I saw this on Becky’s blog All At Sea, and then checked Amy’s blog The English Geek and saw she’d done it too. So, naturally, I’ll have to play! Just thinking about writing about books makes me feel all excited ‘n’ fluttery. I think I’d better run to the bathroom and freshen my cup of coffee before I embark on this quasi-literary adventure.
Real quick, now, before we get to the memeification: the RKQOTD:
The scene: I’m looking at pictures of Baby Augie with Fisher; Jim’s looking over my shoulder. Me: Doesn’t Joe look proud? Jim: I don’t know what he’s so proud about; all he had to do was… (trailing off) Fisher: Fertilize the egg.
Questions, Answers and Tangential Musings about Books, after the jump.
Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Trade paperbacks–best of both worlds. I despise book jackets, the
nasty slidey things, and mass market PBs have that ineffable air of
Bodice-Rippers and Trash Fantasy (guess which one of these genres I
Amazon or brick and mortar?
Neither one. I have a big fat Powell’s gift card, ha ha ha ha ha. And
most of the novels I read come straight from Booksfree.com; I read them
and they go straight back again. I do most of my book-buying on massive
gorgefest shopping trips to big indie bookstores like Powell’s (derr),
Bookshop Santa Cruz (sigh), Tattered Cover and the Boulder Book Store.
Oh, and The Other Change of Hobbit. But I do use Amazon extensively for
research–their reviews are the best by dint of numbers alone.
Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Wow, that’s kind of like "root canal or plantar wart surgery?" Here in
town, the Borders at least makes a pretense of being a Real Bookstore,
as opposed to a warehouse of readable commodities shoved
higgledy-piggledy into every nook and cranny. But honestly, the last
few times I’ve been to either one, I was so turned off by the lack of
atmosphere that I left empty-handed; all I seem to buy at the local
chain outlets are magazines.
Bookmark or dog ear?
I try, but often fail, to use bookmarks–right now, my bookmark of choice is a strip of
paper upon which one of my sons (guess which one?) scrawled "Rhys +
*heart* = MAMA" in green Magic Marker. (The best part is that he ran
out of room at the end, so there’s a tiny snippet of paper glued on
with the final "A" in "MAMA" on it.)
Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
Errr, sorted vaguely by subject, pretty much. My mass-market fantasy
books used to be sorted by publisher (there’s a reason, really!) but
are now just kind of all over the place.
Keep, throw away, or sell? Keep, yeah, pretty much.
Keep dust jacket or toss it? Stupid freakin’ dust jacket. (A quick perusal of the shelves reveals that the hardcovers all still have their dust jackets.)
Read with dust jacket or remove it? Stupid freakin’ dust jacket. (I have to keep them on when I read or they’ll get lost and/or trodden on by my children.)
Short story or novel? Novels, usually.
Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Anthologies, especially the "World’s Best Fantasy and Horror" series.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Er… can I say "neither?"
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? 50% chapter breaks, 50% staying up ’til 3 to finish the damn book despite utter exhaustion.
"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? All the greatest stories start with "Once upon a time." Or else "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
Buy or Borrow?
I used to buy exclusively; now I’m a Booksfree devotee, and I recently
discovered that my friend Molly J. and I have similar tastes in books, so
we’ve started trading back and forth fairly regularly. (A good one she
lent me recently: "Survival of the Prettiest.")
New or used?
New, because used books smell funny. I get other people’s psychic dirt all over my fingers when I read them.
Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? Yes, yes and yes. My favorite thing about Sunday is reading the NYT book review section; sometimes I even grab my planner and add to my "Books to Read" list. (Then I forget it when I go to the bookstore and end up with a random pile of "oh, that sounds interesting" instead.)
Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Cliffhangers totally suck, unless I have the next book at my elbow already (and, really, why not just galumph the two books into one seamless whole?). Not a big fan of the tidy happily-ever-after ending, either; I just finished Steven Brust’s wonderful Brokedown Palace and really really appreciated the (spoiler alert) bittersweet conclusion.
Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? All of the above, though I seem to get more Meaningful Reading (as opposed to "Dear Abby" reading) done at night. Must have something to do with the relative silence.
Stand-alone or series? Gosh, for a confirmed fantasy junkie, I sure do like stand-alone books. Or related books, with perhaps the same world and same characters, but separate storylines.
Favorite series? George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, o’ course, and just recently Stephen King’s Dark Tower (damn, that man can write descriptions!). Robin Hobb’s Assassin, Liveship Traders and Fool series (plural of series: serieses?). (Also, I think, her Soldier Son series, of which I’ve read only the first–and was apparently the only person in the world to think it freakin’ rocked). And, um, the Pelican History of England series and Joy Hakim’s History of US.
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Eh, I’m sort of boring; everyone’s heard of everything I’ve ever read. Maybe The Compleat Dying Earth by Jack Vance–nothing says "fun" like picaresque misogynist dystopian fantasy!
Favorite books of all time? Hell’s bells, I don’t know. Whatever I just finished reading, usually; otherwise, here’s a good handful fer starters.
- Greenlanders, by Jane Smiley. She takes the laconic narrative style of the Icelandic sagas and uses it to weave a keenly observed and utterly heartrending story of a woman struggling against circumstance. (Also, I met Jane Smiley at a booksigning for "The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" and told her, breathless and fangirlish, "Greenlanders is my favorite book ever!" and she said "You must be very intelligent." I’m hoping she meant that in the best possible way.)
- Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. I love big books about big ideas, and this is one of the swellest and most sweeping out there. It sounds dumb to say a book changed your life, but this one definitely shaped my mind. As did
- Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, both the Charles Vess graphic novel and plaintext book. It distills the beauty and universality of the fairy-story into a decidedly grownup version that titillates, intoxicates and calls you back for more.
- The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks. ‘Cause I freakin’ love zombies (have I posted yet about my idea for a zombie screenplay, called "Z4 Madness?") and this book underlines the importance of being prepared at all times for an assault by the undead.
- The Stand. I’m not sure if anything else I’ve ever read has had such a lasting impact on me (I read it for the first time in fifth grade, how sick is that?). Plus I’m all over the Dark Tower books right now, as I may have mentioned, and the mythologies of both worlds are bound up in all kinds of weird and fascinating ways.
I think that’s quite enough for now, don’t you? Ask me next week, and there may well be a new crop of favorites.
Least favorite book you finished last year? I already posted about this. At some length.
C’mon, guys, tell me what you’re reading, what you’ve read, what you intend to read. Inquiring minds, etc.