Saw this at Ian Sales’ site, and being a sucker for this kind of meme, I picked it up and am carrying it along the internet.
1 Favorite childhood book? Starting out with a tough one. I read so much as a kid that it’s hard pulling one out of hundreds. There’s several dozen picture books alone….
The first ones I remember really reading myself were these abridgments of classics—thick little half-sized flipbooks with an illustration on the right page and text on the left. They went for the ludicrous cost of three for a dollar. (I think they’re still in the basement, just too lazy to go check.) And while they were abridged for kids, they were pretty accurate to their source material. Anyways. I read and re-read The War of the Worlds (with this lurid pink cover) and The Call of the Wild to death, and a few years later I moved up to the real versions.
2 What are you reading right now? Having finished a pair of really lengthy SF novels, I wanted a little change of scenery, and as luck would have it my copy of Joseph Koenig’s False Negative showed up in the mail yesterday, so…
3 What books do you have on request at the library? I really need to use the library. At all. I tell myself I’ll go there so I won’t have to pay for more books, after I read all the books I already own.
4 Bad book habit? Buying more books than I can 1.) afford, 2.) properly shelve.
5 What do you currently have checked out at the library? See above. Nada.
6 Do you have an e-reader? No. I’m probably going to pick up a tablet to replace my crappy old laptop, and that will function as an impromptu e-reader.
7 Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? One at a time is my preference, unless I have good reason to split my attention. Graphic novels don’t count, I can breeze through those in a day. When I do read multiple books, I try to keep them separated—one fiction and one nonfiction, a novel and a short story collection, etc.
8 Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? Yes, a bit; I’m reading more genre fiction and choosing my selections with care. Also, I’m reading a lot more than I used to—but that might have more to do with post-college scheduling.
9 Least favorite book you read this year (so far)? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I’ve read lists of ingredients that were better written. There should be a Surgeon General’s Warning indicating its prose is so pointless and simplistic it kill brain cells. Fucking pile of worthless, hack-job, meandering, overblown, over-hyped, misogynistic dog shit. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
10 Favorite book you’ve read this year? Three-way death struggle between Brian Aldiss’s Non-Stop, Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, and Charles Williams’ A Touch of Death.
11 How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Not as often as I’d like. Though, I have a lot of weird comfort zones.
12 What is your reading comfort zone? Science fiction and crime/mystery/thrillers. Tome-sized non-fiction histories. Cormac McCarthy. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Jon Krakauer. Philip K Dick. Gene Wolfe. John LeCarre. Hemingway. The War Poets. Classical mythology and epics like the Iliad and Dante’s Divine Comedy. Things friends and relatives suggest. Things I find at the book store that happened to catch my eye and looked good. Things with lurid covers or sensational blurbs.
13 Can you read on the bus? What bus?
14 Favorite place to read? On the couch in the back room in the afternoon, or in bed before going to sleep. Either one.
15 What is your policy on book lending? Depends on the condition of the book—if it’s in godawful condition, I might just give it away and buy a better copy. I might lend to family members, otherwise… I’ll lend it out of my cold dead hands.
16 Do you ever dog-ear books? How dreadfully savage!
17 Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Never saw the need to jump out, find a working pen, and write in a book. If I can’t remember specific lines or ideas, I’ll memorize the page number or stuff something in as a bookmark. Not sure why else I’d be writing in the margins if it’s not to remember a quote.
18 Not even with text books? Again, never saw the point—if it’s so important, the prof will have it in his interminable PowerPoint display. Freshman year I did write my name in some pricey textbooks in case of theft, but never bothered to do that again because of how unlikely it was anybody would want to steal the dozens of used novels or ancient Greek epics I was reading for classes.
19 What is your favorite language to read in? While I know a bit of Deutsch, I wouldn’t be able to glean much if the book isn’t in English.
20 What makes you love a book? The book has something to say, characters strong enough to say it, and the author says it in beautiful prose.
21 What will inspire you to recommend a book? Positive feelings after finishing it—enjoyment, accomplishment, like I’ve learned or saw something unique. That somebody else with similar interest levels could read that book and glean something from it.
22 Favorite genre? Science fiction.
23 Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)? I think I should read more mainstream “literary” stuff—it’s not that I don’t read it, I just don’t go out of my way to find it. And I’ve always wanted to get into steampunk—I have the fear that I’ll have the same problems with it that I do fantasy: good concepts, weak execution, formulaic.
24 Favorite biography? I don’t think I’ve read a real biography.
25 Have you ever read a self-help book? No.
26 Favorite cookbook? I have a number of hand-me-downs left on the shelf, but I don’t remember using any of them to a great extent—maybe The Joy of Cooking or the Betty Crocker guide everybody and their cousin owns. Most often I’ll have some cool new recipe I found online or on the box of a food-like product that I want to try.
27 Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? I’m not into books that sell themselves by their “inspirational” nature. Of the ones I read… um, The Lathe of Heaven?
28 Favorite reading snack? It’s hard to eat while holding a book, and most often I read in bed, so I don’t read and eat.
29 Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo comes to mind with clarity and force. I could name several others.
