Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Meme: On Books & Reading

I saw this meme from Liane's blog over on Caffeinatedlife.net. I thought it looked fun so I gave it a shot!

1. Favourite childhood book?
There are too many to choose from! Sorry, that's one question I couldn't possibly answer.

2. What are you reading right now?
At the moment I'm reading Elizabeth Bowen's The House in Paris. It's a very short novel and I've already read most of it. I expect I'll finish it sometime tonight. I bought it in a book shop in Dublin last Wednesday. The shop had a huge Irish Writers section and that was where I found the book. A blog post on my trip is in the works :)

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Nothing at the moment. I've put more of an effort into reading library books since I started working in libraries but the problem is that I just really love to own books. If I borrow a book that I end up really loving I resent having to give it back!

4. Bad book habit?
See my answer for 3.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
I have a couple of chick lit books that I checked out for my mum plus Frances Burney's Evelina. I'll probably start that once I'm done with The House in Paris.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
I have a kindle. Kindles and printed books both have their advantages. A kindle is ideal for travelling because it means you can take a lot of books away with you without having a backpack that weighs a ton. Also, e-books are cheaper than printed books and you can often get classic novels for free. I also really like that my kindle gives me a percentage breakdown of where I am with a book. But if I do read a book on the kindle and really enjoy it then I'll still want to own a physical copy of it. I prefer the feel of printed books and I love that they actually have a smell. And of course I love to collect them and put them on my bookshelves. It's my dream to have my own library one day.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I can only do one at a time I'm afraid. I've always been terrible at multi-tasking and that applies to books. If I try to flit between several books at once I actually find it a bit disorientating. I don't know how other people manage it!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Before if I read a book that I wasn't enjoying then I'd just give up on it. Since I've started blogging I try to soldier on thinking "Well, at least someone might enjoy a review of it".

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)
Erm... probably Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea even though I did manage to finish it.

10. Favourite book you've read this year (so far?)
George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. Loved it! Other books that I've loved are John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and Georgette Heyer's Venetia. I love how different these books all are from each other! It makes me feel that I have diverse tastes :)

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
12. What is your reading comfort zone?

13. Can you read on the bus?
I can't. I can read on a train or a plane but if I try to read in a car or a bus I feel nauseous. The motion gets to me.

14. Favourite place to read?
In my bed or on the sofa. I like to put my feet up and feel comfortable :)

15. What is your policy on book lending?
Hmm, I don't tend to do it. The only friend that I would lend books to has moved away so I don't get to see her as often as I used to.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
*gasp* Never! I always use a bookmark or a piece of paper or something.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
I wouldn't dream of it for "regular" books but when I was a student I would do it in my text books.

18. Not even with text books?
See my answer for 17.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
English. It's the only language I can read in!

20. What makes you love a book?
  • Likeable and/or fascinating characters that have depth and development
  • A gripping plot that keeps me invested until the very end
  • Beautiful writing
  • Witty and amusing dialogue
  • Thought-provoking themes and social commentary that manages not to be preachy
  • A vivid atmosphere

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
See my answer for 20. If I love a book then I'll recommend it until my friends are sick of hearing about it! :D

22. Favourite genres?
  • The classics - basically 19th and early 20th century literature plus Shakespeare.
  • Fantasy - I grew up with C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and J.K. Rowling's books. As an adult I've come to love books by authors such as Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke and George R.R. Martin. 
  • Gothic Literature - e.g. Jane Eyre, Rebecca, The Woman in White, The Phantom of the Opera, etc.
  • Mystery/Detective fiction - e.g. books by Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie
  • Historical fiction - I'm really picky about my historical fiction though! The books have to be set in an era that I find interesting. I avoid trashy, bodice ripping romance novels and gritty "battle-heavy" books. I also tend to go for books that feature fictional characters because with books that feature real-life characters I know I'll get irritated by inaccuracies

23. Genres you rarely read (but wish you did?)
I'm aiming to read more historical biographies, more poetry, more fairytale retellings and more magical realism.

24. Favourite biography?
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
26. Favourite cookbook?
27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?

