May 15, 2013


May 12, 2013

55 Reading Questions and Answers

I was in a swap on Swap-bot where we were supposed to answer 20 out of 55 questions about books and reading, but I couldn't resist. I had to answer every last one! lol So here are the questions and answers!

1. Favorite childhood book?
The Secret Garden...I still love it and dream of visiting Yorkshire. I managed to make it to England but not that far north.

2. What are you reading right now?
I'm trying to reread Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen but the book keeps disappearing because my toddler hides it or else I fall asleep after one sentence--chasing a toddler all day will cause you to do that. I'm also reading Organizing From the Right Side of the Brain by Lee Silber because I'm tired of living in a chaos that is mostly my own creation.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Weirdly enough, not a single one at the moment.

4. Bad book habit?
I try to read too many at once and end up not finishing them all. For instance, I am still halfway through Les Miserables (unabridged).

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi and Dressed for Death on CD by Donna Leon. The low number is due to several factors, including the fact that I have borrowed a book from a friend that I still haven't started and my daughter threw multiple tantrums in the library so I didn't check out any for her this time.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. Someday I might get one for reading books that are out of print and can only be accessed online or in European archives.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Lots of books at once always!

8.Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No. I do sometimes try to read a book here and there that pertains to the subject matter of my blog, hence the How to Have Style book, which I expect to be pretty offensive, but overall I just read whatever the heck I want to.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
Without a doubt, The Hunger Games. I know everyone loved it but I thought it was an incredibly overhyped piece of trash that is more likely to get kids wanting to kill each other for sport rather than see what horrors governments can force us into. Considering that I am seeing things all over Facebook about people calling themselves "Tributes" and complaining that they don't get a chance to participate, I don't think I am exaggerating.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Big Fish by Daniel Wallace. The unconventional storytelling methods were a lot of fun and I loved how the Greek myths were woven into a normal man's mysterious life. I am looking forward to seeing how Tim Burton did the movie.

11.How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

I asked my husband on this so I'd give a true answer. Not extremely often, but sometimes. I definitely do not branch out into war and horror very much--despite being a dark person with a lot of violence in her soul, I prefer to try to be a hippie and avoid a lot of that if I can. That said, this year I decided to give manga (Black Butler) a shot and it has been pretty darn violent and dark. And I have been both disturbed and enthralled. Not sure what lesson to take from that.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I'm really not sure I have one anymore. I guess my comfort zone is British lit, mysteries, fantasy, children's books, poetry that isn't too hung up on Freud, ancient history and archaeology, craft books.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I used to all the time when I was in school. It was the only way I survived, I think. Our bus ride was usually about 1 1/2 hours long and it was either read or listen to pure filth and hatred (usually against women and ethnic minorities) from the mouths of the kids around me.

14. Favorite place to read?
lol the bathtub! When the hot water runs out I drain it and add more. When we have hot water that is. Right now we have no working hot water heater so baths are ice cold.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I only lend to people I know really well, who actually read books and are likely to give them back. But then, honestly, I know so few people who read that this is almost a silly question.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
NO! The dog ear, it is evil! It is better than spine breaking, though. Spine breakers should die.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Only if it is a scholarly work and I am making scholarly notes so that I can understand better. For instance, poetry or history,and then I use pencil. I am especially likely to do this in a book that involves a foreign language and which has no footnotes! You should see my copies of the Eddas lol

18. Not even with text books?
See above.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
English, sad to say. I also enjoy Middle English, though I am not fluent in it, and can read French enough to get by sometimes. I have a small collection of books in French for practicing but rarely can remember where they are or have time to go over them when I do. I have days when I love to go through and try to read books that are in German or Latin or Welsh just for the fun of it.

20. What makes you love a book?
This is probably the most obvious question and yet the hardest to pin down an answer to! I think if it is fiction, there needs to be a good story, realistic characters that can be identified with or envied (for example, Sherlock Holmes isn't someone I can identify with as much as someone I would LOVE to be), archetypal elements, beautiful phrasing and inspired word choices, either minimalism or lush description (Jane Austen vs. Thomas Hardy), careful decisions about what is important and necessary to the narrative and everything unnecessary left out (and she who says this loves Dickens! lol). A lot of my favourite books have palpable atmosphere and a strong sense of place--yes, I'm looking at you, Neil Gaiman and G.K. Chesterton! A melancholy thread helps too...I'm thinking of the writers aforementioned and also Ray Bradbury and Shakespeare ("youth's a stuff will not endure....")and even A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh). All of life and death must be wrapped up in a book for me to love it completely. Or in the case of Jane Austen, just life will do, for she is perfection.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I recommend books either because I am certain that a particular person will enjoy a book or that they need to get the message that book contains, or on a whim that even I don't understand. I once gave my truly insane mother-in-law my copy of The Mistress of Spices. I wish I hadn't and I have no idea why I felt that urge to share it with her. She hates reading and only likes to shoot deer and mentally torture people. Who knows. I like to think that one day she will pick it up on a whim and have an epiphany about what it means to be a woman and our kinship as fellow females. Then she will choose to get psychiatric help, we will be able to stop running from her, and we can all be a happy family. We all can dream, right? lol

22. Favorite genre?
I guess I will have to go with classics, but really, that's not a genre. The classics are so varied! I love mysteries but also stories like Little Women about normal women living normal lives, the brilliant adventures of the incredible folks Dickens comes up with, as well as fun old gothics--Daphne Dumaurier is the best!--and whatever on earth one would call Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman. Not to mention high fantasy (The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings for example) and myths and legends. Oh gosh, I left out poetry! This is too hard!

