A weekly meme
Barbara wants to know:
What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?
Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?
This Christmas I asked my Mum for my Amazon wishlist for Christmas and I got another book-related gift as well! My pictures of Christmas books is here, and includes:
- The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo
- Muriel Spark. The Biography
- I Am a Cat
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
- Our Spoons Came from Woolworths
- The Reader
- Atticus the Storyteller’s 100 Greek Myths
I love getting books as presents as its one of the gifts I’m more likely to like! Plus it’s nice to get books you wouldn’t necessarily have bought yourself.
Did you get any nice book-related presents for Christmas?
A weekly meme
Q: What items have you ever used as a bookmark? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever used or seen used?
I have become better at using book marks in the past year or so. I used to regularly dog ear pages or if reading a hardback, use the cover to mark the page, but resounding gasps of horror from my boyfriend and from Simon (Savidge Reads), eventually caused me to rethink. I personally don’t have a problem with dog-earing, as while I don’t think you should mistreat books, I like them a little well-loved!
I had a lovely ‘P’ book-clip which I used when reading Anna Karenina, but I think I’ve left that in another book that I’ve stashed away! I’m using a pretty blue butterfly book-clip to mark my copy of Ulysses which I am slowly getting through. One of my favourites is a Jamaica Inn bookmark which I picked up last year on a trip to Cornwall, a literary diversion in honour of Daphne du Maurier however I don’t seem to be able to find that lately either.
At the moment I am using a lovely Postcard featuring a painting of a mermaid by John William Waterhouse which I picked up at the Royal Academy exhibition to mark the pages of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, which seems apt given that he was sort of contemporary to the time period.
What do you use to mark the pages of your books? Do you often lose your favourite book marks like me? Do you recoil in horror at dog-eared pages?
A weekly meme.
This weeks question:
It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. today, so I know at least some of you are going to be as busy with turkey and family as I will be, so this week’s question is a simple one:
What books and authors are you particularly thankful for this year?
This year I’m thankful for Alan Bennett and his wonderful Uncommon Reader which was short but sweet and made me smile. I keep forgetting it’s fiction and keep thinking of the Queen as this lovely bookaholic lady.
A close second would be Neville Shute for A Town Like Alice which has a leading lady I really admired.
I was swept away by Wilkie Collins’ sensational Armadale which features possibly the best femme fatale ever written, and was shocked by Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip which I finally got around to reading!
And finally for a bit of mystery and suspense, Sophie Hannah for her brilliant thrillers, A.A.Milne for a good old fashioned murder mystery and Tom Rob Smith for one of the most gripping books I’ve read this year.
What books and authors are you thankful for this year?
A weekly meme.
Q: Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?
Thinking about posterity while sitting on my posterior. The simple answer to this weeks question is yes. I’m sure that there are people writing now that will be remembered for their work just as much as Dickens, Austen and the like. Isn’t it a bit silly to imagine that they are in some kind of untouchable bubble of brilliant-ness?
I feel certain that Ian McEwan will be remembered for his beautiful prose as well as stories that can carry you away, particularly Atonement and Enduring Love. Surely Alan Bennett will be remembered for his distinctively human and funny writing style and perhaps Peter Carey too. Those would be my guesses and I’m looking forward to seeing what other people think too.
Which authors do you think will be remembered in years to come?
This weeks BTT Question is:
Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of factual writing so I don’t read many autobiographies. I think it would depend very much on
a) If the personality was still alive – yes I would prefer to read their Autobiography
b) If I thought they were a bad writer / would give an un-informative version of events – no I would prefer to read a Biography.
What I’d really prefer would be a semi-fictional account by a brilliant writer – for example I very much enjoyed Peter Cary’s True History of the Kelly Gang because of the quality of writing and storytelling. The one biography that has piqued my interest lately is this Muriel Spark Biographyby Martin Stannard but it’s in hardcover so I may have to wait until it be comes a bargain or comes out in paperback!
Do you read (auto)biographies? If you do, what do you enjoy about them. Do you think I should try reading more or should I stick to fiction?
Q: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”
Off the top of my head, words or phrases that make me want to read a book:
- “Hidden past”
- “no one could have predicted the outcome”
Words that make want to put it down:
- “Lifechanging journey”
- “True life tale”
I tend to like big stories, mysteries or tales that teach me something about the world I didn’t know before and come at life from a different angle. Often the best blurbs are the ones that simply summarise the story neatly without giving too much away. I don’t tend to like blurbs that make the book seem too simplistic, or seem to be overstating how brilliant it will be.There is absolutely nothing worse than a blurb that is totally misleading.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. I have read many books set in wartime that I enjoyed, but those were usually elegant enough to tell a story without making war the only theme. I do like true stories but usually good books based on real events do not need to state it on the cover because they are so intriguing they make you want to find out more. I know ‘submarine’ is a bit of an odd choice, but really for some reason I have an aversion to anything with a submarine in it be it film or book!
I suppose what you make of a blurb, quite often depends on how you feel or what you are looking for at the time. What do you think? What kind of words put you of or turn you on to reading a book?
Q: If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?
I would ask Wilkie Collins about the half sisters from The Woman in White:
If you had to choose, would you marry Laura Fairlie (beautiful but simple) or Marian Halcombe (resourceful, intelligent but “The Lady is Ugly!”)?
Q: When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?
I’m currently a bit of a hobo, and am living temporarily at my boyfriend’s family’s house so I had to weed everything out before I moved into a much smaller space! I gave books that I thought I would never read away to charity, and sold a couple that I knew would fetch more than a fiver. I gave up swapping books because I just swapped books I didn’t want for more books I wasn’t that fussed about!
Basically I’m not very good at weeding books and have probably collected more since I had a clear out! I don’t think I could throw books out however tattered they were – I’d probably give them to charity and let them do the dirty work (terrible I know!). I have a horror of books being destroyed or used for purposes that are not ‘useful’ (something I ranted about in A Crime Against Books?).
I also put all my beloved ‘read’ books into storage at my grandmother’s house which I am visiting this weekend so I’ll be able to re-unite with them.
Basically my book collection is definitely on the wild and rambling ‘garden’ side of things (love the analogy), but I like it that way and one day I hope to have a library.
Do you have trouble ‘weeding’ out your book collection?
Q: Two-thirds of Brits have lied about reading books they haven’t. Have you? Why? What book?
A: Ummmmm! I like this question. I’m generally pretty up front about the books I’ve read and haven’t. For example for one of my book groups I just couldn’t finish Suite Francais. I got so bored that I couldn’t finish the second part (Sorry to those that liked it). Of course I fessed up, and I wasn’t bothered about finding out the end so it didn’t spoil my book group that time. However I have to admit that I may have stretched the truth a leetle bit with The BBC 100 Books Challenge, where I highlighted 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I did in fact read half of but got a bit fed up after the first bit which I found enjoyable. So I guess that takes my fabulous 51 to fabulously fib free 50. I wonder, will we all feel so much better after our confessions?
Have you ever lied about a book you haven’t read?
Q: What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?
A: My most recent ‘sad’ book was probably Celine Curiol’s Voice Over. It’s a novel about a woman who makes the announcements at the train station and she’s in love with a man who is in love with someone else. Here’s more about it if you’re interested: Voice Over.
What sad books have you read lately?