1. Favorite childhood book?
The Pigman, Paul Zindel. I probably should not have read it as a kid, but I did. The book is the story of two misfit teenagers who befriend a lonely old man and later accidentally set the stage for his death.
2. What are you reading right now?
Just finished Gods of Night by David Mack right last night. Picked it up and spent the next few hours utterly engrossed.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
4. Bad book habit?
Snacking while reading and accidently smudging the pages.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library
- Sharpe’s Eagle, Bernard Cornwell
- Working IX to V, Vickie Leon
- Alexandria, Lindsey Davis
6. Do you have an e-reader?
I take umbrage at the very idea. Harrumph!
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I generally read one nonfiction book at a time and read from a fiction book to relax.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Readers frequently recommend books. When I first started this blog, I focused heavily on nonfiction, but that is unrelated to my having the blog. So far this year, 60% of my reads are nonfiction and 40% are fiction. I know this only because I’m contributing to a book-thread at a forum where we list the books we read as we read `em. I updated my list yesterday and out of curiosity decided compare the fiction and nonfiction.
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, Martin Seymour-Smith. Tirades unrelated to the subject at hand bore me.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Red Emma Speaks, Emma Goldman; The Complete Robot, Isaac Asimov
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not often. Citizens was out of my zone, but I decided to make the effort for Bastille Day.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
History, anything by Isaac Asimov, generally books under 600 pages, some popular science.
13. Can you read on the bus?
I spent over two hours a day on a school bus back during elementary and high school. Had to do something to pass the time.
14. Favorite place to read?
There’s a certain tree on my university campus I can spend hours curled under, a discrete corner in the university library, and my own couch. It’s against the wall, and against two large windows, so I can pull back the shades and lounge comfortably reading in the daylight while enjoying all the perks of air conditioning.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
Same as Gollum’s policy on the One Ring, but with less murderous intentions.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Not since childhood. Now I just note the page number .
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No, except to deliberately…dishonor the book, and even that feels childish of me.
18. Even in college textbooks?
Most of my college textbooks are regular books: The Trial of Madame Caillaux, From Dignity to Despair, Storm of Steel, The Road to Wigan Pier, and A Life of Her Own are all books I’ve read for class that I also commented on here.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English, seeing as I’m not too fluent in reading German. I can decode a sentence in German with a little help, though not ones as developed as in Der Spiegel, say.
20. What makes you love a book?
Seeing humanity at its best.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Nonfiction: how well the material is organized and presented. I’m also picky about the author’s voice. I prefer for them to enjoy their subject matter. Fiction? How well it deals with human issues.
22. Favorite genre?
History, among nonfiction: probably historical fiction for fiction, though I also read a lot of science fiction by way of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Asimov.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Sociology. All of my sociology readings for classes are articles, not books, and librarians tend to be rather sketchy when sticking books into the sociological section of libraries. Best I can do is social criticism, and that’s taxing after a while.
24. Favorite biography?
I, Asimov. Isaac Asimov. I adore Asimov, I really do, and reading his autobiographies is like listening to him talk. Like sleeping, it’s hard to imagine getting tired of.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Not unless Stoic philosophy counts.
26. Favorite cookbook?
Um, I don’t really have a favorite cookbook…
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Red Emma Speaks, Emma Goldman.
28. Favorite reading snack?
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Twilight. I probably won’t be able to approach that series for a decade.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
What critics? I visit Amazon.com after writing comments to see how my experience compared with others. I’m rather easy-going about books: I glean what good I can and tend to ignore the badly-done parts.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I don’t like it. I cringe at the idea of attacking work someone has invested their emotions into. When writing comments or reviews that other people will read, I try to find a balance between providing a useful review and attacking the book. I’ll remark on weak elements of the book rather than referring to the book itself as weak — unless the book is a real stinker.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
German is fun, and Latin would be useful.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Citizens, Simon Schama
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon.
35. Favorite Poet?
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Oh…three, four. Unless I’m working on a research paper, in which case it’s like “Oh…fifteen, twenty.”
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Happens once or twice a month, I suppose. I always poke through a book before checking it out, but sometimes I lose interest or learn the book wasn’t as I thought it was. I sometimes return to these books and sometimes not.
38. Favorite fictional character?
I can’t choose.
- Lemony Snicket, whose narrating style is darkly hilarious.
- Gordianus the Finder, a strikingly decent man.
- Horatio Hornblower, whose perpetual awkwardness in social situations is endearing.
- Hermione Granger, a lovable know-it-all and smartass who also clocked Draco Malfoy.
In light of the evidence, Granger it is.
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Count Olaf, from The Series of Unfortunate Events. He’s more likable in the movie.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
I’d probably bring a couple of unread books, along with old favorites like something from the Black Widower collections.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Ten hours if I sleep really late on Saturday morning.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
What You Need to Know about Islam and Muslims. I thought it was a “In this day and age, Islam is in the news a lot. Here’s some context.” type book, but it was really more of a “In this day and age, Real True Christians need to know that Muslims are everywhere and they’re out to get us” book. It’s written for Jerry Falwell’s kind of audience.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Having a song in my head, wanting to look up information online. Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on French history when you’re already prone to having “La Marseillaise” stuck in your head for hours at a time?
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart or A Series of Unfortunate Events.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I’ve not seen it, but I’ve heard that the adaption of Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief is as big a failure as one can imagine in terms of staying true to its source.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Trips to school bookstores in my youth — before I discovered Amazon’s marketplace — could run well over two hundred. As for myself…probably a little over thirty? I’m not one to spend a lot of money at one time.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Always as I’m able. I’d only go into a book blind if I knew the author.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Spilling milk on it, like I did with For Whom the Bell Tolls in eighth grade.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I’m working on that. I’ve plans to buy a new bookcase, but I need to figure out which books I want where. I want to keep related books (history, science, reference, philosophy/poetry) together.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I’m the kinda guy who would rent a two-bedroom apartment just for having a library/reading room, so guess.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
I’ve put off reading The End of Eternity and The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, as those are the only Asimov books in the library I’ve not yet read. Instead I’ve been reading his other works, particularly essay collections. I’ve also taken an extended break from religious reading given how much of my attention that genre claimed last year.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
I nearly stopped reading The 100 Most Influential Books in History several times, so put-off was I by the author’s rants and whining.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
A Life of Her Own, which I read for a European history class. The diary of a French peasant? How exciting can that be? And yet, this is one of the books that stays with me. It’s an inspiring story: a woman from an isolated mountain village, stifled by tradition, becomes a self-made freethinker and humanist. Her experience with socialists and anarchists changed the way I regarded socialism and communism: prior to this, I’d conflated the two with statism.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Hornblower and the Hotspur, C.S. Forester. I’ve liked the Hornblower novels, but this one just fell flat for me.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Isaac Asimov short stories, preferably with forwords or afterwords. I love reading his commentary.