Thursday, August 26, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Two weeks' worth in one!

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If you’re not enjoying a book, will you stop mid-way? Or do you push through to the end? What makes you decide to stop?

Depends on the reasons why I'm reading it in the first place.

If I'm reading it with another person, or with a book group, it will depend on how disruptive my bailing out will be. It also depends on the reasons why I'm not enjoying it--bad prose or story will usually make me stop, unless I think there'll be enough pleasure in mocking the book later on to keep me going. If the reasons why I'm not enjoying it are more complex and say more about me than the book, then it may be worth the time to finish it and ponder why I reacted the way I did.

If I think it's just a matter of reading a worthwhile book at the wrong time, I'll put it aside and come back to it when I'm feeling more receptive.

If it's a book that I can read quickly, or that I've invested a lot of time on before things soured, though, I'll probably continue reading.

And last week's, the 55-questions meme:

1. Favorite childhood book?

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

2. What are you reading right now?

A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz

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

Twenty in all (I'm maxed out). Cherie Priest's Boneshaker's waiting for pick up. New/upcoming releases on active request: Bound, Antonya Nelson; By Nightfall, Michael Cunningham; Lives Like Loaded Guns, Lyndall Gordon; My Hollywood, Mona Simpson; Nemesis, Philip Roth; Witch of Hebron, James Howard Kunstler; Ape House, Sara Gruen; Adam and Eve, Sena Jeter Naslund; You Lost Me There, Rosecrans Baldwin. I'm first on the list for the rest, but I've inactivated the requests so that everything doesn't come in all at once --have to read some of my own books! Some of the above will probably wind up going inactive for awhile as well.

4. Bad book habit?

The worst: Buying books as soon as they come out in hardback and then not getting around to reading them until long after they've come out in paperback. I need to either quit buying hardbacks or quit using the library.

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

From the university library: Ghostwritten, David Mitchell; A Writer's Diary, Virginia Woolf; The Mulberry Empire, Philip Hensher; Collected Stories of Caroline Gordon; The Wise Virgins, Leonard Woolf; Demos, George Gissing; Martha Quest and Love, Again, Doris Lessing.

From the public library: Composed, Rosanne Cash, and I'd Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Yes, a first-generation Kindle. It isn't evil and it isn't as good as a book. But it's quite useful.

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

One at a time is ideal, but I usually read nonfiction or collections of short stories in fits and starts instead of straight through. Maybe I should just say I prefer to do whatever meets my readerly needs at the time.

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


9. Least favorite book you read this year?

Richard Hughes's The Fox in the Attic was a major letdown after the incredible High Wind in Jamaica a couple years back.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

I can't decide. It's been a good year and I've read a lot of things I've loved--Can You Forgive Her?, Anthony Trollope; Cassandra at the Wedding, Dorothy Baker; The Sweetest Dream, Doris Lessing, among them, but I'm still sorting my feelings out about which book will prove to be my favorite.

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

My comfort zone's pretty large, so not often.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

I prefer literary fiction and classics, but I'm okay with just about anything that's well-written.

13. Can you read on the bus?

Yes. I don't get motion sick reading on the Kindle.

14. Favorite place to read?

Living room, in a big leather chair with an ottoman for my feet.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

I want them back!

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

Frequently, to mark pages I'd like to return to. I use bookmarks or post cards to keep my place.

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

Not often. But I usually dog-ear.

18. Not even with text books?

Been a long time since I've had a textbook.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?


20. What makes you love a book?

Words on the page.

Okay, sometimes the illustrations or photographs are the best part.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

If I think the book and the person will be a good match. I don't try to match my favorites with people any longer--my tastes are my own and I realize that.

22. Favorite genre?

Literary fiction

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

I wish I read more history and science, more philosophy and poetry.

24. Favorite biography?

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

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

Yes, but it's been a long time.

26. Favorite cookbook?

I still like the spiralbound compilation from the Methodist church we used to go to.

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


28. Favorite reading snack?

Pop corn and Coke. Usually I just drink coffee, though.

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

I don't hold a book responsible for the hype surrounding it. I've been rolling my eyes a lot this week due to the hoohah surrounding Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and the Nicole Krauss blurb on David Goodman's To the End of the Land.

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

Depends on the critic.

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

I don't have a problem writing a bad review, but I'd prefer not to waste my time on a book I dislike in the first place, so there's not a lot of opportunity.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Russian or German.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

Ulysses, which I finished last month. Yay me!

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

Finnegans Wake. I'll never attempt it. Never.

35. Favorite poet?

Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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

Varies. I'm terribly proud of myself for having less than ten checked out from the university library right now, I'll tell you that. I think I've had 30 plus for most of the last decade.

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

Very often. My eyes are bigger than my stomach.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Stephen Mauturin

39. Favorite fictional villain?

Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov

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

Whatever I'm interested in at the time.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

Without reading anything? A few hours, maybe. I go a few days between books, sometimes.

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

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I was skimming before the end of the first chapter, so I knew there was no point in continuing with it.

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

Other people.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

Howards End.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

Crooked Hearts

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

A couple hundred or so while Christmas shopping.

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

If I'm reduced to skimming, it's not worth reading.

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

Total lack of interest. An author who'd undermined my trust. The presidential campaign of 2008 (I have a couple of books started from then that I still need to get back to).

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Enough so that I can find what I'm looking for. Not so much for other people.

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

Keep them.

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

This is the category of books given to me by other people based on their own tastes, not mine.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

Hmmm. Earlier this year I found the ending to George Gissing's In the Year of Jubilee rather infuriating, but it wasn't the type of anger I think you're looking for, since I still love Gissing.

The ending to Ender's Game made me so angry that I've never picked up another Orson Scott Card. How's that?

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

Master and Commander , Patrick O'Brian.

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

A Fox in the Attic, Richard Hughes.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

Rereading an Anne Tyler novel.

Booking Through Thursday


  1. Frankly, I think Why should I waste time reading something I don't like when there are so many more to choose from..

    Here is my BTT: Giving Up post!

  2. If a book is boring I will abandon it. Life is to short to waste it on reading a boring book, when there are so many good books just waiting to be read.

  3. I try to only pick books I know I will enjoy but, like you, if I am reading it for a purpose, I try to plow through.

    Here's my BTT post.

  4. I like your answer to #20. I also didn't know that Edna St Vincent Millay was your favorite poet. Very cool. She is marvelous. And I must agree that other people are the biggest distraction while reading especially if the other people are trying to talk to you.

  5. It is so hard to abandon a book that is partially read but sometimes it frees up other reading to do so.

    I also had trouble with the book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but finished it because it was a book club book. I did like the movie, though (subtitled from Swedish).

    My answers to Booking Through Thursday:
    * New Follower

  6. I'm really bad about buying hardcovers and then not reading them, too. I hate it when a book I HAD to have sits unread for so long that I could have just waited for the paper. And I have a lot of those. I love Howards End, too. I think anything Merchant Ivory did is pretty wonderful. And yes, #20 is pretty funny!

  7. Anonymous4:32 PM

    I like your answers! I love Anne Tyler, too - but it's been a while since I've read one of hers.

    I'm listening to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on audio right now - the reader is really good, so even though it isn't very fast moving, I'm enjoying it.

  8. Harriet the Spy has been mentioned by several people, including me. I wonder if 4th and 5th graders still read her.

  9. Kids do still read Harriet the Spy. Mine did, and as many of their friends as I could coerce!

  10. Stephen Maturin is also my favorite fictional character. I fully expect to meet him someday.


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