Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Meme

I took this book meme from the literate Brandon. Now not all of these answers are necessarily my "favorite", but just what first sprang to mind.
 1. Favorite childhood book?
I tended to read books over and over if I loved them, and the favorites changed over time. Grimm's Fairy Tales, Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn (which we just finished reading with the girls now), Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreath, the Narnia books, and the Little House books were all favorites.

 2. What are you reading right now?
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (found in our library), and Mansfield Park and Mummies. Just finished Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke, H.M.S Surprise by Patrick O'Brian, and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

4. Bad book habit?
Leaving books all around where the kids can get at them, or piling them perilously high on my nightstand.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing for myself, and I think we just returned most of the childrens' books. I think I still have out The Longhouse and the Wigwam for the girls.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I often read more than one book, and I tend to leave them in different places. So I might have a book in the kitchen and one in the library and one in my bedroom.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I don't know -- my life has changed much in the six years we've been blogging, so how can I say if my reading habits have changed because of blogging or because I have five children? I have less time to read, though I don't think I read less often.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, The American Legend by Howard Means. Means is a rather pompous writer and also got some rather basic facts about religion wrong, which made me doubt just about everything else in the book. It was a slog to finish it.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
The Moviegoer is my top contender (though I haven't finished it yet). I also liked The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips, the last quarter of which was a manuscript of a play purported to be by Shakespeare (and it was pretty good too -- better than the rest of the book, I thought), Room by Emma Donoghue, and Possession by A.S.Byatt. But The Moviegoer is better than either of those. The Warden by Anthony Trollope was also quite enjoyable.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I dunno. I often pick up new books on the recommendations of those I trust, so maybe not often.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Classic novels and children's literature.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I haven't been on a bus in these fifteen years, almost.

14. Favorite place to read?
The loveseat in my library or in bed.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I'm pretty generous with handing out my books, though I do like to get them back eventually.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
No.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Oh, never.

18. Not even with text books?
No, I hated marking up my textbooks, even. I did highlight a few books, and it pains me now to see those marks.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English, naturally. I can slog along in French with a dictionary, but I haven't really read in French since I translated No Exit in college.

20. What makes you love a book?
Recognition.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I'll recommend a book if I think someone will like it.

22. Favorite genre?
I'm not much of a genre reader anymore, though I will seek out books that friends recommend. If a book is good, it's good regardless of genre.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
I like mysteries but don't often seek them out.

24. Favorite biography?
I don't know. Now that I'm on the spot I can't bring up a single biography I've read, though I've read plenty.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Cover to cover? I don't know. When I was a teenager I often turned to a manual of etiquette by Emily Post or some such as a panacea against all social ills, though I think that self-help and good advice are not mutually inclusive genres.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Joy of Cooking, which is in my kitchen in about 1066 distinct pages, and I have to ruffle through them to find my standby recipes. Time to buy a new copy, maybe. Hey publishers: how about making your reference cookbooks signature-sewn?

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Gamesmanship, by Steven Potter. I've read it before, and I'll read it again.

28. Favorite reading snack?
I'll eat almost anything mindlessly while I read, so it's not generally a good idea for me to snack with a book. But I do like to read with a cup of tea -- in the evenings, usually Lady Grey.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I agree with Brandon: I tried to read Catcher in the Rye this year (found in our library, of course), and it was just too dull for words. What was the big deal?

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Depends on the critic, of course. Often, though, I pay more attention to my friends' critiques, which I generally find trustworthy.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
Well, if the book deserves it...

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
I wish I could read Latin.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
The Acting Person, by Karol Wojtyla.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I'm too lazy to start some books, but too nervous?

35. Favorite Poet?
I like John Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins, but I don't read lots of poetry.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
About fifteen, but that's because I check out books for the small ones.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Several times, because sometimes in a fit of gluttony I'll check out more than I can feasibly read.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Right now I love Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, from Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
I have a sneaking fondness for Kim Philby in Declare by Tim Powers.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
It doesn't matter what I bring. I almost never get to read while I'm on vacation, if the kids are along.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
As with all loves, my reading habits are cyclical. Sometimes I go a week or so between books, and sometimes I'm bouncing from one to the next.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I tend to finish a book once I've started it, but not always. I read the beginning of The Lovely Bones, but that was at a bookstore and it was more a case of not pursuing the book rather than actively not finishing it. I just didn't have the patience to slog through Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin, even when I made the half-way mark.

