land of the Tripods, WWI, or somewhere else fascinating and forget to re-emerge to make dinner or notice my people). I have a beloved dog named Barley who follows me around. If I’m sitting down, he’s likely lying on my feet and may even put his head in my lap.

Gotta love having a furry reading companion! Now, at Redeemed Reader, we all love books, but we also love to write.  What does your writing look like outside of Redeemed Reader?  How are ways you are improving as a writer?  

This year, my kids and I are going through Jonathan Rogers’s Grammar for Writers program. It is fantastic—I have found myself going back and editing some of my writing for Redeemed Reader with his information in mind. We do one lesson a day for a few weeks, and then my kids do Janie’s Wordsmith program for a few weeks, and the cycle continues. Incidentally, I did some of the Wordsmith lessons, too, and they were also helpful! We get in ruts with our writing, and it’s good to be forced to think of new words, new phrasings, new sentence patterns. I’m also keeping a nature journal, and this year, I’m journaling in my nature journal alongside reading Teale’s A Walk Through the Year. I’m anticipating growth in my nature writing/observations because I’m hoping his lovely writing will (subconsciously) influence my own descriptions.

You have a family of readers at home —what types of books are in high demand?  And outside of reading (naturally!) what are some activities your family enjoys.  I remember talk of board games . . . and I know you have a monthly ministry opportunity? 

We Farquhars are big on relationships, music, the outdoors, reading (naturally), and anything that offers us a chance to learn new things (including board games). Multiple instruments are practiced daily, and my husband and children all play on occasion at church (my husband is one of the church pianists/organists, so he plays regularly for church). We always have a family audiobook going for when we’re all 5 in the car together. Currently, our book is The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton.

This year, the kids and I are volunteering for Sacred Road Ministries on the Yakama Reservation. That is how I got to know Sarah Dempsen for the Back Porch Book Chat interview. My kids and I go once a month and help with the after school program. We are the song and dance act at the end of the afternoon: we teach some simple songs to the kids and are even dabbling in teaching the recorder. It’s been wonderful to see the Lord provide an opportunity for my kids to serve this way.

As for what books are in high demand, it’s quite a range. Currently, one of my 12 year olds and I are fighting over the first Tripods book (review coming!). The other two kids are waiting for us to finish book 1 so that they can pounce. This is my same son who enjoys The Mysterious Benedict Society books; he and I enjoy lots of the same books and neither of us reads quite as fast as the other two children. My husband and daughter are big Tolkien fans, so there’s often a Tolkien book in play somewhere—audio while they work on their wooden kayak together or a book with a sticky note bookmark in it. With the new Star Wars movie, some of the Star Wars novels are coming home from the library. And we recently discovered the Spiderwick Chronicles (review coming) and have been trading those around as well. They’re a bit “young” for my kids, but a fun book is still a fun read. Finally, my husband and I trade book recommendations back and forth, but those are frequently nonfiction titles. He read Range this past fall, and now I’m reading it.  

So many books in play! One more bookish question though. What is a book or quote you enjoyed this past month?

We always listen to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in December, and it’s getting funnier every year (or maybe we just know it well enough to start laughing before the funny parts happen). I also read New Kid at the very end of December (I thought it was the first book finished in 2020, but when I looked back, the date was December 30). It’s a fantastic graphic novel that Janie and I’ll be discussing for the Newbery Buzz Series.

Yes, I just finished New Kid, too! (And you didn’t hear us, but Betsy and I have been doing some fangirling about it behind the scenes 🙂)

Thank you, Betsy, for this fun interview!

If you’d like to read more of Betsy’s work: here’s a recent review, Major Impossible by Nathan Hale and don’t miss her reflection, 20/20: Reading More Clearly (or, Reading Resolutions for New Year’s). Check out last year’s Meet the Team: Betsy for more information (and pictures!).

Don’t miss the other Meet the Team Interviews!

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Hayley

Born in a library and raised by books, or rather, raised by a book-loving family, Hayley loves talking and writing about books. She lives in the middle of Wisconsin and works with children as well as with coffee.

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