I saw these questions on Follow The Thread, and liked the way they approached reading, and the fact they were just for bloggers – so I thought I’d give them a go!
1. Favourite childhood book?
When I was very young it was The Worst Witch, and then Lord of the Flies when I was slightly older. That was the book that made me really love literature.
2. What are you reading right now?
The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams. Just started and already really enjoying it. Lots to discover. I also just received a copy of The Forbidden by F. R. Tallis, so I’m going to start that as well.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
4. Bad book habit?
Buying/requesting too many books in one go and taking ages to read them all.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing. My local library is very small and doesn’t have much from this century that isn’t Twilight.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. My boyfriend told me that my dad asked him last Christmas whether I would like a Kindle – thank god he said no! I like the idea of them, but I don’t think I could ever bring myself to use one.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I try to read two books at once to save time, I think that’s all I can manage. Sometimes though it’s nice to concentrate on one book at a time so you can devote yourself to it and get the most out of it.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
If anything I’m more cautious about which books I read. I consider how I might be able to write about a book, whether the readers of my blog will find it interesting. That said, I won’t read something I don’t want to just because it’s new or popular.
9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
Definitely The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. It just had so many things that were wrong with it.
10. Favourite book you’ve read this year?
Probably Henry and June by Anais Nin, or The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I like to try new things, so maybe every few books I’ll try something different.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Somewhere between Jane Austen and Donna Tartt.
13. Can you read on the bus?
Not at all, I get car sick if I read on the bus or in the car, though I can usually read on the train.
14. Favourite place to read?
The sofa or an armchair. I find it uncomfortable to read at a table or in bed, sadly.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
I’m happy to lend books to people I know will read them, take care of them, and return them promptly. I’m a bit fussy.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
I used to fold over pages and I used to refuse to break spines – now I use book marks and like breaking the spines!
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No. I used to underline passages, but that got a bit pointless. Now I’ll sometimes pop in a post-it or something to mark out quotes I might use for a review.
18. Not even with text books?
At uni I would write in textbooks but as I’m no longer a student I don’t use textbooks anymore.
19. What is your favourite language to read in?
English. I don’t know any other languages.
20. What makes you love a book?
Engaging, believable characters; genuinely artful writing; a sense of pace and destination; a display of intelligence, emotion and empathy on the part of the author; subtlety; genuine feeling and sincerity.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I particularly recommend books that have moved me or that I related to in some way. I find books quite emotional so there has to be some kind of connection. I will also recommend something that is just really beautifully written.
22. Favourite genre?
Sounds like a cop out to say literary fiction, but it really is my favourite. I like a bit of thriller and history too.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
24. Favourite biography?
I really loved Byron: Life and Legend by Fiona MacCarthy. It read like a novel and was really detailed, but not so much that you got bored.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No. I think they’re bullshit.
26. Favourite cookbook?
I’m not much of a cook. The only one I own is The Big Book of One Pot Meals my mum gave to me.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I have very mixed feelings about the word ‘inspirational’ but I guess it would be Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson. Her life story is very dramatic, but I really related to her feelings about books and reading.
28. Favorite reading snack?
I don’t really eat when I’m reading. I love food, so it distracts me! I like a nice cup of tea instead.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
It was a while ago now, but The Lovely Bones wasn’t as good as the hype suggested. The whole time I was reading it I was waiting for the good bit to begin. And even though I was given a copy for my birthday, I just could not bring myself to read The Tiger’s Wife. The hype did not convince me.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
It depends – critics in newspapers etc often review things long before I read them, so then I forget what they said; with other bloggers, reviews are so personal that I will often disagree on small points.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I have no problem with it really. I’m not going to be outright rude about something that the author has worked hard on, but I am going to be honest. If a book is sent to me by a publisher it’s a little harder to say you really didn’t like something, but I still try to be honest to my opinion.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
French, German or Russian – the three languages I wish I spoke!
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Probably Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. He has a reputation as some sort of genius and there is so much respect and reverence for the Faust/Faustus story. His style was very dense and longwinded, but after 50 or so pages it got a lot easier.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
The Kindly Ones by Jonathon Littell. I did a module on Literatures of the Holocaust at uni and read so many fantastic books. My boyfriend read The Kindly Ones after discovering it through the course, and I bought a copy, but I’m scared of it. It’s HUGE and I know it will take me ages to read and be very emotional. I desperately want to read it though.
35. Favourite poet?
John Keats every time. Though I also love Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
None – my local library isn’t very good and I never think to go. Bad, I know.
37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Never. I’d have to get them out first.
38. Favourite fictional character?
Anne Elliot from Persuasion; Elinor from Sense and Sensibility; Richard from The Secret History; and Tintin.
39. Favourite fictional villain?
‘Villain’ makes me think of Disney films. In that case, Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’. From literature, Jack in Lord of the Flies. Absolutely brilliant.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Something that isn’t depressing or sad. Probably an Austen I haven’t read yet.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Two or three weeks. If I get caught up in work or just can’t decide what to read, it can take me a while to choose my next book.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I abandoned Nicholas and Alexandra halfway through because it was dragging terribly, but I would like to finish it one day.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
The dog, the fridge or my phone.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
It’s a TV series, but ‘Game of Thrones‘ has been really excellent.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The Keira Knightley version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Absolute travesty.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
At least £30.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I read the blurb, the reviews at the front, the first couple of pages, to try and get a feel for the story.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?
Boredom mostly. If it’s dragging and there’s been no development, or if the writing is really bad, I’ll give up – especially if it’s really long. If it’s short I might just read it to the end for the sake of it.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I used to alphabetise them, but this was too much hassle. Now they go in the bookshelf anywhere they’ll fit!
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I always keep books. I would only give away a book if I hadn’t enjoyed it.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
There are some books that I have absolutely no desire to read, like 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter… I don’t care if everyone thinks they’re great, they don’t appeal to me.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
The Cellist of Sarajevo was very disappointing, and it had a ‘Richard & Judy Book Club’ logo on the front – that annoyed me. Mostly it would be anything that was supposed to be great but was a load of rubbish.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
A Game of Thrones. I’ve never read much fantasy and was worried I wouldn’t like it as so many people I knew did like it; but I really enjoyed it! Great characters, great writing, an exciting plot – though there are some very cringy sex scenes.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephen Benatar. I’d heard a lot of good things and the premise appealed to me, but it didn’t quite work.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Tintin! I grew up reading it and still really love it.
All book title links lead to GoodReads or my reviews. All titles widely available.
Thanks to David at Follow the Thread for answering these questions first, and to other bloggers: I would love to read your answers too!