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A book survey.

1. Favourite childhood book?
In terms of a single book, it's a tie between The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and The Giver by Lois Lowry. In terms of series adventures I still look back on fondly, it's probably The Babysitters Club and The Boxcar Children, though I am sure both are absolutely miserable to reread as an adult.

Though when I was very young (three and four), my favorite book was a picture book called Tommy Goes to the Doctor that I asked my mother to read so many times that she started hiding it from me.

2. What are you reading right now?
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Rayborn. It's essentially a Victorian murder mystery and it's written so addictively. I'm not even really to the meat of the plot yet and I just want more.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
I've stopped really frequenting the library as of late. Too much of a personal backlog!

4. Bad book habit?
I buy books on whims constantly. It's a rare day I walk into a bookstore and don't come out with something. I also am incapable of reading a series back-to-back. I read and enjoyed A Game of Thrones but I promise it'll be another month or so before I even consider starting A Clash of Kings because that is just the way my brain operates.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing from the public library, but from the law library I have such page-turners as Questions and Answers: Evidence, Weinstein's Evidence Manual: Student Edition, Evidence Problems and Materials, and Skills and Values: Evidence. Anyone care to guess which class I feel I need supplemental support in?

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, I have my trusty Kindle. Though, admittedly, I only read about half of my books on it.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I am absolutely incapable of reading multiple books at a time. This developed over years, because when I was young, I used to read no fewer than three books at once. Then in about fourth grade, we started the Accelerated Reader program (where you took tests on books you read) and I realized part of the reason I struggled to succeed on tests was that I got my books muddled from reading too many at once.

This was really bad in undergrad, admittedly, when I would be reading books for English class, books I was teaching in class, and then trying to read for pleasure. At most points during my undergraduate school year, I just didn't read for fun at all because it was too much for me to handle. Law books are a bit of a different animal, and I usually balance those out okay. I actually suspect I could read two books at once if I wanted to, but I prefer just sticking with the one.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Since L and I started our book blog, I feel like I read more critically than I used to. But otherwise, not really. I've always been really involved in online pursuits - I started my first online diary when I was fifteen, and I've been involved in the fanfiction community for even longer - and it's never really affected my reading of books overall. That said, there are nights where I spend longer online and have to cut out my pleasure reading before bed, but that's also because I don't like falling asleep while reading and would rather go to bed without reading than try to squeeze in a half-hour and nod off mid-chapter.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)
Oh, this is difficult. I think it may either be Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, But I Love Him by Amanda Grace, or The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott. None of these are necessarily bad books, but they all have deep flaws that really took away from my ability to enjoy them. And actually, my complaint is the same for each: immature, under-developed writing and poorly-balanced plot development. Which is a shame, because (with the exception of Perfect Chemistry), the premises were sound and definitely could've gone somewhere really powerful.

That said, Elkeles's second book, Rules of Attraction, was a vast improvement over the first.

Now, if we would like to talk about books that were so horrendous I didn't finish them, we need to talk about The Passage by Justin Cronin. Let me explain something so you understand the magnitude of this: I am a book-finisher. No matter how much I hate the mere existence of a book, I will finish it. Front cover to back cover, every page, even if I want to throw it in the trash when I'm done. I can count the number of books I've declined to finish in the last ten years on a single hand. But this book - oh my god. This book. Just - no. No. No.

10. Favourite book you've read this year?
Again, a hard question! I think probably Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier or A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Very different books, but both were amazing. But honestly, most of the thirteen books I've read since January have been really solid. Even the three I already mentioned weren't bad.

Honorable mentions go to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
L helps ensure that I never "settle down" into a single type of book, but then, I've never been a true genre reader. I love mysteries and thrillers but I will devour pretty much anything you throw at me. I think "outside my comfort zone" is actually reading YA books that deal with "tough subjects", just because I generally find them trite and unimaginative, but I am working on trying to see what's out there (see: But I Love Him).

