1. Favorite childhood book?
Blimey, I can’t pick just one. Also I’ve forgotten which books I read at which age. Does it mean ‘book you read in your childhood,’ or ‘children’s book’? I remember absolutely loving The Odyssey in junior school, so that can be it for ‘book you read in childhood’, and of course I loved The Hobbit – so that can be for ‘children’s book you read in childhood.’
2. What are you reading right now?
The Phoenix and the Carpet, (on the e-reader) courtesy of Amazon’s free reads. Classic children’s books don’t seem to suffer from the slow, pompous author’s voice that I associate with Classics for adults. Plus it’s got a phoenix and a magic carpet in it, both of which are good things on their own.
Caravan to Vaccares by Alistair Maclean, (the bathroom book – 50p from a charity shop, so I don’t need to worry if I drop it in the bath.) His voice is almost too lively for his subject matter. It’s all “ooh, and now he’s been knifed and fallen over a rockface, what fun!” and indeed it is.
The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery by Robert J Ray and Jack Remick, (the next to the sofa book, for reading in the evenings). I haven’t actually got very far with this, despite the fact that I would like to write a proper mystery some day. It may be too boring for the (actually all I really want to do is go to bed) time-period in which I’m trying to read it.
The Earl and his Butler in Constantinople by Nigel and Caroline Webb. (The research book.) Such a disappointment! I thought it would have all sorts of things to tell me about 18th Century Constantinople, but it turns out to mainly be about Kincade’s inability to manage his debts, and how often he invited the Swedish ambassador around for dinner.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Nothing! My local library has been a washout whenever it’s come to trying to find useful books, so I’ve given up asking.
4. Bad book habit?
I’m now much more likely to abandon a book half way through the second chapter than I am to finish it.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing, see above.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, I have a Kobo glow, which I got for Christmas. I am infinitely pleased with it. It has hundreds of books on there already and I haven’t yet exhausted the main memory. (After I do, I can put more on the SD card.) The battery life is about 3 weeks, even with heavy use and with the light on. And the light means I can read during dark car journeys or in bed without having to disturb other sleepers/hog the cigarette lighter. Also it has a snazzy leather cover with the Union flag on it.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Several, if none of them is really engaging me. If one of them is gripping, I will abandon the others and just read that one ’til the end.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read less, because I have less time to read – I’m busy reading other people’s blogs on the internet instead.
9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
The Black Horseman by Richard D Parker – managed to be both dull and skeevy.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
The Secret Garden – another Amazon freebie re-read. This year has not been a good one so far, given that we’re all unemployed, so a book which is pretty much the embodiment of hope was just what I needed.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I generally don’t try to read books that sound like I wouldn’t like them, if that’s what this means. If a book is in a genre or has a setting I haven’t read before and the blurb makes it sound interesting, then I’ll read it and pay no attention to the fact that I don’t normally read that genre. But I won’t go looking for stuff that sounds like something I wouldn’t enjoy.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I like Fantasy of all sorts (high, historical, contemporary, magic realism etc), and (fairly cozy) mysteries. It is odd that I ended up writing Romance and Historicals, because I don’t actually read either.
13. Can you read on the bus?
I can read anywhere at all, providing (if I don’t have my hands free) there’s some mechanism for keeping the text in sight and turning the pages.
14. Favorite place to read?
On the sofa in front of the TV (if with company) or in bed (if alone.)
15. What is your policy on book lending?
I’m all for it.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
I used to, when I was young. It was the way I was taught to mark my page. These days I can’t understand why it took me so long to see it as a filthy habit, and I don’t.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Again – a childhood habit that I outgrew.
18. Not even with text books?
Nope. I have a separate notebook which I write in instead.
19. What is your favourite language to read in?
I can only read English.
20. What makes you love a book?
I wish I knew, because then I would do it myself It’s a combination of likeable characters doing interesting things in a fascinating world, with a good combination of action and food for thought, at a speed I find exciting but not rushed, in a style of language that I find engaging and which sometimes makes fireworks go off in my head.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I love it, and someone I know is looking for a new book to read, I’ll suggest it. Otherwise books, like clothes, are generally such a matter of personal taste I’m not sure you can choose them for other people.
22. Favorite genre?
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Hm, if I wished to read a genre, I would read it. It’s not like the genre police are out there stopping me.
24. Favourite biography?
I’m sure I must have read some biographies in my time. The only one I remember reading was that of Oscar Wilde, so it had better be that one.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Oh, all the time! I need a self-help book to help me give up self-help books. They’re all a load of semi-mystical guff, but I can’t help constantly thinking ‘maybe this one will actually deliver the goods’ and reading the next one.
Having said that, I don’t know if pop-psychology is the same thing, but I would recommend The Highly Sensitive Person which did actually help me go from “what the hell is wrong with me?” to “oh, OK, maybe I’m meant to be that way.”
26. Favourite cookbook?
You what? Do I look like someone who cooks? I am from the ‘open tins, throw in pan, stir’ school of cookery. Life’s too short to spend in the kitchen.
OK – Mrs. Beaton’s, because it’s got everything you need to know in there, for those rare occasions where you really do need to know them.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The Secret Garden – see above.
