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QUESTIONS for the Avid Reader, 2016 Edition

Club Read 2016

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1SassyLassy
Jul 18, 2016, 11:27am Top

Periodically I've looked for a 2016 version of Questions for the Avid Reader, thinking I just couldn't find it, but rebecca says there isn't one, so I thought I would give it a go.

QUESTION 1: You can't judge a book by its cover. We've all heard this, but just how much does a cover affect your choice of a book, or edition of a particular book? Feel free to post examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.

2Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 18, 2016, 3:13pm Top

Q1. As hard as I try not to be, I have to say that I can be influenced by the cover of a book. Mostly, I would say, not to buy it if I don't like the cover (unless it is by a trusted writer). The thing that might make me pick up a book because of its cover, is the colour. If it has a favourite colour, I will at least stop and pick it up. Just as I am drawn to books with paintings on the cover. Geometric Persian designs also appeal, and anything with a jewellish quality. Oh, and of course, covers with images of books on the cover, I have quite a few of those!

3japaul22
Jul 18, 2016, 3:52pm Top

Q1: Yes, definitely. First of all, I think publishers do intentionally use covers to market a book. A "literary fiction" novel often has a different look than, say "chick lit". I think I almost use covers more to rule books out than to pick up a book. If a book has loads of pink colors or curlicue writing, I'm probably running away.

4dchaikin
Jul 18, 2016, 11:16pm Top

>3 japaul22: i do this with my library's audio books. I check the new books and if there are, say, a hundred, there might be two I'm interested in. To find those two, I just scan for the right kind of cover - I quickly avoid most YA, mysteries, conservative political stuff, romance, fantasy, chic lit and many other things. I'll probably look at ten books to find those two.

But, as for the cover making the book appeal, it's a hard thing for me to pin down in words. I get attached to covers, but mostly only after I've committed to the book.

5PeggyDean
Jul 19, 2016, 11:22am Top

People who browse bookstores and libraries definitely will at least flip through a book based on the cover. That's why the "bookstore model" is to have multiple books placed facing outward on the shelves. I am drawn to books with bold, graphic covers, but also go for "pretty" like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.

I like a cover that is evocative of the time and setting.

My sister and I both have a strong affinity toward books with silhouette illustrations. This comes from Just Ten Minutes by Eleanor Glendower Griffith, a hand-me-down book from our father that we both loved as children.




I also have a strong dislike for historical fiction with covers that feature people dressed in period clothes.Here's an interesting link about covers for historical fiction:
https://historicalnovelsociety.org/the-book-and-its-cover-historical-fiction-cov...

6Nickelini
Jul 19, 2016, 4:53pm Top

>2 Caroline_McElwee: I'd love to see some examples, if you have time.

Anyone who knows me knows I have lots to say about this, but work calls at the moment. I'll be back. In the meantime, here's a link to my Pinterest board "Fabulous Book Covers." There is something about each of these 893 pins that I find beautiful, clever, or interesting:

https://www.pinterest.com/nickelini/fabulous-book-covers/

7bragan
Jul 19, 2016, 6:50pm Top

I've always found it interesting how passionate some book-lovers seem to feel about good and bad covers, to the extent of buying a different copy of a book to get a cover they like better, or not wanting to keep "ugly" books in their collections. Me, I like a nice cover as much as anybody, but a bad cover isn't going to put me off a book I've decided I'm interested in, and I don't choose editions based on covers. Although I will admit that a really unappealing cover (especially one that makes a book look too chic lit-y for my taste) may put me off a book I'm on the fence about, or lead to me not bothering to look at a book twice if I encounter it while browsing.

8Narilka
Jul 20, 2016, 10:32am Top

I admit I have bought books based solely on the cover art. It doesn't happen often but it has happened. Results are mixed on if I actually enjoyed the book or not.

In general I agree with >5 PeggyDean: that a cover can grab my attention and get me to read the blurb on the back to see if the story interests me. That goes for both good and bad designs. For the bad ones it's more a "what kind of story inspired this art" type curiosity. As an ex-graphic designer I definitely appreciate good cover art simply for the art itself, which is how I occasionally buy books based on cover art alone.

Something I find interesting is how covers are designed differently for different countries.

USA, Denmark, UK, Australia (though UK version has a different title, the basic art is the same):


Germany:


France:


Portugal:

9Nickelini
Jul 20, 2016, 5:12pm Top

Art has always been important in my life, so it's no wonder that book covers are something I care about and enjoy. And yes, although I own ugly books, I either ignore them or try to read them to get them out of my house. And I will look for the most attractive edition of a book I can find-- but it might not be the cover that is the deciding factor. Print size, white space, paper quality and binding all play a part in the beauty of a book. I won't buy a book ONLY for it's cover, but a great cover will make me consider it.

Time for some pictures. I am drawn to strong blue covers, and I don't know why other than that I find them attractive. Here are a few favourites:









10Caroline_McElwee
Jul 20, 2016, 7:03pm Top

>9 Nickelini: Joyce, all those covers would get me (I have Touch).

>6 Nickelini: I won't be able to get to this til next week, but yes, I'll post some.

11dchaikin
Jul 21, 2016, 12:12am Top

Joyce, I think you like blue.

12Nickelini
Jul 21, 2016, 1:22am Top

>11 dchaikin: Yes. But as an arty person, I also like other colours. I'm just getting started.

13Caroline_McElwee
Jul 21, 2016, 5:52am Top

Here is one of my favourite covers, the 1st edition hardback of A S Byatt's Possession:

14ursula
Jul 21, 2016, 9:25am Top

I judge by covers a lot since I quit reading synopses!

I love this cover for The Dinner - it's both literal and intriguing, and has relevance to the story.



This face. So compelling.



Similarly, I'm drawn to this challenging look:



I seem to like things that are just writing, usually bold but not always:

    

Although that depends a little, because this one appeals not at all:



I don't like the font, I don't like the color combination (but I did like the book well enough).

I hate classics with a boring painting on the cover. I read them anyway because they are classics, but I would never pick them up based on cover alone.

  

15baswood
Jul 21, 2016, 2:27pm Top

>7 bragan: I am with Betty on this one. Especially as I hardly ever buy books in a bookshop, nearly all my books are bought on line, often second hand and so I will often get books in the post. whose covers I have not seen before.

Do we need book covers? perhaps it would be better even less misleading if the covers were blank.

16lilisin
Jul 22, 2016, 1:18am Top

I enjoy looking at well-crafted covers but they are rarely the deciding factor in buying a book only because typically I've already well-researched beforehand what book I'm going to purchase. However, if there are several editions of the book I want to buy, then I'll try to get the best looking one. But that also includes editions and sizes.

My favorite author is Kobo Abe so every time I buy his books I try to buy the same edition so I can keep all his books together and have consistency when storing his books on my shelves. Even if there were a prettier or cheaper version, I'd get the one that suites the current theme.

With Amelie Nothomb, I own all of her books but in the middle the publisher started slowing down its paperback version of her books and then changed the version entirely. Now I have three different editions of her books when before I just had nice pile of consistently fits-on-the-shelves books. It's quite aggravating.

So maybe not just covers, but maybe even more so, editions help with deciding what book to buy.

Although I have delayed buying a book I really wanted to read because the edition/cover I kept finding was horrible.

17.Monkey.
Jul 22, 2016, 2:50am Top

>16 lilisin: I like to get the same style for the same author or series, too, when possible. But since I pick things up 2ndhand the majority of the time, and only occasionally through places like Abe, I don't generally get much choice in the matter. So, eh.

18dchaikin
Jul 22, 2016, 8:09am Top

>15 baswood: yes, books need covers, imho. I still miss album covers. While I'm not sure how covers affect my purchases, I backwards associate. Once I've begun reading the book, I associate it with the existing cover. Than it has a lot of meaning for me. I try to get the correct covers on my LT library, spending embarrassing large amounts of time on this.

19.Monkey.
Jul 22, 2016, 8:14am Top

I would be perfectly fine if books didn't have covers. Their purpose is just to provide the form, with some protection to the pages. The fuss people make about what's on them has always boggled. You don't see the cover while you read, you don't see the cover while it's on your shelves, and it sure as hell doesn't impact what's on the pages, so...!

20dchaikin
Jul 22, 2016, 8:19am Top

Well, when I'm not reading and thinking about how much I would like to read, then I'm only looking at the cover. So, covers acquire I kind of wistfulness to them (hoping that makes sense)
: )

21Nickelini
Edited: Jul 22, 2016, 11:44am Top

>16 lilisin: Although I have delayed buying a book I really wanted to read because the edition/cover I kept finding was horrible.

I hear you. I didn't buy House of the Spirits for years because the only copies available had this sort of 70s/80s design that was so ugly. Finally, Vintage came out with a reissue, and the cover was unoffensive and not very exciting, but it had the lovely red spine that looks nice with all the other Vintage books on my shelf. Now I see some other publisher has come out with an even nicer edition . . .

22Nickelini
Jul 22, 2016, 11:39am Top

>18 dchaikin: I still miss album covers.

Me too! A lost source of art.

23Nickelini
Jul 22, 2016, 11:44am Top

>19 .Monkey.: You don't see the cover while you read, you don't see the cover while it's on your shelves, and it sure as hell doesn't impact what's on the pages, so...!

On the contrary. I see the cover every time I pick the book up, when I carry it around, when I leave it on the dining room table, when I put it down to take a break. As for not seeing it on my shelves, well I routinely take books out of my shelves just to look at them and fondle them. And it can impact what's in the pages .... the cover can set the mood, or illustrate something in the book.

24bragan
Jul 24, 2016, 11:34am Top

>15 baswood: We the readers might or might not think we need book covers, but publishers certainly believe they need them. After all, a cover illustration really is ultimately a marketing tool. It may also be a work of art, but its real purpose in life is to attract your attention to the book and make you more likely to want to buy it.

Which is maybe another reason why I don't get too worked up about them, I dunno. Honestly, it probably has more to do with the fact that I'm just not a very visual person.

