Book meme

Jul. 10th, 2013 05:45 pm
slemslempike: (nemi: argh)
[personal profile] slemslempike
Another meme, though this one I found on friendsfriends rather than back in the midst of time. Given my propensity for memes and books, it's likely I'll have written about these quite a lot before, but never mind, eh?

1. Favourite childhood book?

The one I remember most vividly is a brown book on how to tell the time, with a clock on the front with moveable hands. I took it into school once. I read What Katy Did quite a bit, and I liked Malory Towers a lot. When I was about eleven I had a bumper edition of the Little Women sequels, and was reading Good Wives for the first time in an airport in Malaysia. I wept soddenly when Beth died, and then I had to get on a plane. I liked the sort of "girls' classics", but mostly what I wanted to read were Sweet Valley Twins/High and the Babysitters Club. Occasionally adults would try to push me onto Proper Literature and I would obligingly read The Wide Sargasso Sea or similar and then head straight back to the YA section of the library.

2. What are you reading right now?

I just started One Pill Makes You Smaller by Lisa Dierbeck. Alice is an eleven year old girl (I think in the 70s) with neglectful parents who is mostly looked after by her druggie older sister and puts up with her leering friends. I do not think it is going to be a particularly happy book.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

I don't have any, and even if I weren't currently in Brussels I probably still wouldn't have any. I suppose I could put in an early request for the new Lee Child when that comes out, but when I've thought about that before there've been around 70 people on the list and it is easier to just buy the book.

4. Bad book habit?

I have started to occasionally turn down the corner of a page in a book that is already battered and that I do not want to keep.

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

Nothing! I perenially make a decision to use the library more often, and it never lasts very long. My local library is actually very close to where I live, and I could very easy drop in after work some days. And I usually get off to a good start, and then it peters out again. I used the library to get the Twilight books after Jess forced me to read them, as there was no way I wanted to pay for that. I used the Edinburgh University library for reference last year to revise for the UN exam, and that was excellent.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

I have a Kindle app on my phone, which I like a lot. It can be useful when I'm travelling, or for reading things in short bursts when in a longer than expected queue. I also like the occasional cheap/free books that people advertise. I recently bought, for about £1 each, Boyracers by Allan Bissett, which I've been meaning to get hold of since I saw him read excerpts at WPM in Glasgow a few years ago, and Code Name Verity, which lots of people have raved about and a few people have been underwhelmed by. I really, really loved Boyracers and want to read the sequel quite soon, and I haven't started Code Name Verity yet. I haven't really felt an urge to get an actual e-reader. Partly it's that a lot of my reading material comes from charity shops, and the switch from browsing through a small collection of whatever they have to stock is a much more appealing procedure for me than choosing a specific book from a huge list. Also I don't like the way the screen sort of flashes every couple of pages.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

I would prefer to read one book at a time, but I often end up reading several at once. If I'm going on a journey that will last longer than it would take me to finish the current book then I take a new one, and when I'm in my flat I have different books to read in different rooms, because I am THAT lazy.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

I only started keeping track of what I read when I started my livejournal. I wish I had kept a log before then, especially when I was a teenager, as there are a couple of things I wish I could remember what were. There was one book where a schoolgirl (probably in late 80s early 90s) wanted to get her school named after a suffragette from the area, while all the schools were named after men, but the council said that as she'd been militant they couldn't. I suppose this is less about starting my own journal than it is about the community of reading other journals, but I've certainly been exposed to a lot of different genres and titles I might well not have come across otherwise. Jane Duncan, the Vorkosigan books, House of Leaves.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)

My shortlist is Woman Alive!, Major Benjy, AJ Wentworth BA, The Accidental Proposal, and Paying Guest in Siberia. None of these were terrible, just either not held up well, or a bit dull. I think The Accidental Proposal wins. I can't tell you what I actually thought about it because the write-ups in the data I haven't yet recovered, but I do remember that it was bloke lit with an "amusing" offensive/idiotic best friend.

10. Favourite book you've read this year?

Shortlist: Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, An Equal Music, the Betsy-Tacy books, the last Jane Duncan Books, Wolf Hall, The Fault in our Stars, and Boyracers. I think I'm going to plump for the Jane Duncan books, out of a truly competitive shortlist, because they are so, so good, building on previous books in such a clever way and creating this wonderful, tangible world. I have a friend's MA thesis to read about Jane Duncan and I'm really looking forward to that. When [spoiler] [spoilered] I emailed my line manager who'd lent me the book in the early hours of the morning to express my sadness, as I'd stayed up late wanting to read it all.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Not very often at all. I wouldn't say that all my reading is for comfort, but certainly it has been a strong comfort to me, especially when I was younger and not coping so well.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

Hmm. I don't like to read horror and misogyny. I suppose in terms of genres I'm most comfortable with, that's girlsown, young adult, and mid-century middle class women's novels.

