Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Post about Books

Because I am relishing the fact that, this morning, I have nothing better to do:

Via Sheila's fine site.

1. Favorite childhood book?

A lot come to mind, but probably the best answer is The Wizard of Oz I was six or seven when I read the book, and I remember thinking how much cooler (and scarier) than the movie the book was. Other favorites: The Owlstone Crown, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Incredible Journey.

2. What are you reading right now?

Bleak House, by Charles Dickens and I'm picking through Harlan Ellison stories in The Essential Ellison.

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


4. Bad book habit?

Probably buying or trading for them when I have a stack Tommy-high at home to read, already.

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


6. Do you have an e-reader?

I got a Kindle for Christmas a couple years back. It's come in pretty handy, actually, for anything out there in the public domain, which I get for free. Was able to get the whole slew of Baum's Oz books and Robert Howard's Conan books. In the past couple of months, I've read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, War of the Worlds and I re-read A Tale of Two Cities. It's good for bedtime reading, I've found. No pages to have to turn.

That's not to say I don't dig books. I still have tons and tons of books, and still travel with a book on me at any given time...

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

For most of my life, it's been a couple or three going at any given time. The past two or three years, as leisure time has gotten away from me, that's gone to one at a time. It's only been since last summer that I've gotten back into the 2 or 3 at a time phase.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Not in terms of how much I read. There have been a lot of great things recommended by other bloggers...

9. Least favorite book you read this year?

I read a couple that disappointed me, though I hesitate to call them bad. Stephen King's Under the Dome was another in a line of disappointments. It's been a little while that he's published something that I've enjoyed, and said "I'd recommend it and/or read it again, one day." The last Dark Tower books, maybe? Maybe even since Bag of Bones. Under the Dome was just entirely overlong (a complaint on King books I've argued with for years, though in this case, one entirely justified).

Other than that? George Carlin's Memoir Last Words wasn't bad. It just didn't have any energy to it, and any revelation or insight into the man was slight.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen.

Interesting how I found this one. I'll wander around a bookstore, especially an Indie bookstore, to see if they carry anything by a couple authors. It's a small judgment, but I like to see their stuff on shelves. Joe Lansdale is one of them. A couple places I'd gone, I'd seen Larsen's book in the same areas. With a hefty $35 or so pricetag, I had to find this one online for cheap. It's the most fun I've had with a read in recent memory. Smart, and whimsical.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

From time to time, and I try to make myself. Time is short, though.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

See, that's the thing I realized...I can read almost anything. I tend to stick with fiction, because I like a good story. But I can get into almost anything.

13. Can you read on the bus?

Yep. I can read just about anywhere.

14. Favorite place to read?

Strangely, on a plane. Seems like that environment's conducive to not only quick and attentive reading, but I tend to absorb everything I read. Can't say way. I fly, on average once every two years. Maybe I should fly more.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

Kinda iffy. There are people I trust, that I will lend books to. A small cadre of people.

I do have several books, though, that I will pick up extras of, especially if I find them cheap. I keep those books to give to folks I think will enjoy them.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

No. That's book psychosis #2, right behind breaking the spine of a book.

I tend to use any and everything as a bookmark, and when I'm done with a book, I tend to leave that bookmark in the back of the book. Which is maybe a quaint habit, until you're looking for that month's insurance statement or electric bill. Thank heavens for online billpay.

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

Sometimes. It used to annoy me when somebody did that, and I suppose it still would if they did it to excess. But, I do, from time to time, now. Especially if the writer can turn an especially good phrase. I've become a heck of an underliner.

18. Not even with text books?

It kinda pisses me off that the assumption is "No."

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

English. I kinda suck at the others. I could get by reading Spanish, but it would take me forever.

20. What makes you love a book?

Stealing Sheila's answer: All kinds of things. Good writing, interesting characters, an ability to show me a world I’ve never seen before, or never even thought about before.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

A lot of the above. If it's a writer I think deserves more attention (like Joe Lansdale, Ekaterina Sedia or Cherie Priest), I'll give those books away to somebody who professes a like for their genre. There are occasions where a book helped get me through a time in life. It's rare, but I've recommended a book to a person in a similar situation.

22. Favorite genre?

I run the gamut.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

I wish there were more science writers who wrote more accessibly. Maybe that's not the right word, because I'm capable of understanding quite a bit. I just wish it didn't feel like I was reading a textbook, or stereo instructions, when I was reading up. I wish that there were more Stephen Jay Goulds in the world.

24. Favorite biography?

A few: Al Stump's Ty Cobb biography should be required reading in the sports world. Mick Foley's autobiographical/memoir-ish books are all very, very good, but his first, Have a Nice Day, is probably the best book about wrestling ever written (and there have been a handful of strong ones, actually), but Foley is personable and very conversational in his writing style. And Joseph Ellis's American Sphinx is a really cool read on Thomas Jefferson.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Does Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance count as self-help? If not, probably not.