I will say, though, that there is one kind of cover that bugs me, and that's a cover that looks like it's trying to illustrate characters or events from the book, but gets them wrong. Which happens a lot, no doubt in part because, again, the purpose is to make the book look appealing, not to accurately illustrate the story. But it offends my sensibilities.

25Narilka
Jul 24, 2016, 9:56pm Top

>24 bragan: That bugs the crap out of me too. If you're going to put a scene from a book on the cover, it better be accurate!

26Nickelini
Jul 24, 2016, 10:17pm Top

>24 bragan:, >25 Narilka:, I'm going to have to say that that really bugs me too

27thorold
Edited: Jul 25, 2016, 8:44am Top

>15 baswood: nearly all my books are bought on line ... I will often get books in the post whose covers I have not seen before.

>24 bragan: a cover illustration really is ultimately a marketing tool.

Not sure if the analogy really works, but I found myself thinking about the way Apple do packaging. Your purchasing decision when you're looking for a laptop or a smartphone is extremely unlikely to be directly influenced by the box it comes in (most of the time you don't even see it until the product arrives), yet Apple obviously think it's worth paying designers to develop clever, attractive packaging for their products. Presumably it's all about building up brand loyalty, e.g. by conveying the impression that this is a company that pays attention to all the tiny details. (With the number of units they shift, the marginal cost of improving the box design probably makes it more cost-effective than improving the functionality of the device, anyway...)

I think there's something similar going on with books: even if it's not the reason you bought the book, an attractive, well thought out cover design makes the book pleasanter to have around, and probably increases the chances that you will look for more titles from that series/author/publisher. And it's also a subtle way of conveying to you that the publisher is committed to the success of the book. Shoddy design implies that the book has been produced at minimal cost and the publisher doesn't really believe in it.

Personally, I tend to be attracted by simple cover designs. I especially like old Penguins, Faber's purely typographic poetry designs, and the classic plain house-styles that some of the big French and German publishers have been using for decades.

   

The Ernaux book is a personal view of France in the second half of the 20th century: I really like the way the designer picked a detail from a well-known painting that offers a quite different, but related, view of the same topic.

Inappropriate or carelessly chosen artwork is always annoying, but so are over-literal design choices and clunky visual puns. We don't need the designer to tell us that The magician's assistant is about a magician's assistant, and I don't think that was quite what Ms Tyler meant by "back"...

 

28SassyLassy
Edited: Jul 25, 2016, 3:32pm Top

Certain publishers have a certain look, even on the spines. At one time you could learn a lot about a person by the Penguins on the shelf, you didn't even have to check the titles out. Were they black, orange, blue or grey?

My preference is simple to the point of plain; I am a big fan of the old Penguins. Having said that, everyone once in a while I succumb to tempting covers like this:



I am automatically suspicious when the author's name is larger than the title, or when there is a lot of embossing. Those books tend to get passed by.

Any book with a movie tie-in on the cover is definitely out.

Two of my current favourite publishers are NYRB Classics and Oxford World Classics. I like the covers and I like the look on the shelf when you only see the spines. I do wonder if the crisp white and red on the Oxfords will become cream and rose with time, but that remains to be seen.

>27 thorold: Your comments on packaging and Apple made me think of Persephone Books. They have a consistent cover of medium grey, with wonderful end papers reflecting a fabric that ties in with the book and its era, and a matching bookmark:



>6 Nickelini: That's an amazing collection of covers and so well organized. I like your blues further down on this thread too.

29Nickelini
Jul 25, 2016, 3:50pm Top

>28 SassyLassy: I adore Persephone classic covers. I currently only own one, but hope to own more one day.

If my Pinterest board appears well organized, it's a fluke. Pinterest works on a first-pinned-last-seen basis, so any look of organization is just happenstance. And if you were being sarcastic, then Ha ha, oh well.

I love this set of books that were published by Vintage Anchor Canada and sold only (as far as I can tell) through Chapters-Indigo. The line was called Books are Beautiful. The edges of the paper matches the cover and spine.

30thorold
Jul 26, 2016, 5:00am Top

>28 SassyLassy: I really like the look of Persephone, but for some reason I've never actually owned any of their books. You don't see them much around here. I ought to look out for some.

>29 Nickelini: That Canadian rainbow looks great on the shelf!

I noticed that my paperback reprint of The rainbow would qualify for a bad cover award, as cheap classics so often do - the designer seems to have tried to suggest the idea of a rainbow using only red and black ink (I'll try to scan it later today).

31ursula
Jul 26, 2016, 5:42am Top

>30 thorold: Was it this one?



That was the cover I picked up at a thrift store.

32thorold
Edited: Jul 26, 2016, 11:45am Top

>31 ursula: No, but that one's probably equally bad. But Lawrence does seem to invite bad cover designs: his heady combination of sex, cinema, symbolism and out of copyright classics is hard to beat...

ETA: This one is mine - Avon Publications, undated US mass market ppb. The pen-drawing at bottom left shows a woman with a 1940s hairstyle and heavy lipstick (Scarlett O'Hara???) wearing a high-collared Edwardian blouse which she's in the process of ruining by rubbing her boyfriend's Elvis quiff all over it, so I would guess it's mid-fifties:

33SassyLassy
Jul 26, 2016, 8:56am Top

>29 Nickelini: I only have one Persephone too. Maybe they need a distributor over here. Book Depository sells them, as does the Persephone website, but Persephone charges £5 for delivery, or almost half the cost of another book.

Those Anchor Books look lovely like that. I have only seen them on shelves as singles among other books, so the full impact didn't strike me. I have seen them at a couple of independent bookstores as well as Indigo, but after reading this article: http://www.quillandquire.com/book-news/2012/10/18/random-house-of-canada-taps-in... it makes perfect sense that it would be Indigo as the major seller.

34Nickelini
Jul 26, 2016, 11:28am Top

>33 SassyLassy: There are a handful of Persephones available on Amazon.ca, and as you say, the Book Depository. I used to own Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, but after reading and not really liking the story, I donated my copy to a charity shop. I sort of regret doing that, but oh well.

35Oandthegang
Edited: Jul 30, 2016, 2:28pm Top

Covers do absolutely matter to me, even though I know that the cover doesn't necessarily reflect the book within. There have been times on LibraryThing when I've seen a different cover to that on my book and thought 'Heavens! I never would have read it had I only seen that cover.' Sometimes it shows that the publisher is trying to hitch a book onto the success of another book, which always puts me off. I remember there was a time where a lot of books had covers suggestive of the hardback edition of Snow Falling On Cedars. To me this always suggests that the publisher doesn't have confidence in the distinctiveness of the 'coat-tail' book. Sometimes I buy different editions of books for the different covers. I love my 1970s Penguin covers for the Sword of Honour trilogy as well as the later single volume edition, but I would never have in the house the edition with the photograph of Waugh himself on the cover. I very much regret the cover of my current edition of Brideshead Revisited, and will have to replace it at the earliest possible opportunity.



I like the covers on the British Library detective series, because I'm impressed by how clever the researchers have been in consistently finding images from the National Railway Museum to match the novels. The black and white photos on the current Dorothy Sayers Peter Wimsey books are good too.

I really don't like the artwork on the covers of the Everyman P G Wodehouse editions, although I buy them anyway, but then I don't think I've seen any covers for Wodehouse that look right. The Everyman Wodehouses do look good seen spine on en masse. In a different league are the Inspector Montalbano series, with their curious artwork which is closely tied to the plot without giving anything away.



Then there are the books which have such lovely covers that they just need to be admired rather than read.

36thorold
Jul 27, 2016, 4:52am Top

>35 Oandthegang: I agree about the Everyman Wodehouse (lovely books in every other respect). I have a few Wodehouse books with original (or reproduction) dustjackets from the 30s and 40s that are quite charming, but later editions have never got it quite right, somehow. Penguin's David Hitch covers are quite attractive sometimes, but they don't always work.

  
1940s (Herbert Jenkins) / David Hitch (Penguin) / (Everyman)

The British Library detectives are attractive, although they don't always stand up to pedantic examination - we spotted in the train-buffs' group that the train on the cover of Murder underground is too late for the period, and the punt in Death on the Cherwell looks more Cambridge than Oxford in its design...

>33 SassyLassy: >34 Nickelini: Although I've never seen any in Dutch bookshops, it turns out that BOL sells at least some Persephones - I've ordered a couple...

37Oandthegang
Edited: Jul 30, 2016, 2:32pm Top

>36 thorold: Good Lord! such forensic examination and detailed knowledge. I'm impressed! I've got a few old hardback Herbert Jenkins Wodehouses, and though they have lost their dust jackets they do have embossed covers which I peer at, but even they don't seem to get it quite right.



I like the Herbert Jenkins and Penguin covers that you've put up for illustration, although the David Hitch is perhaps a bit busy.

The Persephones do very nicely together on a shelf. I have a small three shelf bookcase which has Everyman Wodehouses on the bottom, Persephone in the middle, and Collector's Classics on the top. Very pleasing.

38SassyLassy
Aug 2, 2016, 10:14am Top

I loved this cover discussion and the magpie in me loved all the great images of book covers, some of which threaten to increase my TBR list. I've been trying to do some reduction of it though, and thus time for some analysis.



Question 2: We all have TBR piles, be they physical or virtual or both. Taking a look at your own

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?

b) Does one category predominate?

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?

Answers to any and all parts welcome, and if you dare, photos of said hordes/hoards of books.

39rebeccanyc
Aug 2, 2016, 10:39am Top

1. I arrange my TBR piles roughly the way I organize my books: fiction by country or region, nonfiction by category, e.g., history, science,

2. Probably Russian and South/Central American literature.

3. No because my pre-LT TBR books are in the bookcases with the books I've read. It's only the post-LT books that are in my TBR piles.

4. I would attempt to cull them, but probably I would fail.

40thorold
Edited: Aug 2, 2016, 12:09pm Top

>38 SassyLassy: Another great picture!

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?
Yes. Haphazardly.

At the moment they are on three shelves in my study, threatening to take over an adjacent shelf of short-story collections. larger and more delicate books get shelf space, others may have to sit on top.

b) Does one category predominate?
No, it seems to be surprisingly mixed. Perhaps a bit more fiction than in my library as a whole (about 70% vs. about 50%).
Maybe if you count "thick books" as a category: The Quincunx, The kindly ones, The magic mountain, Auto-da-fé, Het bureau, etc...

