1. Favorite childhood book?
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
2. What are you reading right now?
The Radiant Way by Margaret Drabble
Coronation by Paul Gallico
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
4. Bad book habit?
Buying too many.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing (see #4)
6. Do you have an e-reader?
No, and I never will. I love the look, feel, and smell of real books. I have said on more than one occasion that if they stopped publishing real books I would still have a universe of books that I could pass the time with until I died.
And speaking of e-readers: The other day on the Metro the woman sitting next to me (in her 60s or so) was reading from an e-reader. I looked over to see if I could see what she was reading. And there, right at the top of the “page” in type MUCH larger than anything in a real book I saw the following: “He had a huge cock.” I quickly look away lest one of us get embarrassed.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read more now. I remember more now since I am writing reviews of most every book I finish. And I read fewer bad books now. Mainly because I have found kindred spirits in the blogosphere that help me weed through the chaff.
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Almost impossible to answer. For the most part naming a least favorite would reflect too poorly on what are pretty much all good books. But, I guess I would say the Penguin English Journeys series in general. I tried to read all 20 of them in April and the concentrated nature of the task it made them all seem rather tiresome.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Also very hard to answer. Stoner by John Williams and The Awakening by Kate Chopin.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Fairly often, but I have a pretty broad comfort zone. Although I guess looking at my books read some might disagree. Themes that I almost universally hate are sports, magic, circuses, well, almost anything supernatural.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I have a sub-section of my comfort zone I call the cozy zone. That would focus on genteel, British ladies drinking tea. The broader comfort zone includes all kinds of literary fiction that aren’t afraid to be mundane. I particularly like coming of age stories, independent women finding themselves, job-related stories, and of course bookish characters/settings.
13. Can you read on the bus?
Subway, yes. Bus, sometimes. It makes me a bit motion sick.
14. Favorite place to read?
Haven’t found it yet. But generally in bed.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
As I fetishize books more and more as objects I am finding it harder to lend them out.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Only when it is a mass market edition that is falling apart.
18. Not even with text books?
Text books are different (and a long time ago).
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
20. What makes you love a book?
Such a difficult question. If I had to pick what one theme is most likely to make me love a book I would say characters who undergo a positive, radical (at least for them) transformation.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
In real life I don’t do much recommending. On my blog I tend to get enthusiastic about many books but try to give enough description to give my readers the chance to make up their own mind.
22. Favorite genre?
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Definitely non-fiction. I almost never read it. I like my reading life quite a lot, so I don’t with this one too much.
24. Favorite biography?
A Girl From Yamhill a memoir by Beverly Cleary
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Do diet books count? The South Beach Diet. I used to work at Barnes and Noble years ago and every time someone came in with a list of self-help titles they were looking for I always wanted to walk them over to fiction. I think one learns much more about oneself and how to cope with life from fiction than from self-help.
26. Favorite cookbook?
I find that most cookbooks have only a handful of recipes I ever try. I may want to try more, but I seem to get stuck on just a handful. Like travel guides I never find the perfect one, because it doesn’t exist.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
28. Favorite reading snack?
As much as I love eating I tend to not do it while reading. Too messy.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson. I found it just okay.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Traditional professional critics? Almost never.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I have only ever accepted one ARC so I don’t feel beholden to any author or publisher. Sometimes I edit my true thoughts down a bit to not offend some of my favorite bloggers. Yes, peer pressure is alive and well at age 41. But frankly there are some wonderful bloggers out there with whom I don’t want to pick a fight. It doesn’t mean I don’t say what I think I just am less negative than I may want to be. On the other hand if I am not worried about that I would have no problem going after a book I thought was a piece of crap.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Anything by Faulkner or Joyce.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Anything Faulkner or Joyce.
35. Favorite Poet?
Without question, Walt Whitman.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Zero these days. When I used to be in library mode I would say about 7 to 10 at a time.
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
About 30% of the time.
38. Favorite fictional character?
Tepper from Tepper Isn’t Going Out by Calvin Trillin
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Widow Barnaby in Widow Barnaby by Fanny Trollope
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
I choose editions that are cheap enough that I can leave them behind to make way for other things in the suitcase.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I don’t understand the question.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Divine Comedy by Dante. I found it kind of interesting, and I know there are larger lessons to be drawn from it, but the fantastical world created in it just kept reminding me of the hocus pocus aspects of organized religions that can turn the less rational among us into willing, believing, participants in a dogmatic, supernatural magic show.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
A Room With a View (the 1985 Merchant-Ivory production, not the more recent travesty of an adaptation)
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The recent big screen version of Brideshead Revisited. I love the book too much to have it distilled down into anything less than greatness. (Greatness had, of course, already been realized for this book in the early 1980s television series.)
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I am not going to answer this one, but it was on my recent trip to Powell’s in Portland.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Ususally I just read a few lines here and there. I don’t think it would count as skimming.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
I do Nancy Pearl’s rule of 50, so I tend to put losers down at page 50. But sometimes they sneak through anyway. I have no trouble leaving a book behind if it starts to feel like my life is slipping by and I am stuck reading an odious book.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes, but I also like to reorganize and reorganize just for fun.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Not really because I only focus on the ones I am looking forward to reading.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill. In a crime of bait and switch, Hill’s interesting premise was undermined by the fact that she either ignored it or was unable to deliver the goods.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Brontes Went to Woolworths
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Anything by Nevil Shute or Elinor Lipman