Thursday, August 26, 2010

55 Quirky Questions for Readers

Created by Lydia of Literary Lollypop, this is exactly what the title says -- 55 Quirky Questions! I've been reading Wallace's answers (of Unputdownables) and thought it would be fun to answer the questions myself. I know some of these questionnaires come off a bit boring so I'm going to do my best to make this entertaining! (Apologies for the uneven formatting but I just couldn't get it to clean up completely.)

1. Favourite childhood book: Oh, start with an easy one, why don't you? This is one of those impossible questions that you end up just picking something and then later thinking "was that really my favorite?" I have been lucky as a parent to have a chance to re-visit childhood books. Some have held up and some have not. I still love Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice.

2. What are you reading right now? Barnacle Love by Anthony De Sa. I can't remember where I heard about it but it seemed interesting and then I was offered a review copy so the decision to read it now was made for me! Next up will be Not So Perfect by Nik Perring, my next venture into flash fiction. I was able to get this one after winning a book from the Book Depository.

3. What books do you have on request at the library? My only request right now is Stories, the short story collection edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. (It has a new story by DWJ!) I've stopped requesting because of my resolution to do my September and October reads from my own shelves as much as possible (as RIP Challenge reads). We'll see how long that lasts!
4. Bad book habit: Reading the book summary? I can't help myself but I'm frequently disappointed by the plot elements that are given away. I really need to control my reading!

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer by Jonathan Howard, Thames by Peter Ackroyd, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley (the 4th Sisters Grimm book), The Heart of Glass by Vivian French (the 3rd Five Kingdoms book), And Another Thing ... by Eoin Colfer, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and three British Columbia travel guides. I'm not sure I will get to all of these!

6. Do you have an e-reader? I have e-reader software on my iPhone and iPad but honestly don't really spend much time reading on either of them except for the rare occasion when I find myself somewhere without a book. Maybe when my real TBR pile is smaller I will be able to think about e-books.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? One at a time. I just can't divide my attention that way. Sometimes I pretend to read two books at once but in reality it's just that the first one wasn't grabbing my attention so I set it down, picked up a new one, read that the entire way through and then reconsidered picking up the first one again. That's not really reading two books at once, is it?

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? Of course. I'm reading a much wider variety of books. I am re-reading much less than I did before. I am now willing and able to stop reading a book that I'm not enjoying. It's been a habit-changing experience!

9. Least favourite book you read this year: Probably Playing With the Grown-Ups by Sophie Dahl but the year isn't up yet! If I'm lucky, that won't change.

10. Favourite book I’ve read this year: This is a much harder question to answer. I've read a few that are new favorites and since they're quite different, it's hard to choose. At this moment, I'll say The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley (and also whisper Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones!). Okay, I'm stopping!

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? I don't read out of my comfort zone very often but I have a large (and growing) zone.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? Classics, low fantasy, golden age mysteries, literary fiction, children's fiction, science non-fiction. And I'm sure I'm missing something!

13. Can you read on the bus? I honestly have not been on a bus since 1993 when I took a Greyhound from California to New Mexico to meet a boy (who is now a husband). Although, I can't read in the car for more than a minute or two before I start feeling quite nauseated so I'm guessing the bus would be a no-go as well. I'm usually okay on airplanes though but sometimes I can't read there either.

14. Favourite place to read: Outdoors when it's sunny and curled up under a blanket on the couch or in bed when it's cold. Reading by a hotel swimming pool within view of the ocean in Maui wasn't so terrible.

15. What’s your policy on book lending? I rarely lend out books to anyone but my mother. Of the last two books that I lent to acquaintances, I only got one back. My mom lives two states away so she borrows for months at a time but she always brings them back! If it's a favorite, I will usually just buy her a copy anyway.

16. Do you dogear your books? Absolutely not. I also go through library books and straighten corners.

17. Do you write notes in the margins of your books? No. I'm terrible at recalling the context of my notes later so it's not worth doing. Also, because I re-read books, I want the experience to be as fresh as possible each time. I was just reading a library book where someone had written corrections in the margins. One of their corrections was wrong and they missed some of them as well. It was worse than if they had left it alone!

