Sunday, 1 June 2014

My Reading Habits

Through both Carola at Brilliant Years and Plethora of Books, I found a list of questions that relate to reading habits.  Since I have about 10 reviews on the go and haven't finished any yet, I thought I would take the time to answer a few of the questions.




1.  Favourite children's book?

Ooo, this is hard.  I would have to say Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (hilarious!)

2.  What are you reading right now?

You really want to know?  Yikes!  Bleak House, The Screwtape Letters, Money (L'Argent), The Decameron, Augustine's Confessions, the Oedips trilogy, Barchester Towers, Red Land Black Land, Plato's Meno, and The History of the Ancient World.  And there are others but they are on hold until I get some of the listed ones cleared up.  How embarrassing!

3.  Bad book habit?

a) Too many books  …….  (is that bad?)  b) having too many books out from the library  c) not reading many of the books I have out from the library (they often go on TBR lists)

4.  What books do you have on request at the library?

The French Market Cookbook, Atomic Accidents, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and many others (see answer to 3b & c).

5.  What do you have checked out from the library?

Classics of Western Philosophy, Backyard Bountry, Bleak House, The Big Sleep and many others (see answer to 3b & c).

6.  Do you have an e-reader?

I have a basic Kindle but I would choose a book over an e-reader any day.

7.  Do you read one book at a time or several at once.

I used to read one book at a time but now I read several.  I like reading this way but sometimes I can be extreme with my "several."  Moderation is a good policy.

8.  Have your reading habits changed since you started a blog.

Well, I have less time to read, but I'm probably being more focussed when reading, because I know that I'll have to review the book afterwards.  So there are positives and negatives, as in anything.

9.  Least favourite book that you've read this year (so far).

Can I choose three?  Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary and Once and Future King.  I think I can make a good case for my dislike of Wuthering Heights; I have searched high and low through personal reviews and scholastic reviews and no one has been able to convey to me anything concrete that I can appreciate about this book.  I wanted to like Madame Bovary, but I just didn't, and the longer the book sits with me, the less I like it. Once and Future King ……….. honestly, I think T.H. White was a little weird quirky …… okay, a lot quirky.  Some of his writing and portrayals were quite bizarre and I didn't think he did justice to the original.  That said, I'm only ¼ through the original Le Morte, so perhaps I can't justify that last comment yet.  I am going to hold him responsible for my inability to enjoy Le Morte d'Arthur, however.  Once and Future King, I think, just put me in a weird head-space for it.

10.  Favourite book that you've read this year.

I don't even have to think about the answer.  Paradise Lost.  Hands down the best, absolutely.  Just brilliant.  An honourable mention goes to The Odyssey, one of my favourites.  This current reading gave me more of an appreciation for it.

11.  What is your favourite place to read?

I like reading in the hammock on the deck or on the beach when there is absolutely no one else there.  Do I get to read in these places?  No.  I'm usually being interrupted or I'm so busy that I have to sneak a few pages here or there.  Sigh!  I can't wait for summer and more time to read!

12.  Do you ever dog-ear your books or write in their margins?

**** Shocked gasp! **** Dog-earing is taboo!!  However, I do jot notes in the margins of my paperbacks.  I used to be horrified at this practice too, but have since learned that having a conversation with the book is more important to understanding it than having it look pretty.  However, I don't write in hardcovers (that is shocking) and some more favoured paperbacks I keep pristine and get another copy to write in.

13.  What is your favourite language to read in?

Well, I'm only proficient enough to read in English but I have high hopes of building my French skills to be able to read in that language too.  And while checking out some Spanish books for my Language Freak Summer Challenge, I don't think it would take too much work to be able to read at a basic level in Spanish.  Of course, all these hopes require time, which I don't have much of now.

14.  Favourite genre.

I like, of course, the classics.  I also enjoy reading non-fiction history and poetry (particularly epic poetry).

15.  Genre that you rarely read but wish you did.

Probably drama.  I have read some Shakespeare but lately have been reading through some Greek tragedy.  I'd like to explore more of this genre.

16.  Favourite biography.

John Adams by David McCullough.  I also enjoyed Thomas Jefferson, the Art of Power by Jon Meacham and The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton.  With some other bloggers, I'm starting a Well-Educated Mind Biography Project on June 1st.  I can't wait to acquaint myself with more works in this genre.  

17.  Favourite Cookbook.

The Whole Food Nutrition Cookbook, Food to Live By, The Sprouted Kitchen and It's All Good.  Yes, I can never pick just one book. ;-)

18.  Most intimidating book that you ever read.

Probably Dante's The Divine Comedy.  It got tougher as I went along.  I felt that this first time I familiarized myself with all the historical allusions.  The next time I'll be able to dig even deeper and I'm looking forward to it.

