Thursday, August 19, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Reading Questions

This week BTT has come up with a list of fifty-five (ouch!) questions about your reading life. It came from Lorette's Knitting Doctor blog. Lorette got it from Lisa who got it from Amy who got it from Chan who got it from.... Well, you know how that goes - it's been around for a while. But it's a new one for me. I'm not promising to answer all the questions, but I'll give it a shot. Here goes:

1. Favorite childhood book?
That would have to be a tie between Lewis Carroll's
Through the Looking-Glass, and a chunky book called 365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert. Oh, and I suppose Little Women would be a close runner-up.

2. What are you reading right now?
All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang, Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry, Juliet by Anne Fortier.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None at the moment. The last one I had was
Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I returned without reading - decided I'd better get some of these ARCs out of the way before getting started with such a long book.

4. Bad book habit?
Writing notes in the margins. Letting stray books pile themselves up in artless and precarious stacks.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
The McMurtry book (see no. 2, above). Also Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. Hoping to get to that one before I have to take it back, but it's not looking good.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
I have an
iPad which I've used as an e-reader (with the Kindle app).

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Well, I would probably
prefer to read one book at a time, but I'm not that disciplined; so I almost always have multiples going at any one time.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes, I'm happy to say they have. Back in the late '90s I realized that I hardly ever read for pleasure anymore. And that was disturbing because I had been a voracious reader all my life up to that point. But blogging about books has really nudged me back into reading.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Tinkers by Paul Harding.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Almost never. I read for the fun of it, so why would I want to be uncomfortable?

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I have pretty eclectic tastes, but most of what I read falls into the mystery-thriller or literary fiction genres. I don't read a lot of nonfiction (at least, not lately). And I stay away from anything about vampires, zombies, or werewolves. Don't read a lot of modern romance (although I used to read it in the past) and most historical romance doesn't interest me. Don't read what's referred to as "chick lit." I do read science fiction, but prefer the branch that doesn't involve fire-breathing monsters or a lot of Star Wars type battle action.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I try to avoid buses.

14. Favorite place to read?
I don't really have a favorite place - I just like it to be quiet with good lighting.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I don't mind lending to friends who I know will return the book (if I want it back). Don't really like lending to anyone I don't know well.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
I used to. These days, I try not to, but I have to admit that sometimes I back-slide.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

18. Not even with text books?
See above. (You're not listening.)

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English is not only my
favorite language to read in - it's the only language I can read in. Darn it.

20. What makes you love a book?
Many factors.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I'm always reluctant to recommend a book unless the person I'm recommending it to is someone I know really well. I usually try to fit the book to the potential reader - I know my tastes are not always mainstream.

22. Favorite genre?
See number 12, above.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
See number 12, above. But I don't really regret what I don't read. If there were a genre I
wished I read, I'd read it. Does that make sense?

24. Favorite biography?
I haven't read any biographies in recent years (although I
have read some autobiographies or memoirs). But a couple of my favorite biographies from years past are Virginia Woolf by Quentin Bell, and Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Oh, yeah. Back in the '60s and '70s weren't we all reading self-help books? We may not have called them that, of course. But I touched all the pop culture bases.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Well, I can't say that I really
read cookbooks (although I do have a small collection of them). The one cookbook I've actually used the most is The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer. Tried and true. My grandmother gave me a copy when I got married, and I've depended on it ever since. But I suppose my favorite cookbook would have to be The Settlement Cook Book (The Way To a Man's Heart), compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander. It's a sentimental favorite, I admit. I have my mother's 1944 edition, and it includes a couple of her hand-written recipes in its back pages, and some of my preschool scribbles. I really should do a blog post about it.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I'm not sure "inspirational" is a word I could apply to any of the books I've read this year. In general, I don't read inspirational works. I guess Anne Tyler's
Noah's Compass comes as close as any.

28. Favorite reading snack?
I try
not to snack while reading. That way lies obesity.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Well, it didn't ruin the experience for me, but I had some misgivings about starting Dan Brown's
Da Vinci Code because of all the hype and hysteria going on around it. As it turned out, I liked the book quite a lot and didn't really understand what all the uproar was about.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Depends on which critic we're talking about.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
In general (not always, but most of the time), I only finish books that I enjoy, so it's rare for me to give a really negative review. But I do say what I think, and hardly any book is all good or all bad.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
I suppose Spanish. Several of my favorite authors write in Spanish. But French or German would be great, too.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Ulysses by James Joyce. The Bible. War and Peace (never finished that one). Swann's Way (ditto).

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Anything by Thomas Pynchon.

35. Favorite Poet?
Don't think I have a favorite poet. I have some favorite poems.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Usually between two and six.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Many times. I'll frequently check out a book just to see if it's something I'll enjoy. Sometimes that works out well, and sometimes it doesn't. I don't feel compelled to finish reading a book just because I checked it out.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Now how could I possibly answer that?

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Again, impossible to answer. Although Diogenes
Pendergast, from the Douglas Preston-Lincoln Child series of thrillers, would be right up there at the top.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
That would depend on a number of factors, but they'd probably be paperbacks - easier to pack and carry around.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
(Refer to answer no. 8.) For quite a few years from the late '90s until around 2005 or so, I read very little besides an occasional cozy mystery, and a multitude of doll collecting magazines.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
(Refer to answer no. 33.)

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
My hubby.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Hmmmm. Interesting question. Probably The Maltese Falcon. But I also love Kubrick's Lolita and Barry Lyndon. And Scorsese's version of The Age of Innocence. And Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. And two adaptations that are very different from the novels they're based on, but are wonderful films anyway - Orson Welles' adaptation of Kafka's The Trial, and The Ninth Gate (based on The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Reverte) also by Roman Polanski (basically, Polanski never made a movie I didn't like).

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Can't answer this one right now. If it disappointed me, I've probably repressed it. Maybe I'll come up with something later.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
No idea.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Now and then. But more often I rely on reviews and descriptions by other

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If a book isn't grabbing my interest after the first couple of dozen pages or the first few chapters, I'll put it aside. I don't need to get half-way through it.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I absolutely adore it! I rarely manage to do it.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Unless it's borrowed, once a book enters my possession, it's mine for life.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

52. Name a book that made you angry.
I'd probably have to go back to my youth for this. I try not to read things that will make me angry (blood pressure, you know). Maybe
Exodus (Leon Uris)? Or The Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)? Not because I didn't like the books (I did); the subject matter was just very disturbing.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Longshot, by Katie

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Map of True Places, by
Brunonia Barry.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Just about everything I read is for pleasure, and I never feel guilty about it. That's what reading is all about.

Whoa! That was quite a project. Now I'm gonna go see what everybody else came up with.


  1. I had my books organized at one time, but no more. Maybe I'll get my son to help me tame may stacks again.

  2. I just love your answer as to what distracts you. I didn't think of that one, but my hubby is the same. He is not a reader so he doesn't get the concept that when I have a book in hand means "Do Not Disturb"

  3. I agree with your comfort zones. I want to try The Map of True Places, hmmm.

    My post if interested

  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a very quick read despite its daunting size. I finished it on two days and passed the book to a friend. I don't usually read out of my comfort zone but have done so at the recommendations of book bloggers.

  5. I've just organized my books. I hope it sticks. Also it is so nice to find other people who once they own a book they OWN it :D


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