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?
Not really - there are only about ten books left from pre-LibraryThing days, so it's probably more a case of phases than eras. There are a few things that relate to specific interests that might not come back to the top of my priority list for a while - leftovers from the Caribbean theme read earlier this year, for instance, a couple of African items linked to a course I took about 15 years ago, an odd volume of Mrs Browning's letters that I never got around to when I read all the others...

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?
Judging by past experience, I'd parcel the lot up and assume (wrongly) that I would find time later to prune it. Probably half of it is really worth keeping.

41ursula
Aug 2, 2016, 12:45pm Top

I can sort of answer the questions, but I don't really have a TBR.

I have a Google spreadsheet of various book lists - the 1001 list, which I actively read from, and a variety of other lists that I just enjoy seeing if there's something to check off on those. I have a list of e-books at the library which I maybe intend to check out one day.

Moving to Europe meant that I brought 7 (I think?) books with me. I acquired and read a few more, so I have maybe 12 books total.

I currently have 2 unread physical books on the shelf. No particular organization. ;) I may very well be moving next month, and I'll take both of them.

42Narilka
Aug 2, 2016, 1:45pm Top

Question 2:

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?
Only sort of. Since I joined the TBR challenge group I now have a separate pile of books pulled out specifically for that challenge. As those are read they are integrated back with the rest of the house collection. The rest of my TBR pile is only organized by the TBR tag in my LT library.

b) Does one category predominate?
It matches my general reading preferences.

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?
Not really. Most of the other eras have either been read or culled. My TBR is reasonably current.

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?
All of it :)

43Caroline_McElwee
Aug 2, 2016, 4:17pm Top

Q2: TBR

A) As 70% of books I own are tbr, they are everywhere!

B) no, it's a mixture of all interests.

C) see B)

D) dog forbid I'd have to move in a month, it would take six at least to organise, or an army.

44ELiz_M
Edited: Aug 2, 2016, 10:10pm Top

2: We all have TBR piles, be they physical or virtual or both. Taking a look at your own

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?

Yes and no. 1001-list tbr is arranged by publication date -- most recent in top left of shelve through oldest on the bottom right. Non-1001-list books are piled indiscriminately next to the 1001-bookshelf or in the the theater bookcase, if they are theater-related

b) Does one category predominate?
Fiction

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?

Not really -- most previous interests have long since been gone. Except the plays; I still have a fair number of plays I haven't read.

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?

I moved 8 months ago and out of 1300+ books, about 900 fit into the MUCH smaller apartment. I can't imagine moving anywhere smaller than the current place, so next time they are all coming with me.

45AlisonY
Edited: Aug 4, 2016, 3:13pm Top

Question 2:

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?
They tend to end up mixed in with read books on my bookshelves, which are broadly organised by room (living room - big hard-backed fact books which are mainly interior design, cookery, gardening or travel books; office - everything else). In the office I try to keep authors together, and have a space for classics, general fiction and business / other.

b) Does one category predominate?
Literary fiction

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?
Most of them reflect my long-loved interest in literary fiction and interior books. Others are mainly short-lived eras of interests. The 'Learn Italian' books (interest - short-lived Italian boyfriend). Various business books hardly leafed through (extremely short-lived really-should-learn-but-not-that-into interests in Visual Basic programming, Six Sigma, etc.). Book of Love Poems (very short-lived attempt at early romance with my husband who looked at it perplexed as if I'd just wrapped up a poo for him one Valentine's Day at the start of our relationship).

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?
I tend to cart them from house-to-house with me, but I am getting better at purging books which don't deserve a place on my shelves. I keep the ones that I hope my kids will enjoy when they're older.

46Nickelini
Aug 5, 2016, 12:53pm Top

Question 2:

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how? AND b) Does one category predominate?


I keep my TBR books separate from the books I've read. I have a small second closet in my bedroom. It contains what I guess is best described as literary fiction. Also my short story collections. I also have some large baskets stacked under my bedroom window with non-fiction and a few childrens and YA novels I may read someday. In my upstairs hall is a bookcase with all my 1001 List books on the top two shelves and CanLit on the bottom. In my basement TV room is a floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall bookcase that has an assortment of books I've read and some TBR books that I may never read. My books on writing are at the desk in the same room.

The books I've read that I love are in my living room bookshelves. TBR books never go there.

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?

It does, but the books I've culled are the ones where I've lost interest in the topic or non-fiction books that are no longer relevant.

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?

I've culled recently, and I'd cull some more, but most of it would go with me.

47japaul22
Aug 5, 2016, 1:21pm Top


a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?
I have one main place where I keep my books, a wall of bookshelves in our living room. My TBR fiction is in 1/8 of this wall. It is 3 shelves - the top is 1001 list books, the middle shelf is random fiction arranged by spine color, and the bottom shelf is overflow from the other shelves. I also have a few TBRs with collections (like my NYRB books and viragos) that I keep as a set whether they are read or not. I have a small TBR nonfiction section on another shelf, but I only have about a dozen of those - I don't tend to hoard nonfiction because I've found for me it's best read in the moment or not at all. I'd say I own roughly 200 unread books.

b) Does one category predominate?
Mainly contemporary literary fiction. I figure I can get classics for free on my kindle, so I tend to not buy them in paper form.

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?
Not really, because I've only had room to own books for the last 4 years - before that I had tiny, shared apartments.

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?
All but maybe a dozen or so that I've lost interest in. These will be donated to the library sale in the next year anyway.

.

48bragan
Aug 5, 2016, 4:52pm Top

Oh, the TBR! I swear, it dominates my life.

My answers:

a) Yes, I do have the TBR books organized, or I would never, ever be able to find any of them when I wanted them. They're basically arranged like my other shelves: fiction alphabetized by author with separate paperback and hardback sections, and non-fiction arranged by subject in a way that's completely idiosyncratic, but makes some logical sense in my own mind. Right now, the TBR takes up almost seven bookcases of various sizes, mostly located in my living room but also spilling over a bit into the kitchen and the hallway.

b) Nah, my books are eclectic. Very eclectic.

c) The TBR does contain some holdovers from when I was more into, say, certain kinds of SF than I am today, and certainly examples of things I was more enthused about when I bought them than I am right at this moment. But I don't think you can deduce much about my personal history from it or anything.

d) ALL OF IT! I admit that if I had to move again I might -- might -- have to consider a cull of the other shelves, but certainly not the ones I haven't read yet. I fully intend to read all of those someday, and they're not going anywhere until I do! Well, OK, there might be two or three I might decide I'm just not interested in anymore. But out of nearly 900 books, that's hardly going to make a difference to the number of boxes I'm going to need.

49baswood
Aug 7, 2016, 6:43pm Top

My TBR consists of three fairly small shelves, my desk and the floor. Although I am very organised in what I am going to read over the next few weeks, my physical organisation leaves a lot to be desired. I just stuff all my TBR books onto the three shelves, or leave them on my desk, or they find themselves on the floor.

My TBR certainly reflects some of the different interests in my life. Strangely enough one category does not dominate, even though it should. My interest over the last few months has centred around 16th century literature and most of the reading material is stored on the computer or on my kindle. Much of it is free.

If I was to move next month of course I would take it all with me.

50lilisin
Aug 9, 2016, 12:42am Top

a) Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?

Pre-moving to Japan my TBR books were separate from my read books. Then they were divided between in French vs in English vs in Japanese books. After that they were organized via aesthetics. Size, color, vertical vs horizontal stacking, etc.

Post-moving to Japan I only have one book case in my tiny little room so I have to organize by aesthetics and size and have no room to separate out read titles. But as I have less than 50 fiction books (everything else I own are comics), it's not so bad as it remains visually pleasing.

b) Does one category predominate?
For a long time I've only had two categories. French authors and Japanese authors. That is where my interests have been for a long time and I don't see myself going elsewhere for a while longer still. If anything, it definitely makes for easy arranging.

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?

When I still lived in the US, yes. I still had my Spanish literature books in my categories and also a lot of American fiction. Now, as I mentioned before, it's all Japanese and French.

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?

So this happened to me just two years ago when I moved here to Japan and I ended up taking 20 or so books with me. I only took those within the French and Japanese category and chose books acquired most recently as those most reflected my current interests. And when my parents came to visit me in May I had them bring another 15 books or so from my old TBR pile. I will probably, however, not bring too many more in as I just have lost interest in those books bought 10 or so years ago. And at the rate I'm reading these days (6 books a year), it's not like I'm going to run out of books any time soon.

51SassyLassy
Aug 12, 2016, 3:54pm Top

QUESTION 2

a Do you arrange your TBR books? If so, how?

Being somewhat of a compulsive arranger, at least where books are concerned, my TBR books are arranged the same way my other books are shelved, so that they are easy to find when I am looking for a particular one, but they do have their own shelves.

b) Does one category predominate?

I suspect if any one category predominated it would be either the politics of food and development, or sixteenth century history. Go figure.

c) Does your TBR collection reflect eras of different interests in your life?

Although there are archeologist worthy strata of different eras in my life, luckily they are all still interests I have, so that none would go to waste should I ever be restricted to only those books.

d) If you were to move next month, how much of it would you take with you?

I have been working at pruning the read books, but how would I know I didn't want a particular TBR until I had actually read it? They would all have to come with me.

My biggest problem with my TBR is probably of my own making. For the most part, I don't add those books to LT, so that I may find myself buying a book a second time when I am out of town and can't check whether or not it is already waiting for me at home. I take the approach that this means I probably want to read it sooner rather than later.

52dchaikin
Aug 13, 2016, 1:02am Top

My TBR is a mess, scattered through several rooms, and one would be hard pressed to work out any order or logic to it, but, of course, there is something of a logic to it. I'd would have to answer A B & C together as the books are arranged by various almost forgotten themes, with time stamps still decipherable by me despite much mixing. But, how to sum up? The sections include books from home, like from when i lived with my parents, the ones I inherited from my grandmother, the boxes my neighbor left me (he's on LT, Larry D Thomas), the boxes I picked up at library sales (which were heavy (literally) on then recent literary fiction), the various phases of purchasing I went through. There is one shelf of books on my yearly reading plan - Pynchon and Homer-etc. and, I have library stack on the dresser.