I find that recently, I'm more willing to abandon a book in midstream. It used to be that I would always grind through to the end to see if a book redeemed itself, but a few unpleasant experiences have changed my practice.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Almost nothing, and I don't know if that's a positive when it means I tune out the kids.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Definitely the BBC version of Brideshead Revisited.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I didn't like Possession, which undersold the book and its characters in a rather grander way than one usually finds from adaptations.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I don't know, though I bet I'd be ashamed to say if I did.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Almost never, if by skimming you mean reading bits all the way through. I do sometimes opt not to continue a book after reading the first chapter or so.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
I'm going to borrow Brandon's answer wholesale: Not much. Barring external factors and interruptions, it's usually the rare case of my coming to the conclusion that reading the book is itself morally culpable. My reading tastes being very diverse and quite generous, this is a very rare thing; frivolousness about rape or something similar could very well put a book in this position, though.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
We organize alphabetically in fiction, and by subject in non-fiction. Otherwise stuff just gets piled on shelves until we can figure out where to put it, and there's just chaos.

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

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Outlander, because it was recommended by people I trusted, and it was so completely appalling.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Silence, by Shusako Endo.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
I'm starting to feel that way about A History of Us, by Joy Hakim (Hi, Sharon!).

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Nero Wolfe mysteries, by Rex Stout

8 comments:

Brandon said...

Some of the answers seem to be bleeding off the margin.

I didn't like Possession, myself, and for what seems to be my general situation with regard to A. S. Byatt: I like her as an author, but she doesn't do anything for me as a writer. That is, I like her use of ideas, and the structure, and there's some technical excellence to her works, but her writing always seems unrelentingly pretentious to me. Haven't seen the movie, but I can see how Byatt's strengths might not come through very well.

The Acting Person is, I think, Wojtyla's most unreadable work; I've read it, but despite always thinking that some parts are quite good, nothing ever sticks. Love and Responsibility is (mostly) much better in this regard.

I like Nero Wolfe mysteries quite a bit, too. They really are hard to beat if you want light reading.

Elizabeth said...

1. Same, same, same, same, same! I loved (and still do to some extent) reading my favorite childhood books over and over. Cheaper By the Dozen is one of my favorites of all time (and I collected 3 more copies of it when my high school had a stand of free books. I couldn't let them be taken by someone who wouldn't appreciate them!)

Kyle R. Cupp said...

I still vividly remember scenes from your "No Exit." It was powerfully done.

BettyDuffy said...

One of my housemates from college is the author of Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters. Maybe you should read it when you finish Mansfield and mummies.

mrsdarwin said...

Brandon, the new Blogger format and I are having differences -- again. But Darwin was kind enough to sit down and painstakingly fix all the code that had accumulated when I pasted in the meme. Oh Blogger, you tease...

Kyle, I'm so pleased I'm blushing. You've just won my enduring love for being one of the few people not involved with the show to remember my production of No Exit. Did you know that was my own translation? The standard English translation didn't capture the circular dialogue of the French, which I thought was a handy bit of drama.

Brendan reminds me that Dr. Russell, in honors, was dismissive when told that I'd translated it myself. "You mean you looked at a few different English versions and then wrote something based on that?" Of Dr. Russell, it was once said, "Teaching should be a seduction, but with Dr. Russell, it's more like a rape."

I have nothing but fond memories of that show, but I got a B- on the grade for Production class, which still rankles bitterly these 10 years later.

mrsdarwin said...

Betty, I did read S&S&SM, and I enjoyed it more than P&P&V, because the author had taken more pains to re-write the story and do some world building. P&P&V read like a big cut-and-paste job. My problem with MP&M is that the story has been altered so very much, with Egyptology and werewolves and vampyres thrown into the mix, that the essential characters of Fanny Price and Edmund have been lost -- and the whole charm, such as it is, of these mash-ups is seeing Austen's characters respond to these ludicrous situations.

As it is, I'm not sure I'll finish MP&M. It's beastly long, and I don't have the patience I used to have.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

I did! One of the reasons I saw the show.

I'm disappointed to hear that about Dr. Russell. I hope he rightly regretted saying that afterwards and wishes now, on sleepless nights, that he could apologize.

Whoever gave you that grade in production should be forced to watch "Friday" a number of times equal to the number of viewings it's gotten on Youtube.

JMB said...

RE: self help books.

After my dad suddenly died, I found myself in the library wandering around aimlessly in the self help section. I caught sight of Dale Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" and grabbed it. It changed my life in a huge way. There was a chapter on sleep and basically he says that you will not die from lack of sleep. I always think about that when I wake up in the middle of night and lose a few hours of shut eye.

Another great self help book is Allan Carr's "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking". I haven't smoked for a long time now, but I still reread it every now and then because he does a great job on describing the "voice or lie in your head" and how to kill it. It helped me identify the demonic voice inside, and not God's. This can be applied to any addiction, or in the least, bad thought pattern; ie "I suck, I'm no good at this, I'm a loser, etc".