How I Feel About Books in Fifty-Five Questions

Thanks to Mirriam (at whose feet we may lay the blame for many fun things) you may know my answers to these book-related questions.
fifty-five questions about books & me.
1.  Your favourite book as a child?  It would be a toss-up between The Silver Branch and The Last Battle.

2.  What are you reading right now?  The Last of the Mohicans.

3.  What books do you have on request at the library?  None.  I don't do libraries.  If I want a book, I buy it.

4.  Bad book habit.  I steal them.  From members of my family.  Without telling them.

5.  What do you currently have checked out from your library?  If we include our little church library, I should mention an old copy of The City of God and the copy of Practical Religion which I kind of "appropriated" and began underlining in...

6.  Do you have an e-reader?  No.

7.  Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or do you tend to read several at once?  I prefer to read them one at a time, but ain't nobody got time for that.

8.  Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?  I don't believe so.  I don't know that I necessarily write about the books I read more, either, as I am not naturally gifted with an analytical mind, and also I tend to fill my letters with monologues about my reading anyway.  Since joining the blogosphere, I have been privy to more recommendations, that's for sure!

9.  What was your least favourite book this year?  I would have to say The Tombs of Atuan, which is a nice book in its way, but it didn't have the sense of deftness in the writing and the cohesiveness I wanted in a fantasy novel.

10.  What was your FAVOURITE book this year?  Without a doubt that honour goes to The Grand Sophy, in all its hilarity, its strength of writing, its historical accuracy, its story-arc, its characters, and the brilliant time I had reading it.

11.  How often do you read out of your comfort zone?  Well, this is a nebulous question.  My comfort zone encompasses many genres, and when I think of "outside" my comfort zone, I generally think of "philosophies which are not my own, but which I might read for the purpose of acquainting myself with that view."  And no, I don't read those books as I should because (self-deprecation alert!) I'm lazy.

12.  What is your reading comfort zone?  Welp.  Again, across a wide field of genres, my comfort zone would be a skill of writing above that which I can currently attain, a visceral connection with the text, and the intuitive sense that the author has a firm grasp of either his story, his faith, or both. 

13.  Can you read in the car?  Absolutely not and I have never been able to.  I wonder that no one named me Puke-Guts as a child.  I could never seem to hold anything down...

14.  Where is your favourite place to read?  I don't believe I have one.  I like to be in a reading state of mind, which is the only thing which matters.  Unless I'm in the car.

15.  What is your policy on book-lending?  I'm a full-blooded hypocrite.  I'll take books, but unless you are part of my immediate family and I can drive to your house with a bayonet, I will not let you take my books.  I would rather buy you your own copy than risk losing my own.

16.  Do you ever dog-ear in books?  No.

17.  Do you ever write in the margins of your books?  Only my non-fiction books - and the same goes for underlining.

18.  What about text books?  I don't read text books.

19.  What is your favourite language to read in?  English, over which I have the most mastery.  I can limp through a touch of French, partly by context, partly from having been taught a little as a highschooler.  Latin is still beyond me, and Spanish is hard.  German is straight out.

20.  What makes you love a book?  The timing, the characters, the skill with which the author has crafted the story... 

21.  What would inspire you to recommend a book?  It depends on the book and it depends to whom I am making the recommendation.  Generally, if I think a book is any good, I will take into account the kind of person I am talking to and whether or not he or she may be compatible with the story.

22.  What is your favourite genre?  I don't think I have one.  I have favourite books from numerous different genres, and the older I get, and the more books I read, the harder it is for me to even have a favourite book.

23.  What is a genre you rarely read but wish that you did?  Theology.  I wouldn't say rarely, but I would like to have the drive to read more in that genre than I do.

24.  Favourite biography?  There is a genre I don't read much in.  Honestly, I would have to say Gaudy Night, even though that is not strictly a biography.  Cheatin'.  I'm supposed to read A Severe Mercy, and I have read Surprised By Joy (which is an autobiography) and I did enjoy Theodore Roosevelt's Oliver Cromwell...  But no, I look on the mountains of biographies which Abigail and my father read, I get a bit knotted in the gut, and despair.

25.  Have you ever read a self-help book?  No.  'Cause I'm just going to help myself anyway, or get someone more qualified to do the work for me.  No sense beating around the mulberry bush.

26.  Favourite cookbook?  One of my mother's.

27.  What is the most inspiration book you have read this year?  Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle, even though I haven't finished it yet.
"Awake from your dreams, I entreat you, and show yourselves men.  Think of the uselessness of living a life which you will be ashamed of when you die, and of having a mere nominal religion, which will just fail you when it is most needed."
28.  Favourite reading snack?  Cherry tomatoes. They are remarkably good for the complexion.

29.  Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.  I cannot recall any such instance, and seeing as, if the book were coming out, I would be offending a living author, and also seeing as, if the book were ardently recommended by a friend although the author is deceased, I would perforce be offending the friend, it seems safest to leave myself in ignorance of any such occurrence rather than actively try to hurt anyone's feelings.

30.  How often do you agree with critics about a book?  I don't read critical reviews.

31.  How do you feel about giving negative reviews?  I don't give them.  It is my own opinion to which I am entitled, and I see no reason to clog the internet with my negative views of a book.  People can always read the book and find out for themselves what they think.

32.  If you could read a foreign language, which would you choose?  Le poot.  I should probably choose Latin, because by extension I could muddle my way through any other Romantic texts, but I think I would rather learn French.  I used to hate it as a child (a product of my strong bent toward English history, even though French was the lingua franca of the island for a long time) but now I wish I had a better grasp of the language. 