As for what I would take with me next month - hopefully everything except the library books. But, honestly, if they all disappeared, I would be really annoyed, then I would go find something else to read.

53SassyLassy
Edited: Aug 15, 2016, 4:37pm Top

This question was suggested by nickelini, based on a comment by ursula. Please comment only on synopses, not on introductions, which are a whole different kettle of fish.

QUESTION 3

synopsis

Pronunciation: /sɪˈnɒpsɪs/

NOUN

1. A brief summary or general survey of something:

'a synopsis of the insurance cover provided is set out below'

1.1 An outline of the plot of a play, film, or book

'The programme gives a brief synopsis of the plot.' *

Synopses: there they are, on the back of paperbacks, on the inside front covers, in reviews, in textbooks, in interviews, everywhere.

a) Do you read them?

b) Why or why not?

c) What do you expect from them?

d) Do they influence your decision to read the book or not?

e) Could you give a synopsis of the last book you read to a casual enquirer?


__________________________
* from Oxford Dictionaries online

54thorold
Aug 16, 2016, 2:15am Top

Synopses: there they are, on the back of paperbacks, on the inside front covers, in reviews, in textbooks, in interviews, everywhere.

a) Yes, often. But that's nothing to go by: I've caught myself reading the label on the shampoo bottle whilst showering...

b) Mostly because I'm curious about a book I haven't read, or I'm curious about what someone else thinks is important in a book I have read.

c) A blurb on the back of a book is something very different from a synopsis in an opera programme or a study guide. The latter is very straightforward - it simply has to tell you, briefly and clearly, how the characters relate to each other and what happens act by act through the course of the story, so that you don't get lost. The one on the back of the book is trickier. It should tell you enough to prick your curiosity and interest you in buying the book, of course, so it has to give at least a strong hint of what makes this book better than the one you've just put down, but it shouldn't tell you the whole story - no-one wants to be told who the murderer is before the last chapter, and some readers get neurotic about even the mildest "spoiler". It should tell you enough to help you recall whether you've already read this book, even if you don't remember the title, and it should give some reasonably clear clues about the genre of the book, its suitability for people who don't want to read about dragons, gruesome violence, hardcore gay sex, or socialist politics, and about where the book is pitched in terms of things like sense of humour, cynicism, and literary snob-value.

d) To some extent (see above)

e) Yes. I have formed the habit of doing precisely that in my mind as I read, to help me sort out my ideas about the book before I write a review.

55.Monkey.
Aug 16, 2016, 5:16am Top

Q3
a) Not normally.
b) They tend to either give away too much plot, and/or are utter marketing nonsense having nothing to do with the actual content. Worthless!
c) Well, I expect ^ so, not very much. What I expect they ought to have is a very brief(!) plot overview with some sort of hook, that is actually relevant to the book.
d) Hell no. At most I give them the most cursory glance to verify the genre/style is what I was thinking. But as I said, I think them either trash or too revealing, so what do I want with that?
e) Sure (it was Agnes Grey). But this is not always the case, there are books that don't lend well to a simple outline, there's too much going on or it's more evocative writing where a simple summary doesn't do well at explaining what's going on in the text, or whatnot.

56thorold
Edited: Aug 16, 2016, 7:34am Top

>55 .Monkey.: there are books that don't lend well to a simple outline

You can always find a way to summarise a plot ("Boy meets girl, both die"; "So much more than a story of a man chasing a whale") - the question is whether that summary is of any use by itself.

57japaul22
Aug 16, 2016, 8:56am Top

I read synopses. I find them useful overall to help me decide whether or not to read a book. Even if the actual content of the synopsis of a book isn't helpful, I judge a lot (right or wrong) by the tone of the synopsis. I don't like overly romantic or emotional books, so anything with cue words "heartbreaking" or "sweeping romance" or "in the style of (author I don't like)" gets ruled out. The only books I'd read totally blind are classics or books by authors I already know I like. Even then, though, I like to know that it's a topic that generally interests me. Right now, I still don't like anything that has to do with death of a father since I still feel too raw about losing my dad. Also, on a lighter note, I don't like books with magicians! (for no logical reason)

I would say that most of the reviews here on LT strike me as what I would consider a synopsis and I love reading them. Most, including mine, give some vague plot-points to avoid spoilers and then give the reader's emotional reaction to the book. I like reviews like this, especially once you've invested enough time in a reader here to know if you generally agree with his/her take on a book.

I can usually remember a synopsis (by my definition) of a book much longer than I can remember plot details. Even for books I love, plot details fade fast, but the emotional reaction I have sticks around almost forever.

58.Monkey.
Aug 16, 2016, 9:55am Top

>56 thorold: Ehh, I especially wouldn't call the latter a summary, but okay.

59This-n-That
Aug 16, 2016, 10:02am Top

Yes, I usually read synopses, just to form a general idea of whether I even care to add an additional book to my tbr pile. Every once in a while I come across a book summary by a publisher that gives away too many details. That is really annoying. My preference is for a synopsis to provide a short description of the plot without all the overly wordy marketing hype. For example, a novel described as "lyrical and poetic" doesn't exactly pique my interest, as that phrase has totally been overused.

If put on the spot, I hope I could provide a short synopsis of the last book I read for another interested reader.

60Narilka
Aug 16, 2016, 12:10pm Top

Synopses: there they are, on the back of paperbacks, on the inside front covers, in reviews, in textbooks, in interviews, everywhere.

a) Do you read them?
Yes.

b) Why or why not?
Mostly out of curiosity at this point. I've learned that they don't tend give an accurate representation of the book.

c) What do you expect from them?
Ideally a general idea on what the book is about.

d) Do they influence your decision to read the book or not?
Rarely. These days I look up reviews online for a more accurate book description before deciding.

e) Could you give a synopsis of the last book you read to a casual enquirer?
Yes. I try write a summary as part of my review process so have them handy for most books I've read since I started tracking my reading.

61baswood
Aug 18, 2016, 11:05am Top

Just picked up one of the books on my desk that I have half read and realised that I had never read the synopsis on the back cover. It's actually quite good.

I don't usually read synopsis because I am rarely in a bookshop, there is little point in reading a synopsis of a book that you have already bought and are planning to read.

I generally dislike most advertising and some synopsis are little more than that I think.

62Nickelini
Aug 18, 2016, 8:59pm Top

Q3 -- I suggested this question, so I guess I should attempt an answer. I've hesitated because my real answer is "I don't know." And how is that even possible? First, I have to say that in the past when I've seen people say they don't read them, I'm surprised. It just seems like a natural. You pick the book up, look at the cover, and read the blurb on the back (or on the flap). People don't do that? But then I realized that I don't necessarily either . . .

1. Often the words just swim in front of my eyes. So many blurbs are poorly written. In an attempt to not give a book away, they may be meaninglessly vague. Or sometimes they're just praise from other authors, with very little actual info about the book. Occasionally, they give something major away (I have to say this is rare).

2. Sometimes I read them part way through a book when I'm wondering where the book is going. Usually when this happens, the blurb doesn't clarify anything.

3. Sometimes I forget they are even there.

c) What do you expect from them?

I'd like them to give me an interesting and succinct paragraph or two about the high-level idea or plot of the book and why it's different from every other book out there.

d) Do they influence your decision to read the book or not?

I usually know about the books from other sources, but if I'm browsing in a book store, and a book catches my attention, I will look at the cover first, then flip over to try to read the synopsis.

e) Could you give a synopsis of the last book you read to a casual enquirer?

Usually. That's what I try to do in my comments on my ClubRead page.

63dchaikin
Aug 18, 2016, 10:03pm Top

I have negative feelings about synopses on books because they are so often so sales-y and I'm _not_ the target. But I do read them in that one particular important circumstances - when I see a book that catches my attention and I don't know anything about and I'm desperate and thankful for any information.

But, honestly, I don't think much about them. Worse, when I'm about to read a book and I take a moment to look at the cover, and then there's the blurb, and I do read it, I generally find it somehow painfully dull.

64ursula
Aug 21, 2016, 5:50am Top

Well, since I guess I had something to do with this question, I guess I should answer it!

Synopses: there they are, on the back of paperbacks, on the inside front covers, in reviews, in textbooks, in interviews, everywhere.

a) Do you read them?
Nope. I might glance at the first sentence, but I do that more out of habit or when the cover doesn't seem to be telegraphing anything and I try really hard to stop myself when I do.

b) Why or why not? As several other people have said, I find that their information value is low and their catchphrase/buzzword content is high. Once when my daughter and I were in a bookstore, we started pulling books we'd read off the shelves and reading from the backs of them to each other. It was pretty universal that had we based our decisions on the descriptions on the backs of those books, we never would have read them. They make almost all books sound really terrible.

c) What do you expect from them? Nothing, anymore! I would have expected them not to tell me anything that takes place past about page 50, and to leave out the book equivalent of clickbait like "leading her on the path to a long-kept secret".

d) Do they influence your decision to read the book or not? One of the other realizations I had was that I was very rarely being influenced positively to read a book by anything on the jacket. The sole exceptions were maybe if the setting sounded like an interesting place, but that information usually comes out somewhere or is apparent from something other than the synopsis. (If not the cover, than a specific award or a blurb like "one of the most important books about Africa".)

e) Could you give a synopsis of the last book you read to a casual enquirer? Sure, but I prefer just to lay the groundwork - main character, setting, and then just maybe what the book is about in a larger sense (the role of art in the world, feelings of loss, bonds between people and animals, whatever). I think that discovery is a big part of what makes reading enjoyable.

65japaul22
Aug 22, 2016, 11:34am Top

I'm curious for all the people who don't read the book synopses, how do you pick your books, then? Is it just semantics in that you don't use the book blurb on the actual book, but use reviews or synopses found elsewhere (like newspaper reviews, podcasts, LT reviews, word of mouth) or are you actually walking into a bookstore or library and browsing titles/covers or thinking "I feel like I heard something positive about this" and just giving it a try?

