Saturday, January 18, 2014

Speaking of Books

I'm a little late to the party with this, but better late than never, as the saying goes. This comprehensive book questionnaire has been making the rounds among the usual suspects (i.e. Jenny, Abigail, Bree, Elizabeth Rose...), and it seemed like just the thing to fill a blog slot on a crazy weekend. Because, you know, if you love books you never get tired of talking about books.
1. Your favourite book as a child? At an early age, it was probably Winnie-the-Pooh; a little later and it was bound to be something by Marguerite Henry.

2. What are you reading right now? I'm about to start Thorofare by Christopher Morley and The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.

3. What books do you have on request at the library? Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge.

4. Bad book habit. Leaving paperbacks open and upside-down at my current page...I've gotten a lot better at this over the years, but I think I still do it occasionally.

5. What do you currently have checked out from your library? They Were Expendable by William L. White and No Highway by Nevil Shute.

6. Do you have an e-reader? Yes, and I love it. Don't worry, I shall never turn up my nose at a "real book," but I love the convenience of my Kindle and the books it has given me access to.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or do you tend to read several at once? It's usually one at a time, but I do sometimes read something lighter on the side during the course of working through a long and substantial novel.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? More since getting a Kindle, but blogging and Goodreads have played into it. I think I've probably read a little more, and discovered more new-to-me books (particularly older books and Westerns) through browsing online and through other readers' recommendations.

9. What was your least favourite book this year? I'll take that to refer to 2013, since I haven't really had time to read something I dislike in this one. The Strange Schemes of Randolph Mason, which was more a demonstration of dubious legal loopholes than a book, left me rather unenthused.

10. What was your favourite book this year? Well, I guess you already know what my favorite 2013 read was; I've mentioned it enough. Referring to 2014 this time, The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Not very often. I've been nudging a tiny bit outside it lately, though.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? I think I sort of cover that below on question #22.

13. Can you read in the car? I can't even glance at a page of print without promptly getting carsick.

14. Where is your favourite place to read? Curled up in a corner of the couch in our parlor.

15. What is your policy on book-lending? Let's just say it doesn't happen too often.

16. Do you ever dog-ear in books? No. When I read for research I often mark pages with scraps of sticky notes.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? No. I penciled in a correction of a misprint once, but that's about it.

18. What about text books? I haven't touched a textbook in years, but I can't recall ever marking them unless they were fill-in-the-blank.

19. What is your favourite language to read in? English, 'cause it's the only one I can read in.

20. What makes you love a book? A combination of good characters, beautiful writing, and a story full of interest. One or two of these things is enough to make me like a book, but when they're all present, look out!

21. What would inspire you to recommend a book? See above.

22. What is your favourite genre?  Is 'Old Books' a genre? That would cover both classics and popular fiction of old.

23. What is a genre you rarely read but wish that you did? Poetry. If that's a genre.

24. Favourite biography? If David McCullough's Mornings on Horseback counts (being a partial biography of multiple people in a family), then certainly that one.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? Aside from a few books on writing, I don't think so.

26. Favourite cookbook? Well, most of my favorite recipes come off the handwritten cards in my mom's recipe box. But I like my Better Homes and Gardens 75th anniversary edition cookbook a lot (it has my favorite biscuit recipe, for one).

27. What is the most inspirational book you have read this year? Still speaking of 2013...probably A Secret Gift. Really gives you a sympathy and admiration for the people who weathered the Great Depression.

28. Favourite reading snack? Chocolate (preferably dark) and/or peppermint candy. Of course one can't go on snacking on chocolate indefinitely, so the game is to see how many pages you can make a single square last.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. It hasn't happened yet.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? Well, I seldom read the same books as the critics, so I don't often get the chance to agree or disagree.

31. How do you feel about giving negative reviews? If I don't like a book, usually I prefer to say nothing. But with the star-rating system on Goodreads, I sometimes feel called upon to at least briefly explain why I gave it a lower rating. It depends on the book.

32. If you could read a foreign language, which would you choose? French, so I could understand all the bits that the authors of the classics are forever scattering through their pages.

33. What was the most intimidating book you've ever read? Probably Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. I battled my way through it some years ago, but don't have the clearest recollection of how it went, so I ought to attack it again one of these days.

34. What is the most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin? I've heard tales about The Count of Monte Cristo being quite a monster.

35. Who is your favourite poet? I haven't really read enough poetry to answer this question intelligently, but right now I'd probably say Walter Scott.

36. On average, how many books do you have checked out of the library at any given time? An average of three, I'd say.

37. How often do you return books to the library unread? Rarely. Once or twice I've looked over a book and decided it wasn't for me; and perhaps once I've had to return something because I checked out too many to read before they fell due.

38. Who are your favourite fictional characters? Oh, the dreaded question! There's just too many answers. Can't I say everybody in Westward Ho! and Hans Brinker and Captains Courageous and A Christmas Carol? No? Well, all right, I'll try a few. Hercule Poirot, of course. Jeeves and Wooster. Bob "Tiger Eye" Reeves in Tiger Eye by B.M. Bower. Susan Baker in Rilla of Ingleside.

