This was started by Nya. I’m a little late to the party, but spare time has been elusive this week. I really enjoyed reading all the other Q&A responses from the people I’m following, though!
1. What is your favorite childhood book?
If you read my last Q&A, you may remember that I have trouble with “favorite” questions. This one is particularly hard for me to answer. For one thing, childhood was a long time ago. For another thing, I read so many books back then. For a third thing, I was reading more adult books than children’s books by fourth or fifth grade so I have to reach even further back for memories about childhood books.
I remember that I loved The Secret Garden and read it several times. I also remember loving Anne of Green Gables. And of course there was A Wrinkle in Time. Also, as I mentioned in the previous Q&A, I loved the Wizard of Oz books. Would I call any of them my favorites? I’m not sure. Back then, my “favorite” book was whichever new book I ran across that I enjoyed.
2. E-books or printed books?
E-books. I already wrote a ridiculously long treatise on this subject in a recent post (see my answers to questions 35 and 36), and I don’t have anything new to add.
3. What is your favorite place to read?
Anywhere that I’m completely alone. I’ll read in public when I’m stuck somewhere for a long period of time (traveling, waiting for car repair, etc.) but it’s much more distracting. At home I usually read either in bed, or on the comfy loveseat in the sitting room adjoining my master bedroom.
4. Is there any genre you would never read?
Never is such a strong word. There are genres that don’t interest me, but everybody’s interests change over time so who knows what I might be reading a decade or two from now? Until I find a functioning crystal ball, I can’t say “never”.
So, what are the genres that don’t interest me? The first one that comes to mind whenever I see a question like this is romance. Books from other genres often have romances in them, for better or for worse. When I read a pure romance book, I feel sort of like somebody threw out the actual story and just gave me the romance parts. I would actually like to see less romance in books. A book can be good without romance, and some books would be better without romance simply because the author doesn’t write it very well, or because the romance is less interesting than the story and/or doesn't add anything to the story. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy a well-written romance when I run across one, but it's pretty rare for me to see one that I really become invested in and that I think made the book better than it would have been without it.
5. What’s your review rating system?
I give equal weight to each star, treating it like a scale, with 3 stars being the middle of the road. I’ll use a half star if I’m torn between two whole-star ratings. I don’t make any attempt to be objective with my ratings. I rate a book entirely based on how well I did (or didn’t) enjoy it.
= It was so bad that I couldn’t finish it, or I finished it but passionately hated it.
= I didn’t like it, but I was able to finish it. It may have had at least one redeeming aspect to it, or else the book held my interest in spite of my dislike for its content.
= This could mean one of two things. Either the book was a middle-of-the road book that I liked well enough but wasn’t particularly enthused about, or else I had a mixed reaction because there were some things I loved about the book and some things I hated equally.
= A book that I thought was really good, but it might have had some flaws that niggled at me or else it just lacked that intangible “something” that would have pushed it into five-star territory.
= A book that took over my life. It consumed my thoughts when I wasn’t reading it, and I made time to read it during times when I wouldn’t normally have been reading. I probably lost sleep reading this book past my bedtime and the fate of the fictional characters started to feel more important to me than real life. This book may have had flaws, but I enjoyed it too much to be bothered by them.
I rate most of the books I read with three or four stars, or some half-star rating in that vicinity. Since I began rating and reviewing my books, I’ve never had to give a book less than two stars.
6. What is your favorite fictional character?
Ugh… another “favorite” question! :) The first character that came to mind upon reading this question was the Fool from Robin Hobb’s books, first introduced in The Assassin’s Apprentice, although it took a couple books before I really got attached to him. Something about that character stuck with me and still hasn’t let go even though it’s been at least five years since I’ve read a book that he was in.
If I go back a little further, I also remember that I really got attached to Jimmy the Hand and Arutha from Raymond E. Feist’s novels. But really, for every book I would rate with a four or five-star rating, there was probably at least one character that I got attached to and felt really invested in at the time I was reading it.
The question gets a little easier to answer if I pause to realize the question just says “fictional” and doesn’t stipulate that it must be a character from a book. With that broader criteria, I’d probably have to go with Spock from Star Trek. I also adored Colonel O’Neill (with two L’s!) from Stargate SG-1.
7. What was the best film adaptation of a book?
I haven’t watched enough film adaptations to claim The Lord of the Rings is the “best” but, of the film adaptations I’ve seen, those are the ones I enjoyed the most.
This may be sacrilegious coming from a fantasy fan, but I liked the movies much more than the book. Maybe if I’d read the books before I saw the movies, or if I’d read them at a younger age before I’d read so much of the more modern fantasy, I might have enjoyed the books more. I think I also had unrealistic expectations when I decided to read the books. I loved the characters in the movies so I was excited to read the books and really get inside the characters’ heads. But, while Tokien created an amazingly-detailed world and a great story, I wasn’t as impressed by his character development. I wouldn’t call the characters shallow, but I didn’t feel like I gained any greater appreciation for the characters by reading the books than what I had already had from the movies. The parts of the books I enjoyed the most were the parts that weren’t in the movies, just because at least it was something new and unfamiliar.
8. How do you choose the next book to read?
I really don’t put a lot of thought into it. A few months ago, I compiled a list that combines books I want to read from two sources: the ones I already own and the ones I don’t own. I also have a separate list for the books I want to read, whether owned or unowned, that are part of an incomplete series. I never choose books from that list; they’ll get moved over to the main list once they’re complete.
My list isn’t in any carefully-planned order, but I usually just read whatever’s at the top of the list when it’s time to pick a new book. I’m usually equally happy to read any book on the list or it wouldn’t have been on my list in the first place. I'm not very rigid about it, though. If for some reason I want to read something else I don’t hesitate to do so.
I don't include sequels on my list -- just the first book in a series I'm interested in. If I finish a book with sequels, and if I want to read those sequels, then I usually read them immediately. I prefer to read an entire series all at once when possible. Once I’m done with the series, either because I lost interest in it or because I finished it, then I go back to the list.
9. Top 3 authors?
I like to try a lot of different authors, so it’s difficult for me to point to three authors that I’ve read so much of that I can say for certain they’re a favorite. Last month in another post I calculated that the last 254 books I’d read were written by 169 different authors. Since then I’ve read 8 more books, three of which were written by authors I had never read before, so that’s 172 authors over the course of 262 books.
Robin Hobb has surely earned a spot in my top three, if only because I talk about her books so much! I think it would also be fair to award a spot to Raymond E. Feist -- his books were the ones that drew me into the fantasy genre in the first place, and I devoured his first several books. Picking the third is harder, but I’ve read enough of Brandon Sanderson’s writing to know that he would probably be in my top three if I’d read more of his books. It seems a little premature to add him to the list, but I think I’ll go with him.
10. Is there any book release you are particularly looking forward to?
Ok, how many times am I going to mention Robin Hobb in the same post? But, yes, the book release I’m most looking forward to is the final book in her newest The Fitz and the Fool trilogy. I won’t be reading it right away but, at some point near its release, I plan to re-read all of her related books plus the ones I haven’t yet read.
I’m also looking forward to the release of the last book in Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin series. I loved his Long Price Quartet which I read several years ago and I’ve wanted to read more from him ever since, but I didn’t want to read his newer series until it was finished.