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Idiot Control Now
bees on pie, burning rubber tires
I can go twice as high
As seen everywhere, a meme about books.

1. Favorite childhood book?
The Westing Game. I still read it even as an adult, although it’s been a couple of years. Turtle is my hero. Why aren’t fictional characters real? I want to vote Turtle for President. Or really I want an Alex P. Keaton/Tabitha-Ruth Wexler ticket.

2. What are you reading right now?
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig. Yes, I still hate Eloise more and more with every book. Miles and Hen, however, are adorable.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

4. Bad book habit?
I’m terrible about buying things and never getting around to reading them, although it gives me a good backlog if ever I need something to read. Thank goodness for Paperback Swap. I can sometimes rein in the temptation to buy and put it on my swap wishlist instead to save a couple bucks.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Kind of. My parents gave me an ipad for Christmas, but I hardly use it. (I’m probably the only person ever to cry with disappointment when given an ipad. I just thought, “My parents do not know me at all.” I would have returned it if they hadn’t had it engraved. I still could have sold in on ebay, I guess, but it would have hurt my dad’s feelings. Basically at this point we just use it to check our email when we’re out of town, because it’s not as heavy to pack as my laptop.) I don’t use it as an e-reader because I don’t like reading anything of length on a screen, and I’m pretty anti-e-book on principle.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I’ll sometimes have a couple going at a time.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No. Why would they?

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. I get that it was a satire and all, but it was a total slog to get through. And the characters were completely unlikeable. I don’t need characters to be perfect, but I want them to be sympathetic, you know? I want to care what happens to them. I didn’t. They just annoyed me. I really should stop taking recommendations from Entertainment Weekly.

10. Favorite book you've read this year?
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. I don’t know, there was just something charming about it. And also A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff. I’ve been a fan of hers for years.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not often.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Chick lit. Yeah, I said it. But I like thoughtful chick lit, not brainless fashion-obsessed bimbo chick lit. I like intelligent, capable heroines, not airheads who stumble into perfect jobs and land perfect men without actually having anything substantial to offer. And I don’t like Oprah-type books about being poor/abused/downtrodden/terminally ill, because I read for fun, and that sort of Lifetime stuff is a total downer. I guess it’s supposed to be inspirational? But it’s just depressing.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I’ll read anywhere.

14. Favorite place to read?
Starbucks or other coffee places, so long as it’s fairly quiet. I don’t mind a little background buzz, but if there are squalling children or loud music, I can’t handle it. I don’t know why some places play their music nice and softly and others blare it like a nightclub.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
Don’t lend anything you want back.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

18. Not even with text books?
Well, textbooks don’t count. Of course I made notes in my textbooks.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
Danish. No, not really.

20. What makes you love a book?
When I care about the characters and the ending is satisfying. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “happy” (although that’s good), it just has to make sense.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If it’s good enough that I’ve reread it, then it’s worth recommending, although the favorite books I’ve given as gifts to my sisters, I have no idea if they liked them. I don’t really recommend books, though, because as my tastes are so specific and personal, I assume everyone else’s are, too. If something is recommended to me, only about a quarter of the time do I actually like it.

22. Favorite genre?
Didn‘t I say thoughtful chick lit already?

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
I could probably stand to read more historical non-fiction, I guess. I do read some (I have a whole shelf devoted to the Tudors), but I could branch out into other periods/regions.

24. Favorite biography?
Growing Up Brady by Barry Williams. I‘m a total pop culture geek, and it was really fascinating. I stayed up all night reading it.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Ugh, when we first got married, some people gave us those marriage/relationship books, but I kind of just flipped through them as a courtesy and never looked at them again.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Anything by Jamie Oliver or Frank Stitt, plus we also regularly use Everyday Pasta from Giada De Laurentiis and Chinese Food Made Easy from Ching-He Huang (D is totally in love with her. I‘m not jealous).

27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Nothing, really, but I’ll say A Week at the Airport by Alain de Botton. Even though it wasn’t my favorite of his and seemed a retread of The Art of Travel, I still have a great admiration for his style and perspective. This is an author I’m constantly recommending but no one ever takes me up on it. Maybe that’s why I don’t recommend much.

28. Favorite reading snack?

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I guess the Harry Potter series. My mother-in-law gave me the first two for Christmas one year (the third one had just come out, I think), and said she heard they were really good. All I knew about them was that they were kids’ books. I liked them okay and kept reading (I will admit to really liking the fourth one), but the fifth and sixth ones were terrible, and I never read the last one. I don’t know if that’s a case of “hype” necessarily, but I don’t think they were nearly as good as the fandom would have me believe. I think they just came around and filled a void in the literary world, and that’s just good marketing. I have to appreciate that, at least.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
The only “critics” I read are the reviews in EW, and when I’ve read something they raved about, I’ve been disappointed.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
If something is really, really terrible, I don’t mind saying so. If it’s just “meh”, it’s not even worth mentioning.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French. I took a year of it in college but it didn’t stick.

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, if only because it was so long. It took me about two months to finish that thing. Subject matter-wise it wasn’t intimidating. Just the length. I call it one of my “desert island” books because that’s probably the only way I’d get around to tackling it again.

