55 Book Questions

question-mark-on-paper1. Favourite childhood book?
Has to be The BFG by Roald Dahl. I remember my mum reading it to me before bed when i was little. A few years later, when i could read, i would read it myself before bed.

2. What are you reading right now?
Weaveworld by Clive Barker. It… is a struggle, to be honest. It’s not bad, but it’s not exciting me. I don’t really want to keep reading, but i am a stubborn bastard and will preserve.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None. I should get books from the library more, but i am hung up on owning books. Also, charity shops are addictive.

4. Bad book habit?
Hmm. I’m really not sure i have one. I treat my books very carefully. I even put them in protective covers when i carry them in my bag. The worst i can think of is not minding if the spine cracks… I would say ‘buying too many’, but i don’t believe in ‘too many books’ and even if i did, i wouldn’t say that’s a bad habit.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nil. I suck, i’ve covered this.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. I am not opposed to them, or even having one myself, but i just love physical books. So, an e-reader is not a priority to me right now.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I prefer to read one book at a time, but i can read two if they’re short and/or simple enough books.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not really. I started a book blog specifically for and about my reading. It just makes the joy of reading a book last a little longer.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)
Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen. His books are trashy and easy to read, but the gender stereotypes and bias in this one particularly erked me.

10. Favourite book you’ve read this year?
Oh, gosh, ultimately it has to be The Book Thief by Mark Zusak. I laughed, i cried and i loved every word. BUT, honourable mention to the very close second place: Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. It was three books ago now, but it’s still with me; i still want to be reading it. It would have been perfection were it not for the pointless last 20-odd pages.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I’ll read whatever sounds good to me, has more than just bad reviews or books that are recommended to me for whatever reasons. Some of my favourite books are books i knew nothing about, but read because they were recommended. I don’t know if that counts as ‘out of my comfort zone’, but…

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
…I’m not sure i have a comfort zone. Classic, easy to categorise books i often read would be cheesy horror (King, Laymon), and more recently older horror and sci-fi (Poe, Wyndham). I also have a penchant for utopian/dystopian novels. I will read anything by Banks, Brookmyre or Golding. For me, reading is an eclectic pleasure. I don’t understand why you’d only read, say, Danielle Steel books… you’d essentially be reading the same book over and over again.

N.B: I have never read a Danielle Steel book, she was just the first prolific author i thought of who had connotations of ‘samey’ to me. And hey, even wikipedia agrees: “Her formula is fairly consistent, often involving rich families facing a crisis, threatened by dark elements such as jail, fraud, blackmail and suicide.”

13. Can you read on the bus?
Yes, but bus rides i take often aren’t long enough. I do read on the train and coach when travelling further afield, though.

14. Favourite place to read?
In bed, before sleep most nights and in the morning at the weekends/days i’m not at work. During the day i favour a big comfy chair.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I am protective of my books and wary of them being mistreated. I will lend books to people i trust will respect them and respect the fact that they are someone else’s, not necessarily in terms of property, but in terms of being loved.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
No? No. I dog-ear magazines, newspapers and catalogues, but never books. It doesn’t take much effort to root out a scrap of paper to use as a bookmark.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Not generally. I have (lightly) written in pencil in books used for study (and then rubbed it out). I have a couple of books i have two copies of, and one of these copies i have taken to highlighting and writing comments on. For reasons.

18. Not even with text books?
At uni, with my own and with library books, i wrote in pencil lightly enough for it to easily rub off later.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
English, as i would not get very far if i read an entire book in another language. I do enjoy books that incorporate a little of other languages, though. For example Poirot books, when he speaks a bit of French, or The Book Thief with German. BUT, i also don’t like the foreign language to be blatantly translated in the text; give me context to work it out or let me google it. If you’re just going to translate it straight away, then why bother at all?

20. What makes you love a book?
I can’t answer this. So much stuff. A well written book; show me, don’t tell me; a natural easy use of language. Characters; whether i love them or hate them, so long as i feel something towards them; so long as they are real. Story; i have to care about what’s going on; i have to be interested or intrigued or invested; i have to be in, apparently. Humour and emotion help, also.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
To be honest, i don’t like recommending books. If i love a book, i want everyone else to read it and love it as much as i do. But, chances are, not everyone will love it. And it crushes me when i recommend something (not just books) to someone and they either don’t like it at all, or just think it’s okay. If someone isn’t going to appreciate something as much as i do, i’d rather they didn’t bother… ? I don’t even know. I am irrational about this.

22. Favourite genre?
Please see question 12. I don’t have a ‘favourite’ genre, i have many genres that i enjoy, and wouldn’t want to choose one over the others. In a book shop there will always be several sections i will have to look at.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Hmm. In recent years, i’d have to say more academic books, specifically in relation to horror films and/or gender. I did a lot of this kind of reading at college and university, but haven’t read any in years. I have a few books of this type on my wishlist, but i think people are put off buying them as presents?

