I was tagged by Hadeer for this I Dare You Book Tag and it looked like a huge amount of fun, so here I go. Thanks for the tag Hadeer!
You must be honest
You must answer all the questions
You must tag at least 4 people
1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
I have a shelf of childhood favourites that I can’t bring myself to part with, so probably either Brian Jacques’ Redwall, which I read when I was 9 or 10, Lloyd Alexander’s The Prydain Chronicles, or Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?
I’m currently working my way slowly through War & Peace (Briggs translation), and at all of 1300+ pages, I’m going to be doing so for awhile! Over the weekend I finished N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky, the last book in her Broken Earth trilogy and it was every bit as excellent as I hoped it would be. Next up for me is John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, because Rachel rec’ed it!
3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
Two equally heinous science-fiction blockbusters written by men – Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest, which was appallingly misogynistic and yet nominated for a Hugo Award??? and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, also pretty misogynistic with the female character getting fridged in the first forty pages to further the male character’s manpain, and very derivative. If Michael Bay wrote a book, it would be Red Rising. Yet it’s immensely popular, go figure. I didn’t hate Naomi Novik’s Uprooted but I’m completely baffled by the hype it got and the award nominations. I liked it, but didn’t find it very original or engaging, and I would have preferred that a relationship between the main character and her female friend to what the novel gives us instead.
4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
I have half a shelf full of non-fiction books, biographies mostly, that I keep meaning to read but I just prefer fiction and find it really hard to engage with non-fiction to the same extent, even when it’s well-written. I tried and failed to make it through the Hamilton biography, the John Adams biography by McCullough biography, as well as a really interesting looking one on Pitt the Younger’s eccentric niece, Lady Hester Stanhope. Maybe one day I’ll be in a non-fiction mood. Maybe.
5. What book are you saving for retirement?
Not deliberately saving for retirement, but generally the larger fantasy series, like Sanderson’s works or Erickson’s that require setting aside several months to really delve into.
6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?
Generally wait ’til the end. I never flip to the very last page, but sometimes when I’m extremely anxious about a character’s fate or a particular scene, my eyes will jump down the page looking for reassurance, or a warning if bad things are to come for this character. So I’m not completely spoiler adverse, and I’d prefer to know in vague terms that something is likely to make me emotional and I should not read it in public, since I do a lot of commute reading. Kind souls warned me about Lymond book 4 so I could save the last 100 pages for the weekend, ditto A Little Life, because I was just BROKEN after reading them.
7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
I enjoy reading acknowledgements! The Captive Prince ones the author even thanks everyone by username who commented back in the Livejournal days, and yes my name’s in there which is pretty cool!
8. Which book character would you switch places with?
I feel like the characters I love the most tend to be the ones who go through the most pain, which I would like to avoid… Can I be a spectator watching the element tournament in A Gathering of Shadows? Because that would be cool. Otherwise, maybe Princess Cimorene in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I think she’s braver than I could ever be, but I like the idea of learning a bit of everything, including magic, making cherries jubilee, latin, and fencing. Oh, or Morwen in the same book. A witch with lots of cats!
9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)
I have a few, but I think the most important, and the I’d grab this if my apartment was on fire, is my copy of The Brick, Les Miserables. After I read the unabridged version, I brought it with me to London in 2011 and although I failed in my quest to get ultimate Enjolras David Thaxton (who I had seen in 2009) to sign it at the Love Never Dies stage door (he’s tall and he’s fast and I wasn’t crazy enough to chase him down the block or yell after him), I did get my copy signed by my favourite actor to play the role of Jean Valjean, Jonathan Williams, who was lovely. More recently though, the Toronto cast of my favourite show was so fabulous, I saw them 7 times in 5 months, and over multiple occasions I asked a bunch of the cast to sign my book, even pre-marking certain passages for actors who I particularly loved in their roles, like Melissa O’Neil (Eponine), Mark Uhre (Enjolras), Perry Sherman (Marius, who in true Marius form signed the page opposite the one I asked him to), Andrew Love (u/s Javert), Aaron Walpole (alternate Valjean), and Jon Winsby (Courfeyrac, who laughed at the fact that I wanted him to sign the “he looked completely idiotic” part because he had ad-libbed “Marius, I’m about to lose my lunch” in the ABC Cafe). I have a lot of fond memories of standing outside the stage door in the middle of a particularly brutal Canadian winter in tights clutching my Brick, and it means a lot to me.
