I decided to take a different approach and rearrange the questions so that my answers had a more logical progression. I kept the original numbering for reference, but I re-ordered them to satisfy my own twisted thought process.
Warning: I get way too wordy with these types of things, so this is very long.
23. Did your family or friends influence you to read when you were younger?
Yes. My mom influenced me to read by not having the stamina to read to me all day long. :)
As the family legend goes, I grew exasperated with my mom because she was unable and unwilling to read to me long enough to satisfy me. I demanded that she teach me how to read for myself, she complied, and I learned to read at the age of three.
12. Tell one book story or memory (what you were wearing when you were reading something, someone saw you cry in public, you threw a book across the room and broke a window, etc.)
I really don’t have any dramatic book-reading memories. When I was four, my mom was insistent that I needed to start kindergarten, but the school was insistent that I needed to be five before I could enroll. My mom finally convinced them to at least test me. I was evaluated as having a tenth-grade reading level, and they allowed me to start kindergarten at four after all.
I was inordinately proud of that test result through most of my childhood, until one day when I was in my tenth-grade English class. Our class was taking turns reading aloud from the book we were studying. I think it was A Tale of Two Cities. As I listened to some of my classmates read I suddenly realized that I was in tenth grade now, this is what tenth-grade reading sounded like, and a tenth-grade reading level wasn’t so great after all.
3. First book that had a major influence on you?
This is a hard one for me to answer. Since I was reading books from such a young age, and since I read so many of them, they all sort of blur together. When I think back to some of those earliest books I read, many of them had some themes in common – the main characters suffered hardships but managed to be happy in spite of them by looking on the bright side and appreciating what they had. The main characters were usually generous to other people who were even less fortunate than they were, and they usually weren’t lazy. Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables… books like that.
I think these types of books probably influenced my attitudes more than I realized at the time. As an adult I feel strongly that, when things are bad, you have two choices: 1) you can make things worse for yourself by dwelling on those bad things or 2) you can look for the good, even if you have to make it yourself, and you can look for constructive ways to improve your situation.
24. First book(s) you remember being obsessed with
Probably the Wizard of Oz books. I’m not sure how old I was when I first discovered them. Maybe 6? My parents didn’t take me to the public library often but, when they did, I would scour the shelves in search of Wizard of Oz books. Unfortunately, the library didn’t have many of them. At some point somebody must have bought me a couple because I owned copies of The Road to Oz and The Emerald City of Oz and I read them at least once a year well into my teens. I still have these books today, although not with these covers.
4. Quick, you're in desperate need of a fake name. What character name do you think of first?
Dorothy Gale. Think anybody will suspect it isn’t real?
34. Scariest book you ever read
When I was in around 6th and 7th grade, I went through a major horror phase. That was pretty much all I read if I had the choice. In particular, I read quite a few books by Stephen King as well as John Saul. I really don’t remember many details about any of those books now, but Pet Sematary sticks in my mind as one that I definitely found scary. However, I also remembered The Shining as being scary and, when I read it recently as an adult, I didn't think it was very scary. I really can’t think of any book that has absolutely terrified me.
6. Public library or personal library?
That answer has changed throughout my life. When I was in my early 20’s without much disposable income, I read books almost exclusively from the library. As I grew older and my salary grew larger, I started buying books more often.
Eventually, a couple years before the advent of the Kindle, I caught onto the idea of e-books. After the Kindle made the e-book reading experience so much more pleasant, I converted completely. So I guess the current answer for me now is “personal library” – but not in the way that people traditionally think of “personal library”. I don’t have shelves full of shiny books in my home. My personal library is digital and thus it goes wherever I go.
36. Unpopular opinions
After answering the above question, the first thing that comes to mind is my opinion about the tactical experience of reading a physical book. I’ve seen enough people say that the feel and smell of a “real book” is important to them that I do believe and understand that it’s a major consideration for many people. I can respect that, but I can’t identify with it.
I don’t see the physical aspect of reading a book to be a pleasure but rather a distraction from the main thing of interest – the words themselves. The pages are just a container. It’s the words themselves that represent everything I love about reading – the stories, the new ideas and knowledge, the characters who feel so real it’s almost as if I know them. What I want is a “container” (whether it’s physical pages or an electronic device) that allows me to enjoy my books without distracting me. For me, that container is my Kindle. I don’t hate physical books by any means, I just don’t think their physical nature makes them superior to e-books because you can hold them and smell them.
I remember in my library-borrowing days that I could get completely pulled out of a story and distracted by some mysterious and disturbing stain on one of the pages. If it was a brand new, pristine book, then I would be overly conscious about turning the pages carefully. If I was reading a heavy book, I would soon become uncomfortable. As a clumsy person, I might drop a book or set it down too hurriedly and lose my place.