I'm so intrigued by the thought of "reading blind" but I can't imagine actually doing it.

66.Monkey.
Aug 22, 2016, 11:52am Top

>65 japaul22: I read classics, no need to get reviews/blurbs; I read non-fic on subjects/people that interest me, the title or author generally tells me what I need to know or else I'll have looked into the subject and found titles on it that people best agree on; I read "literature" that is often brought to my attention by some list or someone here who's read it or whatever, or more of an author I enjoy; I read genre fic for "fluff" and unless the writing is awful I'm pretty easy to please, it's just entertainment after all, so mostly all I need to see is that it's some sort of thriller, or mystery, or horror, or whathaveyou, to say sure I'll try it, or see that it's some romance or chicklit to say hell no you stay on that shelf.

67rebeccanyc
Aug 22, 2016, 11:58am Top

When I used to go to bookstores, I always read the blurbs when browsing. And then I would start to read the book itself to see whether I liked it. Now I rely on LT recommendations and series.

68Sace
Aug 22, 2016, 7:46pm Top

a) Do you read them?
Yes. Perhaps I depend on them too much. I get cranky when the back of the book or the Amazon descriptions seems to be more about reviewer blurbs than telling me at least *something* about the book. If I can't find a synopsis I usually won't consider buying (this is in-store; I might go home and research and then buy online.)

b) Why or why not?
Habit? I just want to have a general idea of what something is about before diving in. I guess I am not very adventurous.

c) What do you expect from them?
Bare basics. Who, when, where. Not even a "what" necessarily. I don't want the synopsis to give too much away, either.

d) Do they influence your decision to read the book or not?
They can. If it sounds too dark or doom and gloomy. If it's fantasy and the names sound too weird I'll usually put the book down. Actually, yeah. They do influence me. Like I said, I won't even give the book a try if they won't give me an idea of what it's about.

e) Could you give a synopsis of the last book you read to a casual enquirer?
No. Not for any book ever. I'm really bad at that sort of thing.

69japaul22
Aug 22, 2016, 8:18pm Top

>66 .Monkey.:, >67 rebeccanyc: That makes sense. I realized I also read a lot of classics "blind" just based on author or reputation. I guess it's mainly newly released fiction that I can't imagine reading without checking out the book blurb.

70Nickelini
Aug 22, 2016, 10:39pm Top

>65 japaul22: Most of the books I pick because I see people discuss or review them here on LT, or I read a review somewhere, or I hear someone on a podcast talk about the book, or it's on some book list that I follow, or it comes suggested to me in some other way. If I'm browsing in a bookstore and a book catches my eye, then I will read the synopsis. But that's a small number of the books that come into my house. I do read them, but usually they're so vague or full of marketing nothingness that it's like I didn't read it at all.

71ursula
Aug 23, 2016, 3:48am Top

>65 japaul22: I read from the 1001 Books list, and I don't really care what they're about, just that they're on the list. In other reading, I usually have seen them mentioned by people on LT or elsewhere. I do not read people's reviews of books I haven't read, but I will glance for a star rating or other summing-up sentence to give me an idea of if people were positive or negative about it. But often what it really boils down to is "I've seen this titled mentioned a lot". Also, I will browse the newly arrived e-books on the library website and choose based on author, title, or cover. Those selections are truly totally blind.

I rarely browse in bookstores (too much international moving), so I'm likely to only pick up something there that I've heard of.

72AlisonY
Aug 24, 2016, 3:42am Top

If I was in a book shop I would probably read the book jacket blurb, but most of my purchases are on the back of books where I've enjoyed reviews here, they're classics, or I've enjoyed a review of them in The Times.

By the time I get to having a copy of a book it's usually been on my wish list for a while and I've forgotten what it's about. I actively avoid reading the book synopsis when I'm reading it as I find they usually contain a spoiler, and I prefer to be completely surprised about how the book evolves.

73SassyLassy
Aug 29, 2016, 1:10pm Top

Question 3: Synopses

a) Do you read them?


I only read them if it is an entirely new author to me whose book I picked up for some reason in a book store.

b) Why or why not?

They have a certain sameness after a while, or else they try to make the book sound like another book which is more popular, something along the lines of " If you liked ..., you'll love..." In other words, usually no relevant information.

c) What do you expect from them?

It's more a question of what I don't expect from them. I really don't want a plot summary. If it's a new author to me, I would like a clue as to genre, so that I don't walk off with something I won't like.

d) Do they influence your decision to read the book or not?

Again, when I know nothing about a book or author, they can influence my decision, but I more often decide based on scanning a few random pages.

e) Could you give a synopsis of the last book you read to a casual enquirer?

I could, but I'm more likely to tune my discussion to what might interest the enquirer about the book, and if it is a novel, I certainly wouldn't include any critical plot elements!

74SassyLassy
Edited: Aug 29, 2016, 1:37pm Top

QUESTION 3 ADD-ON

Just for fun, and as an add-on to Question 3, see if you can identify these back cover synopses of classics, with authors' name, titles, and characters' names removed.

1. Title has recognizable antecedents in the Gothic Romance and the Newgate Novel and in popular melodrama. But out of these elements, author created an entirely new kind of novel, scathing in its exposure of contemporary cruelties, always exciting, and clothed in an unforgettable atmosphere of mystery and pervasive evil. Its major characters, --------, -------,... have become creatures of myth, and its great scenes have lost none of their power to terrify and move.

2. Character seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored relative. But she feel that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous character. Their subsequent affair scandalizes society and family alike, and soon brings jealousy and bitterness in its wake.

3. The way of life it describes is no more, but the book still lives on, as it always will -- the epic chronicle of man's struggles against injustice and humanity. With the passage of the years, the story it tells of the characters and their journey to place is not so much just the story of characters and one time, but the story of the courage and passion of all men throughout history. It is author's best novel, .. toughest and tenderest, roughest written and most mellifluous, most melodramatic, angriest and most idyllic.

75japaul22
Aug 29, 2016, 8:05pm Top

That is really hard - I feel dumb! I'll take some wild guesses and assume these are way over-dramatic synopses. When you really analyze the words you realize they don't mean anything! "struggles against injustice and humanity"??

1. Frankenstein

2. Anna Karenina

3. Moby Dick

76ursula
Aug 29, 2016, 8:07pm Top

>75 japaul22: Good guesses!

I agree that 2 could be Anna Karenina, or it could be Madame Bovary. (Or, undoubtedly, any other book about infidelity in history!) Though the mentioned relative is throwing me off a little.

77This-n-That
Aug 29, 2016, 8:12pm Top

I agree, really good guesses! Frankenstein came to mind for #1 only due to the (author created an entirely new kind of novel), but I am not sure. For the rest, hmmmm ...

78japaul22
Aug 29, 2016, 8:13pm Top

I thought of Madame Bovary too but I wasn't sure about "popularity" in the synopses.

#3 I had no idea - just tried to think of a predominantly male book with a journey. I was trying to think of something with a war or slavery to match the "struggles against injustice and humanity" but couldn't come up with anything.

79ursula
Aug 29, 2016, 8:35pm Top

Well, now that I've looked up "Newgate novel" I'm thinking maybe #1 could be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Although I'm not sure about what contemporary cruelties it might have been exposing.

80lilisin
Aug 30, 2016, 1:54am Top

I have no idea what Newgate novel could be so I couldn't even guess that one. And is Frankenstein really a Gothic romance?

I'm thinking number three is some sort of Steinbeck or maybe Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude but I really have no clue really as to any of them.

81lilisin
Edited: Aug 30, 2016, 1:56am Top

Oo!

Is number 2 The Great Gatsby?

ETA: Or maybe it's Gone with the Wind? I've never read this one so I can't be sure but it sounds very Scarlett.

82valkyrdeath
Aug 30, 2016, 4:18pm Top

I'd guess Grapes of Wrath for number 3, thanks to the bit about the journey. The first makes me think Dickens though I couldn't say a particular one.

83Oandthegang
Aug 30, 2016, 6:01pm Top

1 It's years since I read it, and I don't think all the elements fit (e.g. Newgate novels and scathing exposure of contemporary cruelties), but for an atmosphere of mystery and pervasive evil, some terrifying scenes and two major characters who have become creatures of myth, how about Wuthering Heights?

No idea about 2.

3 intrigues me. Reading the synopsis closely makes me think it is about a family or a people. The way of life is gone, which is pretty broad stroke, but there is a reference to the journey to the place being not just the story of one time, but of courage and passion throughout history, which suggests that the story could be about a particular one-off event, albeit one that could have lasted for a number of years, e.g. the Highland Clearances or the westward expansion of the USA. Are the people undertaking the journey willingly (i.e. where does the injustice fit in? the courage and passion?)? For some reason I imagine the people to be herders/drovers, but I suspect they aren't, and none of this is getting me any closer to being able to think of a book. I realize I am thinking narrowly only about nineteenth century British authors and I really should be widening the field.

This will be much more fun than counting sheep if I can't sleep tonight. (herders, sheep, there's a theme developing here....)

This is a very good quiz. You should set another when this one is solved.

84japaul22
Aug 30, 2016, 8:17pm Top

Interesting guesses, everyone! I'm particularly swayed by Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath for #3 - I lean towards an american author for this one and think Steinbeck is a much better guess than Moby Dick.

I think both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Wuthering Heights are great guesses for number 1. I still don't know what a Newgate novel is. I should look that up.

85SassyLassy
Aug 31, 2016, 10:34am Top

As >84 japaul22: says, Interesting guesses everyone! Looks like synopses work for a particular kind of story, but not so well for that particular story. Going book by book:

1. Oliver Twist



I almost didn't use this, thinking the "Newgate novel" would give it away, although possibly Great Expectations with the convict Magwitch would have fitted as well. However, one of the most memorable scenes in Oliver Twist is in Newgate the night before Fagin's execution, when Oliver visits him in his cell.

