Friday, August 30, 2013

The Book Blog

This meme was snaffled from The Plastic Mancunian who, like me, blogs about stuff - but we have very different views on the world - and that is a good thing.

But it let me think about books for a bit - and this is never a bad thing. 

1. Favourite childhood book?I used to love Enid Blyton - and remember loving "The Magic Faraway Tree". When I was much younger, there was a Golden Book about the Saggy Baggy Elephant and Mickey Mouse's picnic that I remember making my father read to me again and again. he knew them by rote.

2. What are you reading right now?JK Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy". If you've ever had the misfortune to be on a committee or know somebody in local government, you will understand...

3. What books do you have on request at the library?To my shame, I don't have a library card or visit libraries to borrow books - the only exception to this is when I'm studying and I'll use the reference library.

4. Bad book habit?
I have a bad habit of buying books that look interesting from the ten dollar shop, then never reading them. Or doing the buy three for the price of two (or occasionally nine for the price of six - but I'm trying to stop that)

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

See question three.

6. Do you have an e-reader?No, but I have an iPad, which I'm starting to buy books to read on that.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?I normally have two or three on the go - a main book that I'm reading and a couple that I've started, waiting to finish.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No, not really. Maybe I read a little less.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)Kate Grenville's "Sarah Thornhill". We read it for book group - and though not a bad book, I didn't resonate with it - and in general, I don't resonate with Kate Grenville as an author. Nothing wrong with that - just not my cup of tea.

10. Favourite book you've read this year?We read it for book group - and I was thinking I was going to hate it - Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe". Confronting, gross, happless, unhappy and some of the best writing I've witnessed in a very long time. Not for everybody however.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not that often, but fairly regularly. I like to be challenged. Then again, I don't really read science fiction or fantasy. But I have the first Game of Thrones book on my iPad which I'm enjoying.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Modern literature, modern classics, good kids books a la Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl. I do read crap too, just to make sure that I know what people are talking about - I've unfortunately read Dan Brown, The Twilight books and 50 Shades of Grey.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I can read on public transport - though I have to be facing forward to read - if I'm sitting with my back facing the front reading makes me feel sick.

14. Favourite place to read?
On the tram, in bed, in the Fitzroy Gardens sitting under a tree on a balmy day. Anywhere really.

15. What is your policy on book lending?I'm good with lending books to friends - and I will not necessarily demand that they give them back, unless it's something I find very special. Case in point - The Book Thief, which was loaned out on the proviso that it came back. My copy of "Gone Girl" has gone walkabout. If it comes back, it comes back. If it doesn't, it doesn't.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Depends on how long it gets stuck in my handbag. I try to keep them in reasonable condition, though I'm not militant about not cracking the spine like my friend Bernadette. I do respect them, but I could do better - average B.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?No.

18. Not even with text books?Okay, I used to occasionally make marks in text books but it's been a long time since I've done any study.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?English, though I've read a couple of books in French in my time.Saint-Exupery's "Le Petit Prince" is still a favourite.

20. What makes you love a book?
Great characters, fearless writing and strange situations.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

When a book is one that I find hard to put down - books that make you think and feel in equal measure - and this is a hard call. I like books with twists (For example, Chris Cleeve's "The Other Hand" (or Little Bee as it's known in some countries)
Books I recommend regularly include:
Louis De Berniere's "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"
Markus Zuzak's "The Book Thief"
Chris Cleeve's "The Other Hand"
Michel Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White"
Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run"

22. Favourite genre?Modern Literature - Booker long list type of stuff.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)I really should read more non-fiction.

24. Favourite biography?Oh, don't rubbish me for this. I've only read one or two biographies in my time, so Kenneth Branagh's autobiography "Beginning" is a favourite.
Kate Holden's "In My Skin" is exceptionally written.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?Oh hell yeah. Though it's not a regular occurence and I tend to get a couple of chapters in then throw them against the wall and pick them up when I clean. Louise L Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" has had a huge positive impact on my life.

26. Favourite cookbook?
My stepsister, JD, gave me a dessert cook book called Delicious - I use it regularly - it's brilliant. My flourless chocolate and raspberry mud cake comes out of it.

27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I hate to say it, but Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe" - just from the quality of the writing.
In the last few years I would name, "The Book Thief", "The Other Hand" and "Born to Run" up there in the inspirational books.

