And now, a book meme taken from podsnappery:
1. Favorite childhood book?
Oh, goodness. I read so much as a child. My favourite author was Enid Blyton, from her fairy tales to school stories to mysteries. I also loved classics like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women.
2. What are you reading right now?
Destination: Saigon by Walter Mason. I asked my boyfriend to lend me a book, but he has a thing about lending books and apparently I'm not exempt, plus we have quite different literary tastes, so... this is what I ended up with. It's an engagingly written series of Vietnam travel vignettes.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None at the moment. I don't currently belong to a library other than the university's, and I don't usually look for fiction there.
4. Bad book habit?
Judging them by their cover and/or blurb. If there's no blurb on the back, just some lame quote instead, I rage.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
6. Do you have an e-reader?
No, but I'm interested. My parents and a friend have them, and I'd like to give them a go. I think if I could get the academic books I use most in e-format, with the ability to make notes on the thing, it might be really useful for travel. I'll always prefer the feel of a book in my hands when it comes to reading for pleasure, but being able to travel with several books in one e-reader is also pretty tantalising; I never go away without packing a minimum of three.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Generally one, but I have been known to juggle, especially as an undergrad.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Nah, the two major causes of change in my reading habits were graduating university and going to grad school. The first put me in a major reading funk for some time, that I may still not be quite out of, and the second has made reading more or less my job, so not necessarily something I always want to do for pleasure.
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
My least favourite of last year was The Lady Elizabeth, by Alison Weir. It's fiction, but Weir writes like the historian that she is, making her deliberate disregard for accuracy when it suits her plot all the more egregious.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
The star of 2010 for me was Wolf Hall. I was already a Hilary Mantel fan, but this masterpiece left me in awe. Truly brilliant. I also loved Audrey Niffeneger's Her Fearful Symmetry, and Tim Winton's Breath. Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey was also awesome.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not a lot these days. I did as an undergrad, and during my brief stint reviewing books for the university newspaper, but now that I read so rarely, I figure I get the privilege of reading whatever I feel like.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Literary fiction and not-too-terrible chicklit.
13. Can you read on the bus?
I can read anywhere, and have and do.
14. Favorite place to read?
Couch or a coffee shop.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
I love matching books to people, and am not too bothered about their condition. Books are for reading, not keeping behind glass. As long as they come back with their covers and no pages missing, it's fine.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
I turn the bottom corners of pages that I want to come back to for some reason: there's a particular plot point, or a quote that I'd like to remember.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Sometimes, but not often.
18. Not even with text books?
I will highlight passages in books that I own, but if I'm reading the book for information then I'm going to be making notes on a separate piece of paper anyway.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
L'anglais, although there's something to be said for Old and Middle English.
20. What makes you love a book?
Beautiful, lyrical prose (but not flowery), accompanied by carefully rendered characters. Usually something in the novel strikes home for me in some way.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I liked it or think someone else will like it, then I'll rec it. I exchange books with my mum all the time as we have similar tastes, and I'm always overjoyed when my sister asks for a rec as she reads so little and tends to read rubbish, so I try to steer her towards books that are not too trashy but which she will still enjoy.
22. Favorite genre?
Not really into genre fiction, aside from the occasional Crichton-esque best-seller and a bit of YA urban fantasy.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Going to echo podsnappery and go with non-fiction. I quite like both real-life stories and 'how it all works' type things, but almost never get around to reading them.
24. Favorite biography?
Hillary Clinton's autobiography was pretty rad. I've got several bios of interesting people on my to-read shelf.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
I had a look through Jane Austen's Guide to Dating when someone gave it to me, and I have quite a few gifty 'live life to the full' inspirational books that I will flip through on occasion.
26. Favorite cookbook?
David Herbert's Best Recipes and Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Wolf Hall. It's more aspirational, in that it held me in awe of both her well-crafted writing and her brilliant way of telling the story. If I can ever write with about a quarter of her talent, I'll be a very happy lady.
28. Favorite reading snack?
Chocolate, or Vegemite toast. Or even just dinner. But be careful not to get any on the pages!
