Page turner

bookIt’s not normally my thing to jump onto those memes and list ‘challenges’ that proliferate in the blogging world. There’s nothing wrong with them, and they give plenty of scope for elaboration and discussion, but to me they often feel like an excuse to be lazy, rather than write a proper blog post – and that’s a trap that i could, oh so easily, fall into and struggle to climb back out from!

However, today is an exception to my self-imposed rule – although, it’s rather late in the day, (another reason i tend to avoid these things – i’m always late to the party), and comes about by a rather circuitous route.

Last week, friend and fellow blogger, Paypaback Writer posted her submission for one of Strawberry Singh’s hugely popular Monday Memes on the subject of books and reading, and after reading it, i left a comment, to which Pay responded by issuing the following challenge: “So will we be seeing your responses to those questions any time soon?”

Oh, alright then… but don’t think i’m going to make a habit of it! In fact, i’d normally resist the temptation, but on this occasion i think that Berry has hit on a particularly intriguing topic, especially when it comes to getting clued-up on the literary background of the blogging community – how often do we have cause to wonder about what writer’s might read?

So, here goes nothing… time to bare my bookish soul!

watcher1_001Are you a bookworm?
Ask me this particular question at different points in my life, and i’d give you entirely different answers. As a child, i devoured books – quite possibly the most prolific time of my life from a reading perspective – i was certainly an extremely competent reader by the time i left primary school, and that served me well in secondary school, where i was to discover Shakespeare, Golding, Shaw and Huxley. My bookshelves at home were stuffed with science-fiction, particularly Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Oddly, despite my wide-ranging tastes, it was to be many years before i managed to get around to reading many of the ‘classics’ that kids of my age would have been familiar with.

My first job after leaving school, for a couple of years, was in a bookshop – i still have my Publishers’ Association bookseller’s licence – a time when i worked my way through all of C S Lewis’ books and published essays, and then, disaster…

My book collection numbered in the several hundreds, maybe more, when the time came for me to move home – i swapped a 4-bedroomed house with plenty of storage space, for a tiny 3-roomed cottage and the books had to go, and with them, went my urge to read – it was so awful having to lose so many books. It’s only been in the past couple of years that i’ve rediscovered my reading mojo, and i’m gradually coming back up to speed – but it’s been an awfully long time!

Which do you prefer: hardcover, paperback or electronic?
Without question, paperback. Hardbacks are too big, awkward and make your arms tired when reading in bed, and i can never get the pages to stay open where i need them. Electronic types as – as far as i’m concerned – are the spawn of the devil: they don’t bend, need electricity, can’t survive being stuffed in a bag or squeezed into a hand-luggage pocket for easy retrieval on a flight, can’t be dropped in the bath, smell wrong and don’t have the tactile satisfaction that only a real book can provide.

Which book is your favorite?
Impossible to answer – split the question by genre and i might stand a chance. There are certainly a number of books that i’ve re-read time, and time again, and will do so again in the future.

nwl020612a_001Which children’s book is your favorite?
Tricky one to answer, since i was never really into children’s fiction. Many of Roald Dahl’s books are high on the list – i still have my original copies of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, and the ‘Great Glass Elevator’, (who could forget the Vermicious Knids?) – and, for sheer shock, horror value i have a soft spot for Heinrich Hoffman’s ‘Struwwelpeter‘ – his great, long, red-legged scissor-man is truly the stuff of nightmares!

What’s the last book you’ve read?
Tarka the Otter; believe it or not, for the very first time.

Name your top five favorite writers:
Gosh, this is difficult. Without thinking too hard, i’d have to include Paul Theroux, Tad Williams, James Clavell, Stephen Donaldson and, erm… Dylan Thomas.

Name a book that had a strong impact on you:
Two books: both by the same author. Richard Bach’s ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’, and; ‘Illusions’. They won’t resonate with everyone, but they’re definitely, and irrevocably, embedded into my soul.

Favorite & least favorite book genres?
Travel writing, by a whisker, would come out on top – but it has to be evocative, stirring and completely compelling – i’m thinking along the lines of Paul Theroux. Least favourite genre, would probably be slushy romance ‘novels’, (sorry, Mr Rubble), although there’s a whole sub-genre of utter garbage that seems to regularly make it into the bestseller lists that has all the lustre of a badly polished turd, and in fifty shades of crap too.

reading_001Favorite & least favorite book-to-movie adaptions?
Worst – ‘Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy’. Did they even read the book? As for my favourite, that’s a bit more difficult: how about, ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’?

Have you ever bought a book based on the cover alone?
Oddly, i think the answer could be ‘yes’. Both Clive Barker’s ‘Weaveworld’ and Tad Williams’ ‘Otherland’ had me pretty much hooked by the covers, and synopsis alone.

Where do you usually buy your books?
Charity shops, failing that, Amazon. Yes, i know i should be supporting my local bookshop, but i’m not a millionnaire yet… perhaps after my first bestselling novel starts bringing in the readies, things might be different!

Do you go to the library?
Nope, not any more. As a youngster, i was there continually; same when i was researching for my degree, but these days it’s simply not convenient, neither do i have the time. Maybe it would be different if my local library had a decent stock of books.

How many books do you own?
Right now, around 250, with another 100 or so in storage.

If you were to write a book about Second Life, which topic would you focus on?
i wouldn’t write a book about Second Life!

That’s it – all done!

s. x

Mr Writer, why don’t you tell it like it is?
Why don’t you tell it like it really is?
Before you go on home
Stereophonics – Mr Writer

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2 Responses to Page turner

  1. Oh, yes! I hadn’t even considered C. S. Lewis, but I do love his non-fiction. And Clavell was a marvel at taking you back in time to the orient and at creating a huge cast of colorful characters. At the heart of this challenge, I think is what books do to us, how they shape us. Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” Reading books can have the same effect. Thanks for responding!

    • You make a good point with the Mark Twain quote, and i’m sure that the way in which books can expose us to ideas, concepts and situations outside our own experience is key to this process – and that does indeed shape us.
      s. x

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