The other day, I read this blog post that mentioned a New York Times essay discussing a “36-question interview devised to make strangers fall in love.” The author of the blog post revised the questionnaire with the intent of making specific people – readers – well, if not fall in love, at least “have an interesting conversation about books.” In this post, the first in a three-part series, I will answer that blogger’s questions.
- What was your favorite book as a child? The Littles was the first book to pop into my head, followed by Amelia Bedelia, and then a cascade of titles followed. But the Little House on the Prairie series was probably my all-time favorite.
- What’s the last really good book you read? I thought Persepolis was pretty good. But, really good? Hmmm, I’m thinking. What was the last really good book I read? Probably Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. But I read that like two summers ago. Has it been *that long* since I read a “really good” book?
- Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why? Usually fiction. Because: Escapism. Losing yourself in a good book is the simplest form of meditation, the easiest way to live in the moment. It is so good, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it.
- Do you finish every book that you start? If you don’t, how do you decide when to stop reading? No. If I paid for the book, I’ll probably finish it. If I have to read it for school, I will probably finish it (although, I have occasionally finished a required text via spark notes when I didn’t feel like I was getting anything meaningful out of the book. Don’t tell my professors.) I have easy access to a public library though, so that’s where I usually get my books. And there are so many books in the world, why waste time reading one you don’t like? If it hasn’t captured my attention or is making me gag by the end of chapter two, I’ll dump it and move on.
- List your 10 favorite books in four minutes or less. Write it down because you’ll revisit it at the end. OMG, I hate this question. Every time someone asks me a question like this, my mind immediately goes blank. Okay, let’s take the easy way out and start with the one I listed above, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Then there’s Wool by Hugh Howey, The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley), ummmm, still thinking… the names of books I didn’t like keep popping up in my head. Julie and the Wolves (Jean Craighead George) and The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare) are books that stand out from my teenage years. That’s five. This is going to take me more than four minutes. Oh, The Book of Night Women (Marlon James) was pretty good. OH YEAH! The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood). How did I forget that one? Okay, I admit it. I just went to my GoodReads page to see what books I’ve read because I seriously can’t even think of ten books I really liked, let alone ten books that are my favorite. What am I up to? Seven. Three more. I’ll be back… Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (Christopher Moore) and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, (Thomas Hardy) and one more… Let’s throw in a writing book: Writing Down the Bones (Natalie Goldberg). There’s no way those are my all-time favorite ten, but that’s my list for today.
- Do you reread books? Which ones? Nope. Not unless I have to. I don’t watch the same movie twice either. Except Bridesmaids, and I have no idea why I make an exception for that one, but I just do. For some reason, I can’t stand to read or view the same story twice. Drives me insane.
- Do you read poetry? Why or why not? Rarely. It’s just not my thing. My stack of fiction-to-be-read is too high for me to spend much time on other genres. Once in a while, I might read a book of poems if someone I admire comes out with one. But otherwise, it’s not my thing.
- Do you remember the first “grown-up” book you read? Well, that’s subjective. I remember thinking Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret was pretty grown-up when I read it. But it was really written for adolescents. As far as “real” grown-up books, if there be any such thing, maybe Gone with the Wind? I remember my school librarian being really impressed with me for checking it out and returning it a week later after having actually read the entire thing. If we’re talking books with sex in them, maybe it was Clan of the Cave Bear. But then again, my mom had a stash of racy, adult Judy Blume books that I devoured. I just can’t remember which ones I read first.
- Are there any authors whose work you have read completely? I don’t know, maybe Laura Ingalls Wilder. I used to be obsessed with Little House on the Prairie.
- How often do you read books that are more than 100 years old? Not very often, and usually only because I have to. I make an exception for Mark Twain. He is still my celebrity crush even after all these years.
- Is there a type (or types) of book you never read? I wouldn’t say never, but I’m not a fan of political autobiographies or of children’s books written by “celebrities” like Snookie or Jeff Foxworthy.
- How do you choose what to read? Very carefully. I always keep on eye open for books I might want to read, often by reading reviews on writing blogs. Then I will put the book on my to-read list on GoodReads. The next time I’m looking for something, I will look at that list and see what strikes me as most interesting at a given moment. I am also good (or bad, depending on how you look at it – for example, if you have ever had to help me move!) at picking up stacks of books for next to nothing at my local library’s book sales, so I always have a huge stack of books I haven’t read yet. When I’m too lazy or too broke to go looking for a newer book, I’ll just grab one from one of those stacks.
Want to join in on the fun? You can find the full list of questions here. Answer these on your own blog, and then feel free to come back here and share a link to your post.