13. Can you read on the bus?

Can and do! I get car-sick, though, so long and windy journeys don't work, and sometimes if the bus is particularly stop-start I can't read. I can't read on coaches, either.

14. Favourite place to read?

In bed. I do most of my best reading lying down. Most of my best anything lying down. (I was going to add a pert remark here as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink allusion to my worldly sexual ways, but then thought that perhaps it wasn't very worldly to suggest that your best nudging and/or winking had taken place in such a pedestrian setting.)

15. What is your policy on book lending?

I am for it! I often try to lend books to people, who are sometimes less enthused by the idea than I am. I only lend books I care about to people that I can trust to try to take good care of them, and who I would not start hating if they accidentally harmed the books. I like borrowing books from other people too, though I worry if I'm not getting through them quickly enough. I borrowed all the Jane Duncan books, mostly from me ex-boss, which was lovely.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

See above for shameful confession.

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

To be perfectly honest, I have never even been tempted, because I have never had anything of substance to add. I am not intelligent enough to be able to add anything, or link it to a Great Thinker. I do like the Myles piece about buying a library and having someone add in "how true!" etc in the margins. Maybe I will start adding random things. "How unlike the home life of our own dear queen", perhaps, in misery memoirs.

18. Not even with text books?

Noooo! Mostly because what if I want to sell them after I'm done? Or even just give them to charity shops, it would be really irritating for the next person to own them. (Even though I rarely get rid of textbooks at all.) Having said that, I've enjoyed other people's marginalia: here and here, for example. I am really, really against writing in library books, even in pencil, for obvious reasons, not least because it messes up the reading systems them use to scan books for visually impaired people.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?

That would be English, as it is the only one I do in fact read in. I can just about scrape through an easyish book in French, but it is more effort than I care to expend when reading, so I don't. I am very fortunate that there is a huge amount of material published initially in English and translated into it - if I were near-monolingual in another language there might not be so much available, and I might well never have read a school story. (Though perhaps if I weren't a native English speaker I'd have tried harder to learn another language. And I'd probably never miss school stories if I'd never read them, really, and I am certain to be missing out on genres that have never even crossed my mind in my current state.)

20. What makes you love a book?

Humour. Strong friendships between woman, especially emotional connections. I like a school setting, including in adult books, and I like teenage girls as a focus.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

Thinking that someone else would enjoy it?

22. Favourite genre?

Girls' school stories. Silver age, for preference, boarding school but with an occasional external presence, preferably with lots of Good Clean Living that nonetheless reads very queerly.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

This seems an odd question - if you wished you read more of a genre, why wouldn't you read it? On the rare occasions when I am out with people who are intimidating me (rare because I mostly go out with lovely people, not rare because I am so awesome) I sometimes wish that I read lots of classics and philosophy and, more to the point, remembered pithy quotes from them. Oh, this is JUST like that passage from Paradise Lost, no? (Actually I think I've read a bit of Paradise Lost, as I certainly wrote an essay on it once, but I cannot remember a single thing about it.)

24. Favourite biography?

I absolutely adore Emma Thompson's filming diaries of Sense and sensibility. Somewhat surprisingly, in retrospect, I really really liked Bob Geldof's autobiography when I was a teenager, despite not really knowing who he was at the time. And Spike Milligan's war memoirs are astoundingly good.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

I think I looked through He's Just Not That Into You when I was staying at a friend's house once - it was, as she had told me, not nearly as bad as I'd assumed it would be. It was much bigger on "it is a problem with him, and there is nothing you can do to change it" rather than "oh you silly woman" than I'd imagined it might be. Apart from that, I don't think I ever have. I have read books to improve myself, particularly about trans and race matters so that I can be more aware and active, but not self-help books particularly. Maybe I should read The Rules. It could be LIFE-CHANGING.

26. Favourite cookbook?

The two cookbooks I have deliberately bought (rather than being given them) are The Chalet School Cookbook and the Winnie the Pooh cookbook. I have never made anything from either of them and I likely never will. When I was going to university for the first time my sister got a nice notebook and wrote in it some recipes she thought I'd like, and left the rest blank for me to add into. I only ever got round to doing one, but it's still a lovely lovely present that makes me smile. I should add all the recipes I like to it.

27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?