33.  What was the most intimidating book you've ever read?  It was probably something for school.  No doubt something for philosophy or Church History class.  Something which I have since forgotten.  Oops.

34.  What is the most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?  When Christ and His Saints Slept, because it is massive and it is historical - and history is full of tyranny, tragedy, and destruction.

"It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of son of a bitch or another."
Malcolm Reynolds

35.  Who is your favourite poet?  I haven't read enough poetry to decide.

36.  On average, how many books do you have checked out of the library at any given time?  Again, none.  I don't even check them out of the church library - I just take them.  Which is monstrously horrible in a laughable way.

37.  How often do you return books to the library unread?  Apparently never.

38.  Who are your favourite fictional characters?  Oh.  Oh no.  You can't do that to me.  Fine.  Brandoch Daha (The Worm Ouroboros), Justin (The Silver Branch), Lord Peter Wimsey, Sophy Stanton-Lacy (The Grand Sophy), Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia), and I will make myself stop there.

39.  Who is your favourite fictional villain?  King Gorice XIII of Witchland (The Worm Ouroboros) and Tracy "Devil" Belmanoir, Duke of Andover (The Black Moth).

40.  What are the books you are most likely to take on vacation?  Any of my Georgette Heyer novels.  'Cause I'm lazy and I like ulcers.

41.  What is the longest you have gone without reading?  Maybe...five days?  That seems extreme.  I have never measured the time.  I read when I want to.

42.  Name a book that you could not or would not finish.  The White Mare by Jules Watson.

43.  What distracts you easily when you're reading?  The desire to go write.

44.  What is your favourite film adaptation of a novel?  I love the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice," but the BBC "Chronicles of Narnia" films hold a magical place in my heart.  And then of course there is Jeremy Brett.

45.  What is the most disappointing film adaptation?  That I have seen?  I can say that I never made it through the first ball scene of the Keira Knightley "Pride and Prejudice." 

46.  What is the most money you have spent in a bookstore at one go?  I get the books I want and I pay the nice people and then I leave and I don't look at my receipt.  I have no idea.

47.  How often do you skim a book before reading it?  I never skim. 

48.  What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?  A lack of connection with the story, an inability to sympathize with the view of the characters, a lack of morals...

49.  Do you like to keep your books organized?  I think it gives Abigail an actual pain when she comes over and sees the disharmony of my shelves...

50.  Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you're done with them?  If I actually make it through the book, chances are I at least mildly enjoyed it, and if I mildly enjoyed it I probably want my children to read it.

51.  Are there any books you've been avoiding?  When Christ and His Saints Slept...

52.  Name a book that made you angry.  There was one pointless novel I read back in middle school that was totally disrespectful of the Puritans in Holland.  It was crass and rude and by golly I despised it.  Jerks.

53.  A book you didn't expect to like, but did?  I was really not sure I was going to like Georgette Heyer's Bath Tangle because The Black Moth was not as good as The Grand Sophy, and I thought I might have been on a downhill spiral from there - but it was actually really fun.

54.  How about a book you expected to like, but didn't?  A Wizard of Earthsea.  I was hoping to like the Earthsea novels, but I haven't been able to engage with them.

55.  Favourite guilt-free pleasure reading?  Oh pisht!  The Scriptures. 

4 ripostes:

  1. Oh for goodness' sake just read When Christ and His Saints Slept already. It was you who gave it to me, right? Anyway, sit down with your teacup or what-have-you, open the cover, look at the first word, and then the next, and so on, left to right, top to bottom, putting the words together to form sentences. After a page or two you won't even notice that you're doing it - despite its heft it is quite a readable book.

  2. Yes, yes, I gave it to you, but wookies are not generally daunted by large objects. Also, I have to let most books "season," and some take years to do so. I laid the self-deprecation on thick: I'm perfectly willing to read it, after the approved fashion (one word after the other). But in addition to having always been a bit startled by the size of books (which is a fault I hate to admit, especially since I write giants), I am afraid that if I crack open When Christ and His Saints Slept several characters which are already breaking to the forefront of my awareness will not be held in check before I can get to their novel. You have to be careful about these things. The wrong book might make you slip and the whole carefully constructed pile of "I'll write this book and then this book, and this book follows this book" will come crashing down and you'll be left in a morass of inspiration with no way out.

    And now something tells me I'm going to read it anyway.

  3. Two things:

    1. Wookiee (n) - a large, bipedal mammalian species native to the planet Kashyyyk, or an individual of said species.

    2. I am well aware of the ways one's reading can infect one's writing - it's how the protagonist of my one novel took on more than a bit of Cornelius Suttree, and how my "current" WIP became something akin to "James Joyce goes to a baseball game" (only, y'know, without the alcoholic haze of impossibly dense symbology and onanistic euphemism). But a wise writer once told me that the only way to write well is to read well, and I imagine that the day one stops reading for fear of poisoning one's writing is the day one's writing becomes unreadable. Besides, and I base this on not much more evidence than has appeared on this'a here blog, notwithstanding, you are too much your own writer to be capsized entirely, and if this or any book does pull you in a new direction, I daresay it will be the right one, if not indeed the one you were expecting. So yes, you're going to read it anyway. But lest the hype get away from us I'll say this - it's good, and well worth the read, but it's not worldchanging.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to take Mr. Joyce to a baseball game. See ya!

  4. Thanks for a great article. And I hope to read it again.