19.  Favourite poet.

Well, I haven't had much poetry exposure but I'd say Homer.  And even with more exposure I'm not sure if that choice would change.  He is the master of crafting the epic poem!

20.  Favourite fictional character - male.

This is a really weird choice, but I loved Sarpedon in The Iliad.  He's a completely minor character so figure that one out!  And, of course, I loved Hector too!   The only problem with my choices is that it's probable that these characters aren't fictional.  Oh well, they're dead, so that should count for something.  ;-)

21.  Favourite fictional character - female.

I was going to say Lily Bart from Wharton's The House of Mirth but I think I more liked the way Wharton portrayed, her instead of the character herself. So I'm going to go with Cassandra from Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle and also Ruth from Gaskell's book of the same name.  The first is hilarious and has a spunkiness that is delightful; the latter is an example of patient long-suffering but with a quiet dignity that is an example to those around her.

22.  Name a book that you could not/would not finish.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.  I will go back to it at some point but at the time, I was too irritated with it to continue.

23.  Name a book that made you angry.

A New Lifetime Reading Plan.  I expected it to give summaries of various classic novels and a plan to read them, however the authors used the book as a personal platform to inject their modern opinions and judgement on classic literature.  Not only that, their comments while flip, often bordered on rudeness.  The book was a complete waste of money.

24.  Are there any books/authors you've been avoiding?

I tend to avoid Thomas Hardy because he's depressing but I do plan to read through his novels.  I need to begin in a happy frame of mind though.  I also have avoided Ulysses and other Joyce novels, Faulkner, Maugham, and to a lesser extent Henry James.  With all, I will try to read some of their works ,but I'm certainly not stampeding to do so.

25.  Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

Probably children's novels.  Mostly pre-1970s.  I do like health and nutrition books so I'll read those too, from time to time.


10 comments:

  1. Ah, Swallows and Amazons! LOVE that :)

    I've had to give up on Money for now I'm afraid - got lots of books on myself at the minute, but hope to get to it next month.

    Paradise Lost is one of my favourites as well - wanting to re-read that at some point.

    And The Divine Comedy - loved Hell, but yes it does get harder and harder. Another one of my planned re-reads :)

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  2. I'm glad to find another Swallows and Amazons fan! I don't think too many people in North America have heard of Arthur Ransome.

    I think I'll just drop Money too, at least for now. I have started Confessions and I'm falling behind on my C.S. Lewis Project, so I have to try to catch up on that challenge.

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  3. I own a copy of A New Lifetime Reading Plan. Of course, I haven't read it. It's sitting on my bookcase waiting for me to read it when I am done with TWEM. Guess I should open it for fun.

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    1. Here is my rather heated review right after I'd read it:

      "This book contains chronological summaries of the classic writers from Homer to Chinua Achebe, touching on their lives and some of their works. I bought this book hoping that would act as a guide on my journey reading the classics. What a mistake!

      The authors' flip style, their liberal use of ad hominem and their complete lack of effort to understand the works they were reviewing in their context, left me frustrated and angry. Their judgemental assessment of the author's life and works reveal minds cemented in their own century and a lack of understanding of any other time in history."


      It has a high rating so someone must like it, but I couldn't stand the personal slant. It's not completely valueless though; not every reviewed author suffers the authors' opinions and I do like that their list of authors is culturally varied. However there are many more better books that serve the same purpose so I think this one is going on my "give-away" pile.

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  4. I need to figure out how to write my behind reviews in my sleep! I am so backed up, but hoping to get a few knocked out this week.

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    1. I am so behind that I think I might skip a couple of reviews, The Idiot being one of them. I didn't want to skip any but my first foray into Dostoevsky left me a little confused. I'm not sure that I got enough out of it to be of any benefit to anyone else.

      On the bright side, I have two reviews almost ready to go and I'm not close to finishing anything else, so that is kind of getting caught up …… isn't it …..?? :-Z

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  5. So fun to read this post! You really are a classics girl. Ha ha, I've read so many books, reading Paradise Lost and Madame Bovary seems like years ago.

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    1. Okay, I admit, I'm a classics junkie! ;-) But it often depends on the year. I'd really like to branch out though in the future. I have a Guardian 1000 best book page that I'm thinking of adding to my blog. It would get me reading out of my comfort zone, but right now I just need to concentrate on my "currently reading" list. I'm not doing a very good job of knocking books off that. :-(

      Yes, both Madame B & Paradise Lost seem like ages ago. I wanted to read A Tale of Two Cities with you all but just couldn't manage it. I enjoyed reading your posts though!

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  6. Pre-1970's children novels - I like them, too!

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    1. Yes, they're great, aren't they? I have a couple of favourite lists that I choose from and have made some excellent discoveries.

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