Unless we're talking about "how often do you suck it up and read paranormal anything?" In which case, the answer is "as often as I absolutely have to, but otherwise, not at all." I'm trying to work on not being so dismissive of the genre, though.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Definitely mysteries and thrillers. The first "adult" novel I picked out and read on my own in the sixth grade was one of Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who... books and it developed an absolute addiction within me. The first books that I stole off my mother's shelves or that were bought for me were mysteries, as well. And even now, I tend to have moments when I absolutely crave junky mysteries that I know won't have a real depth to them. It's just my weakness.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I don't ever take the bus, but I can read on planes and trains. I read the brunt of The Woman in White on the 10-hour train trip from Chicago to Topeka. And by the brunt, I mean "after I finished the Christmas episode of Top Gear, I read."

14. Favourite place to read?
I really love reading curled up somewhere at home. Either my bed, the corner of my couch, or my chair. That said, I'll read almost anywhere. (I read a chapter of Silent in the Grave in my study carrel the other day because I was done with my work and waiting on a meeting.)

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I don't lend out a lot of books. Part of this is that I don't spend time with a lot of readers (or maybe, more particularly, I don't spend time with a lot of people who make the time to read), and part is that sometimes, they don't get returned. That said, when I worked in Arizona I used to swap books with a colleague pretty consistently. We developed quite the Marian Keyes collection between the two of us.  

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Rarely. I used to do this a lot more but now I have a couple of permanent-fixture bookmarks I use, instead.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Very rarely. In undergrad, I sometimes did when I was reading for class (I was in part an English major), but mostly no. Though I once sent a couple of an undergrad book to a friend - Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf - and it was apparently full of crazy notes I don't remember writing, so.

18. Not even with text books?
Textbooks are different. I don't brief my law readings because I don't sell back my books, so I make massive notes in those. Including things like WTF WAS THE COURT THINKING?! I'm kind of notorious for that.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
English, because that is the only language I have a strong enough mastery of to read in. Though I do own some German-language books.

20. What makes you love a book?
Engagement. For me, this is either through really good characters, a compelling plot, or both. I've got a really high suspension of disbelief when it comes to reading, and I will endure a horrible plot if I love the people (and vise versa), but the minute it turns into a drag, I'm out. I don't know, for me there's just this threshold of craftsmanship that has to go into the book or I get lost in the slog of it.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Generally, if I really liked it and I think it has something in it that will speak to another person. A lot of the books I recommend are either humorous or thoughtful for that reason. I'm not always good at telling what other people like, book-wise, but some things are universal and those are the books I usually recommend, your "something for everyone" types.

22. Favourite genre?
I think we kind of hit on this earlier. Which makes me wonder if I didn't answer the "comfort zone" question wrong, somehow...

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
I wish I read more historical fiction. I'm worryingly picky about historical fiction and I tend to read it incredibly sparingly. I also wish I read more "classics" (you know, pre-1900s), but I've been burned by a lot of books I've been forced to read in school and you know what they say: once bitten, twice shy. I'm working on both of these things, though; I mean, two years ago, I wouldn't've even considered things like Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, and Rebecca.

24. Favourite biography?
I'm not hugely into biography. I generally like memoir but in very controlled parameters? I don't really know how to answer this one, so let's go with Tuesdays with Morrie. Does that count? I'm so bad at biographies.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Not that I'm aware of!

26. Favourite cookbook?
I love my Top Chef cookbooks but I can make precious few things out of them. I mostly love them for their Top Chef fabulousness.

27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I think the book that made me think the most was 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It really made me consider what an individual's actions can do to other people, and sort of - how our behaviors have a trickle-down effect that can compound into something horrible way too quickly.

28. Favourite reading snack?
I mostly just drink a lot of tea.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I don't often have situations in which the books have been ruined by the hype, but that I've found I disagree with the hype. Harry Potter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugh Laurie's book The Gun Seller... They were all books I heard all these amazing things about but ended up not being all that impressed by. Admittedly, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wasn't bad (just long), but it wasn't the best thing I'd ever read, either. And that's the thing about hype; it makes you feel like the book should make angels sing, and disappoints when it doesn't.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
The few times I've picked books based solely on critical reviews, I've been sorely disappointed by the book. I just think that I look for very different things in a book than critics do.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I absolutely do not mind saying how I feel about a book, but I try to make it intelligible. This is sometimes hard, because a bad book can just make me generally ragey, and it takes a concerted effort to channel that feeling into coherent thoughts.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?
Intimidating? In what respect? I don't really feel easily intimidated by books. I think intensely popular books, like Harry Potter, are intimidating due to their stature as beloved-by-all, and there are a few books I've read where the length has made me unsure about it, but otherwise, I don't know how to answer this.

