Wednesday 29 April 2009

Getting to know you...

I think a few different people have done this quiz over the past few weeks, but I spotted it on Simon S's blog, and it looks like fun.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

That would be AA Milne, I think, or perhaps Agatha Christie pips him to the post. I've spent so long trying to find Milne's books, whereas you stumble across Christies whenever you go into a charity shop, so it feels like I have more by Milne.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Hmm... probably Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield, of which I have four copies. I have three copies of Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker, which will become four when the Bloomsbury edition comes out.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Yes, quite a lot.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Wouldn't be a secret if I told you, would it?

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Alway I re-read all the time as a child, it's only the last few years that I've started re-reading again. Once more I think Diary of a Provincial Lady has been read the most. And I've never heard of Goodnight Moon.

6) What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?
Gosh. I didn't list them in the way I do now. Ten years old... at that age I loved Goosebumps and Point Horror, actually, so it would have been something awful like The Girlfriend, which I'd be far too scared to read now.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Looking at the books I've read in 2009 so far, there's actually only one that I've really not liked - Blasted by Sarah Kane. Vile, graphic, disgusting, violent and horrible.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Excluding books I've re-read in 2009 - and there have been a lot this year - I think it's The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

9) If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?
I don't really like the idea of forcing everyone to read a book... but I would encourage everyone to read the Bible (or at least some of it) and Pride and Prejudice.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Goodness, I know so little about living authors... I literally can't think of anybody I think is worthy of it. All the authors I revere are dead.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Is it boring when I answer every question with Miss Hargreaves? I just see Maggie Smith in the title role, so vividly. Other than that, I think We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson would make an amazing film. Apparently it's been almost filmed many times.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Whilst I love Diary of a Provincial Lady, I don't think it would work at all as a film. And I don't want my cookbook to be made into a film.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
What a strange question! I can't remember any, but I'm sure I've dreamed about meeting Jane Austen.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
High School Musical: The Book of the Film, I think. I've never been tempted to try those awful celebrity autobiographies or cheap romances. I'm middlebrow through and through.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
That would be Ulysses I think, which was a real slog. There are quite a few books which aren't technically 'difficult' but I've found too dull to get through quickly.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
Is there such a thing as an obscure Shakespeare play?
I've not seen any obscure ones... All's Well That Ends Well? One I want to see when I can is Cymbeline, which doesn't seem to be produced much.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I've read two short books by 'the Russians' and one by 'the French', so I feel completely unqualified to answer...

18) Roth or Updike?
I've not read a word of either.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I've not even heard of these people! Wow, I feel badly read.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Ah, this is more like it. Definitely Shakespeare. I admire Chaucer, was a little bored by Milton, but love so much of Shakespeare - though the comedies and 'problem plays' more than the tragedies.

21) Austen or Eliot?
There wouldn't be many names to stand up to our Janey, so she is an easy winner of this category!

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
This questionnaire is providing quite a few... The more I read, the more I feel poorly read. To take a smattering, Great Expectations, Middlemarch, anything by Proust or Tolstoy or Hemingway or... so many.

23) What is your favourite novel?
Miss Hargreaves, Diary of a Provincial Lady and Pride and Prejudice continually fight it out.

24) Play?
Much Ado About Nothing or AA Milne's Mr. Pim Passes By

25) Poem?
'The Listeners' by Walter de la Mare

26) Essay?
Something by AA Milne. Or Ginny's A Room of One's Own, if that counts as an essay.

27) Short story?
'The Garden Party' by Katherine Mansfield

28) Work of nonfiction?
AA Milne's autobiography, It's Too Late Now.

29) Who is your favourite writer?
Mr. Milne to the fore once more. I think. Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf are coming up on the inside track.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Louis de Berniere, though I've only read one of his books, so perhaps the others aren't so awful. Lionel Shriver also dreadful.

31) What is your desert island book?
The Bible, though that's usually a given, isn't it? I could read Diary of a Provincial Lady over and over again and never tire of it.

32) And... what are you reading right now?
At the moment I'm reading Jane's Fame by Clare Harman, The Other Elizabeth Taylor by Nicola Beauman, The Paris Review Interviews vol.1. That's it, actually. Only three and they're all non-fiction.

I won't tag anyone, but it's a fun quiz and I recommend you have a go! Let me know in the comments if you have done so.


  1. I applaud you for having read Ulysses. I've always found it intimidating. I've thought about reading, but I don't think I'd enjoy it. And, if that's the case, why bother, you know?

  2. good grief man, you really need to read more! Start with Updike Poorhouse Fair. Never has there been better prose.

  3. Wow, bold statement 'anonymous' (if that is your real name) - and it might just cajoule me into reading it. Somehow I feel sure I won't like Updike...

    J.S.P. - no admiration necessary; we HAD to read it for a class. If I had my own way, I would never have done...

  4. I adore Diary of a Provincial Lady, too.
    I gave the meme a shot over at It was fun; thanks for pointing it out--

  5. I think I may have to pick up The Diary of a Provincial Lady soon! I've been meaning to anyway.

    Here's mine:

  6. "I've never been tempted to try those awful celebrity autobiographies"... I remember stumbling across you reading Nicole Kidman's autobiography once. You fibber.

  7. 18) Roth or Updike?
    I've not read a word of either.

    19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
    I've not even heard of these people! Wow, I feel badly read.

    Don't feel the least bit badly. I've read your blog a long time now, and share most of your tastes or at least I think I know what you like - these four fellows would not make you a happy reader. And you are one of the best read persons I've ever known.

  8. I know Updike can be long-winded, but his sentences are pondrously lovely and so exquisitely detailed (though this can make for heavy reading). His non-fiction and short personal essays are good fun, though.

  9. come on, break down and read a little Updike. The Music School is a fine collection of stories by him and will give you a taste of New England prose. And, excuse me, you haven't read Goodnight Moon? By the way, do you like any Australian authors?

  10. Yes, I like Updike. John Updike, specifically.

  11. Oh you have done this too brilliant. I love reading peoples answers to these its very enlightening!

  12. I cannot understand why, how or when Marina Warner decided to abandon her feminist principles and back derek walcott for the oxford chair of poetry given all the recent information that has emerged about the two, possibly three, female student sexual harrassment cases with which he has been implicated. What has happened to Marina? She must know about these cases so what is her logic as a woman, person, writer and feminist? See this debate for example

    Thanks, Rachel

  13. Hi Simon, here's another non sequitur comment for you:

    I have presented you with a couple of awards on my blog, as I have immensely enjoyed reading what you have said since I joined the blogosphere.

  14. Nan, what a lovely thing to say, thank you!

    And Mel, I KNEW you'd say that - which is why I carefully wrote AUTObiography. The Nicole Kidman was a biography.

  15. Whoa, Ulysses. I wonder when I'll get around to reading that.


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