Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book questionnaire

I'm on Library, where someone posted a thread asking bloggers to answer some questions normally posed to authors. I think these questions come courtesy of Shelf Awareness. So here are my answers. And I'm tagging any other book lovers out there who want to answer these and post them to their blogs. Leave me a comment to let me know where you've posted.

*Disclaimer: I'm not going to try to impress the literati here, so be prepared for some shallow (but honest!) answers. Plus most of my answers could change tomorrow. Just so you know.

On your nightstand now
Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella. It's the only one in the series I haven't read yet. The heroine is simultaneously exasperating and compelling. Not sure whther I love her or hate her. So I just read about her.

Book you've "faked" reading
Uh...this list could get long, and includes most of the books from my 19th Century British Novel class back in college (I was an English major). The thing is, I loved the material and the prof, but somehow I never actually finished any of the books. Still made an A in the class, though. Yes, unfortunately I am proud of that.

Oh, and Crime & Punishment. Got 3/4 of the way through for a Great Books class and just couldn't take it anymore. And BTW, what's with Russian authors giving all their characters (who have long, complicated names to begin with) multiple nicknames that look and sound nothing whatsoever like their original names? Thanks, Fyodor. Or should I call you Sherman? Or Howard?

Book you've bought for the cover
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. In this case, the cover didn't lie. It's a fab book.

Favorite book when you were a child
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Read me droning on, ad nauseam, about this book here.

Book that changed your life
Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin. Yes, it's a Babysitter's Club book. It's no To Kill A Mockingbird, but it was the first chapter book I ever read. I checked it out from the library in second grade and got hooked on reading in a way I never had before. I felt transported for the first time. Until then, my parents had read books to me, I read some and liked them ok. After Claudia, I positively devoured every book I could get my hands on.

Favorite line(s) from a book
"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." --First two lines of Silent in the Grave. If the book's cover didn't draw me in, the first lines certainly did. Priceless!

Top five favorite authors
Just...can' it *sighs in frustration*. I thought I could, but I can't. Jane Eyre is my favorite book, but I can't claim Charlotte Bronte as my favorite author since I haven't read Villette or any of her other works. Jane Austen would probably go on the list, but her only novel I'm truly passionate about is Pride & Prejudice. And as for the contemporary authors I like, I couldn't in good conscience put them on the list because I'm not so sure I'll love them 10 or 20 years from now. Mostly I get attached to books, rather than authors. So, ok. Long explanation, no real answer. Sorry about that.

Books you recommend as regeneration when people say, "I'm bored by almost all contemporary American writers"
People who would say that would probably not be impressed by the kind of books I like to read. Most of the "good" literature I like are the classics; most of the contemporary stuff I read are genre mysteries, historicals and chick lit. But I will say that The Road by Cormac McCarthy was compulsively readable and sufficiently deep to satisfy most pompous people who are "bored by almost all contemporary American writers." McCarthy is American, right?

Book you can't believe that everyone has not read and loved
I've talked to several people who didn't like The Great Gatsby. I loved that book. It's the quintessential Great American Novel. Now, if this question had asked for the...

Book you can't believe everyone has read and loved,
I'd say The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Had to read this one in AP English and liked it at the time, then decided later it's just a big, pompous, self-congratulating muck. I read somewhere that looking for flaws in Rand's philosophy is like looking for hay in a haystack. Agreed.

Book you are an "evangelist" for (this should read: Book for which you are an "evangelist")
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It's my all-time favorite book: it's got the perfect unperfect heroine, the perfect spooky mystery, the perfect love story, the perfect "finding yourself" story. And it's an easy, accessible read for anyone who doesn't normally like reading classics, so I'm always recommending it.

Book you most want to read again for the first time
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The last fourth of the book is truly thrilling. Or any of the HP books after that one. There was nothing like devouring each one, because Harry's future was such a mystery.

"Great books" you detest (I added this one)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway. Oh how I hate that tedious book. Reading it was like driving nails into my head. Slowly. With lots of breaks for description. It could have been a decent short story, but no...ol' Papa thought we needed extra pages describing jellyfish and marlins.

Book that improved after you read it again (I added this one, too)
Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. It was required reading in high school, then again in two different college classes. Once you get past the weird syntax, non-linear plot and lack of punctuation, you start seeing how incredibly layered this book is. It's almost like The Great Gastby for us Southerners. All the important Southern themes are there. And though you'll like almost none of the characters, you can sympathize with them, or at least understand their motivations--even the evil ones.


Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I love this questionnaire. Now you have me trying to answer these for myself. hummm...

Ali said...

Oh, I can't believe I didn't think of Harriet the Spy for a favorite book as a child! Great answers. I think it's funny that you said you weren't out to impress, but then you listed The Great Gatsby and Jane Eyre as favorite books. You far out-sophisticated my answers.

Casey said...

Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins were my favs growing up (that and all of the Nancy Drews and Nancy Drew Case Files).

Shopaholic Series is one of my favorites today! And yes, you MUST read C.A. Belmonds books. Plus, she has a third one on the way.