Books are awesome!

Many thanks to Kaedrin for this :)

1. Favourite childhood book? As Kaedrin says, depends what you mean by childhood. My stock answer when I was very young was the German book ‘Emil and the Detectives’ by Erich Kästner. To this day, I consider it to be one of the most interesting and non-patronising children’s books I have ever read. However, from when I was about 12 and onwards the answer to this question would undoubtedly have to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
2. What are you reading right now? Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. Just started it, but looks promising so far…
3. What books do you have on request at the library? To my great shame, I don’t really visit the library any more, although I used to quite a bit when I was a kid. Disposable income and all that…
4. Bad book habit? I break their spines. This is a bad thing, I am told.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? See above…
6. Do you have an e-reader? Yes, a kindle which is seeing a lot of use. I believe I have read some 30 books on the kindle in the last year or so, in addition to paper books I have lying around.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? Usually one at a time. Even if I have two books on the go, I rarely alternate between them.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? Well, I only had a blog for three posts now, so the answer is no :). My reading habits did change this year – mainly due to the wonderful world of ebooks. I now read more books in total, but also a more varied selection.
9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)? It’s been a relatively good year actually, with no real stinkers. Maybe Cities in Flight by James Blish – it’s not a bad book but didn’t really grab me.
10. Favourite book you’ve read this year? Hm, again a tough choice. Maybe The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. A first of ten apparently! A dodecaology?
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Until about a year ago, only very rarely – maybe one or two books a year. Much more now that I am an ebook convert.
12. What is your reading comfort zone? Oh, both kinds – SF and Fantasy. Add to that a sprinkling of crime and horror for fiction and some history and politics on the non-fiction side.
13. Can you read on the bus? I don’t get motion sickness from reading on buses or cars thank heavens. I don’t know how I could travel/commute without reading.
14. Favourite place to read? Most places, but I do have a favourite reading chair at my parent’s house. Next to a window, with a handy side table.
15. What is your policy on book lending? If I buy a new book I like to be the first one to read it. Beyond that, I am happy to lend them out. I have had a few books vanish in this way through the years though…
16. Do you ever dog-ear books? Not on purpose.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? No.
18. Not even with text books? In high school yes, but I more or less stopped when I started university.
19. What is your favourite language to read in? English, although I can make a fair stab at French.
20. What makes you love a book? I don’t think there’s a single answer to this. Different books have different ways of drawing me in. Good characterisation and interesting ideas are probably the most important and to a somewhat lesser extent a novel and interesting plot. I do notice more and more that I tend to lose patience with books with too many unlikeable characters.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? Almost always personal preference, but taking into account the other person’s taste. I quite like being recommended books I would never otherwise have read. A recommendation from a friend led me to Christopher Brookmyre, and ten books later, I am still a fan.
22. Favourite genre? Hm, probably SF overall.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)? It’s wider than a genre, but I don’t read as much non-fiction as I’d like.
24. Favourite biography? Tall, Dark and Gruesome – autobiography of Sir Christopher Lee.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book? Does the Bible count? It’s kind of a self help book, right?
26. Favourite cookbook? I have a few lying around, but I am not one for following recipes when cooking. I prefer to improvise, sometimes with less than stellar results, admittedly :D
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold would probably be the only book I read this year that could be described as inspirational on any level.
28. Favorite reading snack? I don’t really snack while reading, but I do enjoy curling up with a big mug of coffee or a dark ale.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. Not sure it was the hype, but I did note that I liked Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass a lot less than I (or my friends) thought I would.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? There doesn’t seem to be the same kind of literary criticism presence on the net as there are for films and games. Even if I find a book review in one of the papers, they don’t seem to review the books I like very often (SF/Fantasy) but do spend quite a lot of time on books I have no intention of reading. So I guess the answer is that I don’t agree at all! If a book is well received by books critics (and especially if they use the adjective ‘important’), I tend to stay away, for fear of boredom. Having said that, I do keep an eye out for Nebula or Hugo nominees, and they are generally a good guide.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? I feel like I don’t have the required skill or willpower to write a good review of a book I really hated. It seems like a waste of time somehow…
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose? Interesting question. Probably German or Spanish.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? I can find classics intimidating, probably because our schools made sure we hated them by forcing us to read them. That said, I read Crime and Punishment in one day, in a single 12-hour sitting. Good book, might read it again some day (but probably not).
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Which has been described as: “needing a good working knowledge of mathematics, philosophy and formal logic to fully enjoy”. Sheesh.
35. Favourite poet? Poe.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time? Again, not much library borrowing going on here. It used to be about 3 if memory serves.
37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? Occasionally.
38. Favourite fictional character? Ugh, far too many to single one out. At a push, Yossarian.
39. Favourite fictional villain? Again, too ambitious a question. Randomly, let’s say the Lord Ruler from the Mistborn books. Maybe more as a character concept than a specific character though.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? The Kindle! Bring all the books! I prefer easy books for the travel itself, but anything is fair game after that.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.  Maybe a month?
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish. Anna Karenina. This was one of the books we were forced to read in school. It struck me as almost unbearably boring, although in hindsight, I suspect that we were simply too young for the themes of the book (we were 14 or 15 at the time I think). Not that I ever felt tempted to go back and try to re-read it though!
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?  A bad book.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? Godfather. The books is pulpy fun. The film is a masterpiece.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation? Not a book exactly, but the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an intriguing, psychologically complex story, set against a rich tapestry of Victorian literary and historical references. The film is an overwrought, shallow action movie. Having said that, it was such an unmitigated disaster, it was easy to watch it as a completely foreign thing, not an adaptation at all. Maybe the answer should really be Watchmen. The film version is an almost uncanny blueprint of how to perfectly copy the style and completely leave out anything of substance. An amusing diversion, but so crushingly inferior to the comic on so many levels.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? Probably close to £200 or so, on my university textbooks. Most of which were sold on to the next crop of freshers in pristine condition.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? I seem to have recently developed a habit of glancing through the book, scanning for names that appear a lot. I think I am subconsciously trying to find out who the main characters are. Not sure why though?
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? Boredom. Or, more rarely if I suddenly realise that what I am reading is mind-bogglingly stupid. I did get infuriated enough with Patricia Cornwell’s Ripper book that I never finished it.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Kindle again! With some help from our friend Calibre.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? I generally tend to keep them until they reach a critical mass – and start taking over the house – when a selection goes off to the charity shop or a local bookstore. Lately however – reason No. 234 to love the Kindle…
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? David Zindell’s The Broken God has been sitting unread on my shelf for almost ten years now. I’m sure I’ll get round to it eventually…
52. Name a book that made you angry. Aha, question 48 made me think of one. Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper (insufferably smugly subtitled – ‘Case Closed’!) is her attempt to outline a case that Jack the Ripper was really Walter Sickert, the painter. The theory is not Cornwell’s and while unlikely, is no worse than dozens of others. What made me angry enough to give up on the book was the utter disdain for any semblance of a scientific method in her information gathering. Sickert is implied to be guilty from the beginning, and all  evidence is altered or ignored in order to advance this theory.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did? Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t? Again, I found The Golden Compass surprisingly boring.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? All my reading is guilt-free! David Gemmell’s books are a nice old-fashioned trashy fantasy read, but with their heart in the right place.

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