Inspirational? I don't think I've really read anything I'd describe as inspirational. Partly because it seems to suggest a follow-up question of "inspired to do what?" to which the answer is all to often "nothing". Anyway. in February I finished Whipping Girl which has inspired me to think more critically about trans* rights and issues, especially within feminism. For a more feel-good inspiration, Bluestockings was a wonderful look at the women who fought hard to get other women a tertiary education.

28. Favourite reading snack?

I am very often reading while I'm eating, so I can't think of a specific thing I like to have while I read. Something one-handed, obviously, that isn't going to deposit crumbs in my cleavage and neck folds, not too greasy so it doesn't affect the pages, not too hot or cold so it can be held between bites. Ice lollies are quite good.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

I honestly can't think of one.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

I only ever search out reviews for a book when I hated the book, or aspects of it, and so I do tend to agree with all the reviews I've searched for specifically because they dislike a book I dislike.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

I once reviewed a book for a journal, and found it rather easy to criticise. I think there's a difference between a critical review and a negative review, though I'm sure they feel very similar as a recipient. I certainly don't think that you should only say positive things about books, or only engage with media that you enjoy.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?

French, because that's the one I sort of can (for fairly simple texts) and also I clearly haven't chosen, or I would have done. One of my resolutions at the beginning of the year was to read at least one book in French. Although I dutifully schlepped two books in French out to Brussels with me, and have since bought two more, not a page of them have I dipped in to. I think I need more structure to do it. When I want to read I am always going to choose something more easy, where I don't have to slow down my reading pace and read every word, and where I don't have to stop and look up words.

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?

Please. Books are intimidated by me.

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?

There are some books I'm keen to read that I do think of as difficult - the Koran, because I think it would be interesting, War and Peace, to say that I have, and some Foucault because I did find his theories both useful and interesting and maybe I will enjoy it more without the pressure.

35. Favourite poet?

I like Diane Diprima, wendy Cope. I generally like short poems. I say this every time poetry comes up on livejournal, but The Virago Book of Wicked Verse is brilliant and was one of my formulative texts.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

Usually it's zero. When I was a teenager, though, I would take two books out of the school library every day, which was the maximum, and 6 books out of the town library every week, which was also the maximum (and we only went there once a week). Then they extended the town library so I usually had 12 out at a time. Now I am sad to say I don't even know what the limits are on my Edinburgh library card.

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?

Occasionally. Usually it's something I've taken out with a vague good intention to read, and then eventually take back unread because £1.20 is enough money wasted already.

38. Favourite fictional character?

This is part of how I don't think that I have a very well developed critical relationship with books. I read posts etc about people having immense emotional attachments to certain books and their characters, and I don't think I have that. I tend to get sucked in while I read a book, but because I read so much there are too many characters I love to think about constantly, and so I only remember them when a sudden memory slips back.

39. Favourite fictional villain?

Same as above. My mind has gone more than a little blank. I think it's interesting that this question assumes that your favourite character wouldn't be a villain.

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?

When I'm going on holiday I like to spend a weekend going to all the charity shops I can get to and buying up a large amount of easy to read books. The holiday thing is what makes me think a Kindle would be a good idea, but then I would have the pleasure of some unexpected finds. Last time I went on holiday, to India in January with [ profile] whatho, I read:

Let's Pretend This Never Happened - Jenny Lawson
Menagerie Manor - Gerald Durrell
The Small Bachelor - PG Wodehouse
The Sex Life of My Aunt - Mavis Cheek
I feel Bad About My Neck - Nora Ephron
AJ Wentworth BA - HF Ellis
Eleven Minutes Late - Matthew Engel
The Naked Civil Servant - Quentin Crisp
The Birds of the Innocent Wood - Deirdre Madden
Cabin Fever - Elizabeth Jolley
A Passage to India - EM Forster
Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre
An Equal Music - Vikran Seth
Happenstance - Carol Shields
Human Voices - Penelope Fitzgerald
Glamorous Powers - Susan Howatch
Tin Toys - Ursula Holden
The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen

A few of them I swapped while on the road (A Passage to India, for one), but mostly I just stuffed them into my backpack and carted them around, enjoying the lightening weight as I got through them and discarded those I didn't want to keep.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.

Probably a day or two? I usually read on my way to work (in a bus in Edinburgh, or while walking here), and often at lunch as well.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I didn't finish The Pyrates by George Macdonald Fraser. I really enjoy the Flashman books, but this just didn't make me laugh one bit.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?

If it's an engrossing book, nothing external. If I haven't really got into what I'm reading, then an earworm, an odd thought, or the view of of a bus or train window will all draw my attention. Internally, then Americanisms in a British book, shitty attitudes to women and queer people especially (and people of colour too, but I've realised that I'm not picking up on these as often as I would like to, so I'm trying to pay more attention and read more meta about race), large sections of books in italics.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?

