It’s been a while since I filled out a meme, so when Jessica from The Bookworm Chronicles posted a fun little book-related one I thought I’d go for it and copy her. (She actually posted the following questions in two parts, but I’ve just combined them all into one post.)
• What’s a book you most want to read again?
Right now, it has to be The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. I read it back in March and have been hankering to read it again since. It’s a historical novel about World War II from the American woman’s perspective — hardly my type of reading, but the way it’s written is simply stunning. It’s the best thing I’ve read so far in 2010, and considering I’m on book #35 that’s a pretty high endorsement!
• What was one of your favourite childhood books?
All the animal classics — White Fang, Call of the Wild, Black Beauty… I had a particularly soft spot for the less-famous Red Fox by Charles G.D. Roberts, published back in 1964. It follows the life of a fox (as you’d expect) living in the country, his brushes with humans and other animals, and such. I don’t know what it was that captivated me about the story but I reread that book to pieces, and I bet I’d still like it if I read it today.
• What’s a book that you were assigned in school that you were expecting to be bad, but that turned out to be really good?
Hm. Hard to remember! I remember thinking Shakespeare would be pretty dry reading and being pretty surprised when I got into Hamlet and Macbeth (Romeo and Juliet left me pretty cold though). I was quite surprised at liking Oedipus Rex, too. I think I had reservations about most of the classics.
Perhaps when it comes to most surprising, it would be a tie between A Scarlet Letter and A Tale of Two Cities — I remember being astonished in both cases, as I closed the book, to realize I’d actually enjoyed reading them.
• What’s your “guilty pleasure” read?
I don’t tend to reread guilty pleasures so it’s hard to pick just one. I do have a penchant for reading trashy romance novels, but I’d say my biggest guilty pleasure is any book with vampires in it — think the Sookie Stackhouse series, The Vampire Diaries, Anne Rice novels, Twilight (more guilt than pleasure involved), etc. I’m keen to get my hands on The Vampire Academy too.
• What’s a book you feel you should read, but haven’t yet?
A lot of the classics. They just tend to take a bit more effort when it comes to reading concentration and time so — although I’m trying to work my way through them — I do read proportionally more popular fiction. Topping the list are Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights, Mansfield Park… and many more.
• What book is on your bedside table right now?
Right now I’m reading Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. I’m about of a quarter of the way in, and while it hasn’t fully captivated me so far, it’s not too bad. I’m also reading The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker, a weighty 700-page tome. On the beside table waiting to be read are a couple Margaret Atwood novels and a Boy George autobiography.
• What is a book you’ve faked reading?
That’s easy. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I tried, let me tell you. I really tried. But I couldn’t do it, and ended up reading the cliff notes (I had to read it for school). One day I should probably try to read it again without the pressure of school essays and such, but I can’t say that’ll be any time soon.
• What’s a book that’s changed your life?
Hard question! I would hope that every non-trashy book I read changes my life in some way, even in as minute a way as teaching me a new word or influencing my writing style. I guess I could point out which books have struck a chord with me, even though I can’t really pin down if or how they’ve changed my life.
A long-time favourite is Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, which is beautifully written and involving and has amazing world-building. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is nearly as inspiring. Then there are the novels which affected me by striking close to home: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth are examples that comes to mind.
• Can you quote a favourite line from a book?
I’m a quotes fanatic, I jot loads down whilst reading and even store some on Goodreads. But I think the problem with the quotes I like is that they sound best in context. One quote that I’ve always liked a lot is from Once in a House on Fire:
“A poem was a box for your soul. That was the point. It was the place where you could save bits of yourself, and shake out your darkest feelings, without worrying that people would think you were strange. While I was writing, I would forget myself and everyone else; poetry made me feel part of something noble and beautiful and bigger than me. […] I slid them under the carpet as soon as they were done, all the images and rhymes wrestled into place. By the time I had copied them out, I found I had memorized every line. Then they would surprise me by surging through me, like songs I knew by heart.”
Another from I Am David by Anne Holm:
“And his eyes frighten me, too. They’re the eyes of an old man, an old man who’s seen so much in life that he no longer cares to go on living. They’re not even desperate… just quiet and expectant, and very, very lonely, as if he were quite alone of his own free choice.”
• What’s your favourite book genre?
I read anything I can get my hands on, so I’m not a very genre-loyal reader. However, speculative fiction tends to float my boat, particularly in urban settings. I’d say it’s my favourite genre because it tends to be the easiest to read and the one that provides the most escapism. But — however reluctant I am when I pick up the book — I do enjoy a lot of contemporary fiction; I just have a mental block on it.