The suggestions of Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Wuthering Heights all fitted in some ways with "entirely new kind of novel", and "mystery and pervasive evil, but none had the actual Newgate connection, although there is the strong suggestion that Heathcliff has committed some awful crimes.

The etching is by George Cruikshank, the 23rd monthly illustration for the serialized novel. Image is from http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/cruikshank/ot24.html

2. Anna Karenina



As >76 ursula: says, this could be any other novel about infidelity, and Madame Bovary was an inspired guess, and Gone with the Wind also fits.

The adored relative in the synopsis is Anna's Seryozha, Sergei Karenin.

Image is from goodreads. The person who posted it says it was in her grandfather's garage.

3. The Grapes of Wrath



There is an American feel to this synopsis as >84 japaul22: suggests. Some of Cormac McCarthy's novels might fit this synopsis as well.

Apologies to >75 japaul22: and anyone else I confused, and much embarrassment from me for my typo, for putting in humanity instead of inhumanity in the description. My mind had jumped ahead and I was thinking of the Joads and their humanity.

Photo is from the 1940 film, with a 1926 Hudson converted into a truck (skipper web.org)

_______________________________

On a personal note, with regard to its great scenes have lost none of their power to terrify and move for Oliver Twist;
I first read this novel when I was nine. Between Dickens's writing and Cruickshank's etchings, I found it so terrifying that I would run from the door of my bedroom every night and leap into bed, convinced that Fagin was under the bed waiting to kidnap me for his gang. This wasn't helped at all by the shadow on the wall on the stairs up to my bedroom, which bore a strange resemblance to Fagin.

86ursula
Aug 31, 2016, 10:45am Top

>85 SassyLassy: After the last bit of conversation here and someone mentioning Dickens, I did wonder if it might be Oliver Twist! But maybe because I didn't read it when I was young, I didn't find anything terrifying. Thanks for sharing your experience with it, SassyLassy, that helps it fit together for me.

Congrats to the correct guessers! (After seeing Grapes of Wrath as a guess, it seemed to be the answer although I wouldn't have thought of it on my own.)

87SassyLassy
Aug 31, 2016, 10:45am Top

QUESTION 4



Today is the last day of August and midway through the unofficial last week of summer, the last chance to do all that reading you promised yourself you would do. Time to look back at those blissful days of reading outdoors.

a) If you had a plan at the beginning of the summer, did it actually work, or did you go off the rails completely?

b) Did you discover a completely new to you author or series out of your usual range?

c) Do you have a book or books you swear every spring you will read that summer and yet never quite manage to pick up? If so, what is the book(s)?

88Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 31, 2016, 11:14am Top

Well as I can't answer >87 SassyLassy: in any kind of interesting way as I didn't have a Summer plan this year, I'll just say that I will have completed 10 books in August, and the writer this month I have most enjoyed is Olivia Laing. I have read 2 of her 3 books: The Lonely City and The Trip to Echo Spring, and have her first book To the River on the pile and will be digging it out tonight, once book 10 is finished.

Her inciteful writing about the creative mind/spirit/soul is engaging, sometimes original, and thought provoking; and the memoir that sits behind it gives you a strong sense of who the writer is and her background and life-fight.

89This-n-That
Edited: Aug 31, 2016, 4:24pm Top

>87 SassyLassy:

a) My main plan for Summer was to continue reading some of the books I owned prior to 2016, along with library books. Since I managed to read four books fulfilling that criteria, I am okay with it. Having a formal reading plan or goal is often helpful but if it becomes restrictive, then it isn't fun anymore.

b) I discovered Daniel James Brown and very much enjoyed reading The Boys in the Boat.

c) I usually don't have a desire to read a specific book during the summer months. That usually happens more often in Autumn or Winter, when I plan to read a specific horror or holiday related book.

90Oandthegang
Aug 31, 2016, 5:20pm Top

>85 SassyLassy: Obviously I need to get back to the book and away from the movies - I don't remember Fagin being executed at all, though I had to read the book at least once for school.

Great picture to have in the garage. Obviously a better class of garage.

>87 SassyLassy: With regard to plans for reading, I've discovered that there is nothing so fatal as planning to read a book. I do best if I sort of back into it, sneak up on myself. Setting out with a plan and goals seems too much like homework and another layer of potential stress/failure attached to something that I want to think of as fun. I do agree with LisaAnn though, there's something about the approach of Autumn/Winter which brings the idea of curling up with some good books, and that's when I'm most likely to think of something I've always meant to read.

91Sace
Aug 31, 2016, 7:37pm Top

a) If you had a plan at the beginning of the summer, did it actually work, or did you go off the rails completely?
I think I had a plan at the beginning of the year and it went completely off the rails in March. By summer my goal was just to read more off my shelves than I brought home...I failed. I did read from my shelves, but I think I acquired more than I read.

b) Did you discover a completely new to you author or series out of your usual range?
Mmm. I don't think so.

c) Do you have a book or books you swear every spring you will read that summer and yet never quite manage to pick up? If so, what is the book(s)?
I have a whole stack of books I swear I'm going to read, but never seem to get around to.

I have to agree with Oandthegang: "...there is nothing so fatal as planning to read a book." Now, this doesn't mean I don't make plans. I do. That's part of the fun to me as well. I just never follow through with the plans :-)

92lilisin
Edited: Sep 2, 2016, 3:49am Top

I didn't have any plans for reading this summer and thus ended up reading a grand total of 0 books. Eh. The reading mood will come back some day. I don't miss it too much for now.

Usually though reading in Summer involves a huge book; typically a Dumas or a Hugo. Don Quixote was a great summer book during grad school but as I mentioned before, I'm just not reading at all these days years.

93Narilka
Sep 2, 2016, 11:00am Top

a) If you had a plan at the beginning of the summer, did it actually work, or did you go off the rails completely?
Nope, no plan for summer reading.

b) Did you discover a completely new to you author or series out of your usual range?
I discovered Garth Nix and his Abhorsen series. Such fun adventure stories!

c) Do you have a book or books you swear every spring you will read that summer and yet never quite manage to pick up? If so, what is the book(s)?
Nope. I have a general plan to read more from my TBR pile but that goes for the whole year, not a specific season. I read 3 this summer.

94Nickelini
Sep 2, 2016, 3:26pm Top

a) If you had a plan at the beginning of the summer, did it actually work, or did you go off the rails completely?

-- My plans are always very relaxed so I can be flexible and spontaneous. In early May I made a list of 12 books I'd like to get to this summer. I just checked and I read 6 of them, so that's actually pretty good for me. And we often have lovely summer weather into September here in Vancouver, so I don't consider summer over yet.

b) Did you discover a completely new to you author or series out of your usual range?

-- This summer I read The Women in Black by Madeleine St John and NW by Zadie Smith -- both new-to-me authors who I now want to read more of.

c) Do you have a book or books you swear every spring you will read that summer and yet never quite manage to pick up? If so, what is the book(s)?

-- For the past several years I've mentally put Cloud Atlas, Death of the Heart, and Brideshead Revisited on my summer list. This year I finally got to Death of the Heart.

95SassyLassy
Sep 5, 2016, 6:00pm Top

QUESTION 4

a) If you had a plan at the beginning of the summer, did it actually work, or did you go off the rails completely?


This summer I actually stayed reasonably on track as my plan was very minimal: keep reading the nineteenth century and read one Zola a month. Mission accomplished (until we get to part c). I guess the lesson is don't get too detailed.

b) Did you discover a completely new to you author or series out of your usual range?

I finally managed to read a book by Margaret Oliphant and know I will go back to her. Winifred Holtby was a surprise fun discovery from the All Virago All August reading.

c) Do you have a book or books you swear every spring you will read that summer and yet never quite manage to pick up? If so, what is the book(s)?

For some years I have been pulling out the wonderful Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory, thinking I will have the time it requires, but never with any success. The same holds true for Matterhorn. Maybe I should contemplate them in the winter instead.

96SassyLassy
Sep 5, 2016, 6:19pm Top

QUESTION 5

Holidays without a computer call, so here is something that may take a little while to complete. It is inspired by that great LT feature "What should you borrow?" There is a question at the end of these steps!

1. On your Profile page, you will find a section called "Members with your books". Use the weighted option. Some of these members will be from Club Read, others will not.

2. Starting with the first person listed (in my case arubabookwoman), click on the name to go to that person's profile page. In the right hand column you will see a section "Books you Share" and "Compare Books".

3. Under "Compare Books" is "What Should You Borrow?" Select that feature and note the top five to ten books.

4. Do this for each of the first five to ten members listed in (1) above.

5. This will give you several lists of suggestions. Some books will show up more than once, others won't, but note them all.

6. Now weight the suggestions, giving the most weight to the first in each list, to come up with the most frequent to 5, 10, or whatever number you chose.

7. a) Tell us what they are.

b) Are there any surprises here, or have you been meaning to get around to these books someday?

c) Would these suggestions be helpful in a reading slump?


97ELiz_M
Sep 5, 2016, 7:18pm Top

>96 SassyLassy: I think I am being told what library entries I need to fix. I have already read my most popular results:
(7 times) The Sound and the Fury
(6 times) The Princess of Cleves
(5 times) The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
(4 times) Nervous Conditions

98This-n-That
Edited: Sep 5, 2016, 9:11pm Top

1. Comparison with five LT members:

The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins: x4

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: x3

A Spool of Blue Thread: A novel by Anne Tyler: x3

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: x4

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: x2

Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson: x4

Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel: x4

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson

2. No, I am not very surprised by any of these recommendations. I am familiar with all of these titles and have some on my tbr.

3. Yes, I would consider reading some of them, especially A Spool of Blue Thread and Station Eleven.

>96 SassyLassy: Thanks for the fun questions!

99japaul22
Sep 5, 2016, 8:12pm Top

I have a few that keep popping up on each list.

The Girl on the Train is number one on all of them. I feel like the ship has sailed on this one, I probably won't read it.

These were also on most/all of the lists:
State of Wonder - I'd like to read this, loved Bel Canto
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor - definitely interested
The Nightingale - not really interested
The Lowland - I'd like to read this some day
Constellation of Vital Phenomena - very likely I'll read this at some point

I also had The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters come up a lot, which I read and must have forgotten to review.

