55 Questions About My Book Habits

Wow, that title sounds like way too much information.  But I had a lot of fun reading the questions and answers at Fariba's Exploring Classics blog.  It's from the Literary Lollipop.  So here goes.

1. Favourite childhood book:
Anastasia Krupnik, by Lois Lowry.  When I was a kid I read the Anastasia books over and over again, and they cracked me up every time.
2. What are you reading right now?
War and Peace, Melmoth the Wanderer, and Le Morte D'Arthur.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, because I featured it for Banned Books Week and I've never read it; and Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgar Cantero, because I saw the cover on one of my blogs and had to have it.
4. Bad book habit:
Leaving them all over the house, sometimes with random things shoved in as bookmarks.  I've stopped dogearing, I don't really write in them, and I have gotten better about the random bookmarks, but sometimes I still do it.  And I leave them in weird places.
5. What do you currently have checked out the library?
Er.  Rose Under Fire, Not I, The Slave Girl, a book about the Greek ideal of education, five plays by Ben Jonson, something about the history of spying in America, three things by Elizabeth Goudge because why not, The Tin Drum, a bunch of other stuff...I check things out in case I want to read them.
6. Do you have an e-reader?

Yes! I have an Android tablet with about six different reading apps on it.  I like the Kindle app best because it's easiest to read, but I also use Aldiko and Google Reader and I don't even know.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Two at once is the bare minimum.  Preferably four.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes. Because of all the challenges, I'm more mindful about what I choose.  This has worked really well for me, because left on my own I will subsist on a diet of fluffy mysteries and never get to the classics that I really do love when I read them.  I'm much happier with my reading now.
9. Least favourite book you read this year:
Probably People Tell Me Things, which was just utterly meh.  But I probably read something I really disliked, didn't bother to finish, and have now forgotten about.
10. Favourite book you read this year:
Kindly Inquisitors by Jonathan Rauch
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I try to fairly often, but I'm not so diligent that I read a lot of poetry or modern literary novels about miserable people.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Pop non-fiction, fluffy mysteries, good fantasy.
13. Can you read on the bus?
Sure.  I can read almost anyplace that will let me put a book in front of my eyes without actually becoming a danger to myself or others.
14. Favourite place to read:
The couch or my bed.
15. What’s your policy on book lending?
I don't mind, unless it's something that would be very difficult to replace.  I don't get the books back that often.
16. Do you dogear your books?
If it's an ancient paperback mystery nobody but me will read, yes.  Otherwise no.
17. Do you write notes in the margins of your books?
Nope.  Sometimes I mean to but forget.
18. Do you crack the spine of your books?
I try really hard not to, and am usually successful.  Many of my books are used, though, and come pre-cracked.
19. What is your favourite language to read?
English.  I'm not so good at languages that I can comfortably read others.
20. What makes you love a book?
Interesting ideas, real characters.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Mostly interesting ideas or themes.
22. Favourite genre:
....fantasy?  Maybe?  Do I have a favorite genre anymore?
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Poetry, I guess.  I always kind of wish I was the sort of person who liked poetry, and I'm not.  Everything else I do read.
24. Favourite biography:
 Ack!  So many fantastic biographies!  Let There Be Light, by Jacques Lusseyran, is my latest favorite.  Flying Solo by Roald Dahl is an all-time best book.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass...
25. Have you ever read a self-help book? (And was it actually helpful?)
Yes. I will read anything.  I don't remember using anything from any, though.
26. Favourite cookbook:
I mostly cook out of my head, though many of the recipes originally came from books.  Oh, the red check one!  BH&G Cookbook is the standby, and where my famous dessert everybody loves comes from.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction):
 Religiously speaking, Morton's In the Steps of the Master.  Secularly speaking, Kindly Inquisitors.
28. Favourite reading snack:
Chocolate and ice water.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience:
Hum.  I don't know.  I do tend to avoid the books that are at the top of the list.  I never believe they can be as good as everyone says, so I'm pleasantly surprised when they are.
30. How often do you agree with the critics about a book?
Good question.  I guess I must not read reviews very much, because I don't know.  I didn't love Donna Tartt's Secret History, which I think was very popular with critics. 