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I don't pay a lot of attention to hype. The last thing I'm likely to do is read a book just because everyone else is reading it. I've read a lot of books that I thought were overrated, but I can't recall ever feeling truly let down.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I'm not sure; I don't read criticism too much. Literary criticism and reviews is more about engaging with other critics and people in the field; most of it isn't really written with the reader in mind. Then there's commercial criticism, like two-line reviews in magazines, which is entirely commercial-oriented and therefore, in my opinion, meaningless.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I'm not going to hold back. When I reviewed books for the uni newspaper, my stance was that my job was to help someone decide whether the book was for them. My job was not to make extreme value judgements, or to offer constructive criticism to an author who a) probably won't see the review and b) doesn't need to dwell on a book that's complete. When I write about books on LJ, I do so simply because I feel like it. I'm under no delusions about my influence in the literary world. ;)
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
It would be nice to be super-fluent in Old English, because translating is a pain. French and German would also be useful for scholarship.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I was intimidated by Wolf Hall's length, but I took the plunge.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I don't think I have any of these. I'm generally not intimidated by fiction.
35. Favorite Poet?
Gwen Harwood forever. Also Kenneth Slessor, W. B. Yeats, John Keats, etc.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
30-40, but surely academic books don't count. When I regularly borrowed fiction I would get perhaps 10 books a visit, if I could.
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Not very often. I always give books a chance.
38. Favorite fictional character?
Srsly? ALL OF THEM.
39. Favorite fictional villain?
I'd say Voldemort, except he's actually a terrible villain. Nick from The Demon's Lexicon series? I find overly evil villains to be way-over-the-top, but tend to roll my eyes when asked to sympathise with a villain without being given a nuanced portrayal, so it's hard to appeal to me here.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
I love long, dense and meaty novels for holidays, like a Donna Tartt or Jeffrey Eugenides. I also like to have something lighter. For my upcoming trip I've marked Belinda Alexander's Wild Lavender, which I expect to be a chick-lit/historical fiction cross, but I haven't decided what else to bring. Possibly The Earthsea Trilogy, because I got tired of my boyfriend bugging me to read it even though I don't like fantasy, and so I made a bargain with him that I will read it if he will read a book of my choosing. Despite both being English lit students, we really don't have similar tastes in fiction. Poetry's another matter.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Two or three months without a book on the go, or without picking up a book that I'd started. I go through phases.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Hmm, I'm not sure. I stopped reading them because I didn't like them; seems unlikely that I would remember. I have had triumphs, such as when I gave up on Wuthering Heights when I was 14 but managed to read it all the way through several years later. But I hated it that time, so whatever.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Not a lot. I can concentrate even with a lot of noise around me.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Interview with the Vampire was pretty good, and of course I loved the BBC's Pride & Prejudice. But you know what adaptation I seem to watch the most? White Oleander, curiously. There is so much in the novel that didn't make it into the film, but it is a well-done film with stunning performances from Alison Lohman and Michelle Pfeiffer as very beautiful, fragile, yet poisonous women.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
podsnappery and I agree on Andrew Davies' craptacular version of A Room with a View. Several Austen adaptations really miss the mark for me, including the most recent Persuasion. And The Queen of the Damned was a giant pile of crap, adaptation or no.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Oh, I don't, I hate being spoiled! I'll even cover the opposite page at tense moments to stop myself being tempted to skip a few paragraphs ahead.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
It was really bad? And offensive to women, that's always a dealbreaker.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes, but it's a system of my own devising that would likely be incomprehensible to anyone else.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I prefer to keep books. To my mind, I'm building a collection for life. I do give away or donate the occasional book that I no longer want or need.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Hmm... not sure. If I don't want to read it then I'm not going to read it, simple as that.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Money, by Martin Amis. So much hate. Also, Blood & Gold and various other VC disappointments.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Oh, I don't know. Basically I don't read anything that I don't think I'll like. There were probably surprises in undergrad and the like.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Curtis Sittenfeld has been quite a disappointment. In theory, her work ticks all my boxes. In reality, it's dull and annoying.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Oh, it's all guilt-free, baby.