Almost two months have passed since I started writing here. Two months exactly will fall on my birthday, which Google, through my phone, has just informed me is “coming up soon!” Odd, that.
Anyway, I thought I’d introduce myself a little bit more. But, I will do so through the medium of books with this, the 20 Questions Book Tag. I found this on Lauren Corcur’s blog and she writes that she “was unable to find the originator of the tag” – so credit for the questions to her and whomever that other elusive figure might be.
How many books are too many for a series? — I don’t read a lot of series. Not from an aversion, of course. I simply read what appeals to me and more often than not those are standalones. The longest series I’ve read was seven books, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. I see no reason to suppose that more could not work. However, there is something innately appealing – if more than one book is required – in the trilogy, we people love our threes.
On the other hand, if the series is a series only by dint of a recurring character – as with many detective stories, for example – then many is fine by me, but I shan’t (I think) be reading them all.
How do you feel about cliffhangers? For the reason stated above I don’t encounter cliffhangers often in what I read – not unless it’s at the end of a chapter. But I’d be wary of them. A book, for me, even as part of a series, should stand on its own. If the book is a good one, then that will be sufficient to make me want to read more in the series or from the author – I don’t need to be lured with promises of a conclusion I should already have – in fact, I might well resent the author for doing so.
Hardcover or paperback? Unequivocally the paperback. They are, above all, more practical. But I also, and I note some disagree, find them more aesthetically pleasing. I have plenty of physical books and only 11 are hardbacks. Three, the final Harry Potter books, were gifts in my youth – that’s the only reason they haven’t been replaced. Seven are the Chronicles of Narnia box set – admittedly a beautiful set. And one, The Oxford Handbook on Psychopathy and the Law, was never released in paperback. I actively dislike hardbacks.
Favourite book? I have three. They are not vying for the top spot but comfortably cohabiting it. I can foresee another joining their ranks at some point, but I doubt they will ever be “displaced”. These are, in no particular order, Nabokov’s Lolita, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Isherwood’s A Single Man.
Least favourite? When I encounter a book I really dislike, I just don’t read it. I don’t need to dwell on them. However, if I am forced to read a book I really dislike – multiple times! – that will surely leave a mark on me. That book will surely be my least favourite book. So it is with – a controversial pick, I know – The Great Gatsby. What a pile of shit.
Love triangles, yes or no? Again, something I don’t encounter too often – or if I have I haven’t noticed it in those terms. I don’t think of books in terms of tropes. Only quality. Are Dolores, Humbert and Quilty a love triangle? No, I expect not.
The most recent book you
couldn’t didn’t finish? The Cold War: A New Oral History of Life Between East and West by Bridget Kendall. I tried to explain why here. It wasn’t about the quality of the content, more a disjointedness that failed to provide any impetus for reading on. However, I do think I will finish it at some point. The benefit of that disjointedness – each section focuses on a different “event” in the cold war – is it can easily be picked up at a later date. A the book you are currently reading? I only read one at a time so it is Bridge of Spies by Giles Whittell, telling the story of the Glienicke Bridge exchange during the cold war. You may remember the decent Spielberg directed adaptation from a few years ago. A fascinating story that I intend to finish very soon. Up next is Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
The last book you recommended to someone? I recommended Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality to my younger brother yesterday; following his asking me questions about religion and science – as he often does. He read a chapter; significant because he doesn’t read (I know!?). However, I see it is back on my shelf and I’d be surprised (pleasantly so) if he pursued it any further.
Oldest book you’ve read by publication date? I haven’t checked the dates but I think it might be Plato’s Republic. If not that then another work from Ancient Greece (the Oresteia, perhaps? Those are plays, though…).
Newest book you’ve read by publication date? This is much harder to answer than the previous question. I don’t pay much attention to when a book is released, nor do I read new releases as they release. “The hype” has no effect on me. I suspect, in actuality, that it will have been a nonfiction, but I can’t for the life of me think what it would be. Therefore, I shall say Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
Favourite Author? First of all, no. And I’ll leave it there. Can’t go wrong with Orwell though.
Buying or borrowing books? Buying. I read with a pen. Can’t do with that with borrowed books. Well, ought not to.
A book you dislike that everyone seems to love? I refer you to my least favourite book, above.
A book you can always re-read? There really are many, so I’ll instead say the one I actually have re-read most. That is A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, one of my favourites as mentioned already. Unlike my other favourites, Single Man is a breeze to read. No particular mindset is required – read it happy and you’ll stay happy; read it sad and you’ll finish happy. Happy, perhaps, is not quite right – you will finish this book appreciating life, that’s more like it.
Can you read while listening to music? Can I? Yes, but only classical or instrumental. But I typically don’t. I’m passionate about literature and passionate about music. My feelings about combining the two are the same as to combining Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola: nice but ultimately diminishing to both ingredients.
One POV or multiple? As ever, quality is all that matters. As many or as few as best serve the story is alright with me.
Do you read a book in one sitting or multiple days? I used to do the former, frequently. But I have made conscious efforts to slow down of late. And I am enjoying it. Occasionally, I think “you could have got through three books in the time this one has taken” – but I have my reasons. An exception will be made, however, when A Single Man next calls out to me – a few hours will be put aside especially for that.
Who do you tag? I am torn between anyone and everyone. But definitely someone. Are you someone?