A book meme

Seen here…, and it was fun, so I thought I’d post it. I have a bunch of interesting papers to write about, but I also have some real writing I am doing right now–so that has to go first.

However, we will get some more content later this week–I promise.

1. Favorite childhood book?

Dubose Hayword’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.

My first book that I read again and again. Plot synopsis: single mother bunny from disadvantaged background wants to become the Easter bunny, but all the male rabbits laugh at her. She rocks out and kicks their fuzzy butts to become the Easter bunny. So nyah.

A feminist was born.

2. What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

I am currently waiting for Henry Kissinger’s book about China.

4. Bad book habit?

Books are everywhere.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Hooo boy. This could take awhile.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Yes, a kindle.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

I tend to have one work book and one fun book going at once. I do tend to mislay my books, and then I will start another, and I get very annoyed–hate having to stop and restart.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?


9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)

I really disliked Jonathon Franzen’s Freedom. It hard for me to spend 500+ pages with people I neither like nor respect.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

For scholarly books, I have to say that I am completely blown away by Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. by Timothy Snyder. In fiction, I’ve read a number of terrific books, but Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada was pretty special.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Routinely. I don’t have a comfort zone.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

See above.

13. Can you read on the bus?


14. Favorite place to read?

I have a big oversized chair at home, but I really enjoy reading in my office at work. It feels very decadent to read and write for a living since my parents were convinced the best I could get out of life was “school teacher.”

15. What is your policy on book lending?

I’m happy to do so.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

Not usually. I have a used Hermes bookmark which I love indecently.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Routinely. I have been known to write on sheets of paper and glue them into the book itself. But I also write on the books themselves.

18. Not even with text books?

See above.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

This was surprisingly hard question, as I am most incompetent verbally in other languages. However, I read competently in multiple languages, and I really love French literature in French. It really suffers in the translating, even with gifted translators. I suspect other languages are the same. With Greek, you get the New Testament untranslated–an entire world. With Latin, you get Ovid and Cicero. But: Dickens, Austen Melville, Twain, Faulkner, Hemingway, Conan Doyle, Wodehouse, Benson, Waugh,Coetze…you’d never run out of beautiful things to read in English, not if you had 100 lifetimes.

20. What makes you love a book?

Great prose, first and foremost. An idea or a story that I can’t find everywhere. A voice. Characters that live outside of the page.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

If I have stayed up until 2 am to read the book, I recommend it.

22. Favorite genre?

Novels. Not much of a genre reader though.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

Travel writing–bleh.

24. Favorite biography?

Oh my, so many good ones. Sam Tanenhaus’s Witness: The Biography of Whittaker Chambers made me rethink much of what I thought I knew about Richard Nixon and Whittaker Chambers.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Dozens.They really haven’t done any good.

26. Favorite cookbook?

I have a pasta cookbook in Italian that is soooooo good.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?

Oh my. A picture book, with handwriting, I am embarrassed to say. It’s a book called “When Wanderers Cease to Roam” by Vivian Swift, and it’s simply the loveliest book. If you’d moved around and traveled as much as I have, you’d feel the same way about wanting to settle somewhere with cats and naps and comfort.

28. Favorite reading snack?

Good and Plenty. Yum.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

The Life of Pi. I hope someday I might read it with the fresh eyes it probably deserves.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

Routinely. Unless it is Christopher Hitchens. Then, never.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

You have to tell the truth as you see it.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

I have an old friend who can read in Russian. I really think I am missing much in translation there.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

War and Peace. I felt dumb for waiting so long. Among the best four months of my life.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

Never got past the first few pages of Crime and Punishment or In Search of Lost Time.

35. Favorite Poet?

This is HARD!!! Yeats. Ovid. Williams. Wordsworth. “Trailing clouds of glory” and all that.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

Depends on the project I am working on.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?

Not very often.

38. Favorite fictional character?

Oh boy. In my fantasy, Cyrano de Bergerac* and I are married and have many children in the south of France. Mister Badger and I live in the solitary comfort of our isolated home in the Wild Wood, Eowyn and I go shopping together in Middle Earth Mall, and Puddleglum and I grouse about how utterly doomed we are. Prince Vronski and I waltz, Miss Marple and I are fond of cucumber and shrimp sandwiches for tea, Esmerelda and I pick the pockets of nasty French mobsters, Nero Wolfe and I talk orchids and books and food for hours, Elizabeth Bennet and I try to get her mother to stop being such a fool, Van Helsig and I know how to keep bats and musty Romanian aristocrats in their place, and my goal in life is to convince Sydney Carton that he should shack up with me and Cyrano rather waste another minute (let alone his head) for that vapid and ungrateful Lucie Manette person.

*Not the real guy, who wouldn’t have been interested in me, but as envisioned by Rostand.

39. Favorite fictional villain?

Cardinal Richelieu in the Three Musketeers. Or, perhaps, Javert from Les Miserables.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

I very much like long novels on vacation. Great big ones, as I hate travel.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

Wha? What a ghastly thought. I suppose there have been days when I just the read the newspaper, but I can’t remember many of them.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

Crime and Punishment. *I know*.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?


44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

I have to say, Adaptation was terrific even though it is really not the original book at all. That scene where Nick Cage sits down to write and he narrates his thought process which centers on muffins rather than writing. I have soooooooo been there.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

I tend to avoid them, actually. Probably Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Two movies, both awful, and one even had Roddy McDowell in it.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

I plead the fifth.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?


48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

1. Pointless violence.
2. Getting bored, which loops back to 1.

If you want to kill off your most interesting characters, it had damned well move the plot forward.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Um. In theory.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?


51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

Those wretched Twilight books.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

Oh my. I read a lot of political books, from both sides of the aisle, and they routinely make me angry. The first Twilight book was agony. The DaVinci Code was so stupid at various points that I threw it across the room.

Why can’t the albino EVER be the well-adjusted good guy? I mean, come on people, Edgar Winter doesn’t seem like such a bad fellow.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

Harry Potter.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

I really thought I would like Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, but I did not. Loved the movie. Loved his later books.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

Rex Stout. P.G. Wodehouse. James Herriot. Raphael Sabatini. Anything by