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
I don't read philosophy very much but it is very interesting and I really should give it more of a try.

24. Favourite biography?
Louisa May Alcott by Madeline B. Stern It has the most detail and goes the least into silly speculation of any of them.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
I've read a few. The most interesting I've found is called Women Who Run with the Wolves and I like it because it blends psychology with archetypes from myths and legends and fairytales.

26. Favourite cookbook?
For fun, Amy Sedaris's book I Like You, Hospitality Under the Influence (warning: content that some will find offensive). The one I actually use the most: Addy's Cookbook from American Girl. Yep, it's meant for kids, but it has the best biscuit recipe, the best fried apple recipe, a great sweet potato pone recipe, shortbread recipe, etc. Seriously, if you like Southern food, this is the one to get!

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. I loved its message of female friendship bonds needing to be tightened and protected, even though I was annoyed that no one actually ever kept a peach! lol

28. Favorite reading snack?

Ramen noodles straight from the package and cheap wine mixed with tonic water or just straight tonic water--love that stuff.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was really hyped--there were a lot of reviews in a lot of magazines describing it as something completely new, and in the end it seemed like I was reading something I'd read before, or rather a mish-mash of several books I was already familiar with. I realized that I was judging it more on the hype than on the book's own merits, and that isn't really fair.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Not very often. They often hate the parts I think are best and vice versa.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
If the book truly deserves it, I feel I have no choice. I do try to be fair and not use overly negative language, and often get a friend to read the review before publishing it to my blog. That can help to keep it toned down.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? Japanese, so that I could read manga in its original language. I really really want to learn Welsh, Ancient Greek, Latin and fluent French too though!

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? I'm not really sure. Maybe A Clockwork Orange? At first I was afraid I wouldn't be able to understand it or that it would be too much for me to handle, but I ended up being just blown away by it. I've got to read some more of Burgess's work!

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Finnegan's Wake! If you never have done this, just open it up at random and you'll probably see what I mean. My big goal in life is to be able to read this book and understand it without having to use any notes or anything. I'm thinking I will need to wait until I am pretty old and keep working on the Irish history and Celtic mythology and languages.

35. Favorite Poet?
How about top 3? W.B. Yeats, Christina Rosetti, and Sappho

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Now that I live near the library, about 5 for myself and the same number for my daughter.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? It happens about every few weeks, actually. I just recheck them when I'm ready for them.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Jo March...or Sherlock Holmes grrrrr I can't pick just one

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Madame Thenardier--seriously, I can't think of anyone more evil than that!

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
a Martha Grimes Richard Jury mystery, The Pickwick Papers, something by James Herriot or Maeve Binchy. It can get pretty random.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I think a week when I was banned from reading as punishment by my parents.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Just recently I stopped reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay because I felt uncomfortable with the amount of very unnecessary and at times apparently random sexual description. I may pick it up again at some point because the story was very good and I love Chabon's writing style overall, but I felt that he needed to edit this work more. And yes, I know it won the Pulitzer. lol

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
A cat or my toddler climbing on top of the book and sitting on it.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
This is a tough one! Probably A&E's Pride and Prejudice, although I also love the movie version of Nicholas Nickleby and the Masterpiece Theatre version of David Copperfield that had Daniel Radcliffe in it. Basically see my Swap-bot profile for lots more.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
That dreadful Keira Knightley adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I nearly threw up at the ending lol. Prince Caspian was horrible too--taking a sweet fairy tale and making it into a long war movie like that! Ugh.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Unless you count shopping for textbooks, probably about $50. I usually don't have much money so that's a lot to me.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Almost never. I usually do read the back though.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If it contained something I couldn't handle, like extremely graphic violence or gratuitous sex, or hit a nerve during a rough time in my life, I might stop reading it. Sometimes I skip pages if it seems to be an isolated incident within the book. I never used to do that but a friend taught me that there are no book police who are going to arrest me if I skip.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I am trying to get them all shelved by type (poetry, children's fiction, fantasy, science fiction, general fiction, mythology, etc) and then by author. We have an entire room for books so it is taking a while! We actually need a few more shelves so some books are still piled in stacks of boxes. And then there are the stacks beside my bed, on top of the couch, on the coffee table, in the car, etc. These are books I intend to read soon.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Unless a book is pretty awful, I'm into keeping. But that has gotten out of control so now, once I read a mystery or a general fiction, if it is not part of a series I collect or of a certain quality (i.e. is it good enough to read again even once the mystery is known to me?) I find a new home for it.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Not in particular. I try to avoid anything that is intentionally gross (blood and guts or potty humour) or full of things like incest or BDSM, or that I feel will be harmful to my soul (a lot of horror falls into that category).

52. Name a book that made you angry.
lol The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. I read it in 8th grade and threw it across the room when I finished it, I was so mad. I won't tell you why, but let's just say she bloody went and broke a HUGE rule that is implied in every single detective novel you have ever read and it was so unfair. I am still mad when I think about it to this day and I am 29 now lol.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I had never really read fantasy at that time and had been fed full of stuff about how evil and demonic Harry Potter was, but one day I got curious and decided to find out for myself what it was like. I was hooked from the first sentence!

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
I would have to say A Game of Thrones on this one. A lot of friends recommended this book to me based on my love for the works of Tolkien and it is just not anywhere near the same calibre. On top of that, I really didn't like the detailed incest scenes. I quit reading it.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
P.G. Wodehouse, especially the Jeeves and Blandings Castle stories! I could probably recite some of them in my sleep.