After my Mockingjay reading marathon, I find myself struggling once again to start/finish anything. I’m in the middle of two books, both of which are obligation reads, and while I’ve no doubt I will finish them, it just might not be too soon. Or, you know, before I have to. Not wanting things to go dark on the blog front, I’ll continue to post things like this: The 55 Question Meme, which I originally saw on and snagged from A Work in Progress. My goal is not to repeat myself or duplicate answers given to similar questions answered here before.
1. Favorite childhood book?
If the question were: Which book from your childhood stands in your earliest memory? Or: What was the first book you remember falling in love with? I’d be able to answer without hesitation: The Polar Express by Van Allsburg. My little self pulled that book off the library shelf and was quite literally enraptured with it. It wasn’t so much the story as the illustrations, see. The two page spread with the wolves running from the forest and alongside the train? I must have stared at it for hours.
But as for favorite – an impossible thing to ascertain, as we all know – I’d say maybe The Phantom Tollbooth. Or The Indian in the Cupboard.¹ I was also a big fan of Martin’s Babysitter Club series. Dawn was my girl; to this day, I’m not certain why.
¹My enjoyment of this book predates any of the controversy that later stirred up. I just thought it was neat that a toy could come to life, and snuck a few of my own in the cabinet behind our bathroom mirror to see if I had the same luck. Alas…
2. What are you reading right now?
Right this very moment? Past weekend? Day? Nothing. No, that’s not entirely true. I’m still on a tear with fanfiction. But I do have two books, as I mentioned above, waiting patiently for me to get back to them, and they are: What Alice Knew by Cohen and Emissaries from the Dead by Castro.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
I have 48 books on reserve. To spare my fingers from cramping, I won’t list them all. A few, that I can do:
- The Black Prism by Weeks
- The Undrowned Child by Lovric
- Shades of Milk and Honey by Kowal
- The Vaults by Ball
- Petty Magic: Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker by DeAngelis
- Mob Rules by Haley
Along with a slew – seriously, a whole bunch – of soon to be released YA titles.
4. Bad book habit?
What does this mean? Is it like biting-your-fingernails bad habits? (Noshing on the corner of the pages? And, no, I don’t.) Not returning library books on time? (Which I never do because what could possibly be my excuse?)
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
It is a rare thing indeed when the number of books I have checked out from the library is a single digit. But that’s how it stands, at a rather measly looking 5. I have out Poison by Poole and Death Most Definite by Jamieson, to name a couple.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, a Kindle.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I find that I’m no good at reading more than one book at a time. That’s not to say I never do; especially lately. But my preference is – and my skills usually only allow for – just one.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No, not really. I worry more about articulating my thoughts after the fact. Before, when it was just me talking someone’s ear off about a book I read and loved, I didn’t feel the need to get it right. It was all about enthusiasm, however incoherent, and saying whatever came to mind.
9. Least favorite book you read this year?
Ach. I don’t know. I’m not even sure how to interpret the question. Is it: Which book can I claim no love for? Or: Which book did I want to toss out a window? Or: Which book would I show the door and say – “I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.” – to? In order, I suppose the answers would be: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart¹ by Pattillo; Something Like Fate² by Colasanti; Spider’s Bite³ by Estep or Illyria by Hand.
¹Overall, blah. Which is why I never wrote a review.
²It was the dialogue that really did it in for me.
³Regarding the first, I really, really wanted to like it, but the connection just wasn’t there. And the second, I admired Hand’s prose, but the story didn’t work for me.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Lordy, I don’t know! There’ve been several gems. To this question I say: Pass. For now. The end of the year, I’ll have a list.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
This year? More often than I used to. It’s been a concentrated effort due, in part, to a group I participate in for work, but also because I was feeling a bit burned out. Reading the things I loved wasn’t bringing me comfort or happiness; I felt let down more often than not, which made it harder to sustain any sort of finish one book, pick up another momentum.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Fantasy, YA, mystery, romance.
13. Can you read on the bus?
Sure. In cars, on boats, in planes, and on trains, too.
14. Favorite place to read?
Anywhere, but I always find myself on the couch in the living room. It’s new and super comfy.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
All books circulate for three weeks. Except for new books, which circulate for seven days.
Fines incur for each late day. Renewals…
Oh, wait! That’s not my policy. Work in a library for years and that’s what happens, folks. You hear the word policy and automatically go into spout mode.
No one ever asks to borrow my books and I rarely find myself in a situation which would prompt me to offer one up, so…No policy. If a good friend wanted to borrow one, I’d let them. After extracting a promise that the book will come back in the same condition it left in.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
My own books? No. Library books? Well, yes, I’ve been guilty of that on occasion. But I always do my best to smooth out the crease.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
18. Not even with text books?
Yes! Fine! You caught me.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
¹Sorry; I don’t mean to be glib. I have but one language at my disposal, so: English. Oh, and a whole book in Pig Latin? I can feel an adache-heay coming on at the mere thought of it. Go ahead…groan. It’s just that…55 is a lot!
20. What makes you love a book?
Characters. First and foremost.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
22. Favorite genre?
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
I read them all. Horror, however, usually gets short shrift. Mostly because I don’t actively seek out new horror titles the way I do fantasy, mystery, etc.