39. Who is your favourite fictional villain? Pecksniff and Jonas in Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit are a great pair to despise, each entirely in their own style.

40. What are the books you are most likely to take on vacation? If I was going away on vacation, probably a couple of tried-and-true favorites. There'd be too much to see and do to concentrate properly on a new book.

41. What is the longest you have gone without reading? Can't say exactly, but surely not more than a week.

42. Name a book that you could not or would not finish. This is hopelessly cliché, of course, but I never got more than a few chapters into Moby-Dick.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading? Noise. It's harder to read in a room where the TV is on or where people are having a conversation.

44. What is your favourite film adaptation of a novel? Though there's plenty of good miniseries (I think we all know which ones I'm talking about), I'll stick to feature films here and say Sense and Sensibility (1995), which is also one of my all-time favorite movies.

45. What is the most disappointing film adaptation? Anna Karenina (1935). I've seen my share of lackluster adaptations, but this one was simply A Mess.

46. What is the most money you have spent in a bookstore at one go? Between the library and Kindle, the last time I went to a bookstore for a whole armful of books was so long ago that I don't remember the price.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? I used to have a bad habit of sneaking a peek at the end, but I've largely cured that. I occasionally glance at one or two pages further back, just to get an idea what the book is like, but wouldn't you know I usually land on a Big Reveal moment in the plot.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? Typically, an amount of profanity or other objectionable content that I'm not comfortable with. I try to get a general idea of what a book is going to be like in that respect before I read it, so it doesn't happen too often. Otherwise, simply being so boring that I don't even feel the need to go on and see how it ends. That happens even less frequently.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Yes. My bookcase is arranged by genre and by size...but it's getting a little crowded.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you're done with them? Since I use the library a lot, I usually don't buy a book unless I know I want a copy of my own to re-read (or unless it's an out-of-print book I can't get any other way!).

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding? I've been waffling back and forth for years over whether I ought to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

52. Name a book that made you angry. I don't know about angry, but I was pretty disgusted with Chekhov's The Lady With the Dog and Other Stories. Seriously, don't read Chekhov unless you like depressed characters and hopeless endings.

53. A book you didn't expect to like, but did? I had no idea that To Kill a Mockingbird would turn out to be so good.

54. How about a book you expected to like, but didn't? I was eager to read Swords of Heaven by C.D. Baker after loving The List, but it didn't live up to expectations.

55. Favourite guilt-free pleasure reading? O. Henry. Pure entertainment, but sophisticated enough to give one the sense of reading something worthwhile.


Elizabeth Rose said...

1. I regret that I thought Winnie-the-Pooh below me when I was very small, so I only discovered Milne's charm in the past several years. I love reading them aloud to my youngest sister now, in hopes she won't be as foolish as I was. :P

6. I grudgingly acknowledged the convenience of an e-reader when I tried to smuggle five books in my bag on vacation last summer and struggled under the weight of 2,000 pages the whole trip. I still think not being able to see one's progress would be a downfall, but I'm more open to the general concept now. ;)

14. Oh, yes. And with a mug of tea on the coffee-table. ^.^

22. Old Books should definitely be a legitimate genre.

32. Yes! I was able to muddle my way through most of the French in The Last of the Mohicans, but my handle on the language is weak indeed.

34. Aye, but it's a monster well worth slaying.

38. Susan Baker is a perfectly wonderful character, "and that you may tie to."

44. I still love the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility, even though the BBC miniseries is longer and thus fits in more of the book. I think the individual actors do a better job of capturing the characters and the whole spirit of Austen's novel in the earlier adaption. The only exception I'd make would be S&S 2008's Dan Stevens, who made a marvelous Edward Ferrars.

53. Gah, I love that book to itty bits. ^.^

And on that note, I'll close this novel of a comment. Your post was a delight to read, Elisabeth, and it was fun to see the similarities in our reading habits.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I like novel-length comments. :)

My mom read the Winnie-the-Pooh books aloud to me when I was little, so I can still remember most of them forwards and backwards. And now since reading more Milne in the last few years I think I appreciate the humor of them even more than I used to.

I agree with you perfectly about Sense and Sensibility—ordinarily I like longer adaptations with more room to fit things from the book, but in this case I just think the movie was better done.

Sarah said...

Love these questions and your answers! Mind if I try them on my blog?

Hannah Scheele said...

These are good questions.
I agree about e-books. They're so cheap and convenient.
I agree about Susan Baker and glad to see you like Hans Brinker too. I've always thought Peter was a super nice guy.
Wow, you made it through Crime and Punishment! I started it once and didn't finish---which is rare with me, cuz I can plow through super long old books. Congrats. :)
Nice to see you read a lot of Dickens. Me too.
I agree about reading in a car. Not a good idea.