For the Bookish Ones

09 January 2014

At the encouragement of my fellow scribblers, I've decided to answer this questionnaire that's been tossed around the blogosphere a bit and looked fun. Enjoy, but take warning — this is no ten-question affair.

1. Your favourite book as a child? Little Town on the Prairie. I read those poor Little House books to death, as their nonexistant spines bear witness.

2. What are you reading right now? I just finished My Ántonia, which was an assigned read. The Mind of the Maker probes my mind each night when I pick it up (one of the many reasons to read Dorothy Sayers). Just a few days ago I began The Eagle of the Ninth, but I haven't gotten very far yet.

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None at present, but that's only because I received several new ones for Christmas.

4. Bad book habit. Slipping my book under my pillow or between the slats of the bed instead of putting it on the desk. If I'm on the top bunk, as I am now, it sometimes ends up on Bree's head by morning.

5. What do you currently have checked out from your library? Nothing.

6. Do you have an e-reader? No. I like the feel of real pages too much.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or do you tend to read several at once? Since we're speaking of preferences, yes, I prefer to read one book at a time, but in reality, I end up reading several.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? My reading habits haven't changed much, although I've definitely received more good recommendations. Starting a blog introduced me to the helpful and addictive Goodreads, though, so I've kept track of what I'm reading a bit better.

9. What was your least favourite book this year? Either Frankenstein or The Metamorphosis. 

10. What was your favourite book this year? That should be a plural. I loved A Tale of Two CitiesThe Last of the Mohicans, and yes, even The Count of Monte Cristo.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Tutorial literature courses force me out of my comfort zone more often than anything else, but I'm willing to read almost anything a trusted friend recommends.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? Classics, generally. Anything with vivid characters and a compelling plot that prods me further up and further in, specifically.

13. Can you read in the car? To a point.

14. Where is your favourite place to read? In bed, before I go to sleep.

15. What is your policy on book-lending? Bree recently lent out her copy of The Grand Sophy to a friend, but I'm not half so unselfish. My books are my children. Would you lend your children to other people?

16. Do you ever dog-ear in books? It depends. I don't dog-ear books I'm reading for pleasure, but if it's a book for which I'm going to have to write an essay and I have no pen at hand, I'll fold down the corner as a means of marking certain parts. 

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Not much; I underline more than anything else, and then only in school books or non-fiction books.

18. What about text books? If the book belongs to us and is not on loan from a tutor, I highlight. It greatly improves an otherwise tedious process.

19. What is your favourite language to read in? The one in which I'm currently writing.

20. What makes you love a book? Please refer back to question #12.

21. What would inspire you to recommend a book? This is much the same as #20. If a book is a worthwhile read, possesses characters that leap off the page, and keeps me up until the wee morning hours, I'll praise it from the rooftops. Sometimes I toss around titles too carelessly, though, and receive nothing but blank stares in return. I'm learning to be more selective and consider whether said person would enjoy said literary work.

22. What is your favourite genre? I like many genres, but mainly history and fantasy. Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, Dickens, and Sutcliff all come under those two headings. 

23. What is a genre you rarely read but wish that you did? Mystery. I need some Holmes, Poirot, and Wimsey in my life.

24. Favourite biography? I'm stealing Bree's answer for this one and saying Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober. I was a little dubious when my father had us read it for school years ago, but I've eaten those words every time I go back to its worn pages.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? I think not.

26. Favourite cookbook? I gave my younger sister The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook for Christmas, and we've been having a lot of fun with that.

27. What is the most inspirational book you have read this year? Letters to a Diminished Church by Dorothy Sayers.

28. Favourite reading snack? Dried fruit is a favorite of mine. Chocolate covered craisins are divine, but I don't eat them often.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. None come to mind . . .

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? I don't read a lot of critical reviews, but I've read enough to know that my opinions tend to run counter to those held by the public.

