Book Q&A

I am borrowing a meme from Fourth Street Review!

Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

What are you reading right now?

Eight Girls Taking Pictures” by Whitney Otto.  Lirael” by Garth Nix. Occasionally, “The World Treasury of Science Fiction.”

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

Ha! Yeah, I think I know:


What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

  1. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
  2. “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys
  3. “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde
  4. “1984” by George Orwell
  5. “One Thousand and One Nights”

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?

None in the bathroom, but the coffee table has a few old Vogue from before my free subscription ran out. 😦

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

I really really loathed “Heart of Darkness,” but I think it’s one of those books that actually is good, and I just hated it because it was assigned reading.  (Summer reading, no less!)  The book that I think actually is terrible and didn’t deserve to be published was “Intimacy” by Hanif Kureishi, which is the semiautobiographical account of how the author is a whiny cheating self-centered horrible person and crappy father.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak.  Reviews promised a tear-jerking, life-changing story, but I couldn’t get past the experimental style.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

The “Delirium” trilogy by Lauren Oliver for YA fans.  “Illustrated Man” and “Martian Chronicles” to people who have never read Ray Bradbury.

What are your three favourite poems?

Eh, I’m bad about poetry.  That slam poem about OCD that was floating around a while ago is pretty great, as is this one about body image.  More traditional favorites are “Morning Poem” and “Starlings in Winter” by Mary Oliver and “And Yet The Books” by Csezlaw Milosz.

Where do you usually get your books?

Library. My own bookshelves. Amazon. Independent bookstores when I’m on vacation.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

I always did those summer reading challenges, which involved picking out huge stacks of books from the library.  In grade school, I would raid our attic and take out giant stacks of National Geographics – I usually didn’t read any articles, but I liked all the photos.  Around 7th or 8th grade, I decided it was time to start reading grown-up books aaaaaand promptly dove into Michael Crichton and Stephen King.  I still love Crichton, but I only made it through “Insomnia” and part of “It” before I had to give up on King.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

Probably “Hunger Games,” honestly. I get up at 5:30 these days – it’s a big deal if I stay up until 10:30 with a book light!  That said, “Days of Blood and Starlight” kept me up past my bedtime.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

I think I Cliff-Notes’d my way through a couple Shakespeare plays in high school.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

The Night Circus” caught me in its spell, unfortunately.  In my defense, it also had a really interesting plot description.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Pretty much all of the American Girl books, “Ferdinand,” and “Caps for Sale.”  The story of “Caps” frustrated me – stupid monkeys! – but I liked the art.

What book changed your life?

“Meet Addy” was probably the earliest.  Addy is nine years old, and as the book progresses, her father and brother are sold, she’s forced to eat the maggots she fails to pick off the tobacco plants she’s inspecting, she runs away with her mother (leaving her baby sister with her grandparents), her mother almost drowns during the escape, and she’s nearly caught by Confederate soldiers.  I don’t think it fully sunk in at the time that actual people went through those situations, but it at least started to open my eyes.

Later, “The Illustrated Man” helped shaped my desire to write.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

Oh man oh man – this bit from “East of Eden:”

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”

“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”

Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”

Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness.”

You can read more of it here or you can – and should – just read the whole book.

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Ray Bradbury, Alan Furst, Isabel Allende, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Michael Crichton.

What book has no one heard about but should read?

I’ve never really met anyone else who’s read “Archangel” or the other Samaria books by Sharon Shinn.  I can’t remember how I came across them – possibly they were gifts – but I love their mashup of science fiction and Christian elements. In “Archangel,” a slave woman is selected to marry the Archangel, and while society says she’s being honored, she only sees it as another form of slavery.

I don’t know if “The Book of Fires” by Jane Borodale is a book no one has heard of, but if you want a break from sentimental, anachronistic historical fiction, read this one.

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

“The Illustrated Man” by Bradbury, as well as the books I’ve read by people I know: “My Name Is Mary Sutter” is by a family friend and “Little Century” is my professor’s first novel.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

“Little Century” and “My Name Is Mary Sutter;” “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obrecht; and “The Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri.

What is your favourite classic book?

“Jane Eyre” or “The Great Gatsby.”

Five other notable mentions?

Habibi” has its flaws, but it’s one of my favorite graphic novels.

The Second Duchess” by Elizabeth Loupas looks like a typical historical romance, but it’s actually a suspenseful murder mystery in which the ambitious duchess tries to discover what happened to her predecessor.

Zorro” by Isabel Allende is a beautiful faux-historical account of the Zorro legend, featuring real-life characters like Toypurnia, a Native American leader, and the pirate Jean Lafitte.

Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro is gorgeous and unnerving and you should read it.

The World at Night” is probably my favorite Furst book, starring a Parisian film producer who falls from his life of luxury and works for the newly-formed Resistance.

Your turn:

Everybody do it!  Let’s talk about books!


2 thoughts on “Book Q&A

  1. I just discovered Sharon Shinn — a random pick off the shelf at the library. Love the two books I’ve managed to snag of hers. I need to remember to check the catalog, as a lot of the books are in basement storage, and they might have more of hers.

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