Friday, 15 November 2013

Day 16: Books A-Z

The topic today is 'Hobbies', so what better time to post this Books A-Z that I first saw on Nova's blog a few weeks ago...

A uthor you've read the most books from?
The answer to this is almost certainly a crime or thriller author.  Crime novels are like literary junk food: I consume books by people like Karin Slaughter or Lisa Gardner voraciously, even though they often leave me feeling queasy and ill-nourished.  That being said, truly brilliant crime writers such as Ian Rankin (I think he is my most-read author) are a much nicer reading experience.

B est sequel ever?
The first of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, Case Histories, was a witty twist on traditional private eye tales, but the second, One Good Turn, is a superlative thriller with moments of farce that are laugh-out-loud.

C urrently reading?
Too many!  I have a terrible habit of beginning books and then not finishing them immediately, so I currently have the third in the A Song Of Ice & Fire series (A Storm Of Swords) on the go but am also trying to finish a great book about feminism, Reclaiming the F Word.

D rink of choice while reading?
Give me a cup of tea, a cosy armchair, a fire in the woodburner, and a good book, and I'll be happy for hours.

E -reader or physical book?
Physical books win out for me every time except when I'm travelling, in which case having all of those books at my fingertips is invaluable, as I'm such a fast reader.

F ictional character you probably would have dated in high school?
Any of the male characters from Paula Danziger's YA novels.  She was brilliant at writing conflicted, realistic, tortured adolescent girls and the boys they love (who I suspect were rather less realistic, being always romantic and kind and gentle, which the 14 year old lads I knew were certainly not!).

G lad you gave this book a chance?
So many, but the one that really springs to mind is What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn, which didn't strike me - on reading the blurb - as something I'd particularly enjoy but which is in fact a wonderful and touching book.

H idden gem book?
I really love books about books and reading; the kind of books that languish on bookshop shelves as they're so hard to categorise.  Not Literary Criticism, not Fiction, not Biography... but always wonderful to read when you yourself are a book lover.  Howard's End Is On The Landing by Susan Hill, and Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman are my two favourites.  There's just something comforting about knowing that other people are as completely bonkers for books as I am!

I mportant moment in your reading life?
When I was five or six, my mum started reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe to me before bed every night.  Up to that point, I'd only ever read shorter Ladybird books designed for new readers; the C.S.Lewis book was a proper novel.  But I got so impatient waiting for mum to read a chapter each evening, that one day I picked up the book and read it myself... right up to the end.  From that moment on, I was A Reader.

J ust finished?
Coals to Diamonds, the memoir of Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto (you can read my review of it here).  I was also in need of a quick and comforting re-read last weekend, so I started and finished Gail Carriger's steampunk/fantasy novel Soulless within 24 hours.

K inds of books you won't read?
Sci-fi is the least interesting genre to me, although my brother and boyfriend are both always trying to get me interested in it.  I have loved the few dystopian novels I have read - namely The Handmaid's Tale and, of course, The Hunger Games trilogy - so if I ever do get into the genre it will almost certainly be via dystopian fiction.

L ongest book you've read?
Does the whole A Song of Ice & Fire series count?  Even if I can't count the series as a whole, then book three is still almost certainly the weightiest tome I've ever slogged through.

M ajor book hangover because of?
On finishing The Song of Achilles I cried such gut-wrenching, heartbroken sobs that I thought I might crack a rib.  And then I opened the book at page one and read it all over again.

N umber of bookcases you own?
Ten: five in the front room (official repository of novels and most non-fiction), one in the living room (history & geography), one in the kitchen (cookbooks), one in my bedroom for unread books, one in the spare room (travel books), and one in the craft room for crafty and sewing books.  I really believe that a room isn't furnished unless it has books in it.

O ne book you have read multiple times?
I'm a re-reader.  At least one of the books I read each month will be a re-read, as I enjoy revisiting books I've loved.  There are many books I've read over and over again, but the ones I've read most often are probably Generation X, The Secret History and Drawing Blood (you can see how tattered my copy is on the photograph further down the page).

P referred place to read?
Anywhere!  I can read on planes, trains and in automobiles.  I can read standing up or lying down.  I suppose my favourite place is in bed, snuggled under the duvet and leaning against a pile of pillows.

Q uote that inspires you / gives all the feels from a book you've read?
Pretty much the whole of The Perks of Being A Wallflower made me gasp with recognition.  It's the most perfect evocation of being 16 and feeling out of place.  The quote above is widely known and loved, but it is so for a reason; how wonderfully does it sum up that feeling of being young and with your friends and so happy and alive that you could burst?

R eading regret?
Reading A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Not only was it rubbish, and overly long, but I only realised towards the end that it was the first in a series so there was no satisfying conclusion at all.

S eries you started and need to finish (all the books are out in the series)?
I honestly don't think there is one - at least, not a series that I want to finish (see above!)

T hree of your all time favourite books?
1. A classic, Persuasion by Jane Austen: beautifully elegiac and romantic;

2. In contemporary fiction, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: she really understands what it is to be an outsider;
3. Finally, a short story collection that I can read time and again, and always find something new within, is Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter Of Maladies.

U napologetic fangirl for?
Poppy Z Brite.  I own literally everything she's ever published (often in US and UK editions).  From her early gothic horror novels Lost Souls and Drawing Blood, to her series of stories based amongst the restaurant world of New Orleans, Brite creates characters so real you'll think they're your friends, and evokes setting so perfectly that you'll believe you've visited the places in her books.

V ery excited for this release?
Hilary Mantel's final book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy.  Wolf Hall is one of the - if not the - best books I have ever read, and I can't wait for the third one to be published.

W orst bookish habit?
Leaving books open, spine down.  It drives my ex-librarian mother mad.

X marks the spot : start at the top left of your shelves and pick the 27th book
The problem here was, "which bookshelf?" (see my answer to N).  In the end I started at the top of the big floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the front room, and I landed on Germaine Greer's The Whole Woman.  I bought this when it came out in paperback, around 1999/2000.  I went to see her talk at Leicester University around the same time and found her inspirational, sharp, witty and wise.

Y our latest book purchase?
The Morrissey autobiography, which I'm now reluctant to begin reading after seeing so many coruscating reviews of it on blogs.  He's a funny one, isn't he?  We all know he's a twat of the first order, yet we can't help worshipping him just a little bit.

Z zz-snatcher book (the last book that kept you up late reading?)

A pupil lent me The Hunger Games over the holidays a few years ago and, after starting it at 10pm I stayed awake until 5am as I just HAD to finish it.


  1. I really want to read The Song of Achilles now! And your analysis of Morrissey is spot on :)

    Great post - I agree with the sci fi thing, although I loved The Handmaid's Tale aswell. I also loved War of the Worlds, which is almost as far away from my 'type' of book as it could possibly be.

    1. Oh do read it, it's so f-ing good! Romantic and moving and poetic and thrilling.

  2. This is the coolest book/reading post ever!! Thanks for all the recommendations. I also have a soft spot for Persuasion.
    Claire xx

  3. Love this post... I'd heard negative things about Wolf Hall but you've made me want to try it! I've been wondering about whether or not to buy the Morrissey autobiography, for precisely the same reasons as you; he's a class a twat, but I love The Smiths with all my heart... Also, I kind of love to hate him, and I have a feeling the book will provide me with plenty of ammunition on that front! xx

  4. Thanks for linking back to my blog, friend!! :)