As I was putzing around on the net the other day, I ran across a book survey on someone's blog. Feeling as I do about books, it piqued my interest. It had some interesting questions, but was too short, so I started looking around for similar surveys and making up questions of my own in order to create my own Frankensurvey. I think all of my friends should take it, thereby providing me with inspirations for new reading material.
What are you reading now?
The Baudy Basket by Edward Marston and an anthology of gothic stories edited by Joyce Carol Oates. I'm just about to start The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Also a book on the history of Halloween, but that is for research, so it doesn't really count.
What is the last book that you bought?
Silver Ravenwolf's Halloween
What are your favorite books?
This is a tough question. There are so many that I love, so I'm going to go with a few that I've found myself coming back to again and again over the years - Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, Paolo Coehlo's The Alchemist, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, also Stardust. Presently I'm also very enamored with Wesley Stace's book, Misfortune.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order (and definitely not an exhaustive list): Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Mann, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (esp. his poetry), Italo Calvino, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, A.S. Byatt, Rainer Maria Rilke. If you asked me tomorrow, I'm sure the list would include some others too.
Which genres are your favorites?
Ghost stories, mysteries, poetry, fiction, biography, historical fiction, satire
What books did you think you would hate but loved?
Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgement, Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, Heinlein, the comic books that Carlton has loaned to me.
What kind of books do you dislike most?
Do you mostly read contemporary work, older works or both?
Both. All time periods have something to offer, why exclude any of them?
What are some of the funniest books you've ever read?
Voltaire's Candide, John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces, Mark Acito's How I Paid for College, John Stewart's America, a book called Puttin' on the Ritz and its sequel Blue Heaven...I can't remember the author's name at the moment, but both had me laughing out loud a lot.
What are the most suspenseful books you've ever read?
Barbara Michaels' mysteries; The Turn of the Screw. I really like reading supernaturally tinged mysteries when I'm just looking for something fun.
Which books were so good that you read them in one sitting?
Anything by Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters. The Da Vinci Code, which I hate to admit, because it was so trendy. The Baron in the Trees, the first time I read it. I think The Club Dumas as well.
Which books have impacted you most?
The biography of Charlotte Stieglitz, JM Coetzee's Foe, because of the time I spent writing on them. Also, The Hobbit and The Boxcar Children, because those books really cemented my love of reading as a kid.
Which books/authors do you consider the most overrated?
Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire
Which good, but little known book or author would you rescue from obscurity? Katinka. It's an impressionist novel written by Herman Bang. I don't think he's really known in the U.S.
How many books do you generally read at a time? One, possibly two if I am also reading a non-fiction book.
What ration of fiction to non-fiction do you read?
3 fiction to 1 non-fiction
When (if) you read non-fiction, what are your favorite subjects?
Politics, culture, music, women's studies, history, psychology, social sciences. I'm trying to get myself more interested in reading about science, becuase I'm not very well rounded, but it's a struggle.
Which book that you haven't gotten around to yet do you want to read?
Boccaccio's Decamarone; Dante's Inferno. Every time I hear them mentioned, I think "I really should read that."
What is your earliest memory involving books?
The library. I remember my mom taking me there on weekends to pick out books and also my Opa taking me when I was a little girl.
Later, when I was just starting to read on my own, I also remember that our school librarian would put together these packs on different subjects that we could check out specially. She'd put them in these big, cardboard suitcases with a plastic handle that we could reserve and go pick up when school got out for the day. I remember dragging home such boxes many times.
My other strong book memory is how excited I would get when they distributed those tissuey Scholastic book catalogues at school during reading time. By the time I got home, I always had half the catalogue circled and then we'd have to do a reckoning. For some reason, even though they encouraged my interest in reading, my parents didn't seem to think I needed ALL the books.
What were your favorite books as a child?
Fairy Tales (esp. The Snow Queen, which is still my favorite), The Boxcar Children series, Nancy Drew (but not The Hardy Boys - I only like the Hardy Boys television series), The Hobbit, and the Judy Blume Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing books, Where the Wild things Are.
Which children's books do you like now?
Nicely illustrated fairy tale volumes, like the ones that K.Y. Craft does with various authors. Also, the Harry Potter books and Lemony Snicket's books.
What frequently recommended book have you been unable to finish?
Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, which really frustrates me, because I find Eco fascinating.
If someone were to ask you for a book recommendation right now, what would it be?
Probably Misfortune or maybe James Reese's Book of Shadows, which was good, spooky fun. If they were looking for something light and funny, Marc Acito's How I Paid for College would be good.
So, now that I've shared some of my thoughts and suggestions, maybe you'd like to share some of yours.
ADDENDUM - JENQUESTIONS
a) what book did you think you would love but didn't (to go along with the hate/love question)
Hmmm...The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is The Name of the Rose. It's a difficult one for me to not love, because I really do like Umberto Eco and keep hoping that I just picked it up at the wrong time. It's been a few years, so maybe I will try again.
The other book that springs to mind is Interview with the Vampire. At the time it was recommended to me, I was doing a lot of research on vampirism and folklore. Because I was pretty enmeshed in the subject at the time, I had high hopes for enjoying the book, but really didn't at all. The whole thing struck me as a bunch of unoriginal blah blah blah kill someone suck some blood blah blah blah kill someone suck some blood etc.
b) do you have to finish a book if you start
It is difficult for me to not finish once I've begun reading something. I used to be a lot more strict about this than I am now, but, unless they are just unbearably awful, as a general rule, I still finish most things that I start.. A lot of it dpends on the type of book it is. It's easier, for example, for me to put down a boring non-fiction book than it is a classic..
c) how do you find new authors
Good question. I think most of my new finds come to me in the following ways: 1) browsing bookstores/libraries/people's bookshelves (probably my favorite); 2) recommendations from friends; 3) bibliographies; 4) interviews, articles in literary journals, book reviews, etc. Basically, books can pretty much come from any source except for Oprah's Book Club. I have an irrational and unnatural hatred for Oprah's Book Club to go along with my extreme dislike for Oprah herself. I know, she's basically good in theory (at least that's what people tell me, but there's something about the woman that just bugs me. That causes me to wonder, do I hate Dr. Phil by association? Or is he loathesome on his own merits? I think probably on his own, but this is a topic best saved for a survey on unnatural aggression and not books.