With e-books, the process is so unobtrusive and comfortable (for me) that I’m more focused on the content, not the medium. When I get distracted while reading an e-book, the blame almost always lies either with the content of the book itself or with the random thoughts flitting through my own head. Or with my cat. Cats can be very distracting!
35. What do you think of Ebooks
E-books? Oh, I totally hate them. Ok, I guess you can tell that isn’t true from my above answers. I shall now go into excessive detail about why I love e-books:
* They’re portable. At times, I have to do a lot of traveling for my job. Everything has to fit in a small carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag. With e-books, I can take my whole library with me and it takes up less space than a small paperback book. Once I get to a spot with WiFi access, I can access even more books.
* I can access them nearly anywhere. Sometimes I’ll be out and about running errands and I’ll get stuck waiting for something longer than anticipated. Or I might be in the lunch cafeteria sitting by myself at a table for several minutes because my co-workers all decided they wanted the food from the longest and slowest line that day. During these times I can whip out my smartphone, sync it up to what I was reading on my Kindle, and carry on with reading my book.
* They provide instant gratification. (Depending on your budget-controlling skills, I guess this could be a negative!) When I want a new book, I can have it on my Kindle in seconds. This is especially nice when reading a series. With physical books, I would have to choose between two evils. I could buy the next book early to make sure I had it on hand right away, but run the risk that I would decide I didn’t want to continue the series. Or I could wait until I had finished the first book and knew for sure I wanted to read the next, but I might have to wait in torment for days until I could get my hands on it. With e-books, I can wait until I’m sure I want to read the next book and still get it instantly if I want it.
* A good e-ink e-reader is so comfortable to use. I like fantasy books. Fantasy books are often humongous. My Kindle is thin and light – comfortable for my hands. For my eyes, I can also control the font size. I normally use a pretty small font but, when I’m tired, it’s nice to be able to increase the font size a notch or two. I also love the front-lit technology. I can comfortably read in any lighting condition, even if it’s pitch dark. With e-ink, there’s never any glare or backlighting to strain my eyes like with a phone, tablet, or computer. The eye strain is the same as reading a physical book, but less because you can control the font, and also less because you can more easily control the lightning.
* E-readers provide me with more access to information that will help me appreciate my book. I can just tap on a word and get a dictionary or Wikipedia entry. I never bothered looking things up before e-readers because it wasn’t worth the effort; I would just figure unfamiliar terms out as best I could using the context. But now that it’s so easy to get more info, I take advantage of it quite a bit. I often feel like the access to that extra information helps me better appreciate the story. The last time I read a book about Norse mythology, which I know absolutely nothing about, I could quickly do a wiki lookup for each god mentioned. E-readers also provide advantages when you’re reading a book with a huge cast of characters. If I forget who somebody is, I can tap on their name and then select “search” to see previous references to that character. (There’s also X-Ray available for some books, which displays character info available on Shelfari I believe, but I try not to look at it because some entries give away too much info.) Finally, if I come across a passage I want to make sure to mention when I write my review, I can quickly highlight it for later reference so I don’t forget, then I can pull up my list of highlights when I’m writing my review.
27. How/where do you purchase your books?
Usually through Amazon, although I’ve also obtained a lot of free e-books from other sources such as the Baen Free Library.
15. Post a shelfie.
21. Do you loan your books?
I don’t know many people in real life who enjoy the same books I do so no, not often. However, there are a few e-books that I’ve loaned my mom through Amazon’s lending feature. Back when I read physical books, I did loan them also on the rare occasions when I knew somebody who might want to read one. I never worried overmuch about the risk of loss or damage because I would rather see books being used and (hopefully) appreciated versus serving as a knick-knack on a shelf.
26. Do you read from recommendations or whatever book catches your eye?
Both, I guess. While reading what people post on bookish sites, certain books start to stand out that sound interesting and that I see mentioned favorably over and over. Those books may end up on my to-be-read list. I’ve also added books based on specific recommendations that came out of discussions here on BookLikes. I normally don't actively seek out recommendations because I feel like my to-be-read list is already sufficiently long.
When I first got my Kindle, a lot of publishers were giving away free books. I downloaded a large number of free books back then and I’ve only recently started to feel like I have that backlog reduced to a reasonable level. Those books have made up the majority of my reading over the past few years.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been alternating between books from both sources – the free books I already own and still want to read, and the books that caught my eye meanwhile but that I don’t own.
1. Currently Reading
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
8. Why are you reading the book you're currently reading?
I have no idea. This is one of those books that caught my eye in discussions and I added it to my list a while back. By the time I actually started reading it, I remembered nothing about what the book was supposed to be about or why it interested me.