31. How do you feel about giving negative reviews? If the author died long ago and will most likely not be perusing Goodreads or my blog in the near future, I have few qualms over speaking honestly. Not many of the authors I read are still living, but should that be the case, I try to word my review with both truth and tact, which is, in the words of Newton, "the art of making a point without making an enemy." I wouldn't want to lie, but there's no reason to clutter the Web with heated rants.

32. If you could read a foreign language, which would you choose? Either Latin or French; the former for its usefulness and the latter for its beauty.

33. What was the most intimidating book you've ever read? Probably The Count of Monte Cristo, though it wasn't half so intimidating once I got into it.

34. What is the most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin? Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Another verbose French author, which is awfully telling.

35. Who is your favourite poet? G. K. Chesterton, a poet who consistently makes the soul-light burn brilliantly like no other. I also have a certain fondness for Dickinson.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

36. On average, how many books do you have checked out of the library at any given time? Anywhere from one to eight, depending on how ambitious I feel.

37. How often do you return books to the library unread? Not regularly, but there are times when I pull too many from the shelves at once and cannot finish them all.

38. Who are your favourite fictional characters? Oh goodness, you would ask. Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia), Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Sir Percy Blakeney and Marguerite Blakeney (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities), Cora Munro (The Last of the Mohicans), Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit), Johnny Tremain (Johnny Tremain), Sophia Stanton Lacy and Charles Rivenhall (The Grand Sophy), and most recently, Ántonia Shimerda (My Ántonia). 

39. Who is your favourite fictional villain? Like Abigail, many of the books I read don't have one concrete villain. I'll say Hri Sora (Dragonwitch), because her complex history was written in a singularly unique fashion, and yes, it broke my heart.

40. What are the books you are most likely to take on vacation? Jane Austen. Georgette Heyer. Anything well-loved and familiar or else light and inviting. Gone With the Wind is going to be my heftiest summer read this year, though, and it doesn't fit into either category. Fiddle dee dee.

41. What is the longest you have gone without reading? Um . . . the eight hours I spend sleeping?

42. Name a book that you could not or would not finish. Unfortunately, most of the books I'd prefer to put down are required for school, which means I'm duty-bound to complete them.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading? Music with lyrics.

44. What is your favourite film adaptation of a novel? Undoubtedly the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. It has stood time's test quite well.

45. What is the most disappointing film adaptation? The 2005 Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley, otherwise known as Let's See How Many Times We Can Make Jane Austen Turn Over in Her Grave.

46. What is the most money you have spent in a bookstore at one go? I generally buy books online, partly because they're cheaper and I have a wider selection from which to choose and partly because I get a thrill down my spine when I see that promising brown box on our doorstep. I've probably spent around $20 at one time or another.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? If it's a school book and particularly dull at parts, I might skim during the reading process (yes, Benjamin Franklin, I'm looking at your autobiography). If it's a book I'm reading for pleasure and I'm not sure if I'll like it, I'll read bits and pieces here and there, but I generally settle down and begin it properly shortly after.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? Flat characters and dialogue. Lack of plot. An exorbitant amount of vulgarity, be it language or content.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Yes, though I'm not always very prompt about it. I dusted our bedroom bookshelves just before the new year and reorganized the languishing tomes, so they look rather nice at present.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you're done with them? I keep them for myself or pass them off to one of my siblings.

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding? I haven't officially been avoiding North and South. I've just been choosing to read other books first. Or something like that.

52. Name a book that made you angry. Probably one of the Dear America books that I used to take out of the library in dozens when I was nine. The heroines tended to be irritating and immature and the historical accuracy was uncertain, which is why I eventually stopped reading them.

53. A book you didn't expect to like, but did? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I still have mixed feelings about this one, but it was much better than I had expected.

54. How about a book you expected to like, but didn't? After my sisters and mother raved about The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, the actual reading was surprisingly disappointing. I could never get into it, a fact Bree still holds over my head.

