Thursday 23 September 2010

Books and Books and some more Books

I saw this quite a while ago at Thomas' blog, and thought it looked fun... Do give it a go yourself!

1. Favourite childhood book?

As a child I read little but Enid Blyton - so it was probably one of the St. Clare's books. If we look earlier than that, it'll be one of the Mr. Men books. Still classics...

2. What are you reading right now?
Wait for Me! - Deborah Devonshire
Stories of the Strange and Sinister - Frank Baker
The English - Jeremy Paxman
The Backward Shadow - Lynne Reid Banks
Joy Street - Mirren Barford & Jock Lewis

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None at the moment....

4. Bad book habit?

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Loitering with Intent - Muriel Spark
Silent Playgrounds - Danuta Reah
If we're counting university libraries, then add another 20 or 30 titles to those...

6. Do you have an e-reader?
I don't, although I had a Sony Reader briefly. They very kindly gave it to me, even when I warned them that I probably wouldn't like it... well, it was better than I thought it would be, but I still gave it to my brother. Making it probably both the most expensive and cheapest gift I've ever given him...

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
See my list of current reads! I always have quite a few on the go.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Definitely - I read more modern literature, and a far wider range of authors. Although I still have my own defined reading tastes, I'm more likely to sample things suggested by all the bloggers I trust.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, if we're counting books I gave up on. Of those I finished, I was nonplussed by Turn of the Screw.

10. Favourite book you’ve read this year?
Nella Last's War. I can't see it being beaten this year.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Quite often, since most of my book group reads and review books will be outside that zone - and they make up at least half my reading, it seems!

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Literary fiction without violence, I suppose. It used to be a comfort zone of 1930s domesticity, but this has widened to encompass most literary fiction, especially when it comes with palatable dabs of the surreal.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Thankfully yes, but not cars. Especially when I'm driving.

14. Favourite place to read?
Curled up on my bed. Or sitting in a meadow by a river, if the weather is right.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I am always surprisingly happy to lend books, even posting them around the world - despite loving books as objects as well as their contents, and immediately forgetting when I've lent someone a book. I would be incredibly easy to steal from.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Oh, confession time... I did fold down a corner the other day, and felt awful... it was in the talk by F.C. Delius, and I didn't have a pencil to hand, and wanted to mark a page for review purposes. I feel a little better after confessing, but still awful.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
I do this increasingly, though only in pencil.

18. Not even with text books?
I don't think I've had a text book since A Level!

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
English. It's all I've got.

20. What makes you love a book?
Oh gosh! To make me really love a book, I would have to love the use of language, the delineation and interaction of characters, and there would have to be some humour in it, even if only momentary. And I'd have to share some vague sort of ethos with the author - or at least not be at loggerheads with them. But then some books will just knock down all my rules and be loved anyway.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
See above! That's for my blog - I assume my blog readers will be interested in recommendations - in 'real life' I am hesitant to recommend books, unless people ask. I wouldn't ever recommend something to people who say "But, of course, your taste will be too literary" - not because my taste is too literary, but because I know they don't really want any recommendations.

22. Favourite genre?
I don't really read specific genres... unless literary fiction is a genre?

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Pop-psychology, oddly enough.

24. Favourite biography?
A. A. Milne: His Life by Ann Thwaite.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No, I think I'm far too English and cynical. Plus I would probably turn to the Bible rather than something dreamed up in the late 90s. (If they do help people, that's fab - but I do wonder....?)

26. Favourite cookbook?
I almost never use cookbooks, because I'm not a very adventurous cook, but I do love Afternoon Teas, a baking cookbook my parents gave me.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
We're going back to Nella Last's War - such an astonishing book.

28. Favourite reading snack?
Bread and cheese - my favourite food anywhere, anytime.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I've no idea, because I never read what they say! I rarely read newly published books anyway, and those I do tend to go under the radar of professional critics.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I wouldn't do it for a book an author had sent me, or a small publisher. If it's by a famous author, or the author is long dead, then I'm happy to be more critical! I figure that James Joyce probably isn't that bothered by what I think.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?

Something Scandinavian. (This reminds me, I was reading a theory book the other day, and the author faux-modestly wrote "I'm afraid I can only read works in English, Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Scandinavian, so any other books I have had to read in translation." Eurgh.)

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Almost anything over 400pp.