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I will absolutely give a bad review if I think the book deserves it and I actually finish the book.  An awful lot of the time I will just quit reading it.  I couldn't take Still Life this year, which I guess wasn't actually bad, just...I couldn't read it, so I didn't review it at all.  My all-time lowest review was for What the Tortoise Taught Us, and I encourage you to go read it now.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Russian!  I would so love to read Tolstoy and Pushkin and all those guys in Russian, for reals.
33. Most intimidating book you have read:
War and Peace. Reading it right now.  I like it!
34. Most intimidating book you are too nervous to begin:
Les Mis√©rables.  I might do it next year.  I meant to this year but Russian literature happened instead.  Oh, and Moby Dick.  I have a hard time believing I could ever enjoy that.  American literature is one of my worst weaknesses.
35. Favourite poet:
Did you see what I wrote up there about poetry?  I especially want to like Donne and the metaphysical poets.  Someday.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out from the library at any given time?
Maybe 15-20 for myself, at least 50 total.  Right now I have a lot for myself, at least 20.
37. How often do you return books to the library unread?
Quite often.  I check things out in case I want to read them.
38. Favourite fictional character:
Can I be really conventional and say Jane Eyre?  'Cause she is.
39. Favourite fictional villain:
Oh, definitely one of DWJ's hungry mothers.  I think Laurel.  She is really something.
40. Books you are most likely to bring on vacation:
I have to have at least three.  Something light, like a mystery or fun novel, something more literary, and something non-fiction.
41. The longest you have gone without reading:
6 hours?  If you don't count sleeping.  Probably when I was in labor...
42. Name a book you could/would not finish:
Still Life, by A. S. Byatt.  MEH.
43. What distracts you easily when you are reading?
The Internet.  What if something is happening?  Especially now that I have a tablet so I can attempt (and fail) to do both at once.
44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel:
The Secret of Roan Inish is my favorite movie, and it is based on The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry, which I have only gotten to read once.  Someday I will get my own copy.  But it's a lovely movie--go watch it!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation:
The one that springs to mind is the old Narnia movie with a Lucy that doesn't look one bit like Lucy and cartoon animals.  It was terrible.  Another is the Mansfield Park starring Billie Piper, possibly the least Fanny-like actress in Britain.  The other one with the brunette Fanny was fine.
46. Most money you have ever spent in a bookstore at one time:
60 dollars, I think.  It felt hugely extravagant.  I am really, really cheap.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I usually do not, because if I open a book at random I will just start reading it.  I have read quite a few non-fiction books that way--open, start reading, go back and read the first half if it turns out to be good.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?
If I don't like it.  I'm not a fan of lots of language, icky stuff, more than the tiniest bit of sex (you know how Bollywood movies used to not have kissing?  Those are awesome), or if I am just plain bored/not impressed.
49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
Yes.  I am a librarian, after all.  However, I am also quite a messy person, so there are piles, and every so often I clean them up.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once they have been read?
I keep books that I figure I will want to read again and will have a hard time getting.  Well, I go through cycles.  I'll get rid of a bunch, and then 6 months later I want that exact book that is now gone, and I am sad.  Since I buy relatively few books (compared to what I read), they tend to be the ones I want to keep.
51. Are there any books that you have been avoiding?
Tristram Shandy, but only because I want to finish War and Peace first.
52. Name a book that made you angry:
I read a lot of books that make me angry about the state of the world.  A book that made me angry about the actual book...What the Tortoise Taught Us, for sure.  I steamed about that.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did:
Phantom of the Opera!  Total surprise.
54. A book you expected to like but didn’t:
The Secret History.  August 1914 (lots of slogging there).
55. Favourite guilt-free guilty pleasure reading:
Diana Wynne Jones, who else?  She isn't guilt-inducingly fluffy, though.  For real fluff I read Patricia Wentworth's cozy mysteries.


  1. I had to read Tristram Shandy and Moby-Dick at the same time in college, and TS made M-D look like a piece of cake, let me tell you. I tried to reread it (Moby-Dick I mean, not the other one -- I'm never putting myself through that again) and found it a bit more of a slog. My brain must have decayed in the past few years. But give them both a try! I would love to read your thoughts.

  2. I'm so glad that you didn't love The Secret History because I read it a couple years ago and have hidden that fact because everyone loves it and I didn't. It just goes to show that even those of us with the most similar reading tastes can still disagree every once in a while!

  3. Secret History dislikers unite!


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