18. Do you break/crack the spine of your books? Not if I can help it. Some of my well-read books have slight bends in the spine but none end up broken.

19. What is your favourite language to read? English. I have tried reading in Spanish but I am not familiar enough with vocabulary and slang and it takes too long to sit with a dictionary looking everything up. Maybe one day my Spanish will improve.

20. What makes you love a book? I'm not sure what it is specifically. It's what makes me sad when a book ends and I begin missing the characters and the world. It's what makes me think about characters even when I'm not reading. It's what causes me to sigh after I close the last page. It's what inspires me to read more, either by the same author or on a similar topic.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? I am hesitant to recommend books but it's usually because I've read something that is similar to another book that I already know someone has liked. Or it's just because a book has spoken to me in some way that I think another person will benefit from.

22. Favourite genre: Victorian fiction. I couldn't read it non-stop forever but I will always go back to it for comfort, amusement and enlightenment.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did): It's not a specific genre but I sometimes wish that I was reading specific series that other people are reading so that I could be in the know. But if I'm just not interested, I don't force it.

24. Favourite Biography: I don't know if I can answer this one. After all, it's someone's life. They're all informative and interesting for some reason or another.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? (And, was it actually helpful?) I don't think so. I'm a literal self-helper. I did go through a phase of reading a few new-agey religion books (like Dan Millman) but I can't say they helped me with anything.

26. Favourite Cookbook: I use the Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook most often. My cooking tends to be simple but I'm more willing to try something grand when baking. The best thing I made from it was a cake with homemade lemon curd filling. I need to make that one again!

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction): Inspirational is not something that I look for in a book so it's slim pickings here. I'll have to say Boy by Roald Dahl.

28. Favourite reading snack: Dark chocolate M&Ms. A nice big handful of them. Okay, if I'm being honest, it's more like two handfuls.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience: I can't think of a case where this happened. I don't read many of the most hyped books and when I do, I try to avoid any media about them.

30. How often do you agree with the critics about about a book? I don't ever read critical reviews of books. I only read reviews by peers whose overall reading tastes I've come to know and trust.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? I don't have any problems with reviewing books that I didn't like. There is a value in the review for other readers with similar tastes. I try not to be overly negative though.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose? Spanish is the only language that I would ever be likely to read in. I wouldn't mind reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Arturo Perez-Reverte without having to wait for translation!

33. Most intimidating book I’ve read: Intimidating to me or to others? Recently it was probably Bleak House. The size and the dreary title kept me away from it for far too long! I read plenty of books that intimidate others but I don't gloat about it.

34. Most intimidating book I’m too nervous to begin: I guess I'll say Ulysses. It's no secret that this book and I may never happen.

35. Favourite Poet: Edgar Allen Poe. Duh.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out from the library at any given time? Between four and ten. Then Z usually has eight or ten out as well but he actually has his own account. He loves scanning his own card and putting in his pin number! The husband doesn't use the library because it takes him too long to read books.

37. How often do you return books to the library unread? I try to read everything I take out but I guess I return books unread a couple of times a year. Sometimes it's because I have changed my mood and other times it's because I've found that the book I checked out is not the right one to read in series order. I feel guilty having books out that I don't read though.

38. Favourite fictional character: Thursday Next.

39. Favourite fictional villain: What a vague question! Favorite because I think they're the quintessential villain or favorite because I like them despite their villainy? The villain I love to hate is Lydia Gwilt. The villain I secretly love is Sethos.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation: Books that are plot-heavy but physically light. Although I've been known to take one tome versus a stack of smaller books. I try not to take hardcover books unless it's a road trip.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading: I took quite a long break from reading when Z was born. I was just too tired to concentrate. It wasn't until he started preschool when he turned three that I started reading again.

42. Name a book you could/would not finish: Let's not get into that again. The last time I wrote about a book I couldn't/wouldn't finish, I got anonymous hurtful and hateful comments.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? Lately it's been my iPhone. I can read through music and television but I can't resist picking up the phone on every notification. I've started setting a timer and vowing not to pick up the phone for that block of time.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel: I'm not saying it's the best (that's probably the A&E Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth) but my favorite is Rebecca. Sir Laurence Olivier is incredibly dreamy!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation: The Ninth Gate from Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas. Johnny Depp, good. Mangling the plot, bad.

