Bookish Q&A

I came across this survey on Cheap Thrills and Charleen got it from Katie’s blog, Words for Worms.  Both of them decided not to tag anyone, but leave it out there for anyone who’s interested to grab it, which is exactly what I’m now doing.

The rules are:

  1. Post these rules
  2. Post a photo of your favorite book cover
  3. Answer the questions below
  4. Tag a few people to answer them too
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
  6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Favorite Book Cover

I can’t really say that I have a favourite book cover.  I’m more interested in what’s in a book.  However, I am a bit obsessive compulsive, so if I buy books from a series I like them all to come from the same imprint and edition (you know, so they look all pretty and organised on the shelf).  And I love the covers of old, especially antique books.  I have a bunch of old books that I bought simply for how they look.

But I’m avoiding the question, aren’t I?  I guess if I had to pick a favourite it would be the original Discworld covers by Josh Kirby.  Since his death in 2001 the covers have been done by Paul Kidby.  Kidby’s are also very good, but I like Kirby’s more, probably because I got to know the Discworld through his drawings when I first started reading them in high school.  Here is one I randomly selected:

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
Cover by Josh Kirby
Publisher: Corgi Books

What are you reading right now?

Inferno by Dan Brown, The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and Sex, Bombs and Burgers(non-fiction) by Peter Nowak (Yes, I know I’m reading three books at the same time (actually more as I didn’t include the books I’m reading for my studies).  No, I DON’T have a problem).

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

I’m planning to read Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks next (once I finish the two current fiction titles).

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

“Always” is a bit extreme, but hyperbole aside, books I’ve been meaning to get around to (and which are gathering dust on my shelf, so I really don’t have an excuse) are…

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (his autobiography)

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?

Popular Mechanics (in my living room…I read it cover-to-cover when it arrives, so there’s no point in keeping it in the throne room (and ewww!))

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

It’s a three-way tie:  Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Wilbur Smith’s The Quest, and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like it?

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.  I’ve been meaning to write a review about it.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about anyone?

Very few of my relatives and friends are readers, and those who are don’t share my taste in books, so I seldom recommend books, but one book I believe everyone should read at least once is Animal Farm by George Orwell.  It has a universal theme that will remain important as long as inequality, politics and human beings exist and it’s written in very simple language and short enough to get through in a single sitting, so no one has an excuse not to.

What are your three favorite poems?

i thank You God for most this amazing by ee cummings
Death be not proud by John Donne
When I have fears that I may cease to be by John Keats

There are others, but these three I find especially beautiful, both in terms of their message and their lyrical qualities.

Where do you usually get your books?

Due to the absence of a decent bookstore in my town I usually buy my books online or at second-hand shops/flea markets/church fêtes.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

I take “little” to mean primary school (as earlier than that I couldn’t read yet).  I used to read-walk (like sleep-walking, except you’re awake and you’re reading while walking).  I even did it in public.  I never bumped into or tripped over anything, but at the same time became so immersed in whatever I was reading that I wouldn’t hear if someone was talking to me.  I also sat reading up a tree and come high school I read during breaks.  For some reason I didn’t have that many friends as a teenager.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

The third book in GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, A Storm of Swords.  My record for extreme reading, though, is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I started it around lunchtime and finished it by three the next morning.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Does recommending, expressing opinions and participating in discussions on books you haven’t read or only read partially count as “faking”?  I can say I’ve never explicitly claimed to have read a book that I hadn’t (though that doesn’t mean I am unable to have an intelligent conversation about said book, does it?).

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

No, though the cover did play a role in the very first Terry Pratchett I checked out of the library.  I mostly buy books of authors I already like and when I do buy a new author it’s usually because someone recommended him or her to me or otherwise the title caught my attention and the blurb sounded interesting.

Of course, if we’re talking antique books the cover is the main reason I buy them.  See first question.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

English isn’t my first language and I only really started reading English late in primary school (at which point I got temporarily hooked on Nancy Drew).  Before that I my favourite was a series of books called Trompie en die Boksembende which is pretty much the Afrikaans version of The Hardy Boys (which I haven’t read) and Die Swart Kat (the black cat) about a boy who dresses up in a cat suit and sneaks out of the house at night to fight crime.

What book changed your life?

I wouldn’t say any particular book has changed my life, but I do remember I felt Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn (pseudonym for Sydney Hopkins) was an exceptional book, though I can’t exactly remember what made me feel that way.  It has been more than ten years, so maybe it’s time for a reread.

What is your favorite passage from a book?

The prologue to The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks.  It’s several pages long, otherwise I would have quoted it here.  He describes how the King of the Silver River (a mythical being that protects a certain region of the realm) creates a daughter from the elements of his garden that he can send forth into the world to help the people who have to fight a force of terrible evil.  The way he wrote it is simply beautiful and had me in tears the first time I read it.  The rest of the novel was simply bland by comparison.

Also worth mentioning is Dumbledore’s funeral from Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, and the epilogue from Deathly Hallows where Harry explains to his son the origin of his names.

Who are your top five favorite authors?

This is always a tough one to answer as I have so many.  If I restrict myself to English fiction authors only, they are (in no particular order) Jeffrey Archer, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Isaac Asimov, JRR Tolkien and PG Wodehouse (yes, I know that makes six).

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Not so much a book as an author:  Herman Charles Bosman is a South African author.  He actually also belongs in the previous answer, but I already went over the limit.  He wrote mostly short stories that are also very regional, so I don’t know how known he is outside of SA.  However, he had a wonderful gift for showing human nature through his stories which range from roll-on-the-floor comedy to poignant tales that still haunt your thoughts days later.

What books are you an “evangelist” for?

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  If you haven’t read them yet, you’re missing out (and if you don’t like them I consider you to be boring).

What are your favorite books by a first-time author?

Strictly speaking anyone first book is by a first-time author isn’t it?  But the best debut novel I’ve read fairly recently is The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

What is your favorite classic book?

That would be the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  They’re collections of short stories with a couple of novels thrown in as well.  I don’t have any particular favourite among the lot.

Five other notable mentions?

Classics or in general?

Five classics I have read that stood out to me are Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne (which I read in eighth grade), The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Time Machine by HG Wells, Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper and Dracula by Bram Stoker.  (Is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams a classic yet?)  And anything by Roald Dahl.  Wait…that’s six again isn’t it?

Five general books I can recommend are the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Wizard of the Grove by Tanya Huff, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (though that one’s probably a classic), and The World According to Garp by John Irving.

I always fret when it comes to the tagging part of these things, so to save myself some unnecessary stress, I’m going to follow the example of the two who went before me and leave this sitting out for whoever’s interested.  If this survey looks like fun to you (and it is), do it.

Anything else?  Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Bookish Q&A

  1. The Princess Bride is SO good! And yeah, The Lost Symbol was pretty bad. Personally I thought Inferno was better, hope you’re enjoying it (or at least not hating it). Thanks for the shout out!


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