24. Favorite biography?
Biographies don’t tend to draw me; I can, in fact, likely count on one hand, possibly two, the number of them I’ve read over the years. And the biographies I have read tend to have everything to do with authors I love or people who, for whatever reason, pull at me. Those include: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Italo Calvino, H.P. Lovecraft, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Muir. I’ve no particular favorite, though.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No. I may have picked one up, skimmed it, while I was working at the bookstore, or replacing a copy on a shelving cart at the library. But actually read one? No, can’t say that I have.
26. Favorite cookbook?
I’ve put several of Nigella Lawson’s recipes from How to Be a Domestic Goddess to good use.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
Touched by an Alien. It’s inspired me to be obsessive about having a pen on my person at all times. After all, better to be prepared for an alien attack today than beamed up and forced to slow dance to Chris DeBurgh’s “The Lady in Red”¹ tomorrow.
28. Favorite reading snack?
Don’t have one, per se.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
You know, nothing comes to mind.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I try to be honest; if that means giving a negative review, I will. But I also try to be respectful about it and explain as best I can why it didn’t work for me.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Toughie. Greek, maybe. Or Norse. Or Spanish, perhaps, so I can read Zafon’s work in its original form.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Crime and Punishment. But only because I had to give an oral report on it and I was sure I was going to butcher the Russian names. Enjoyed the novel.
A close second: Toni Morrison’s…anything. I’ve read several and I always came away feeling as though I didn’t get/understand/see half of what she was doing with the story.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Can’t think of one.
35. Favorite poet?
Why aren’t these questions ever posed in the plural?! Christina Rossetti, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Billy Collins, Louise Gluck, William Matthews. I could keep going.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
On average, twenty or so.
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Not often, but it’s not unusual either. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of a pressing reserve list; in which case, I don’t have a choice but to return it, read or not.
38. Favorite fictional character?
This meme is intent on taking me for a long walk off a short pier. These questions! That you’d ask of a book lover! I’m going to cheat and say, if you have a moment and are truly interested, slide back up and click on the link marked “Bookish Favorites.”
39. Favorite fictional villain?
I can only begin to understand the desired meaning of “favorite” to be applied here. Again, is it: Fictional villain you love to hate? Or: Fictional villain you’d back away from very, very slowly before making a break for it and running for your life? Or: Fictional villain who, deep down, is only really, sadly conflicted and misunderstood, and therefore you want to pet him/her until he/she rethinks his/her previously naughty behavior?
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Paperbacks. Can’t be more specific than that because it totally depends on the when, the where, the what I’m in the mood for.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
However long I go – be it a day or three weeks – it’s too long. Right now I’m clocking in around that four week mark. But with fits of reading. Because resisting Mockingjay wasn’t an option. But now I’m back to the regularly scheduled non-reading of before.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
For the love of Pete, just let the dog live!
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
UFC¹ on the television. I’m not a fan. But a certain someone in my house is. I find the play-by-plays, the stats, the blood spewing and dripping, and the risk of bone breaking to be highly distracting.
¹That’s Ultimate Fighting Championship.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Would North and South count if I have yet to read Gaskell’s novel? Because…Richard Armitage! As if I needed another reason. (Oh, and chalk up another point for the tally!)
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Didn’t care for Burton’s adaptation of Alice. Despite Depp and Fry and Rickman. Which is just sad.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Maybe, like, forty or fifty? Maybe.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Hardly ever. My mind boggles at reading the ending first. It also can’t quite grasp flipping through, reading dialogue and events out of context, and generally spoiling the experience of discovering the story as it was meant to unfold.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
See 52. Also: Violence towards animals and children, especially if it’s gratuitous, entirely unnecessary to the plot, or if it isn’t being used as motivation for a character’s behavior (i.e. to explain trauma.)
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
If I say no will my librarian-in-good-standing card be revoked? I kinda like that card, so…Yes! I do! Library of Congress classification all the way, baby!
But really? Um. Sort of? Loosely organized; that’s what I’d call my shelves. I like to group by themes, favorite books/series, YA with YA (mostly). That sort of organization. In other words, no one else would have a clue what the heck I was trying to do by looking at them.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I’ve gotten better at letting them go – especially if I know there’s not a chance in the world I’ll ever reread one – but it’s hard. I’m sure my diagnosis would be the book lover’s equivalent of Empty Nest Syndrome; as soon as I said good-bye to one of my precious books, I’d be prone to staggering around my library, looking longingly at the empty space it left behind on the shelf, wanting it back in the fold.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
I haven’t read The Host yet. Not sure if it’s because I’ve been avoiding it, or just haven’t been interested enough to pick up.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Off the top of my head: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast’s Chosen. (Wait. That was the third book, right?) I couldn’t stand where that book went in terms of plot and character.
I’m sure there are others, but I’m on question 52…
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Honestly? The Hunger Games. Initially, I found the whole idea repulsive. Sending children into a gladiatorial arena, expecting them to pick each other off until only one’s left standing? No, thank you. But I got over it – and in fairly short order, thankfully – and was blown away by how awesome the entire trilogy was.
Also, The Last Hurrah by O’Connor. Which I ended up loving.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
*stares at question*
I’ve got nothing.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
I make a point of never feeling guilty about anything I read. So, everything!