Posted by: chartroose | October 9, 2008

Booking Through Thursday — Book Meme

I’m going to do this one because It looks easy.  I’m supposed to be working, but blogging is so much more productive, don’t you think?

What was the last book you bought?
The World of Henry Orient by Nora Johnson.  My review is here.

Name a book you have read MORE than once:
Oh jeez, I’ve reread so many!  Probably the most reread is The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I revisited them every year from age 11 or 12 until my mid 20’s.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
Again, there are quite a few.  One that really sticks out in my mind is Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.  It made me actually begin to see all people as having value.  I was never very bigoted, but the novel opened my eyes to the ongoing struggle of African Americans and all minorities to gain a sense of identity in our intolerant society.  (Note to self:  blog about novels that change perceptions).

How do you choose a book; e.g., by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews:
I don’t believe I ever choose by covers because the aesthetics of a book can be totally deceptive.  I choose by reading critiques from other bloggers or newspaper reviews.  I have feeds to The Guardian and The New York Times Book Review, and I occasionally look at reviews from The Christian Science Monitor and The Los Angeles Times.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
I prefer fiction 99% of the time.

What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Beautiful writing.  If the author can’t put a decent sentence together, then the best plot ever imagined is going to have no significance at all.  I often keep reading novels with sucky/ridiculous plots if the writing sings to me.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book):
Oh man, another really difficult one!  Here’s a short list:
Atticus Finch
Becky Sharp
Eeyore (I know it’s dumb, but Eeyore and I are simpatico)
Lucy Honeychurch
(Note to self:  blog about favorite characters)

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
The Wordy Shipmates — Sarah Vowell
Ghost Road Blues — Jonathan Maberry
Harvard Yard — William Martin
I also have several kindle books waiting for me, and a bunch piled on the top of my couch, which is where I read most of the time.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and I’m still reading it.  For some inexplicable reason, I’m having trouble getting through it, even though it’s very interesting.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
All the time.  The most recent I can remember is Brideshead Revisited. I was enjoying it, and then, all of a sudden, I totally lost interest.  What’s up with that?  I have a rule that I try to stick to now: if I’m fifty pages in and not liking the book, I’ll quit reading it.  Life’s too short to waste time on mediocre or terrible books!


  1. I don’t know what to think about Edgar Sawtelle. It seems people either love it or they can’t finish it.

  2. Yes, Bermuda, it’s true! I think part of the problem is that the scope seems so small even though it’s about large issues. I’m going to keep slogging away, though, because it IS intriguing in its smallish way.

  3. I hope you enjoy Ghost Road Blues and its sequels.

    -Jonathan Maberry

  4. Ooooh, it’s hard to go through life as an Eeyore!

  5. I do that all the time: lose interest and give up in the middle. I’ve decided there’s hardly anything more frustrating.

  6. I hate giving up on a book when I’m halfway through it but when I do? It’s usually a book I LOVE. For some weird reason, not finishing it means that it will never be over.

    Can’t wait to read the other books that changed your views. Growing up with a blind eye (literally) I was aware from a VERY young age that people suck.

  7. Lol! I would love to read an entire post about Iago!

  8. Jonathan–Thanks for writing! I’ll read it after “Edgar Sawtelle.” My Father gave it to me and said it was the best horror fiction he’s read in years. Even my sister loved it, and she’s a giant scaredy cat! I’ll let you know when I write my critique.

    Sally–Luckily, I’m not always like Eeyore, but I understand him completely. Right now, I’m going through an emo stage, so Eeyore and I are like peas and carrots.

    Andi–Why do we do this? It is totally frustrating, and it’s beyond my comprehension.

    Carrie–Unlike you, I really want to finish every book I’m enjoying. Maybe it’s an attention span thing. And you’re right, people really suck. I can’t stand them most of the time. Blah!

    Susan–I WILL write about Iago someday! I have a “thing” for Iago, you know.

  9. I call my hubby Eeyore because he always acts as if his house is falling down. It’s a term of endearment, though, because of all the Hundred Acre Wood inhabitants, Eeyore’s my hands down favorite.

  10. Why didn’t I think of Atticus? He was such a wonderful father.

  11. I completely agree with you about plot and writing. No plot will save a book that’s badly written. It just won’t retain my attention.

    I very rarely give up on books. Sometimes I think I should do it more often, but I read so quickly that it doesn’t matter that much.

  12. I chose Iago also, I can’t help but believe that Shakespeare modeled him after a real person, he is just that complex of a character. He is my Shakespeare crush 🙂

  13. Um, could you list the books that feature those characters? I know the Atticus and Eeyore ones.

    I love Carrie K’s explanation for giving up on a book! It’s the same way with me for projects. If I finish it, what will I do next? I have given up on too many books that I want to finish but never seem to get back to. (Anna Karenina, Midnight’s Children)

  14. Traci–I guess I’m like your husband a lot of the time, especially now! I think it’s a tie between Eeyore and Piglet for my favorite Hundred Acre Wood character. Piglet was afraid of so many things but he always found the courage to overcome his fears, and Eeyore was just fun and sad.

    Tina–I wish Atticus Finch were running for president right now!

    Meghan–I used to think I was a good reader, but I’ve decided I totally suck because many bloggers have read over 50 books this year. A few have read over 100! I feel pathetic with my 25 or so.

    Joanne–Oh, dude, you’re a person after my own heart! I adore Iago…I even have a picture of him in my mind and he’s hot, hot, hot! We should start an Iago fan club!

    Care–I really feel bad about giving up on “Brideshead…” because it was so witty and fun. Maybe part of my problem is that Evelyn Waugh was a sophisticated writer, so you really have to pay attention to nuances and underlying motivations and things like that. Right now, I’m going through a “dumb” time. I feel like my IQ is about 80, and I just don’t have the oomph to read a complex novel. Do you ever feel this way?
    Becky Sharp was the main character in Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair.” She was a scheming social climber; very selfish and manipulative, but I still felt sorry for her.
    Iago (from Othello) is Shakespeare’s worst villain. IMO, he’s also the smartest and most complex character in Shakespeare’s repertoire.
    Lucy Honeychurch is the main character in E. M. Forester’s “A Room With a View.” She bucks social expectations and learns to be true to herself in this excellent novel.

  15. I’m half Tigger, half Eeyore. Try to wrap your head around that one.

    I loved Brideshead Revisited. Have you seen the old Jeremy Irons/Anthony Andrews mini-series?

  16. Lol. It’s not dumb! I picked Pooh Bear!

  17. The last two responses especially catch my attention.

    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle seems to be all over book bloggers’ radar but it doesn’t seem to be my kind of book.

    I was just thinking about reading Brideshead revisited because I haven’t ready any Evelyn Waugh! I should check out all his titles and see which one engages me the most.

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