10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.
I have a whole shelf full of books (a lot of Jacqueline Carey, but also some other fantasy books, and two of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series by Sarah Monette) that a friend brought (I had asked to borrow something from her – not sure what!) over in tote bags because she was going to New Zealand for awhile. Well, she loved New Zealand so much that she never came back, so I got to keep the books!
11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?
Not given. I’ve lent things to friends and some have come back and a few haven’t. I’m definitely keeping my eyes peeled in used bookstores for an extra copy of The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett that I can conveniently leave with Rachel when I see her next month though (so far I’ve found three of the other Lymond books, but not the one I’m looking for alas!) …
12. Which book has been with you most places?
Geographically, it’s Les Miserables again! I’ve dragged my copy to London (twice!), and to New York City, carried it to and from work and shows, and it moved to fake London (London, Ontario) with me when I went to grad school.
13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
My opinions on high school “required reading” pretty much stayed the same. I hated Tess of the D’Urbervilles in high school and I continued to hate it in a Victorian Lit class 3 years later. I loved To Kill A Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451 and they both stood up to recent re-reads. I gained a greater appreciation of Shakespeare after taking a university course with a really great professor, but even then the plays I liked most remained the same (King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing).
14. Used or brand new?
Both! I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has some great used bookstores and I love browsing the three-level BMV in particular. I tend to only buy either new releases by an author I know I love, or new releases I can’t wait for, and I otherwise buy “keeper copies”, meaning books I’ve read once, loved, and know I will want to read again in the future, so scouring used bookstores for keeper copies is fun. I do love new book smell and the unblemished appearance of a new book just waiting to be read though.
15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
Yep! I read and enjoyed at the time The Da Vinci Code. I enjoyed Angels and Demons even more. By the time The Lost Symbol came out I had pretty much moved on, but I enjoyed it as a light read. He may have written more since, I honestly can’t remember, but I haven’t read them anyway. I don’t think anyone who missed the great Dan Brown craze is missing out by not reading his works.
16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
I feel like this is a question that gets asked a lot, but yes, Brooklyn much improved on the decent but not great novel by Colm Tóibín. I felt like the pacing was really off and I didn’t connect with the book on an emotional level. Saoirse Ronan was really charming in the movie and I thought the bright colour palette added some interest to the story. Movie!Eilis was also a more interesting and stronger character imho.
17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?
Gotta second Hadeer, GRRM is really descriptive about meals, and Game of Thrones definitely made me hungry at times!
18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
Rachel @ pace amore libri may not read the same genres as me generally, but we’re weirdly exactly in sync on what we enjoy about books, what kinds of characters we like reading about, and the types of writing styles that appeal to us. I think we also have a really great idea of what the other person likes and what might not appeal to them as much.
Actually my mom is someone I almost always listen to when it comes to books. Left to her own devices she tends to read a lot of mysteries and lighter fare, but she’s found some great YA and fantasy books, and she’s the one I tend to thrust books at and say “read this!” On these books we almost always agree.
19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
I really didn’t expect to enjoy In Cold Blood or Room, both selections for the book club I’m in, as much as I did! I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, and In Cold Blood was the first time I’d read true crime, so I didn’t have high hopes, but I found the writing style really engaging and beautiful. And with Room it was one I had been avoiding because of the subject matter, but it’s incredibly well structured. The decision to tell the story from the five-year-old boy’s perspective is brilliant, and just when the story inside the titular room is beginning to get tired, the story switches gears and looks at how Jack and his mother cope when they’re back in the outside world. I loved it. Also I usually hate war books. Two of my closest friends are really interested in non-fiction and in WWII and I couldn’t be any less interested in this time period, but I adored two WWII hist fic novels, All The Light We Cannot See and Code Name Verity.