46. Most money I’ve ever spent in a bookstore at one time: I'm sure it's between $75 and $100. I would never spend more than that. It's a mental barrier for me. I've spent more on an Amazon Christmas order but it wouldn't have been strictly books.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? I don't think I've ever done that except for maybe with a non-fiction to see what is covered in it.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? I have to be either really bored or really offended/disgusted to stop.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? They're organized on paper (well, on computer) but not in real life. In real life, I can't ever decide on a system. They're grouped by series or author and there are other loose groupings but, honestly, they're a mess.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once they’ve been read? I keep most books but if I'm sure that I won't want to read them again then I either sell them at Half Price Books or give them away here. Children's books that are too young for Z are being passed on to his younger cousin and we've also donated some to his classroom libraries.

51. Are there any books that you’ve been avoiding? I wouldn't say avoiding. There are just books that I simply don't want to read. Sometimes I go through the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list and mark all of the ones that I will never read simply because I don't want to (like anything by Bret Easton Ellis or Don DeLillo). Then the list becomes shorter and more manageable. It's cheating but I honestly don't think there are many books that everyone should read period.

52. Name a book that made you angry: Drood. I wasn't a fan of Dan Simmons' writing and I thought he misused historical characters. The plot got really ridiculous too.

53. A book I didn’t expect to like but did: Hmm ... I try not to read books that I don't expect to like. I was surprised by how much I liked the His Dark Materials series.

54. A book I expected to like but didn’t: I'll say two that come to mind because they are both for the same reason -- The Observations by Jane Harris and The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell. Both of these seemed like they should be exactly the genre that I love but neither one impressed me much.

55. Favourite guilt-free guilty pleasure reading: Okay, I've never talked about them on this blog but I have read most of the sixteen (soon to be seventeen) books in the Doc Ford series by Randy Wayne White. Ex-CIA agent turned marine biologist Marion Ford is, well, a pretty awesome guy and these are fun adventure stories and I like the science parts of them. I haven't read the last couple because I thought they were getting a bit repetitive but I'm sure I will pick them up at some point just to know what else happens to Ford!

Whew! Feel free to comment on any of the fifty-five things I brought up.  Or go grab some Visine after staring at this post for so long!

Tired of myself,


  1. Good answers! Ulysses intimidates me too. The library questions make me feel guilty, though - this year I've hardly borrowed anything (and the library is literally opposite where I live at the moment). Rectifying that must be one of my new year resolutions for 2011.

    And who are these people who post hurtful, anonymous comments? :( Some people are just sick.

  2. I'm with you on Ulysses too, though I did actually start it. Thanks for the link on Thames--it's now on my Xmas wish list and Xmas shopping list (one of my brothers would love this!).

  3. I love Chicken Soup with Rice! But did you ever read No Fighting, No Biting? Maurice Sendak again but it is more wonderful really.

    Also I had no idea The Ninth Gate was adapted from the Perez-Reverte book (which I've been meaning to read for sooo long!). Weird.

  4. I am wanting to give your cheeks a big Jewish Mother squeeze for straightening the library dogears. I do that too. I especially hate those furtive, tiny, lower-corner dogears. Like they know it's wrong and think they can hide it.

    I don't mind dogears on really old books or used books from a personal library, however. War wounds.

  5. Tracy - I didn't use the library much until Z was old enough to read and when I started my blog. I couldn't keep up with the number of books we were interested in!

    Jane - I'm hoping to get to Thames soon. I think it will be fascinating!

    Jenny - I will look into No Fighting, No Biting immediately!

    Villa - Aww, thanks! People can do what they want to their own books but it does bother me when they take liberties with public books.

  6. Yikers! I had stuff to say but by the end of the post I'd forgotten what it all was!

    Wouldn't it be cool to have a $1000 gift certificate to a book store just once in life?

    I might have to do these ... but I'll break them up into smaller posts I think. : )

  7. Jenners - It was a long post, I know! And yeah, just to be able to spend without counting the pennies and all would be wonderful.