For me, these are ideal reading conditions. I try to go into a book with as little knowledge about it as possible because I love to be surprised. It can be way too easy to extrapolate the main events in a book based on a book synopsis and then the book feels too predictable. Sometimes a book can start off quite puzzling without the info provided from the synopsis, but that makes the read more fun to me. I like it when a book makes me think.
Right now I’m only 5% into Cloud Atlas and I still have no idea what this book is actually supposed to be about, except possibly for one tiny clue I accidentally and regretfully saw on the Copyright page where it listed the cataloging categories. (I mentioned in a comment on another post that I compulsively read anything put in front of my eyes. Yes, this includes Copyright pages.)
2. Describe the last scene you read in as few words as possible. No character names or title.
A man finds a heart (either human or animal, he isn’t sure) affixed to a tree. He pokes it with a stick. A salamander crawls out of the heart and up the stick toward the man.
5. Favorite series and why:
The Farseer Trilogy and the subsequent Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb. I find it hard to quantify why I loved them so much. Some authors just have this indefinable writing style that sucks certain readers in. For me, Robin Hobb is one of those authors. I loved the story and I loved the characters, even when they were annoying. I especially loved the Fool – of all the characters I’ve ever read about, he may be the one who came to life the most vividly in my imagination. It’s probably been almost 5 years since I last read a book he was in, and I still remember him as tangibly as if he were a real person.
37. A book you are scared is not going to be all you hoped it would be
The newest trilogy that Robin Hobb is currently publishing that features my beloved (pun intended, for those of you who have read the books) characters from the two trilogies I just mentioned. As much as I loved both of the other two series, I wasn’t crazy about the ending of either trilogy. I’m scared I’ll feel the same about the end of the new trilogy.
7. What is the most important part of a book, in your opinion?
There are a lot of things that are important, but there’s one teensy little thing that can dramatically lower my opinion of an entire book even if I had loved the book. That would be the ending. After I’ve invested my time and thought and emotions into a book, I want to be rewarded with a satisfying ending. The only thing worse than reading a great book and then being disappointed by the ending is reading a great series and being disappointed by the series conclusion.
I like an ending that at least ends on a hopeful note, with all of the open questions answered, and with the sense that the character(s) I cared most about will have a reasonably good life ahead of them. But I also like realistic endings. I don’t want a fluffy, happy ending that doesn’t ring true based on the events up to that point. I want it all – realistic and happy or at least realistic and hopeful. I also don’t like endings that are left wide open. If I wanted to imagine my own ending, I might has well have just imagined the entire story myself and skipped reading the book altogether.
28. An ending you wish you could change
I would have said the ending of the aforementioned Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb because, at the time I read it, I didn’t know there would be another trilogy. Now that the author is writing a new trilogy I’m hopeful (but also doubtful, truthfully) that I’ll be happier with the ending. I’ll get back with you in a year or two.
19. Book that you call your child.
I’m not an author and, in my opinion, this question only makes sense from the perspective of somebody who had a part in a book’s creation.
9. If you were to publish a book what (besides your real name) would you use for your author name?
I have no idea, because I have no aspiration to be an author. I’d rather just write ridiculously long posts to random strangers on the internet. :)
10. Do you listen to music when you read? Make a mini playlist for one of your favorite books.
I never used to, but I’ve had an Echo in my bedroom for a few months now and I discovered that it’s actually quite nice and relaxing to play instrumental music before bed. I started leaving it on while I was still reading before going to sleep and this has recently begun to expand into other parts of the day also. If I’m reading in the sitting room adjacent to my bedroom, I’ll often start up the music. It has to be at a low volume, though, and it has to be very unobtrusive music. Music with lyrics, or anything that calls attention to itself, inevitably distracts me.
I couldn’t make a playlist because I know nothing about any of the songs I’m listening to. I just tried a bunch of different playlists from Amazon Prime and, if I liked it, I added the individual songs to my library. I then combined all of those songs into one large playlist that I turn on in shuffle mode. I never know or care what the name of the song or artist is that I’m listening to.
11. What book fandom do you affiliate yourself with the most?
None, if this refers to fans of specific series or worlds. If you count sites where the members are fans of books themselves, then I guess I affiliate myself with BookLikes.
14. Favorite item of book merch
I don’t buy book merchandise. I do have some Star Trek bookmarks that I use to mark my place in textbooks. (Textbooks are the only types of books that I still buy in a physical format.) Does that count?
17. What do you think about movie/tv adaptations?
I don’t have any burning opinions about them. I typically think the books are better, and I also think that watching the movie/tv adaptation first can influence how I see the characters in the books. I therefore usually prefer to read the books first, but then the movie/tv adaptation is usually disappointing because it lacks favorite moments or details that I thought were important, or the characters don’t match up with the way I imagined them. I don’t watch a lot of movies though, so the issue doesn’t come up for me very often.
