1. Favorite childhood book?
Two specifically stick in my brain as being favourites, in that I re-read them many times: Matilda by Roald Dahl, and The Howen by Roger Stevens. The latter is a little-known book which I am still awaiting a film adaptation of. I borrowed it from the library so many times that eventually my mum tracked down a copy for me and bought it. :)
2. What are you reading right now?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo. Purely because I've reached H alphabetically on the book case (for Hugo, not Hunchback. I have Les Misérables to tackle next...) I can only read one book at a time.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
I'm not even registered with a library. Mostly this is because when I lived outside of Birmingham I couldn't register with Central Library, so didn't, and I never got around to registering with Kings Heath either. But I have plenty of unread books in the house as it is, and don't read anything quick enough to get it out of the library. If I had infinite spare time then I would sign up. :)
4. Bad book habit?
Obsessively buying cookery books which are very similar to other cookery books but have one or two other recipes in. That and buying geeky fandom-orientated books which take up shelf space but are SO READABLE it's not even funny.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing - see 3.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
NO. I think they are horrible. If I'm going to read a book, I want a book. With a cover and pages and that new book smell. If Paul had bought me the Tim Burton artwork book on Kindle I would have been horribly disappointed. It has FOLD-OUTS. Does the Kindle have fold-outs? I think not. Bugger off, Kindle.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One at a time.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not as far as I can tell. My reading habits have changed since not doing a bloody English degree, because I can take my time and appreciate the literature for what it is, not HOW it is. It's still very hard to curb the ingrained literary appreciation thoughts sometimes, but now that makes the experience more interesting rather than completely taking over and becoming the only reason for opening a book. Literature degrees do unfortunately have the unwarranted side effect of making you not read things for a while...
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
I've been reading Hunchback since before Christmas, but if we're talking past 12 months then it would have to be Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. I really enjoyed About A Boy and devoured it in about two days (whilst in London in October, mostly), and was hoing Fever Pitch would be just as readable. Whilst I did enjoy his observations on the nature of fandom (and equally his observations about depression in About A Boy), all the bloody football stuff just hurt my brain. He tried to make me sympathetic to the plight of those poor obsessed football fans (and, as per the above comment, the stuff about the correlation between fandom and depression was very apt), but instead I came away thinking they were even more small-minded and ignorant than before. Sorry, Mr Hornby. :(
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Probably the last one, which was The True History of the Elephant Man: The Definitive Account of the Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Joseph Carey Merrick, Michael Howell & Peter Ford. Despite being a somewhat wordy account and basically more of a text book / history book, it was incredibly readable. Perhaps the most intriguing parts were those where they (and the various other appendixed accounts) tried to describe Merrick's condition in words. There was a selection of photographs and prints in the middle of the book and I found myself constantly referring back to the photographs of Merrick in awed fascination. It was amazing stuff.
Fiction-wise, I also really enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (even though it's not remotely accurate, apparently) and What Happens Now by Jeremy Dyson. The latter was absolutely addictive. He opens the book by telling you something awful is going to happen and then spends the entire novel building up to the awful thing, and it's totally compelling.
There have been others but I think they were last year. I don't keep track properly...
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not as much now that I'm out of uni! When I buy books these days I read the blurb first and then pick a random page to assess the style. If they can't punctuate properly or the language is boring, I won't read it. Last year I read Watchman, which is about as far out of my comfort zone as I can get... I don't 'get' graphic novels somehow. The only one I've ever wanted to read is The Crow, and it's impossible to get hold of. Bizarrely, despite not getting along with graphic novels, and despite large sections of Watchmen actually being written in words, I found myself skipping the lengthy passages because my brain couldn't perform that mental switch back to prose from pictures. So there you go.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
In bed, usually. I enjoy reading in the morning when I don't have to get up especially, but usually I read before bed.
13. Can you read on the bus?
Nope. For starters the bus journey is too short to fit in an adequate amount of reading (i.e. a chapter), and also there are too many distractions: screaming children, loud music, general idiots...
14. Favorite place to read?
Bed. Or a comfy chair if it's in the day.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
Not if I can help it.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THAT. It's one of my biggest pet peeves and goes a long way to show why I don't lend books. DOG-EAR MY BOOKS AND I WILL DOG-EAR YOUR FACE. I'm not joking.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Only academic texts, and only in pencil. I was astounded by how many people at uni annotated their books in biro. It was almost physically painful. Poor books.
18. Not even with text books?
See above. Although my text books at school belonged to the school, so...
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. I can read French to a degree but only, like, public notices and stuff. ;) If I'd remembered any Latin then that would be a bonus, but alas it has fallen out of my head.