24. Favourite biography?
I’m not even sure i’ve ever read a biography. Unless wikipedia counts? It just not my thing. I’ve read fictionalised books of true events, but never ‘a biography’.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No. Unless you want to count Days of War, Nights of Love? Which actually, i would like to.

26. Favourite cookbook?
Vegan with a Vengeance. My brother bought me this book, and really, he is the best at buying me amazing books i didn’t know i wanted. I’m not a huge follower of recipes; not to the letter, anyway. I use them more as inspiration.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Hmm, depends on your definition of ‘inspirational’. I would say none, so i am forced to widen my personal definition in order to answer. I’ll say American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It was much less boring than i worried it might be, and explored the subject of Gods and belief in an interesting way, even (especially?) for an atheist.

28. Favourite reading snack?
A cup of tea and a biscuit. I’m a weather/temperature dependant tea drinker (i sweat at just the thought of a cup of tea in midsummer), but when it’s cool enough, nothing goes better with a book than a cup of tea.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Hmm, i can name a few. ‘Hype’ might be a strong word for it, but it’s the preconceived ideas and opinions on popular books. The first is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It’s heralded as some sort of rite-of-passage book for young adult females. The reviews i read before i read the book seemed to veer between the two extremes; people either loved it or they hated it. I therefore expected to either love it or hate it. I did neither. It was just okay. Another was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Again the reviews were split, with many people actually debating and arguing about it. Half of people seemed to criticise it highly for its hideously Anglicised use of German, unrealistic young characters and wishy washy representation of Nazi concentration camps. The other half defended the book vehemently, claiming the story and its emotional impact more than make up for any inadequacies that can surely be overlooked to enjoy the book. I just didn’t feel strongly enough about the book to care about it either way. The idea of the book was good, but it was so poorly executed it was a joke. I couldn’t argued for or against it.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t really read official critics’ reviews. I mostly read readers’ reviews on goodreads, amazon or similar. And i don’t read them to take what is said seriously, i read them to get a feel for the book. If someone says they didn’t like the book because, say, there was too much dialogue or not enough exposition, it makes me think, ‘oh, i might like this book!’ Reviews are personal things i think. It’s not a case of agreeing or disagreeing with someone else, it’s a case of did we both generally like or dislike the book? And there will always be people to disagree with.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I give honest reviews. If i don’t like a book, i will say so, but i will say why i didn’t like it. The reason i dislike a book could be the reason someone would else like it, so even a “bad” review could lead to someone wanting to read the book. I hate reviews that are simply, “This book was crap,” or “I loved this book!” Good for you, but that tells me absolutely nothing, and seems like an utterly pointless “review”.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Dutch. Mostly only because i do actually want to learn Dutch. Not sure where i’d get books written in Dutch from, though…

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I… don’t know. And again, what’s your definition of ‘intimidating’? I’m not sure it’s possible to be intimidated by a book. You can stop reading if it’s too daunting. The closest thing i can think of are books that are very very good, but take a lot of effort, and a lot of attention to read. The last one like that i remember reading was Chrome Yellow by Aldous Huxley. I really enjoyed it, but it was hard work reading it. So much so that i could only read so much at a time before needing to take a break and do something else.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Long books. Regardless of subject matter or how well written they are, the longer the book the more intimidated i am. It’s quite ridiculous, because i’ve struggled to finish short books and flown through long books; it is all about the subject matter and how well written it is. I suppose i just fear getting stuck reading a long book that i’ll struggle with (like the one i’m reading currently, for instance).

35. Favourite poet?
I’m not hugely into poetry, and am not well versed (well versed, see what i did there?) in the subject. I like Poe and Eliot. I was recently introduced to Cummings.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
None. We’ve been over this.

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?
Never, but i also haven’t checked out a library book is years.

38. Favourite fictional character?
This… you really expect me to pick just one? The first two (yes, two) that come to mind are Zellaby from The Midwich Cuckoos and Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray, and that’s because i can imaging them sitting down having afternoon tea together and philosphising into the night. Honourable mentions to Jack Parlabane, Angelique De Xavier, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, Charles Carter and Lucifer Box.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
This one is easier. The award goes to Simon Darcourt from A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away and A Snowball in Hell by Christopher Brookmyre. He’s hilariously self-centred, egotistical and astonishingly unself-aware. Honourable mentions to The Sisters Brothers and Billy Christ (though he’s more of an antihero, does that count?)