Though I will say, that reading Paper Towns by John Green did kind of intimidate me for a weird reason. I'd read Looking for Alaska years earlier and nothing of his since, and only really found myself with the impetuous to read Paper Towns after discovering the Vlogbrothers. At the time, he was still finishing up The Fault in our Stars and so I watched a lot of the older videos, from where it became clear that Paper Towns was something he was incredibly proud of. I was afraid that if I read it, I wouldn't like it, and be disappointed in the book despite really liking John as a person. In the end, that was stupid of me. The book was good. Not Looking for Alaska good, but still good.

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
Again, I don't know what intimidating means. I think in terms of too nervous to begin, it's The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, only because I've heard it's terrifying and I don't do scary well.

35. Favourite Poet?
T.S. Eliot and ee cummings.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
I very rarely go to the library these days but when I do, I tend to binge and get at least five.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
More times than I can count!

38. Favourite fictional character?
There is no possible way to answer this question. I love entirely too many fictional characters to even scratch the surface. I refuse to even try.

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Count Fosco was pretty amazing, as was Mrs. Danvers, but I really don't read a lot of books with true villains. Maybe Cersei Lannister, actually. Just - yeah, she gets some bonus points, actually.

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I'm in the mood for. I tend not to buy into the whole "there is a certain kind of book for vacation" mentality. I read what I read.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.
For fun? First semester of law school, I didn't read for pleasure at all. But I read thousands of pages for law school, so I don't know if that counts as not reading.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Recent ones are The Passage and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, but the winner is and always shall be The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?
Getting tired, honestly. That's the one thing I hate, falling asleep when I'm reading, and so it ends up distracting me about how tired I am and will I nod off and... Yeah. When I'm really enjoying a book, I'm consumed by it. I was late to a meeting the other day because I was reading at school and lost track of the time.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?
The Harry Potter movies. I really don't like the books, but I love the movies. Actually, The Lord of the Rings as well.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The Bridge to Teribithia movie was not fantastic. I have refused to watch My Sister's Keeper because they have taken a bad ending and made it worse by making the twist even more moronic than in the book (which I'd thought was impossible).

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Oh, lord. In recent history, I dropped $65 on my cousin and myself. Probably $100 at some point. Though, that said, this fall I spent $620 at the campus bookstore buying books for classes, so really, $100 on fun books is not a lot.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Rarely. I have this thing about reading books in bookstores. I mean, if you don't buy it, that's going to be someone else's copy, so it really bothers me that people sit down and read or seriously skim 25, 50, 100 pages and then decide whether to buy the book or not. I generally do a quick flip-through to see how long it is and the font size, but I'm not going to skim or partially read in the store. That bothers me in a massive way.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Usually, if the plot or characters are dull. Occasionally, too, I get caught up on writing style and that throws me out. Most the time, though, it's a plot-and-character thing.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Vaguely? I mean, there's not really a system.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
I only generally keep books I really loved after I read them. Otherwise, I take them to a used book store or Goodwill. When I left Arizona, I must've given away - god, 50 to 100 books. Just took them all off to Goodwill because moving them would be too expensive and I had already read them. (But now I'm back to not having room on my shelves again, so.)

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?
Not unless you count House of Leaves.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Ugh, that Bright Purple book my student lent me back in 2008. You can read about it here. It still makes me so livid and disgusted and just - argh!

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
Rebecca comes most readily to mind. Even at the beginning, I was pretty unimpressed by it, but then I read the second half in about three days' time.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?
I was seriously underwhelmed by Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. To the point where it took me ages to read it. I just - I don't know, I had a really hard time with that one.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
I don't really have a guilty genre. Maybe chick lit, but even my chick lit is pretty serious. (See: Marian Keyes.)


the forest-dweller

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