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
Probably nothing, but I’ve been putting off This Is Where I Leave You because Jonathan Tropper’s books can make me bawl like a baby. I cried all the way through How to Talk to a Widower, start to finish, no lie.

35. Favorite Poet?
I don’t really have one. I think poetry is kind of pretentious.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
When I was in college I’d go to the public library almost every Saturday and get three or four books at a time. Now it’s just one or two, if any.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Probably a few times, but not often.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Ever? Maybe Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It’s my favorite book. I’ve read it at least ten times. I went through a period in high school where as soon as I’d finish it, I’d start it over again. It might be time to pull that one down for a reread. I think it’s been a few years since the last one. I get something new out of it every time.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Ummm…. Bruce Patman? Seriously, I don’t really read anything with “villains”.

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
If it’s a pool/beach vacation, I’ll take something light and fun. Otherwise I just take something I’ve been meaning to read. I took Wuthering Heights and The Mill on the Floss to Europe because I didn’t know when else I’d read them.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.
I read something every day. Doesn’t everyone?

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute. I just hated it. This may be when I instituted my old “100 pages” rule (see #48), because I was reading it for a book club. I didn’t stay in that book club long. Their choices just didn’t appeal to me.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?
D. He hates when I read, especially if we’re sitting on the couch together or in bed watching TV. If nothing’s on, or it’s something he’s interested in but I’m not, I’ll read. He hates it. He feels like I’m ignoring him. Even if he’s been watching TV, the second I open a book, he wants to talk to me. I love him, but ARGH.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
About a Boy. The changes they made worked, and it was cast perfectly. We watch it every Christmas.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I Capture the Castle. One of my all-time favorite books, and while the movie wasn’t bad (I mean, they cast Bill Nighy!), yeah, I was disappointed. I didn’t think the magic had really been, well, captured. Maybe I should watch it again. I definitely need to read it again.

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Probably close to $200, although that’s at Christmas when I’m buying gifts. For myself alone, more like $100. That’s pretty rare, though. An average purchase on bamm.com is about $45.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Not often. Usually just the back over/inside flap blurb.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
I used to try to finish every book I started, but then I realized life is too short to read bad books. So I started a new rule that I would read the first 100 pages, and if I wasn’t engaged, then I could give it up. Then I basically said screw that, and if I can’t like the characters and I just don’t give a crap about what happens, I’ll just stop and go list it on Paperback swap. I do try to get into it, but there are times when something is so terrible it’s not worth it.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Well, I like to, but I’m not very good at it. Our books were organized until we ran out of room. Anything that didn’t make the original librarization of our books is basicallly piled up wherever there’s empty space. I need to do something about that. We have six bookcases and they’re all jammed full.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
Keep if they’re worth keeping. Half of what I’ve read this year got listed on Paperback Swap.

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?
Anything Twilight. My sisters are astonished that I don’t want to read these. I’m not budging.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Pop Co by Scarlett Thomas. I’d read The End of Mr. Y and thought it was interesting from a “thought experiment” point of view, so I bought this one, expecting something similar, only about cryptography and numerology and all that. Then it turned into an anti-corporation screed and pissed me off. I expect that I’m going to disagree with an author’s/character’s politics, and that alone doesn’t anger me. It’s the feeling like I’m being lectured. It’s when the story comes to a complete stop to filibuster. It’s when it stops feeling like a story and starts feeling like a judgment on the reader.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
.I don’t know that I really go into any books expecting not to like them. If I didn’t think I would like them, I probably wouldn’t bother in the first place.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?
One Day by David Nicholls. I really think the author didn’t know what to do once Dex and Emma got together. And I didn’t want them together, either, but I knew it was inevitable.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Mental Floss. Okay, that’s a magazine, not a book, but I have a few of the books they’ve put out, too. Fun and educational!

Current Mood: drained drained
Current Music: I'll be there for you--the rembrandts

2 pathetic excuses or justify your existence
cal_reflector From: cal_reflector Date: October 29th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Serious Request

I like most things you like, and I love your writing, so I would like you to recommend me some reading. Please recommend:

1 A chick lit.
2 Something you think will help my writing/story-telling. I learn writing by reading. I feel I'm particularly weak at portraying human details, physical and emotional, and have been told my style is too "stark."
mellowcandle From: mellowcandle Date: October 30th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Serious Request

Anything by Isabel Wolff (except maybe The Trials of Tiffany Trott--probably my least favorite of hers). I'm just starting to get into Harriet Evans but I like what I've read so far. More on the historical romance end of chick lit, despite my grousing about the Eloise character that serves as a modern-day framing element around the main stories, the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig is very good. It mixes some English/French spy stuff of the early 19th century with a more typical historical romance plot. And my favorite historical romance of all time is The Nightingale Legacy by Catherine Coulter. It also has a mystery element as background to the romance plot While the cover does make it look like a romance novel, at least it's not a bodice ripper type cover. There's a plucky heroine, a broody lord, and fantastic love scenes--what more could you ask from a romance novel?

And for a totally different way of looking at things, I once again have to shout out Alain de Botton and in particular, On Love or Kiss and Tell. These are going to be definitely a more analytical and philosophical look at relationships, but it's a style I very much appreciate even if it's the complete opposite of my own style and most of what I read.
2 pathetic excuses or justify your existence