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Anything by Christopher Brookmyre. His books are perfection. Easy to read, but incredibly well written. Funny, engaging, plot-driven, well-rounded characters and often fantastically outlandish.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Well, i could be a pedant, take this question incredibly literally and say there hasn’t been a day in which, since i learnt to read, i haven’t read something. But if we’re talking books… maybe a year? I used to read a lot, then i read regularly, but not necessarily often. Then i stopped reading at all for a while, and now i read a lot again.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
This hasn’t happened for a while. The last book i stopped reading was The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, because i could not get into the narrator’s voice. Often, with first person narrative, if i don’t like the character or their voice, i find it hard to enjoy the book. Thankfully, i eventually gave Catcher another go, and loved it the second time. The only other book that comes to mind that i barely started before having to put down because of the first person narrative style was Angela’s Ashes. That was over 10 years ago, but i haven’t attempted it again since.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Someone talking to me. Not someone talking generally, like i can cope with a TV being on, or in a busy environment, but if someone is saying something to me while i’m trying to read, i end up distracted from both reading and listening and make a half-arsed job of both. I also can’t listen to music with lyrics that i know and like. I will only end up wanting to stop reading to sing along.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?
I will have to say Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. My opinion may be influenced by the fact that i saw the film before i read the book, but whatever. As i read the book i could see and hear the film and i really saw how they had taken the book and turned it into that film. It fit. Honourable mentions to Shawshank Redemption and Of Mice and Men.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The Shining by Stephen King. Another case of film-before-book, but i never liked the film, and did not understand why so many people loved it so much. Then i read the book, and i disliked the film even more. It missed the mark so incredibly badly. There is so much more to the story in the book, and a large part of that takes place inside the minds of the characters, which is something it is nearly impossible to get across on film without a narrative voice over. I’m sure there are plenty, plenty more, but The Shining always sticks with me, for some reason.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Probably not all that much. If it’s a bookstore selling new books at full price, i likely won’t buy any, to be honest. I’m much more a second hand or, at the very least, cheap book buyer. In charity shops i can maybe spend £10-20 on books in one go, but i would get at least 5-10 books for that price, so it isn’t really that much to spend.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Hmm, if i’ve bought a book without knowing much about it i will flick through and maybe read a random paragraph, to get a quick feel for the writing style, but that’s about it. It’s once i start reading a book (and 99% of the time, a book i’m really enjoying and really invested in) that i have to watch myself, because i will get tempted to skip ahead to see what happens. (I manage to stop myself only about 50% of the time.)

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
I’m not sure i ever have. I’ve stopped reading books very early on if i can’t get into them, but if i’ve invested enough time to get halfway through… i’m not sure i would ever stop. I have briefly considered it two or three times, but never actually managed to convince myself to stop. Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger was a bloody slog, by god that man can waffle (he also freely admitted that fact right at the start, so…). Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was repetitive and dull for a while, but eventually cleared up. And The Spire by William Golding. I thought about giving that up through a few early chapters, but never seriously. For me, it seems that once i reach the halfway point of a book, the second half flies by much quicker than the first half, so even if i am fed up of a book halfway through, i’ll still read the second half quicker.

Hang on, i did stop about halfway through Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I made no conscious decision to stop, but i did stop. He hadn’t even got on a boat yet, and i was getting impatient, i think. But, a few years later, i started it again and managed to finish it!

49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
Ha. I would like to keep my books organised, but currently a lack of shelves prevents me from doing that. I actually have books shelved two-deep in my largest bookcase. The only hint of organisation is books grouped by authors and, when i can manage it, chronologically by release date. That might sound organised to a lot of people, but to me that is barely started.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I can only give up books that i know i will never want to read or reference again, ever. In my life, i can think of only three. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont and Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill. I enjoyed all these books very much, just not enough, or in the right way, to ever want to read them again.

I know the chance of me re-reading all the books i’ve read is very slim, when i have about twice as many unread books, but i don’t care. The possibility is there, i need the books!

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Nope. I look up at my bookcase and think, ‘Yep, i still want to read all of those.’ I’m currently consciously choosing to not read books in a series, like The Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games. That’s because i know i will want to read the whole series in one go, but i like to be more varied in my reading. At some point i will need to give up on one of those two things, or i will never get around to reading them.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Hmm. I can’t think of a book that made me out-and-out angry. The most annoyed and frustrated i have been made by a book was due to Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. It was a pointless story that had no plot. It was based on the author’s real life experiences, but came across only as self-involved pretentious drivel. The author veered between ‘I was crazy’ and ‘I was never crazy’, seemingly wanting the allure of being crazy, but also the righteousness of being able to say ‘they fucked my whole life up’. It really wound me up!

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Why would you read a book if you didn’t expect to like it? This question seriously puzzles me. Every book i have picked up to read i have chosen to read because either i thought i would like it, or someone else thought i would like it. I have never started reading a book i expected to dislike.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
I’m going to re-interpret this question as “A book you didn’t like as much as you expected to?” And answer with Espedair Street by Iain Banks. It was just very normal and unexciting, compared to The Wasp Factory, Walking On Glass and The Bridge (yes, i’m reading them in chronological order). I enjoyed it well enough, it just wasn’t as interesting as i had expected.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Anything by Christopher Brookmyre, Stephen King or John Wyndham. Three differing genres, styles and eras, but i love every word they’ve written.

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About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

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