20. What makes you love a book?
I don't know. The style, usually, is what makes me come back. Fandom-orientated books (like Phantom, the prequel novel) are always a winner. Or sometimes just a bloody good stonking love story. I'm really predictable sometimes. Oh, and cliffhangers. I'm looking at you, Jo Rowling.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I finish it really quickly and have to spend a few minutes recovering. That means it gripped me. Other than that, I don't know.
22. Favorite genre?
I dunno, actually. My bookcase ranges from classics to post-modern weirdness, so... yeah. Considering I'm quite partial to a bit of Tracey Chevalier, I suppose historical fiction / romance. Not Mills & Boon romance, but the kind which takes you by surprise.
I'm also terrible for buying those godawful remembered childhood stories. I started with Dave Peltzer (A Child Called It et al) and it kept on growing. Most of them aren't as compelling as the Peltzer autobiographies, and I think he started something of a horrible bandwagon with them. Child C was pretty bloody awful, though.
I think my fascination with these books is the same as my fascination with Holocaust films: that human beings can be so terrible to each other, and what the human spirit can overcome. It's not so much about the car-crash, oh-look-at-that elements, just... I don't know, putting things into perspective.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Science fiction / fantasy. Having said that, the Narnia books are on the shelf for when I get to them. ;) Specifically, I would really like to like Philip K. Dick, but every time I try and read his books his APPALLING GRAMMAR just gets in the way and I give up. GAH.
24. Favorite biography?
I very much enjoyed Russell Brand's My Booky Wook, even though I totally wasn't expecting to. His writing style is awesome. I have Tim Burton's autobiography somewhere and I keep forgetting to read it, but that'll probably be high when I do. Failing that, even though 'favourite' is perhaps too strong a word, the aforementioned Dave Peltzer biographies. With those it's the style that makes them so hard-hitting; he writes them almost from the perspective of his younger self, and the tone is so matter-of-fact that it's doubly chilling.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
I read the opening of Allan Carr's stopping smoking book when Paul borrowed it off Lisa, but apart from that, no.
26. Favorite cookbook?
DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE. Errrr, well, I've just bought a new slow-cooker book as of today... I suppose, um... oh, bollocks to this, it's too hard. I refer to the Marguerite Patten kitchen bible a fair few times, so I suppose it's that one, BUT THEY ARE ALL BRILLIANT. Argh.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I'm afraid to say I don't get inspired by books, if I'm honest. They grip me, certainly, but they don't inspire me. I think it's an inherent shield of my writer-brain or something.
28. Favorite reading snack?
I read in bed so usually don't have any food. ;) But probably chocolate.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
A lot of the aforementioned hideous childhood stories. They're bloody everywhere. I think perhaps the Kim Woodburn one in particular, which wasn't as horrific as they made it out to be - not to say she had an easy time of it, of course. Although... actually, probably the Twilight series. They've had so much bad press that I don't want to read them. I did skim read the first page of one in Waterstone's, though, and they did look pretty dire. :P
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
About as often as I agree with critics for films, so: never.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
My only experience of reviewing is, well, fanfiction, and I don't give bad reviews. I give good ones if they warrant it, and leave the negativity to others. If there is good potential in a bad story then obviously I'll tell the person that (constructive criticism), but if it's just a plain, all-out bad story then I won't justify it with a reaction.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I started reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and gave up because it was SO WORDY and I read when I'm already tired. I am determined to read it, even though we only bought it because it would look cool on the shelf. Possession by A. S. Byatt was fairly intimidating, and it took me several attempts to read it after having it recommended to me at A-Level. The Woman in White was also bloody long, but I finally finished that, too. I find the classics quite intimidating, and can never get to grips with Thomas Hardy, though I find Dickens very readable.
Oh yeah. Hamlet was pretty intimdating, too. I've read the play and seen two full-length televised versions (Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant) and I think I've finally wrapped my head around it. ;)
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Don Quixote by Cervantes, when I get to it. I bought it a while ago to add to my classics collection and it looks HUGE. I would say Les Mis but I started that some time ago and Hugo is quite readable.
35. Favorite Poet?
T. S. Elliot. Initially due to having Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats inflicted upon me as a child, a later love of Cats and then subsequent discovery of Rhapsody on a Windy Night (which "Memory" was based on in part). His imagery is superb. I also remember quite liking Grace Nicholls at GCSE.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
When I went to the library as a child it was usually three or four.