22. A movie or tv show you wish would have been a book
I’ve read enough media tie-in novels in the past to feel like authors have too much trouble capturing the voice of characters that you come to know and love through their portrayal by the actors on TV. I think I just find the whole TV versus book thing problematic – each format offers aspects that the other can’t easily duplicate, so it’s easy to be disappointed either way. I guess, if I ruled the world, authors and screenwriters would all just create their own worlds to play in and stop borrowing from each other so much. But honestly it doesn’t impact me that much – I just don’t read or watch what I’m not interested in.
18. Favorite booktuber(s)
I’ve never watched one, and I had to Google it to even find out what it was.
30. One book everyone should read
I think this is an impossible question. Just because I loved a book doesn’t mean another person would get anything out of it. How much a person enjoys a book or how much they learn from a book depends on their own preferences and prejudices. When I was in school, I think there was too much focus on making us read certain books that people thought we “should” read and not enough focus on helping kids find books that would speak to them individually so they could learn to love reading instead of seeing it as torture.
25. A book that you think about and you cringe because of how terrible it was
These two old Star Trek books were about as bad as they come, I think. (Disclaimer: I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey.) I read these two books nearly twenty years ago and they’re still the first thing I think of when a question like this comes up.
40. Has there ever been a book you wish you could un-read?
13. What character would be your best friend in real life?
I have absolutely no idea. I’ve adored many characters over the years, but more often than not they’re very different from me and I can’t think of any that I could imagine being best friends with.
29. Favorite female protagonist.
I’ve read many books that I would call out as having a good female protagonist, but I can’t think of a single one that makes me want to proclaim her as a favorite. Maybe I’m just afraid of the word “favorite”… it seems so final and exclusive. :)
39. Favorite villain
There’s that problematic word “favorite” again. I don’t think I’d call her a favorite, but one villain that really stood out for me was Hekat from the Godspeaker Trilogy by Karen Miller. The author started the trilogy by focusing almost completely on the villains of the story for the entire first book. We meet a young girl named Hekat who’s had a horrible childhood and we feel sorry for her. Then she grows up into an unspeakably horrible person surrounded by people who help her be unspeakably horrible. But you can’t help but feel some sympathy for her after spending so much time learning how she came to be the way she was.
That series isn’t a favorite, exactly, but it stood out for me because of the unique way it started. I almost didn’t read the second book based on my reaction to the first, but my curiosity overpowered me. It’s definitely not a series for everybody. If you want to like at least some of the characters you’re reading about, you probably won’t like the first book. If you love the uniquely evil focus of the first book, you might not like the second book which introduces a more traditional cast of characters. The first book is Empress, if anybody is curious.
20. A character you like but you really, really shouldn't.
I can’t think of one. I might find an evil or otherwise despicable character interesting to read about, like the above-mentioned Hekat, but I can’t think of one I’ve actually liked in spite of the fact they were evil.
If I get attached to a fictional villain, it’s more likely to be a TV character where the magnetism and/or delivery style of the actor influences things. Some examples off the top of my head: Lex Luther in Smallville, Baal in Stargate SG-1, Crowley in Supernatural (I’m 2 seasons behind, no spoilers please), Q in Star Trek.
38. What qualities do you find annoying in a character?
Pretty much the same qualities I find annoying in real people. Stupidity is a big one. Prejudice. Characters that lay back and let life happen to them, wallowing in their misery, instead of trying to make positive changes in their lives. Characters without a backbone. Self-absorbed characters. Characters who repeatedly make bad decisions and never learn from their mistakes.
I also hate it when a character repeatedly has “gut feelings” that the author uses to advance the plot because he or she can’t come up with a logical way to let the reader know what was really going on. “Mary had a feeling that the dead body belonged to a good man, a man whose family missed him. Her gut told her that the man had been killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Ok, that’s not an actual quote from a book, but you get the idea – I’ve seen things just as ridiculous in real books and I hate it. I call it the omniscient gut syndrome.
33. Cute and fluffy or dramatic and deadly?
Dramatic and deadly.
31. Do you day dream about your favorite books? If so, share one fantasy you have about them.
Not really. I do think a lot about whatever book I’m currently reading, playing scenes over in my head and sometimes gaining new meaning from them in retrospect, speculating about what will happen next, trying to guess what’s going on if things are ambiguous, etc.
32. OTP or NoTP?
Over The Potty or Not Over The Potty? I’m totally in favor of OTP – it’s much less messy that way. I know it can be a pain to get up off your favorite reading chair and shuffle into the bathroom, but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. You can take the book with you.
16. Rant about anything book related
I think this entire post contains enough ranting about book-related things to satisfy this requirement. :)