Anything with Keira Knightley in, of course.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

Anythng without Keira Knightley in, of course.

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

Going into an actual shop, maybe £60-70? However, the most money I've ever spent on an individual book is £210.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

If I'm looking at a book to see if I want to buy or borrow it I'll often select a page at random and flick through it a bit to see if anything leaps out at me - dialogue, the way of writing, tone. In one case a mention of JUMP! Street.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

Boredom. I can only think of a few books I've stopped reading, and they've all been because I was bored with the book and found it annoying. I used to follow Nicola Marlow's rules for reading and keep on going to the bitter end, but I've stopped following that to the letter. There are a couple of books I've been "in the middle of" for years and years, so at some point I need to take up where I left off, start again, or admit defeat.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

I LOVE to keep my books organised. I am happier when they are all where I want them, and also I really enjoy the process of organising books, deciding how to divide them, where the more liminal books are going to live, alphabetising, the physical bits of making room for new books. When I get back to Edinburgh I am very much looking forward to adding the new books I now have and seeing if I can make any changes. One thing I should do is go through and really decide if I want to keep books I've read but have no intention of ever reading again - not the school stories, as I definitely want to keep those regardless of rereading intentions, but some of the novels. I have a habit of holding onto Virago and Women's Press books even when I didn't really enjoy them very much.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?

Keep! Very much keep. Well, it depends on the book, of course, but generally I would hold on to a book I liked. Despite that, I usually attend one or both of the bookswaps every year, and usually don't have any trouble coming up with things to take and pass on. (And in some cases attempt to force upon people.) Next Scottish bookswap coming up in the next couple of months!

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

I'm not sure about avoiding. That makes it sound like it's something you feel you should or have to read rather than are choosing not to. I suppose I avoided reading books at university. I avoided Deleuze HARD. Um. I haven't read 50 Shades of Grey, but I would if I got the book for free somehow without any effort. Maybe the book that comes closest is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So many people recommend it, and I do actually have a copy somewhere, but something just puts me off. I hear that there's a lot of graphic description of sexual assault, which isn't very enticing, and also probably I have an erroneous "I'm so cool" thing that says I shouldn't just read what the SHEEPLE read. (I have never ever used the word sheeple.)

52. Name a book that made you angry.

The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?

I wouldn't say I liked it, but I was surprised at how much I wanted to keep reading the Twlight books after I finished the first one. They are SO ridiculous.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?

Hmmmm. I don't know. I think I'm sufficiently pessimistic to assume that I'm not going to like something if everyone thinks I will. I recently read Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, which I was expecting to adore as 1) her other books are some of the most affecting I've ever read and 2) set in a school! It is highly regarded in YA circles, from what I've read. It just didn't work for me, though, the setting didn't gel, and I was really disappointed

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

ALL my reading is guilt-free. Even when I was PhD-reading I didn't feel bad about reading for pleasure instead of work - it's always felt like a vital part of my life that I don't need to feel bad about.

Date: 2013-07-10 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
33 made me laugh and miss you equally.

Date: 2013-07-10 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
:) I miss you too.

Date: 2013-07-10 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Me too! 33 may well be best answer to anything ever.

And I am very glad to hear your answer to 55 because I've had a couple of people express surprise that I'm reading things for pleasure as well as PhD, and well reading is part of who I am and if I'm not reading, then I'm ill.

I am very fond of Virago Book of Wicked Verse too. I think that quite a few of the poems I've picked for various poetry days on LJ are from that.

And 12 books is the maximum limit from ECL.

Date: 2013-07-10 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
People did keep saying "of course, I've got no time to read fiction", and I just quietly thought to myself "well, you need to sort our your priorities". They still ate and slept, why not read too?

Date: 2013-07-10 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I bet they did tedious things like go to the gym as well, which is a thing on which I am not going to waste precious reading time.

Date: 2013-07-11 11:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aw, I've just gone back and reread your review of Noughtie. You are so great.


Date: 2013-07-11 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also, re. question 21, I would like to point out that you also make people read books that you know that they will HATE. (I found the Dik Dik book in my flat the other day. I WILL READ IT I SWEAR.)

Date: 2013-07-11 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have yet to SUCEED in making people read books they will hate, as you have not yet followed through. TWILIGHT, JESS. You made me read Twilight.

Date: 2013-07-11 01:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

The Noughtie review is one of the things I've written that I've liked the most, and felt proud of. Maybe I should start seeking out things that infuriate me.

Date: 2013-07-11 01:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]


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