Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? My answer isn’t going to be very original; I was in complete agreement with Becky’s response to the question, so I’ll just copy her: The Kite Runner. The more general principle here is that I want to stay away from any book that everybody seems to be reading. If I hear of it too often, I’m not interested. However, there are exceptions. If I hadn’t read and loved it, Eat, Pray, Love might have been one of those books I stayed away from. That would have been a shame. So, the lesson is I shouldn’t be a book snob because I might miss books I’ll end up loving, right? Something tells me I won’t really change …
If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? Tom Jones, Tristram Shandy, and Elizabeth Bennett. Surely these characters would strike up an interesting conversation? Elizabeth might be a little shocked by the other two, but I have a feeling her quick wit and sense of humor would serve her well. I might limit them to an afternoon tea, though; otherwise, who knows what Tom and Tristram would get up to.
(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave? Finnegans Wake. I made it through Ulysses, and wouldn’t mind reading it again one day, but I balk at Finnegans Wake. Okay, I haven’t tried it, but I’m very afraid it would mean absolutely nothing to me, and so I’d be running my eyes over the words and that’s it. It can’t get more boring than that, can it?
Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it? I don’t have an answer to this one — I haven’t, as least as far as I can remember, said or hinted that I’d read a book when I hadn’t. I’m too scared to do this. I’m not very good at faking my way through a conversation on books I haven’t read; I don’t have the confidence for it. Clearly, I need to read this book.
As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book? This hasn’t happened to me, but the opposite has — I’ve read books but then forgotten so much about them that I could re-read them as though they were new. I read a bunch of novels as a kid that I could tell you nothing about now — David Copperfield, for example.
You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (If you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP) It’s hard to say without knowing why the VIP is a VIP, but it seems to me that every VIP should have read some Montaigne. Yeah, the not-very-big-reader VIP might not fall in love with it right away (although I taught him once and my students thought he was great — the trick is finding the right essay), but he has such good things to teach, such as curiosity, honesty, open-mindedness, the habit of introspection and thoughtfulness, and the ability to handle complexity and contradiction.
A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? Russian. I wanted to learn Russian when I was younger; now I know I probably won’t ever learn it, but it would be wonderful if I could … I’d love to read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov in the original.
A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick? Easy — Pride and Prejudice. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of it!
I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? I discovered the pleasures of reading multiple books at once. Before blogging I would occasionally read a novel and a book of poetry at the same time, but now I’m likely to have a novel or two, a nonfiction book, a book of poems, and a collection of essays, or some such combination. It’s wonderful to be able to pick and choose depending on my mood.
That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. The most important thing about this library is that it have comfortable chairs. What’s the point of having a great collection of books if I can’t sit (or lie) comfortably and read? A fireplace would be nice too. A kitchen should be nearby, so I can get food and drink whenever I want. As for the books … leatherbound books would look nice, but I value comfort over appearance, so they’d be easy-to-read trade paperbacks, preferably the kind that fall open easily and that have nice wide margins for writing. I’d want all the books I currently have, plus all the books on my wishlist, plus the ability to get whatever book I wanted within a matter of minutes.
If you’d like to try this meme, please do!