28. Favourite reading snack?
I try not to eat snacks whilst reading but every so often I might treat myself to biscuits :)

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Ian McEwan's Atonement. I have friends who love that book but it just didn't work for me.

29. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I'm honestly not sure. For some reason I don’t tend to read critical reviews of books but I do with films (there I think it's about 50/50).

30. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
If it's a classic/really popular novel then I might feel a bit uncomfortable. Everyone loves this book! Has the world gone mad or is there something wrong with me?! But I would still stand by my opinion. If I didn't like the book then what can I say?

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French. I would love to be able to read Les Miserables in French!

34. The most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I'm intimidated by George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for years. I'm not even sure why I bought it! I'm also intimidated by James Joyce. That bookshop in Dublin that I mentioned had several shelves of James Joyce's books. I had a flick through Finnegan's Wake and thought "Nah..."

35. Favourite Poet?
There are still lots of his poems that I have yet to read but probably Edgar Allan Poe. I love The Raven.

38. Favourite fictional character?
Argh! I have far too many favourites to list them all here! But based on my current mood...
  • Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
  • Henry Tilney from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey
  • Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars
  • Peeta Mellark from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series
  • Marius Pontmercy from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables
  • Konstantin Levin from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina
  • Westley and Inigo Montoya from William Goldman's The Princess Bride
  • Hermione Granger from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
  • Willy Wonka from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Again, there's quite a few.
  • Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Snow from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
  • Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
  • Count Fosco from Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White
  • Bob Ewell from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Mrs Danvers from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca 
  • Lucy Steele from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
  • Uriah Heep from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield
  • Mrs Trunchbull from Roald Dahl's Matilda
  • Erik from Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. He's a sympathetic villain though, really more of an anti-hero.

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on holiday?
I'd take something light and cheerful. A holiday isn't the right time to be reading Tolstoy or Dostoevsky!

41. The longest I've gone without reading.
Sadly I have gone through periods in my life where I haven't read much. I went through a period in my teens where I barely read anything at all. Looking back I think it was probably because I just wasn't very interested in teenage books. But now I try to read at least 30-40 pages of a book a day.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Recently there was Homer's The Iliad. Even though I actually came very close to the end I just couldn't bring myself to finish it. I had such a struggle with that book!

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Noise, like the sound of the TV or a baby crying or something.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?
I picked 10 adaptations that I love in this post. There are a lot of other adaptations that I love though. I could very easily pick another 10!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The Dario Argento adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera is absolutely horrific!

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Er, £50 maybe? That would have been when I was a student and buying expensive textbooks.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I'll usually give the beginning and middle sections a quick skim. I wouldn't skim the end section in case of huge spoilers.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
It would take a lot for me to give up on a book these days but if the book was that bad and I had absolutely no interest in how it would end then I would stop.

49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
I sort them by height and then by the surnames of the authors.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
I keep the books that I enjoyed and know I'll read again. When I'm starting to run out of space I'll give the books that I didn't like to a charity shop.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
I was shocked at how much I loved Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I thought I'd like them but I wasn't expecting them to blow me away as much as they did.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?
Jo Baker's Longbourn. I'm usually very sceptical about spin-offs of classic novels but unlike other Jane Austen fanfiction novels this book had actually picked up really good reviews. And the first 100 pages of it or so were extremely promising. But everything that came after that... *sighs.*

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Over the past year I've become a Georgette Heyer fan. I haven't enjoyed all of her books but Venetia, Frederica, Cotillion and These Old Shades are fabulous fun :) Stephen Fry is a big fan of Heyer although he does consider her books a guilty pleasure sadly. He talks about her books in the first couple of minutes of this video.


Mònica said...

How cool! It was fun to read all your answers. I think I might steal this ;)

Hannah said...

Go for it :)

Bethany Morrow said...

Glad you included Levin! He's such an awesome character.

Manette said...

I did this meme too, it was great fun! Dolores Umbridge is also on my favourite villains list. And it seems I have REALLY weird habits regarding holiday reading, compared with the rest of the world :D