One of the blogs I follow recently posted a list of 55 questions about reading habits. While initially daunted by the sheer number of questions, I decided to give it a try.
- Favorite childhood book?
I think I should clarify right from the start that I am terrible at ranking things into favourites. It’s just not the way my mind works, I guess, so I always have more than one favourite. Also I am Canadian so I spell it ‘favourite’.
My much-loved childhood books were Timothy the Tiger and The Widow’s Broom. Once I got into early teen-ish years, I became fairly obsessed with Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small and Immortals series. I also loved Archie comics.
- What are you reading right now?
Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell, The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane, Fashion in the French Revolution by Aileen Ribeiro, A History of Roman Britain by Peter Salway. I always read several books at once so I can switch between them depending on my mood. As an added bonus, no matter where I leave a book, one of them always seems to be at hand, which can be handy if the cat is sleeping on my lap and I feel too kind to move her.
What books do you have on request at the library?
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
Bad book habit?
Eating while reading. I don’t do this when other people are around – I’m not a complete savage (literary savage??) – but I am usually the first one up at my house and breakfast is prime reading time. I have to admit though, I don’t really consider this a bad habit. Once, when I was reading an Archie comic, one of the characters had some kind of advice column and once it was about not reading at the table. I was vaguely offended. Oh comics.
What do you currently have checked out at the library?
A History of Roman Britain by Peter Salway
Fashion in the French Revolution by Aileen Ribeiro
The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane
The Ancient Celts by Barry Cunliffe
Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey
Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis
The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland
I seem to be in a Roman phase right now.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
No, but I sometimes read stuff on my smart phone. Also I just changed bank accounts and apparently now I’m getting a free iPad mini. This is so exciting! Whose life is this?!?
- Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Several at once – this has been established.
Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No. Is this a thing that happens to people?
- Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
I don’t have one. I don’t finish a book if I am not enjoying it. There are a lot of books in the world and only a limited amount of free time to read them!
Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Skin Game by Jim Butcher, The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn, The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell, The Magician King by Lev Grossman.
- What is your reading comfort zone?
Historical fiction. Although I take issue with this question a little, because I think ‘comfort zone’ implies that one is afraid to go beyond that level, and I just enjoy historical fiction most of all. Maybe I am overanalyzing this.
Can you read in the car?
Ugh, even the thought is making me feel queasy. I wish I could read in the car.
Favorite place to read?
In bed, or in the comfy Ikea chair in my office. I also like to lie on the couch in the living room and read when the sun is coming in through the window.
What is your policy on book lending?
Flexible, it depends on the person and the book. I have a couple of cheap mass market paperbacks that I have replaced because I lent them out and never got them back, but I’m okay with it. I do have some older books I would be pretty hesitant to lend out.
Do you ever dog-ear books?
No. I use random scraps of paper as bookmarks instead. I lose most of my actual bookmarks.
Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Not even with text books?
Still no…Is this weird, and I don’t know it? There isn’t much space in the margins anyway.
What is your favorite language to read in?
I’m only fluent in English, but I would love to be able to read in French. I can sort of muddle through children’s books, but my understanding isn’t strong enough to grasp nuances of the language.
What makes you love a book?
Gripping, true characterization and clean, vivid writing.
What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I rarely recommend books, unless the book is in a similar vein to one that I know the person likes already. I think reading is very subjective and people like a lot of different things. It doesn’t bother me if someone doesn’t like a book I recommend, especially as I don’t finish books I am not enjoying, but some people force themselves to read to the end or may not want to admit if they weren’t pulled in by the recommended story.
First: historical fiction, second: romantic suspense (a la Mary Stewart), third: fast-paced urban fantasy.
Wait, did I just categorize favourites? What is this questionnaire doing to me?!?
- Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
I don’t understand this question. If I want to read a genre, I do. The library has pretty much everything, and the internet has the rest.
Have you ever read a self-help book?
Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson, as well as most of her books. I like them for her decadent writing as much as the luscious recipes. I also like Lidia Bastianich’s recipes, but I prefer watching her show to reading the books.
Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I don’t know. This is a tough question. I guess it would be The Hundred Years War, Volume III by Jonathan Sumption, because it gave me lots of ideas for writing another historical fiction novel.
Favorite reading snack?
Coffee and a bagel in the morning, wine and a piece of dark chocolate at night.
Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but Twilight. I read it along with my sister and a mutual friend when it first came out, and somehow I didn’t realize it was a popularly controversial book. (What happy, innocent days those were…) I found it light and fairly entertaining reading, especially since we chatted about it in the group, but after I made the discovery that the series could inspire white-hot rage in both lovers and haters of the series, I avoided talking about it ever again. Until now. This questionnaire is a lot trickier than I expected! Am I going to discover something deep about myself before the end?