Interesting feature to peruse! I was actually most struck by how I "know" all of the top 20 member with my books except for 3 people. I think it's neat that I've happened upon all of their threads in the various groups here.

100This-n-That
Sep 5, 2016, 8:15pm Top

>99 japaul22:
Good point, I think the ship has sailed for reading The Girl on the Train, too. I likely will watch the movie version sometime though.

101PeggyDean
Sep 5, 2016, 9:05pm Top

Interesting activity! The first list I looked at was all picture books, probably because I read a lot of these in preparation for Caldecott season. I went on to some other LT members' lists. I was surprised how heavily my suggestions were weighted toward juvenile fiction. I do read a good bit of this for my job, but was still surprised since I have not been as good this year about keeping up with children's literature. I had some Young Adult titles pop up as well. I wonder if the small number of adult titles I got is at all reflective of the fact that for 2015 and 2016 I have been participating in book challenges that have led to more diversity in my choices, If so, I see that as a good thing! I would read any of these titles; in fact, many have been on my TBR list for a while.

Juvenile Fiction:

• The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
• Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
• Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
• The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Teen Fiction:

• Uglies (Uglies Trilogy, Book 1) by Scott Westerfeld
• Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
• Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
• Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The by E. Lockhart

Adult Fiction:

• The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman
• Cutting for Stone: A novel by Abraham Verghese
• The Invention of Wings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
• The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
• The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
• Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

102dchaikin
Edited: Sep 5, 2016, 10:19pm Top

Almost all childrens' books (Corduroy and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom were the most common - and we actually own both. Oops)

The one non-childrens' that showed up a lot was A portrait of an artist as a young man by James Joyce.

103thorold
Sep 6, 2016, 3:55am Top

I'm frustrated to have missed the "synopsis game" - I would have guessed wrong, like everyone else!

The top shared libraries for me are not all that interesting, because they are all libraries that have a strong overlap with one particular bit of my collection: the first three are institutional LGBT libraries, the next two are enthusiasts for British detective stories, and the last four I checked had a lot of English classics. So almost everything that came up more than once is either something I read as a library book at some point in the forty years or so before I started tracking "read but unowned", something that I have in an omnibus edition, or something I know about but have never managed to find a copy of.

The top hits (all of which I've read) are:
- Tom Jones
- Villette
- Daniel Deronda
- Lucky Jim
- Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
- Dirk Gently's holistic detective agency
- The Radetzky March

The only things that keep coming up that I haven't ever got around to (but know about) are:
- The old devils
- Frost in May

I suppose that the most surprising thing is that nothing in the top ten of any of the lists was written in the last 20 or 30 years. Obviously I can safely put off reading The girl on the train for a few more decades...

104ursula
Sep 6, 2016, 7:47am Top

My similar libraries are strongly weighted toward people who are also reading the 1001 books list. I don't know if they've actually read the ones listed (at least on a few they were coming from a "to-be-read" tag), but the 1001 books LT thinks I need to get to right away are:

Vanity Fair (this was #1 on almost every single list)
The Shipping News
The Mill on the Floss
The Red and the Black
The God of Small Things

Another popular one (on almost all the lists) was Gravity's Rainbow. Honorable mention to Ulysses, which showed up on a couple. Not much light reading there!

Out of the few who had lists made up mostly of other books, the big hits were:

Fates and Furies
Life after Life
The Goldfinch
Olive Kitteridge

There were a few that I've read pre-LT but haven't entered, mostly Stephen King books like Salem's Lot.

They're all books on the radar, either because of the list or because they have been books that got plenty of attention, so no surprises. I don't think they would help with a reading slump because they're all either pretty heavy in terms of subject matter or pretty heavy in terms of weight, if not both!

Side note: I think only 2 of my top 10 were CR members.

105rebeccanyc
Sep 6, 2016, 11:45am Top

I looked at 5 people and the clear winner was The Death of Artemio Cruz -- 5 for 5.

Runners-up were:

A Hero of Our Time 4
The Sportswriter 4
Humboldt's Gift 4

Bel Ami 3'

106Nickelini
Sep 6, 2016, 11:56am Top

Q5 This was fun. The results are a bit wonky though because books in my TBR pile and on my wishlist are counted as if I've read them--meaning that several of the books this method finds are ones I'm aware of and am not interested in reading.

Here's what it found. I looked at the top 10 people (I "know" three of them). From these 10 libraries, only 11 books were suggested:

The Good Soldier - 8x -- I read the author's very, very, very long Parade's End at uni and didn't much like it, so I'm in no rush to get back to Ford Maddox Ford. However, I know this is much shorter and maybe one day (when I've read all my other books).

The Warden - 8x -- This title sounds soooooo boring. I've never read Trollope, and probably will one day. Didn't realize I'm supposed to start with this one.

Through Black Spruce - 7x -- Nopety nope nope. I read Boyden's Orenda and Three Day Road and that's enough to see that he isn't an author I care to read any more of, thank you very much.

Station Eleven - 6x -- I initially decided this book isn't for me, but I've been reconsidering it because it keeps popping up as a suggestion. I wouldn't be surprised if my book club picks it this coming year. My husband read it and we have a copy in the house. I hadn't entered it in LT because I'm not sure I want it in my TBR or not. This one is a maybe.

Vanity Fair - 5x -- I'm well aware that this is a hole in my 19th century British literature experience. For some reason, it has never appealed. Maybe because I saw the mediocre movie. Another one for the "one day when I've read everything else" list.

A God in Ruins - 4x -- I know this showed up because I have every other Kate Atkinson novel in my read library, TBR, or wishlist. This one just doesn't interest me.

Frost in May - 4x -- I'm aware of this novel although I know little about it. The synopsis sounds pretty meh.

The Fountain Overflows - 3x -- The only other Rebecca West I've read is The Return of the Soldier and it's one of my all-time favourite books. I'm open to reading this one as long as it's not a zillion pages long.

Jest of God - 2x, and Bird in the House - 1x -- Not sure if Margaret Laurence is for me or not and I'll decide after reading The Stone Angel, which I already own.

Daniel Deronda - 2x -- maybe after I read the other George Eliot's that I own.

107thorold
Edited: Sep 6, 2016, 2:10pm Top

>105 rebeccanyc:, >106 Nickelini:
Just for fun, I looked at both your "what should I borrow?" lists as well. Needless to say Tom Jones, Villlette, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes etc., came up again. Maybe I ought to re-read them just to put them in my library...

A couple of things came up that had only come up once before, but which it might actually be interesting to read:
- Troubles - I've read The siege of Krishnapur, but never got around to the other two in the trilogy.
- L'éducation sentimental - there probably aren't any good excuses for not reading Flaubert...
- New Grub Street - I remember someone advising me not to bother with Gissing once, but I've no idea any more who it was or why...

108Simone2
Sep 6, 2016, 3:56pm Top

Q5
Fun to do but in my case a very disappointing result. Almost all were Dutch books (with in all 10 cases the same winner, Publieke werken by a writer I don't like much), which surprises me because I have many more English books/authors than Dutch.
The only English book that came up (with just 11 points) is American Pastoral. I wonder why?

When I look at what I should borrow from the people answering this question it gets more interesting. Then the most popular books that come up, are:

If on a winter’s night a traveler 69 points: I understand this one, it is on the 1001 list
A thousand acres 54: I have no idea, I have never heard of this one
Dead Souls 47: another 1001 book
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society 41: I never felt like reading this one but as you all seem to have read it, I perhaps should
Cutting for stone 37: another one I have never heard of but I will look up
American Pastoral 26: again!
Arthur en George 23: Julian Barnes, probably because I have read more of his books
Beyond black 22: the same goes for Hilary Mantel
The idea of perfection 21: Another one unknown to me
Snow Flower and the Secret fan 18: dito
Olive Kitteridge 16: probably because I recently liked Strout's Hot Milk
Case histories 12: Kate Atkinson, who I don't like very much
The book of Ruth 11: No idea
A god in ruins 10: Atkinson again

Is certainly is very interesting to see what books some of you do have in common and I should borrow. I'll make sure to look into the books I have never heard of. Let's see whether some of then make it to the wish list!

109Oandthegang
Sep 6, 2016, 7:37pm Top

Question 5

This turned out very oddly and quite frustratingly for me because of some series that I have. I would click through to the various other libraries, see the interesting books we had in common, often across quite a wide range, and then time after time I got nothing but Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh, and Edmund Crispin - all whodunnit authors.

The first library recommended four Teys, four Marshes, and two Crispins.

The second recommended four Teys, four Marshes, and two Crispins.

The third library recommended seven Marshes, two Teys, and a Crispin.

The fourth library recommended nine Marshes and one Tey.

At the fifth library there was a glimmer of hope: five Teys, two Crispins, and The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and Plum Sauce (a Wodehousean work) by Richard Usborne.

Library six suggested six Teys, a let in a bit more light - The Priory by Dorothy Whipple, Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, Thrones, Dominations a book which I didn't know which has as authors both Dorothy L Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh, Middlemarch, and Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge - a book about which I know nothing.

Library seven recommended four Wodehouses plus Robert McCrum's biography of Wodehouse, Wodehouse: A Life, a second recommendation of Middlemarch, a second recommendation of Oscar and Lucinda and two new entries - Diary of a Nobody and Good Evening Mrs Craven.

I was hanging in because library nine was SassyLassy, and I felt sure she wouldn't be recommending endless whodunnits and Wodehouses.

Library eight's recommendations were entirely Wodehousean, - either by or about him.

At last - library nine! A second recommendation of The Stone Angel a third recommendation of Middlemarch, and the rest were all new: Troubles by J G Farrell, Possession,
The Woman In White, A Jest of God, The Mill On The Floss, A Thousand Acres, Tess Of The D'Urbervilles and one new to me, The Sportswriter by Richard Ford.

Library ten recommended four Teys, two Marshes, two Crispins, and one of the British Library Crime Classics, The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude.

I can understand why the system worked the way it did, but it was rather a pity, as it took such a narrow view of my reading.