35. Favourite Poet?
I don't really have one - hideously uncultured when it comes to poetry. My favourite poem is 'The Listeners' by Walter de la Mare, or Psalm 51.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
From the public library? Rarely more than one, and usually none. So many of my own books to read...

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Since I tend to only take out books I really want, I do end up reading most of 'em.

38. Favourite fictional character?
Do people get bored of me answering Miss Hargreaves (from Miss Hargreaves) for these sorts of questions?

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Hmm... I tend to dislike even the villains we're supposed to love. Oo, actually I do have one - but if I told you who it was, it would spoil the plot of the novel.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on holiday?
I don't really differentiate between holiday-reading and non-holiday-reading, except I use holidays to read exclusively indulgent things (rather than university work or book group choices.)

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
When I'm ill, my eyes are the first things to go - so probably when I had flu; about a week. Horrible, horrible.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
We Have to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
People told me it got better, but the first fifty pages were so badly written and irritating that I could get no further.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Does accidentally falling asleep count?

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?

That's easy, as it's also my favourite film - The Hours.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The 2005 Pride and Prejudice - although not that disappointing, since I had very low expectations.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Erm... £50? Maybe a bit more... in the Bookbarn in Somerset. Not much really, considering that's what each of my driving lessons cost.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Where is it that someone says "I've done some pretty dreadful things in my time, but I've never skipped to the end of a detective novel"?

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
It doesn't happen very often, but I'd have to be very bored, or repulsed, and just not be able to see any point in continuing.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes, but mostly so my parents can find books to send me when I want them!

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I beg your pardon? Keep of course! Sometimes I buy books I've borrowed and read, simply so I can own the books I've read.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
I don't really understand...?

52. Name a book that made you angry.
I do get annoyed by literary criticism which lazily assumes that you agree with their atheistic viewpoint.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Flight of the Falcon by Daphne du Maurier.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
I don't think any reading makes me feel guilty... but my pleasure reading, which I will return to time and again and always adore, is The Provincial Lady series by E. M. Delafield.


  1. Had to giggle at your answer to #49. I'm sure my parents would be much happier if I took inspiration from you! When I was away at university and all by books were on the other side of the country with my parents, it was a complex version of Kim's Game whenever I wanted them to find something and post it to me. I think it scared them a little that I could remember.

  2. I love Turn of the Screw! I've dying to read your update on it from your novella weekend!

  3. I like that you answered the St. Clare's books rather than Malory Towers.

    Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts about The Turn of the Screw.

  4. The Provincial Lady is absolutely my fall-back book as well. Wonderful.

    The Turn of the Screw is utter genius - I adore it. Seems that you didn't feel the same way? I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    Very entertaining post - I agree with you about accidentally falling asleep. I do it all the time - so annoying!

  5. Love this - must do it myself when I get time!

  6. These are some of my favorite types of posts. I laughed out loud at your "accidentally" falling asleep. That's becoming more of a norm than an accident for me. :)

  7. Maybe because I write about Texas, I long for wide-open spaces, and that may be why the hands-down favorite book from my childhood is still the classic: A Wrinkle In Time.

  8. I had fun reading yor answers. I agree with you that the more famous a writer or book is the less I worry about giving it a bad review. Not that I really give bad reviews because I don't usual finish reading books I don't like.

  9. Loved your answers, Simon. You are such a reasonable reader. I too don't like to read while I'm driving. Ha! Think I'll post my own answers sometime. It's fun to do this sort of thing.

  10. good writing man keep going but naver forget ti visit
    u can watch movie online

  11. what a great meme and a wonderful insight into what makes you the blogger and reader you are ,all the best stu

  12. "Especially when I am driving." Her.

    I refuse to watch the 2005 adaptation if Prude and Prejudice. Pfft.

  13. Oh for goodness sake. That's what I get for using Norbert (my iPhone) to write comments. Instead of Pfft it wanted to auto-correct to orgy.

  14. How lovely you are to send off one of your treasures in the mail to someone who wants to borrow it. I very rarely lend my books after one came back with coffee stains over 15 years ago!

  15. wow I love to turn down screw. I am happy because you read Wait for Me! - Deborah Devonshire. It is a must-read for completists, but chock full of enough fascinating miscellany to hold the attention of anyone unacquainted with this remarkable family and the circles in which they moved.


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