I came across this post by Susie on ‘There and Back Again: A Writer’s Tale‘ and thought it would make a nice change to discuss the books I’ve read, rather than the writing that I’m doing. Not only this, but the questions asked made me think about if I was really ‘writing the book I want to read’ as I once proclaimed after finishing my first ever draft of any novel.
What are your top three book pet hates?
I’m going to start with a pet-hate that relates to readers rather than how a book is written. I absoultely hate it when I see people reading books with their spines bent back. I adore books, and to see them folded back on themselves seems like some terrible form of torture! I can’t lend books to these people – which includes my mother – because I dislike the creasing in the spine once they are returned to me.
As for the way books are written: I get angry when a novel I have chosen for the blurb on the back starts with an unrelated character and continues in this vein for a number of chapters. Sometimes, the character/s mentioned on the back of the book don’t even appear until almost a third of the way through! While I understand that it can be difficult to represent the full array of a novel’s story in a select few words on the back of the book, don’t lure me in with the story of someone only to begin with someone else!
I also have problems with decorative characters; characters who are only there to demonstrate the flaw of the protagonist or be used as a device for explaining particular reasons for the protagonist’s behaviour. I get bored of these characters quickly. I tend to switch off when they appear in a scene because you know it’s because they are only there to explain something, rather than play an integral part to the plot.
I’m pretty sure I have lots more. I’m a very critical reader. But this question only allows for three…;)
Describe your perfect reading spot.
I have an old leather chesterfield chair that I love curling up in. There’s a lamp that lights just my spot and I tend to snuggle down with a pillow and a blanket – even in summer!
Tell us three book confessions.
1) When I was thirteen I discovered a selection of books in a static caravan where we were holidaying – the idea was to read them whilst there, or take one and leave another. I read one called ‘Changes in Latitutes‘ by Will Hobbs and fell in love with it. The story made me cry my naive little heart out, especially because the story itself seemed to be so simply told. I took it – without leaving any other book behind (because I couldn’t even bear to part with them then either).
2) I read the final Twilight book just to annoy my sister. She dragged me to the movies because she’s in her forties and no one else would go with her and so, to find out what happened next, I read the final book and teased her relentlessly in the run up to the movie. It was fun, right up until the point I had to sit through the movie knowing just what was coming next…Karma, eh?
3) I read ‘Wuthering Heights’ so that I could justifiably trash it. My best friend in college loved it, and mooned about over Heathcliffe all the time. When she – rightly – criticised me for judging her when I hadn’t read the book, I went out and read the entire thing in one weekend so I could go back to college and rip in into on the Monday. Reading it actually gave me more material, because I really dislike the entire novel – characters, structure, style and story.
When was the last time you cried during a book?
I don’t think I know the answer to this. I never used to cry at books when I was young – but then ‘Changes in Latitudes’ happened (see above) and the flood gates opened. I can tell you that I’ve cried whilst reading: Little Women & Good Wives, Thornbirds, Time Traveler’s Wife, and Marley and Me.
How many books are on your bedside table?
At the moment two. One I’ve just read and another that I’m struggling to read – partly because it involves pet-hate number 2, mentioned above.
What is your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?
Crisps. Give me a bag of crisps and a book and I’ll be happy for a good couple of hours. In the summer, when I’m feeling ‘healthy’ I might prefer an apple, sliced into pieces.
Name three books you would recommend to everyone.
1) Changes in Latitudes, Will Hobbs – I haven’t read this in years, but if it has even the slightest effect on others as it did on me, then it’ll be well worth a read. I defy you not to feel when reading it.
2) Frankenstein, Mary Shelley – I think everyone should read this, as the movie representations of the story tends to focus on the monster and misses out a whole selection of structure that really set the monster’s story in context. It’s also fabulously written too.
3) Left Neglected, Lisa Genova – I really enjoyed ‘Still Alice’ by Genova which was focused on dementia, but ‘Left Neglected’ takes a very rare disease and provides the reader with an accurate glimpse into what it must be like not to have ‘left’ in your life. A revelationary type of read.
Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase.
There are all books that I’ve had signed or those that I feel represent the genre that I am writing it. So, in essence, it’s my favourite because it’s ful of books that I enjoy. I also keep Bobby the ‘plot bunny’ on this shelf, who I won from another blogger friend; he happily keeps me inspired during NaNoWriMo.
Write how much books mean to you in just three words.
Escapism. Curiosity. Experience.
What is your biggest reading secret?
I have a naughty habit of reading the very last sentence of most of the books I haven’t yet finished. Usually this doesn’t ruin the experience of reading, but it does give me an insight into the mood the story will take so I can prepare myself for it. I really try not to, but sometimes I flick to the end to see if there are author interviews, book club questions or other recommendations and just can’t help myself!
Hope you all enjoyed this little foray into my reading life…Feel free to share any of your own answers to one or two of the questions above. If this ‘test’ has reminded me of anything, it’s that I miss reading already! *toodles off to find a book to get lost in*