55. Favourite guilt-free pleasure reading? Little Women, because it sounds like childhood and memories and beautiful familiarity. My little green copy was my constant companion for a year or two when I was younger, and the impression hasn't smoothed away.

8 epistles:

  1. What a fun questionnaire! I might have to borrow it next time I run out of blogging topics (which could very well be next week...).

    1. Please do! It's quite fun, and as you can see, I wasn't the one to start it. :)

  2. This is a nice long tag! I enjoyed reading your answers. I had to read Frankenstein for school too! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn't too wonderful either....
    It sounds like I might have to read The Grand Sophy soon, and I have just finished a book so it sounds like the perfect time!

    1. My thoughts were similar with Frankenstein; while the writing was well-done, the subject matter was horribly grotesque. I'm still not sure quite what I think of the book as a whole. And as far as The Grand Sophy is concerned, I'd recommend going ahead and trying it. It's a delightfully fun read — I don't think you'll be disappointed.


    13. Yes, until you puke.


    27. I am so excessively pleased that I have managed to introduce you to the sharp-witted brilliance of Sayers. She's like Chesterton in many ways, though heavily defined by her time and her experience - but I find I like them, and get things out of them, in much the same manner.

    35. On the subject of Chesterton, that particular poem from which you quoted remains a top favourite of mine among all poetry I have read. His larger work The Ballad of the White Horse is definitely a work to cherish for its beauty, its precision, its bravery, the sense of Christian charity throughout which is like a mother with her child: tender and devilish-fierce by turns. If you have not read it, by all means procure it and do so!

    38 - 40. I like that everyone has chosen Charles Rivenhall and Sophia Stanton-Lacy as favourite characters in their lists. An exclusive list: such an honour! They remain thrashingly charming to the last. And also, I think everyone elected to take Georgette Heyer along on vacations: again, a curious distinction of being light and entertaining, and yet chosen by a pack of people I would call in possession of a strong literary palette!

    44 - 45. Aye, I knew I loved you for a reason.

    1. 2. Bree practically begged me to read The Eagle of the Ninth, so between the two of you, how could I say no? North and South can bide its time, as I have a feeling I'll be following The Eagle up with more Sutcliff. The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers are on my shelf already.

      27. Cliche as it may be to say so, The Mind of the Maker is every bit as wonderful as you, Abigail, and Rachel claimed. One of my favorite parts of the day is tucking into bed and savoring another chapter. I think I'm nearly halfway through now. I like Sayers' style and how she makes her eternal points with all the charming earmarks of her era. I'd like to try one of her mysteries some time.

      35. I actually have The Ballad of the White Horse coming in the mail right now. Between Anna Graham and her sister Dani, enough of the poem seeped into my soul until I knew I ought to read it in full. I'm fickle when it comes to poetry, but Chesterton has won my heart with his verse.

      38 - 40. I'd love to see someone come along and say they'd take Tolstoy or Hugo with them on vacation.

      44 - 45. "Pride and Prejudice 1995, forever an' ever, amen."

  4. This was a lark to read, Lizzy. Hahahaha. You sound much like me except that I have read Les Mis. You have nothing to fear if you don't mind turning into an old woman while trying to get through Waterloo. But then, after it's all said and done, you have the dignity of telling people you have read The Brick and watching them tremble.
    About Rebecca: isn't it a funny thing? I couldn't make up my mind whether I hated it or whether it was brilliant. Both. Both is good.

    1. I'm actually looking forward to reading The Brick in its 1400-paged glory, but it will require some patience to get through Hugo's unending tangents. I have a feeling it'll be worth it in the end, though, as was The Count of Monte Cristo. Finishing long books makes you feel like you've conquered a bit of the world.

      Ah, Rebecca. That book was so brilliant and odd by turns. "The symbolism! the description!" one part of me argues, while the other counters, "The emptiness! the ending!"


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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