How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t read a lot of book reviews, so I can’t say. I wouldn’t take it as gospel though, since reading is subjective.
How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think that the book reviewer has to be honest when writing the review. I used to write book reviews for an online magazine, and I didn’t always give them good reviews. (Fun fact: I gave what later turned out to be a prize-winning novel a bad review, and it was the only time that a reader messaged me to comment on my review. Luckily they found it amusing, and were not offended by my critiques. In spite of the prize being awarded later, I stand by my review. See – reading is subjective!)
- If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French, Spanish, Gaelic, Latin, Italian. The Bernard Cornwell Arthurian series I’m reading (The Winter King, Enemy of God, Excalibur), has a lot of old Celtic names in it and I enjoy trying to pronounce them so much that my husband finally asked why I was muttering as I read.
Most intimidating book you’ve ever read
Ever? Tough question…Probably The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. The book itself is not too difficult to read, at least in the translation I had, but it was the subject of my undergrad honours thesis so I read it about three times (it’s long) and I analyzed it over and over again. (Fun Fact #2 – I googled myself once and my thesis came up! Maybe one day I will do a blog post about the wonders and horrors of Googling oneself).
- Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I’m worried it will be scary! The Shining is the only book of King’s that I have read so far, but my husband and my best friend have read a whole bunch of them so I feel like I need to read another.
Hm. I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I do like Rilke and Tennyson.
How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
I dunno, 2 to 15 or so. It varies. I am terrible at remembering to return them on time so I try not to have too many out at once.
How often have you returned books to the library unread?
All the time. I return about half of them unread (or at least un-completed).
Favorite fictional character?
Harry Dresden, Claire Fraser, Hercule Poirot, Albus Dumbledore, Vibia Sabina, Merlin in Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave trilogy.
Favourite fictional villain?
Nicodemus (from the Dresden Files), Dolores Umbridge, Lancelot (in Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian series), Mrs. Danvers, Cesare Borgia (I know he is a real figure, but he’s also a pretty convincing villain in almost all Borgia-related historical fiction).
Books you’re most likely to bring on holiday
Light, fast-paced stories. Anything by Jeaniene Frost, Agatha Christie, and Mary Stewart. I would probably bring something by all three so I can switch books based on my mood. Sadly, I don’t go on vacations much. Yet.
The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I don’t understand the question.
- Name a book that you could/would not finish.
This happens to me very frequently, so I can’t pick one. I don’t really want to name one anyway, because I think that would imply that it was bad, when really it might have just not been to my taste at the time.
What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
I wish this wasn’t true, but my iPhone. Diamond Mine calls to me!
Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. My mom and I watch it together every year.
Most disappointing film adaptation?
Ooh, The Dresden Files! I know it’s a TV show and not a movie, but it’s terribly disappointing in its variance from the books. We made a drinking game out of it.
The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Sigh…like $90. I had just received my first paycheque from a new job so I went to the bookstore to celebrate. I remember staggering up to the till with a huge armload of books and the casher asked me if I had found everything I was looking for. I wish I could say I didn’t glare at him before remembering he probably had to ask that and reminding myself to give a civil response.
How often do you skim a book before reading it?
If it’s a random library book I picked up off the shelf without knowing anything about the author or series, I will flip through to see if it seems like it will grab me.
What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If I don’t feel any connection to the characters, can’t remember who is who (a sign of not being drawn in by the characters), or if the writing is stilted, especially in dialogue. I also find it frustrating when characterization is flexible to the plot.
Do you like to keep your books organized?
Sort of. The way they are organized makes sense to me, at least. Some of the time it’s based on the size of books and where they will fit on the shelf, but they are also grouped by theme and author.
Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
If I know I’m not going to re-read it, I’ll give it away. Sometimes I go to a great used book store by my parent’s house, and there is a book box not too far from my house that some wonderful person put up in their yard. I put books in there pretty frequently.
Name a book that made you angry.
Every Harry Potter book that had Umbridge in it. I still love the books, but she is the worst.
- A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
I can’t think of any books that I didn’t expect to like and completed reading.
A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
About one third of the books I get out of the library fall into this category, but I wouldn’t say that I had high expectations of adoring them. I just picked them up from the library, I hadn’t been building up hype for them in my mind.
Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Anything by Lesley Pearse. I felt a little guilty about the last one I read though, when I tried to imagine explaining the plot to someone. It was a bit soap opera-y, which is probably why it was strictly mindless pleasure reading. But it had a happy ending! (Except for the character who got murdered).
Well, 55 questions later and anyone who actually read them all must know more about my reading habits than they ever dreamed possible! Did I discover previously unknown truths about myself? Not really, although this list did get me to write about Twilight, and also manipulated me into choosing proper favourites, so I feel like I am somehow forever changed.