28. Favorite reading snack?
A cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit. These days I am not allowed a chocolate biscuit, so it’s a cup of coffee and frozen raspberries in zero fat yoghurt.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I did read Captain Correlli’s Mandolin because everyone was talking about it, and I didn’t like it, but I don’t think that counts as ‘ruined by hype.’
Actually hype may have stopped me reading The DaVinci Code, but on the other hand it’s not really a book I would have picked up on my own anyway – so no harm done. The same goes for 50 Shades of Grey. If I really wanted to read it, I’d read it.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I’m a very hard reader to please, so I generally don’t like things as much as the glowing reviews would seem to warrant.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think it’s my duty to say what I really thought about a book. If that’s ‘oh, God, this is a piece of crap’ that’s what I’ll say.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Right now, Romanian, but that’s because I’m on a Romanian kick all around at the moment. This may die off the way my Age of Sail kick died off, so possibly over all Latin might be better.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Is there such a thing as an intimidating book? Actually, now I come to think about it, Foucalt’s Pendulum was a bit offputting at first with its stream of consciousness narrative and all those secret societies, but it was worth slogging through the first few chapters to get into the stream of it. I’m not sure I would call it intimidating, though, unless ‘intimidating’ means ‘a bit of a struggle to start with.’
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
There are no intimidating books. There are either books I want to read, or books I don’t want to read. I don’t understand where this intimidation is coming from.
35. Favorite Poet?
I don’t really have one. I enjoyed Christopher Logue’s War Music, and I liked Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf, but I’m very narrative focussed and if there isn’t a story I don’t really want to read it.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Three or four, if I can find that many.
37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Rarely. Only if I tried them and didn’t like them.
38. Favorite fictional character?
Again, how can you expect me only to have one? Though I suppose Therem Harth rem ir Estraven from The Left Hand of Darkness is the first name that comes to mind. A gender-neutral, subtle idealist of a politician capable of acts of universe shaping bravery? You don’t get more heroic than that.
39. Favourite fictional villain?
In novels I find villains a bit unsubtle – I prefer antagonists. In comics, however, where unsubtle is the name of the game, I do love a magnificent bastard. It’s always a delight to watch Marvel!Loki repeatedly destroy the universe, using little more than persuasiveness and cynical charm.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Lots of heavy research books, which I will not read. Then I will end up buying something lightweight, like a cozy mystery in the local bookshop.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I’m always reading something, even if it’s only fanfiction.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Book of Deacon which was the one that inspired me to write both my rant about ‘rather’ and my rant about fire. I know it’s fantasy, that doesn’t mean you can expect me not to notice you don’t know how fire works – unless you first redefine it as being part of your worldbuilding.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
The book not being very good. If the book is good enough, I can read through a road crash.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Les Miserables is actually very good, though I still prefer the musical out of all the options.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was so literal it made all the things which had seemed magical in the book suddenly seem mundane. It actually disenchanted the entire book series for me.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I used to buy everyone books as Christmas presents, when I lived close to Dillons in London. I think that came to £150 or so, and that was 20 years ago.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I don’t. When I’m choosing a book in the shop, I judge by title, which makes me want to read the blurb or not. If I read the blurb and like it, then I open it to a page in the middle (because in my experience authors tend to try hard on the beginning and then lapse into their true style a couple of chapters in.) If I like what I read in the middle, enough to tell I enjoy the writer’s style, then I buy it.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Bad characters, writing style I just couldn’t bear any more, realizing that nothing interesting was going to happen. The death in some pointless way of the only character I like. Realizing I despise everything the author believes in, or he despises me. All sorts of things!
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I would like to, but I never seem to have enough time. They got shoved up on the shelves as fast as possible when we moved here, and I haven’t yet got around to grouping them by author.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep – I will want to read them again two or three times at least.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
The Earl and his Butler in Constantinople. It’s such a disappointment and it’s boring. I feel I ought to finish it, in case there’s some sort of irreplaceable gem in the bit I haven’t read, but it is a terrible chore.
52.Name a book that made you angry.
The Golden Compass. If you’re going to attack my religion, you really ought to find out what it’s about first.
53.A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Pride and Prejudice I was lead to expect a typical romance with a typical overbearing alpha jerk of a hero, and actually got a drawing-room comedy with a principled hero who only needed a bit of gentle guidance to get him on the right track.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Tehanu by Ursula LeGuin. I don’t know what happened to LeGuin, she took to second-wave feminism like a religion, and suddenly all her stories were about gender-essentialism and how women and men were separate species who could barely relate to each other.
I loved the Earthsea trilogy, and I was so excited to find there was another book in that series after so long, but instead of making a place for women in that brilliant world, she chose to deconstruct the entire thing. Possibly she has since reconstructed it in a way that (she thinks) includes women’s special talents too, but that still shuts me out of having access to the ones that she thinks are just for men. How could the author of Left Hand of Darkness pull this damn cis-gender crap on me?
Arrggh! But I’m not bitter… (Actually, I’m not. Her self-actualisation is none of my business, even though it means I’m warier of reading her books now.)
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.