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Can't remember, it's been a while. :)
38. Favorite fictional character?
Erik a.k.a. The Phantom. Always and forever. Kay's version of Christine Daaé as a secondary to that. And Matilda, obviously. :)
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Count Fosco from The Woman in White. I was somewhat spoiled by seeing the musical first and him being played by Michael Crawford, but when I read the book I immediately understood why they chose him. He's a very suave villain.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Easy reads from cheap bookshops, usually... or stuff I've read already.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
That period immediately after finishing uni but before embarking on the first attempt of the Bookcase Project (when I wanted to read all the Stephen King / Pratchett in the house), and then probably the period afterwards when I was going mental and didn't read or watch anything any more because I was bursting into tears every five minutes. Meh.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Anything by Thomas Hardy. Heart of Darkness because it bored me. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick) because the grammar pissed me off, even though I still prefer the book to the film.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Noises, like someone talking or the television or whatever. Hence why I can't read on buses.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Deathly Hallows, part 1 was pretty faithful, but I suppose it had to be. I find the majority of film adaptations to be rather wanting, if I'm honest. Actually, having said that, Girl with a Pearl Earring was quite good too. (I have this annoying tendency to buy books after seeing the films, so have yet to pass judgement on Let the Right One in, Lovely Bones, The Colour Purple, etc...)
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I have a favourite book called Beauty, based on the Beauty and the Beast fable but set in modern times. It's a lovely little book. I spotted the film adaptation of it on Sky Movies years ago and eagerly watched it, only to discover they ended the film three-quarters into the book so it had a proper happy ending. Plus it wasn't that good anyway.
And also? Half Blood Prince was very disappointing.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Just before Christmas (for presents) we spent about £100, but if I'm in The Works I can easily spend about £20 to £30 on books in there if they've got good stock in.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
As I said, in the shop before I buy to check the style. I went through a phase once of reading the last page / sentence but then realised that was stupid so stopped doing it.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Things taking too long to get going. If the author spends half a book describing everything without anything happening, I will get bored quickly. Or if the characters are just plain awful.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes, I file everything (everything, books, CDs and DVDs included) alphabetically. Books are by author (then title, unless I know them chronologically), CDs by artist then chronologically (unless they're musicals then they're by title), and DVDs are by title. I have to do this otherwise I can't cope with trying to find things.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
90% of the time I'll keep them to read again. I only get rid of rubbish books. :P
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Not consciously, just haven't gotten around to them. Although I did avoid Watchmen for a while because of graphic novel phobia.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Fever Pitch, which I don't think was its intention. My hatred of football completely overrode the message he was trying to put across. I read it all the way through but there were sections where I just wanted to punch him for being an arrogant, self-centred arse.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. The only other book of his that I'd read before was Girlfriend in a Coma, which I didn't get on quite so well with. I bought ...Families for Paul from a charity shop as Coupland is one of his favoured authors, but I really enjoyed it when I read it as part of the Bookcase Project. So there we go. :)
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Phantom of Manhattan, Frederick Forsyth. I read an extract from the first chapter in a magazine (I don't remember which one, a friend brought the clipping into school for me) and it looked as though it had potential, so I managed to get hold of a hardback copy in WHSmith in the sale. Big mistake. It's notoriously awful; so much so that when I heard they'd based the POTO sequel, Love Never Dies on said novel I immediately gave up all hope for Andrew Lloyd Webber's sanity. It turns out he actually commissioned the story himself, and at the press release for LND he described the idea he'd had. When he described it, it sounded much better - Erik moves to Coney Island, notorious haven for freaks, and lives in a rooftop apartment; he goes from living underground to living above the world. When he explained it like that, it made SO MUCH SENSE. In the novel that simply didn't come across. (Also the only decent Erik/Christine interaction in the novel comes in one chapter, and we only get the conversation as 'overhead' by another character; Forsyth couldn't even give us that much!) Essentially Forsyth fucked up a good idea, took a classic novel and berated its author for "bad characterisation" (WTF NO YOU DIDN'T) and promptly mangled the beloved characters beyond recognition.
Ahem. Yes. It's an old wound that never really healed.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Phantom by Susan Kay. It's infinitely re-readable despite its length, and even though it's basically a gigantic two-inch-thick fanfiction, bloody hell, it's good. I devoured it from the first second I read it and it's the book I'm most looking forward to re-reading when I get to the K's in the bookcase. :D
Well, that was quite long.
I had another go on the Wii tonight whilst Paul was out. Cycling is bloody bizarre and hard work. I seem to have gotten the hang of baseball (seemed easier with the Wiimotion Plus somehow!) and bowling again, still pretty rubbish at frisbee and had a go at canoeing too. I also had a go at Epic MIckey which is awesome but difficult, but I think that's because I haven't owned a console since the early 90s and that was a Master System II. SO. MANY. BUTTONS. (The game uses the remote AND the nunchuck and I can't coordinate my fingers properly yet). The gameplay itself is really cool, though. Will have a proper go this weekend when I'm less tired.
YAY, I HAS A WII!