30 How often do you agree with critics about a book? It varies by critic and by book. I’ve found that every critic and I will share parallel opinions, and harbor a number of opposite ones. It’s a fact of perspective.
31 How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? If the book deserves it, it’s getting a negative review. Having no redeeming features shouldn’t be rewarded with encouragement or false praises.
32 If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose? A language that looks awesome. Yes, purely based on my aesthetic preferences for fonts. Arabic calligraphy and Russian Cyrillic come to mind, with the added benefit that I could say I read the classics in their native tongue—the original Arabian Nights for the former, pick your classic Russian lit for the latter.
33 Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? To completion? For sheer complexity, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas whilst sober; I’m pretty sure I missed out on parts of it by not taking stimulants of any sort. For dryness and size, Moby-Dick, which was one of the first olde-thyme books I read.
34 Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? Hrrm. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, not just because of its dense page count. I note that when it came out, everybody was praising it for its impressive research and accuracy, not for being well-written. Also: Stand on Zanzibar, since the first chapters kicked my ass when I was in high school. (Having the flu helped.)
36 How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time? None; I have boxes and boxes and boxes galore without needing to borrow anything. (This is due to my chronic lack of shelves, and from living near libraries and stores with fifty-cent book sales. And from having parents who donate to my collection of genre schlock.)
37 How often have you returned books to the library unread? When I used the library—I loved those things back when I was a kid—all or none. The library I used when I was really young had these inane check-out times, like less than a week, and I’d borrow more books than I could read (such was my way), and I read like a fish swims. Even then, I’d either get through all of them, or would forget about them and get hit by the return date. When I moved and went to a library with two-week check out times, a few years later, my reading habits bottomed out, and I spent most of a decade not reading much.
38 Favourite fictional character? I think there’s a nice strength to a recurring character—there has to be, otherwise there’s no reason for their return—but I enjoy any developed, well-conceived protagonist.
39 Favourite fictional villain? Professor Moriarty is a temptation, but I’ll go with Count Dracula. Rich, powerful, erudite nobility at first glance, manipulative and cunning evil at his core.
40 Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? Either an assortment of small older novels, so I have a lot of variety to choose from, or a couple of big omnibuses/collections that I’ve wanted to read.
41 The longest I’ve gone without reading. There were several years when I was a kid that I don’t remember reading anything—at least, I didn’t read anything of value. When I was an der uni, I spent more time socializing or in class than reading—I averaged eight non-textbooks per year. (If you include non-textbooks read for classes, triple that.) Since then? A couple of days and I’m back into a book.
42 Name a book that you could/would not finish. Lord Jim. Just drove me up a wall and I couldn’t grasp on to anything, though I’m not sure why.
43 What distracts you easily when you’re reading? My neighbors. My dog. My job. My Netflix subscription. Computer games. The internet. Visitors and guests stopping by. Life.
44 Favorite film adaptation of a novel? To Kill A Mockingbird. Honorable mentions are Hitchcock’s The Thirty-Nine Steps and No Country for Old Men.
45 Most disappointing film adaptation? I Am Legend; very awkward, changed the ending, took all the bad elements in I, Robot and turned them to eleven.
46 The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? I believe around $50 when Borders was going out of business. Big spender, yeah.
47 How often do you skim a book before reading it? Never. Though now and then I’ll pick up a book and read the first pages to see which one sounds interesting enough to read next; more often than not I’ll keep reading the second or third book I picked up.
48 What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? At the halfway point, I’ll just buck up and soldier on. If I stopped reading, it was in the first few chapters, due to: extreme prejudice/bigotry, listless prose, or because the book just didn’t do anything for me.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Yes, when I have shelves.
50 Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? If it’s something I’ll want to read again, or got as a collectable (cool cover, great condition, rare book) then no. If it’s beat up and worn, or I didn’t like it, I’ll give it away or sell it.
51 Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? Things with vampires or zombies. Romance, and fantasy, and most of all, urban fantasy.
52 Name a book that made you angry. Empire in Black and Gold. Saw this and its sequel in Borders on the two-for-$12 table, found it had amazing reviews online, picked up the first three, was infuriated at the book’s dull, formulaic mediocrity beneath a thin film of excellent premise. It’s not that I don’t like fantasy, it’s that my standards are high.
53 A book you didn’t expect to like but did? Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Saw it assigned as reading material in an English Lit class and wasn’t sure how I’d like it. Certainly didn’t expect to leave that class with Chronicle as my favorite book and Marquez as one of my favorite authors.
54 A book that you expected to like but didn’t? Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. C’mon, dudes in space in rocket suits! You all saw the movie trailers, it’s got huge blue and yellow bugs in it! Ten pages in and we’re in totalitarian philosophy land. I wouldn’t say I hated it after that first read, but I sure didn’t like it, either—a total letdown to ten-year-old me. Now that I understand the philosophy better, I like it less.
55 Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading? The Stars My Destination. My most-read book off the top of my head.