This bunch of questions showed up – I think on my tumblr dashboard – a while ago, and I’ve been meaning to do it ever since…
- Favorite childhood book?
Swallows and Amazons. Still up there, frankly. Nancy Blackett is my all-time hero.
- What are you reading right now?
Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer, which I started after Mandela died (but which has been on my shelf as My Next Gordimer for a while). Also Benefit of the Doubt by Greg Boyd.
- What books do you have on request at the library?
I don’t. I always mean to use the library more, and then forget. If @HollyJuneSmith is going to lend me The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P does that count as ‘on request’?
- Bad book habit?
Terrible Teen Vampire Fiction. Twilight – a car crash on crack that I can’t look away from. Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, the slightly higher quality drug I’m hooked up to.
- What do you currently have checked out at the library?
See above. In personal library borrowing-land still have my friend’s copy of Death Comes to Pemberley, but at this point it’s probably theft.
- Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, a Kindle. It’s great for portability but I still prefer dead-tree. I find it really hard to browse and pick a book to read next on the kindle.
- Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One of each type, if that makes sense. So I’ll normally have a novel, something non-fiction, and something specifically work-related on the go, plus maybe a collection of short stories to read one now-and-again.
- Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not a lot, really. But then I’ve had a blog for about a decade, so it’d be hard to tell.
- Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
This is from last year (since I wrote this in 2013)Taipei by Tao Lin. Ditched it.
- Favorite book you’ve read this year?
(Again, from last year…) The Art of Fielding by a good distance.
- How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Um, I’m not sure. Rarely I imagine, because my comfort zone is quite wide, but there is some stuff I just don’t read very much at all (things that end up in the chick-lit/romance sections of bookshops)
- What is your reading comfort zone?
See above. I used to be little Miss Classics and LitFic, but that has expanded dramatically, and now I often find generic LitFic generic.
- Can you read on the bus?
Yes, unless I start off with a headache.
- Favorite place to read?
Sprawled out on the sofa
- What is your policy on book lending?
Do it. Be prepared to lose them (but also not to lend to offenders again)
- Do you ever dog-ear books?
Not unless there’s no scrap of paper handy at all.
- Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
- Not even with text books?
All the bloody time.
- What is your favourite language to read in?
English is the only language I can read in. I can make sense of a few others, with a lot of effort, but that’s not reading.
- What makes you love a book?
I like it to be good? That’s not very helpful is it? I’m honestly not sure what the common theme is between Swallows and Amazons, Catch 22, Bleak House and Infinite Jest, other than than that though? Often they’re big and create worlds you can play in, often they have a healthy sense of the absurd, often they’re about big ideas. I think, mostly, I like humanity, so I like a book where the author also likes it.
- What will inspire you to recommend a book?
A combination of me having liked it and it being something that I think a certain person will like. It’s always got to fit the other person (there are some people I’m just not going to recommend Infinite Jest to, because I know it’s just not going to be for them).
- Favorite genre?
I can’t pick. I like lots of genres, but I’m not really deeply tied to any. I’m rooted in literary fiction, because of how I grew up reading, but it’s not my favourite – in fact, I’m probably more sceptical of it than any other genre (and it is a genre).
- Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Again, I can’t pick. I’ll take recommendations in all genres, but I don’t know if there’s any I wish I knew better – unless you count graphic novels as a genre (I don’t, I think they’re a medium). I’d like to read more by women, but again, definitely not a genre.
- Favourite biography?
I really don’t read a lot of biographies, so I’m struggling. Possibly Peter Ackroyd’s Dickens, which is the only one that’s really stuck in my memory.
- Have you ever read a self-help book?
I’ve read a few of the Christian ‘self-help’ books, but I don’t really like them. I’d rather read something theological on a topic than a book that’s about ‘doing better at faith’.
- Favourite cookbook?
Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries
- Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Probably All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson, which I re-read earlier this year at the end of a first through-read of the whole Bridge Trilogy. I don’t know how you get to be that prescient, but I’d like that skill.
- Favorite reading snack?
A cup of tea.
- Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Possibly The Yellow Birds this year.
- How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Moderately often. I don’t care about agreeing with them – I care about being able to tell where my tastes and their tastes connect so I can judge whether I might want to avoid something they love or read something they hate.
- How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
Pretty fine. Very little is irredeemable or wholly negative. Apart from the Da Vinci Code about which I do have nothing good to say.
- If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Either French (for Makine) or Japanese (for Murakami)
- Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Possibly Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace), which has a reputation for being difficult, or Against the Day (Thomas Pynchon), which has a reputation for being difficult and which I gave up on. Generally I’m not scared of books, and I’ve given up on reading things ‘because you’re supposed to’, so I don’t have to worry about pressure to read a thing for anyone else.
- Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I’m avoiding James Joyce – but more because I suspect it’s not worth it than out of nerves and intimidation.
- Favorite Poet?
Hmmmmm. Michael Rosen, maybe, hanging over from my childhood, or Simon Armitage.
- How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
- How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Once or twice
- Favorite fictional character?
- Favourite fictional villain?
Miss Slighcarp, in Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite books.
- Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies, till I’ve read the. Catch 22, which I can read endlessly.
- The longest I’ve gone without reading.
A couple of days, without reading a book. Hours without reading anything.
- Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
- What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Someone offering me tea.
- Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
LA Confidential. Amazing distillation of that book.
- Most disappointing film adaptation?
In the cinema I was most disappointed by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but overall, it’s got to be The Black Dahlia. I still have a dream that David Fincher will adapt that book with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.
- The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
In a store, probably around £35. On Amazon, you’re looking at between £50–60 on a Christmas money-splurge.
- How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I don’t. I read the back and go on reviews or recommendations.
- What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Boredom. Being so unwilling to read it that I stop reading across the board.
- Do you like to keep your books organised?
Alphabetically. Fiction and non-fiction.
- Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep. I’m a hoarder.
- Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Everything by James Joyce.
- Name a book that made you angry.
The Da Vinci Code. Hours of my life I’ll never get back. Just read Foucault’s Pendulum.
- A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Hmmm. Generally I don’t read a book expecting to dislike it, because why would I read it? Possibly The Women in Black, which I read after reading I’m the King of the Castle (also by Susan Hill) for school. I hated the latter, so I wasn’t expecting great things, but it was very effectively creepy.
- A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. The description suggested I’d like it. So did the recommendation by David Mitchell. But no.
- Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
I generally don’t think in terms of guilty pleasures – but if I want to curl up and relax with something comfortable I’ll go with Harry Potter or the Chalet School series.