28. Favourite reading snack?Little bit sweet, Little bit salty popcorn. Love that stuff - with a cup of tea nearby.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
The Twilight series. The first book was great. The second was okay. The third was alright. By the fourth book I was ready to clobber the author over the head with her word processor.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?About half the time. I can watch The Tuesday Night book club show and normally find somebody to fight with. And I try look for the good in most things, I'll normally find something to agree with - then again, there are times when I don't agree at all.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?I always temper my bad reviews with what I find good in a book - but will then give the other side of things. Case in point. The Great Gatsby. Hated it for many years - now love it - but I can see what some of the negative press is about (like NOTHING happens)

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?Probably French as it wouldn't take too long to get my up to speed - and Spanish, as I want to read Pablo Neruda in Spanish.

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?Probably Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses". Which I ended up loving - wonderful book - even with the Fatwa.

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
James Joyces "Ulysses". I dip into it ever so often, then put it down - but I'd love to read it cover to cover one day. I need to read Moby Dick at some stage too. Cloud Atlas was pretty intimidating until you got into it (and it is wonderful - just takes a bit of time to get there)

35. Favourite poet?
T.S. Eliot. Love T.S. Eliot. Quite partial to Carol Ann Duffy, Adrian Mitchell, WH Auden and Philip Larkin as well.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
None - as I don't have a library card. Though when studying it's normally three or four.

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?
See above - but one out of the three uni library books I'd have out , one would be returned unread.

38. Favourite fictional character?
In no order:
Pelagia and the Doctor from "Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Little Bee from "The Other Hand"
Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Hermione Granger and Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter Series
Holly Short from the LEP Recon Unit in the Artemis Fowl books
Amy in "Gone Girl" (You have to love to hate her)

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Both are from kids books. Severus Snape and from the Harry Potter Series. And Count Olaf from the A Series of Unfortunate Events.

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
Normally I take something of calibre and something that's a bit trashy - take the last trip to Bali - I took The Crimson Petal and the White and the first "Game of Thrones" Book.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.Probably a few days. I get antsy when I don't read regularly.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.I've had the second "50 Shades of Grey" book half finished on my bedside table for over a year. It's that poorly written that I doubt I will get back to it.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?Music. People talking loudly on the tram. Loud noise. I like reading when it's quiet.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?
I've loved the following: Atonement, Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron directed - wonderful), The Great Gatsby (Luhrmann)

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?Not that I've seen it, but if I did, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. I refuse to see it - I've heard it's bad - really bad. And it's my favourite book ever.

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Probably around $100 - buit in my defence, I was doing Christmas shopping at the time.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Occassionally - normally have a look at the first page to see what it's about, but that is far as it goes. Unless it is a cook book - that can be considered food porn.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?If I tire of a book it is normally by page 30. If something's becoming just plain boring I'll stop. The second 50 Shades of Grey book is testement to this. Oh, another soft core whipping scene. Ho hum.

49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
Nope. they're generally not on the floor - isn't that enough. Though most of the shelves are in vague genre order. And the serious literature is grouped like with like.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
A bit of both. I sell on or give away popular fiction and things I know I'll never read again - and keep the literature - which does get re-read from time to time.

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?There are a couple of things I should get down to, other than Ulysses and Moby Dick. Dan Brown's last book - I know I don't want to but I will.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Helen Brown's "Cleo - The Cat that Healed a Family" See here for my review. WORST BOOK EVER.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?The first Hunger Games book. Exceptional, in spite of the hype.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?We did a book at book group called "Tigers in Red Weather". Wasn't bad, but I thought it would be better. It took me 20 years to appreciate The Great Gatsby too - thought I would love it when I was a young adult - hated it. Love it now.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?Please don't tell anybody, but I do have a soft spot for the following:
Dan Brown
Marion Keyes early stuff
Jane Green's early stuff
Anything that screams "You have to read it!" (A la 50 Shades of Grey)

And I'm not above picking up a Mills and Boon every now and then. But don't tell anybody.


Jackie K said...

Oh I am DEFINITELY doing this one. Great theme.
I loved The Faraway Tree too and to my surprise so do my kids.
You've reminded me I meant to read The Book Thief and the Kate Holden book - I must get onto that.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Yes - I remember the Magic Faraway Tree too.

Sci Fi can be truly excellent.

I hated the Twilight movies and I can only imagine how bad the books are.

One minor point - is Severus Snape really a villain? I think he's a hero!

Finally, I'm loving watching Game of Thrones but not so sure about whether it is worth buying the books.

Great answers.