26. Favorite cookbook?

Don't have one.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?

Was going to say I don't know if I've read anything inspirational, except that Reif Larsen's T.S. Spivet book made me want to write something cool.

28. Favorite reading snack?

I don't eat much when reading. I'll usually have a bottle of water or other similar drink there.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

There have been a couple of times...usually with a book that EVERYBODY'S reading or read, that I just end up not being able to get behind. It helps to have trusted people you can rely on, when it comes to these things.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

Every time. Without fail. I just want to get in line.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews??

Not horrible, so long as criticism is constructive.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Japanese, I think. Russian is also a good answer.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

I dunno. Underworld, maybe? Which was a pretty book, with the first 60 pages or so being up there with the best stuff written last century. At the end of the day, the book itself isn't good.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

Nervous isn't the right word. I do end up worrying about time (he said, realizing he's been writing on this stupid meme for an hour or so).

35. Favorite poet?

Don't know. I always liked Langston Hughes, in school. Mostly for A Dream Deferred. But Eric kinda knocked me over into the camp of Robert Service.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

None. I don't use the Public Library. I tend to keep books.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?

Thinking of it, it's been at least 10 years since I've borrowed a library book.

38. Favorite fictional character?

I run across this question a lot, and my answer probably changes every time. I think today, my answer's Joe Christmas, from Light in August. High on the list? Porter Osborne from Ferrol Sams semi-autobiographical books, Huckleberry Finn, Roland Deshcain the Gunslinger, and Woodpecker (with apologies to Mr. Wrangle).

39. Favorite fictional villain?

The Joker. Comic, book, cartoon, movie, whathaveyou. Runners up: Injun Joe, Manley Pointer, Pennywise, Anton Chigurh, Joe Christmas (again), Severus Snape (who wasn't ultimately the villain, and who had become my favorite character in the Potter books from maybe Sorcerer's Stone, but definitely by Prisoner of Azkaban).

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

Whatever's next in line.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

2007 was a bad year. Personally. Professionally. I can look back and say there was probably a pretty good depression in that one. I went pretty much from February to October without reading much of anything.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

I really dug Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. So, when I heard about The Baroque Cycle, I figured it would be right up my alley. I won't say that Quicksilver, the first book of that series, kicked my butt. I decided 200 pages in that it just didn't seem worth the trouble.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Children. I cannot read with children yelling, for some reason.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

Mystic River is a tremendous adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel, and actually does a surprising thing for Dave Boyle that the book could not, for me: It makes him a sympathetic character who is lost, and not just a victim.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

In my life? Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which I think was required viewing if you went to school in my generation. When I finally got around to reading Dahl's original work, you realize how far short the movie comes. Later, when you learn of the Quaker Oats edicts and simply the technology of the time, how cool it is what they actually did accomplish. Not completely faithful in spirit or execution, but not bad, either.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

Probably $150.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

There is no method to the madness.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

Again, stealing Sheila's answer: Lack of interest. Bad writing. The feeling that the writer thinks I am some sort of moron.

Further: the feeling that life is short, and the payout will not be worth the expenditure of time.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Yeah, there is a Tommy Decimal system. It's maybe the only thing in my life that is truly organized.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

Keep. I cull to donate or trade maybe every six months.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?


52. Name a book that made you angry.

I had to read a Janet Dailey romance novel for a Pop Culture class, and it got flung across a room a few times. Then, for being crap. As did William Gibson's Neuromancer. Then, for being overrated crap.

Also, when they killed Frank and Joe's girlfriends in the new Hardy Boys adventures. That was bullshit.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

A book specifically? I don't know. I was completely put off of Cormac McCarthy by All the Pretty Horses, which I'd had to read in college. After No Country for Old Men came out in theaters, I picked up that, and The Road, which had been recommended by many people. McCarthy became a favorite. I even went back to Pretty Horses, which I still don't dig, but I read it again with a more open mind, and have come to appreciate, all the same.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

Aside from my Stephen King dislike, which might be verging on a decade, I remember looking very strongly forward to Michael Chabon's Summerland. It may be the only thing by Chabon I just don't dig. Another is Joe Lansdale's Lost Echoes, which is the only book by Mr. Lansdale I've put down halfway through.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

I don't have any guilt. But I do tend to shy away from discussing a lot of pro wrestling biographies and autobiographies in mixed company....


Blogger Groanin' Jock said...

I've been giving colleagues "interesting" updates from Bret Hart's autobiography recently. They haven't all been entirely impressed.

1:40 PM  

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