From what was thrown up, I feel quite sure I have those Margaret Laurences somewhere, which suggests that my Canadian literature box must still be in storage, there are a couple of new books, and I was quite thrown by the Josephine Tey. I have a book London Rain by Nicola Upson, who is a contemporary writer who writes period detective stories featuring a character called Josphine Tey. I found this book very dull, in fact so dull that I had given it away once and then someone gave me another copy and although I knew I'd read it and been unimpressed I couldn't really remember anything about it. Consequently all the Josephine Tey recommendations were very annoying as I kept thinking about how dull London Rain was. I was therefore quite surprised to discover that there was a Josephine Tey who wrote detective novels back in the 'Golden Age'. So two new crime authors to try when next I get the urge - Tey and Marsh (whom I have known about for long enough, just never got there),

110thorold
Sep 7, 2016, 8:19am Top

>109 Oandthegang:
I'm not one of your top few libraries, but I see your list from me includes four books about Wodehouse, The stone angel and The stone diaries (a stony lot, these Canadians!), one French and one Nordic crime story, Middlemarch and The wind in the willows. If I were you, I'd go for the last of these :-)

Mine from you is Villette (for the millionth time!), a Graham Swift I think I've read (Last orders), six Allinghams and two Crispins!

(Don't bother with McCrum, which comes up in recommendations because it's recent and was heavily promoted - Barry Phelps's Wodehouse man and myth or Benny Green's Wodehouse a literary biography are the ones to go for, IMHO.)

111VivienneR
Sep 7, 2016, 12:54pm Top

This was really disappointing. I checked the first 6 listed and kept coming up with the same books and/or authors. Mostly mysteries, which is understandable, but I like so much more than mysteries. This exercise would have a completely different result if ratings were taken into account.

Hawkins: The Girl on the Train x5 - No

Thackeray: Vanity Fair x5 - No. I'm sure I've read this in the distant past

Louise Penny x19 - No. Didn't like any I've read

Flynn: Gone Girl x2 - No. Saw the movie, that was enough

Ngaio Marsh x25 - No

Sophie Hannah: x2- No. I don't like writers who are listed as "writing as..."

Felix Francis x1 - No. Felix doesn't compare with his father

Lauren Groff: Fates and Furies x2 - No

Edmund Crispin x5 - No

Elizabeth George x1 - No. Tried one, didn't like it.

Jaqueline Winspear: x4 - When (if) I read what I have on the shelf by Winspear I'll be finished

Reginald Hill x1 - Maybe, if I have nothing else around

Kirsten Hannah: The Nightingale 2 - I'll probably borrow this from the library some time

Griffiths: The Crossing Places x1 - Looks promising

112Caroline_McElwee
Sep 7, 2016, 4:36pm Top

Farrell Troubles x5 - for some reason I've been resistant to this novel.

Harris Gillespie and I x5 - I have one of her books in the tbr pile.

Carey Oscar and Lucinda x4 - think I read it years a go.

Maddox Ford The Good Soldier x3 read it but didn't like it (not a common response I know).

White Frost in May x3 - not crossed my mind before.

Mitchell The Bone Clocks x2 - mixed feelings about him.

On the whole, not leaping to read any of these. Wonder how the algorithm is formed.

113bragan
Sep 9, 2016, 11:10am Top

I went with the top five for each person, and my results are extremely unsurprising and also not very interesting:

Doctor Who: Full Circle by Andrew Smith (x4)
Ringworld by Larry Niven (x3)
Doctor Who and the Sontaran Experiment by Ian Marter (x3)
Doctor Who and the Ribos Operation by Ian Marter (x3)
Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive by David Fisher (x2)
Doctor Who and the Green Death by Malcolm Hulke (x2)
Brightness Reef by David Brin (x2)

First of all, I promise you, I have read Ringworld; it's not an inexplicable gap in my classic science fiction reading. I read it in my teens, but I borrowed it from a library, so I don't actually own a copy. And, speaking of classic SF, Brightness Reef is on there because it's book four in a series of which I own the first three. None of which I have gotten around to reading yet, but once I have, I'll probably start picking up the rest of the series.

As for everything else, well, the pattern there is obvious, and is attributable to the fact that I own a very large, but not complete, collection of Doctor Who novelizations. I will say that "Full Circle" is an episode I have considerable fondness for, so the algorithm is right to pick that out as a notable lack. "The Sontaran Experiment," on the other hand, is one of my least favorite episodes of the classic series, so I'm happy enough to keep passing on that one.

As others have sort of pointed out, this exercise is rather less rewarding if you've got a diverse library that happens to include a lot of books that fit into a specific niche.

114Oandthegang
Sep 11, 2016, 1:15am Top

>110 thorold:. Interesting. I checked back on the comparison, but then looked more closely at some of the suggestions that were not quite so closely tied in, just to see what the bases were. Do you think that someone who had enjoyed Emma would be a natural for liking Bleak House?

115thorold
Sep 11, 2016, 9:20am Top

>114 Oandthegang: Not necessarily. Someone who read BH on the recommendation of their law tutor probably doesn't have a high chance of liking Emma, and vice-versa for someone who came to Jane Austen via chick-lit.

But someone who owns Emma and a big stack of other British 19th century novels probably has a higher than average chance of being someone who would also be interested in BH, and I guess that's what it's really measuring.

116ursula
Sep 11, 2016, 3:23pm Top

>115 thorold: Yeah, I think that's the way it works - do you have other 19th c. English lit? You seem to have missed Bleak House!

117thorold
Sep 11, 2016, 3:40pm Top

>116 ursula: Yes, Bleak House is another book I read long ago but don't own a copy of. But I certainly have plenty of all the standard Victorian authors on my shelves.

118AlisonY
Sep 11, 2016, 6:14pm Top

I agree that ratings would be helpful in the 'what should I borrow' calculation, as some books were recommended to me even though I hated the book that seemed to trigger the recommendation. Anyway, was fun and some interesting results. In order of appearance near the top of lists:

Vanity Fair
The Goldfinch
The Mill on the Floss
Oscar and Lucinda
Villette
Possession: A Romance***
Last Orders***
Life After Life
The Narrow Road to the Deep North***
A Passage to India

Not a bad selection - many of these are either on my wish list or I would consider them. Not sure about 'The Goldfinch' after struggling so terribly with the tedium of 'The Secret History'.

Those starred are ones I'd not looked at before. I've added them to my wish list as I think they're not novels I would necessarily have picked up of my own accord, but I can see why I might enjoy them.

119Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Sep 12, 2016, 10:39am Top

>118 AlisonY: I loved Possession (must be due a reread soon), Last Orders is wry and funny. I started The Narrow Road to the Deep North but was in the wrong mood, so set it aside.

Life after Life I hadn't expected to like as much as I did, though I was less enamoured of the follow-up Alison. I liked The Goldfinch though had expected more of the art world than there was.

120thorold
Sep 12, 2016, 11:06am Top

>119 Caroline_McElwee: There seem to be a lot of Booker winners coming up in the recommendations, don't there?

121AlisonY
Sep 12, 2016, 4:32pm Top

>119 Caroline_McElwee: delighted to hear that you enjoyed many of them, Caroline, as I know I often share book tastes with you. I'm still open to being persuaded that I might like The Goldfinch even though I tried and failed 3 times to get into The Secret History.

Life After Life I will definitely have to read. There's yet to be a bad review of it on CR that I can think of, so must be a goodie.

122Caroline_McElwee
Sep 12, 2016, 4:34pm Top

I guess they are books folk have hopes of. I'm not sure I feel they are as guaranteed as I felt in the 80s, but time changes Mark.

123Simone2
Sep 14, 2016, 9:21am Top

>121 AlisonY: Well I did like The Goldfinch, although it was not one of my favourite books. You can easily live without is, just as you can without Life After Life. I felt the same as you did before reading it. Everyone was praising that book but when I read it, I thought it okay but no more than that. Just as The Goldfinch, I guess.
Possession and, especially Last Orders I did really really like!

124AlisonY
Sep 16, 2016, 4:32pm Top

>123 Simone2: interesting that you and many others have loved Possession. I had it in my hand today in the secondhand bookshop to buy, but then I did a quick flick and saw a lot of poetry in it. Eek - not a poetry lover at all.

125japaul22
Sep 16, 2016, 4:42pm Top

>124 AlisonY: I LOVED it too!

126Nickelini
Sep 16, 2016, 8:03pm Top

>124 AlisonY: I skipped the poetry. I did like Possession over all, but it took me almost 200 pages to get into it. I preferred the same author's The Children's Book.

127Simone2
Sep 16, 2016, 8:36pm Top

>126 Nickelini: I have had a copy of The Children's Book for years but I never can find the motivation to read it. I honestly don't know why, as I really liked Possession.

128japaul22
Sep 16, 2016, 9:02pm Top

>127 Simone2: I loved both of those! I did not like The Virgin in the Garden, though, which was the first book of hers I read.

129AlisonY
Sep 17, 2016, 1:29pm Top

>125 japaul22:, >126 Nickelini:, >127 Simone2: well now you have me really confused, as I think I share fairly similar reading tastes usually with the three of you.

Joyce - if you skipped the poetry does the book still make sense? Seemed like there'd be a fair bit of skipping to do - the odd poem I could have coped with, but there seemed a lot.

130Nickelini
Sep 17, 2016, 2:20pm Top

>129 AlisonY: does the book still make sense?

It did to me ;-) The poetry is the academic discoveries of the modern day characters, and I think there were parallels. I skimmed enough to get the idea, but certainly didn't read the poems properly. They're sort of a farce anyway -- supposed to be 19th c writing, but are written in the late 20th century. (Apologies to those who adore this book and the poems -- I'm just not much of a poetry person at the best of times).

Here's what I wrote in 2011:

I'm not going to give a book description or plot summary, because I think I'm the last person on LT to read Possession. It's been high on my TBR for years, and I finally fit it in. As an English major, I expected to absolutely love this book.

In the end though, I have mixed feelings about it. I think a lot of that was the timing--a bunch of academics competing over some century-old letters just seemed a bit frivolous for the mood I've been in.

What I didn't like: I had been warned that this book takes some people one-, two-, or even three-hundred pages to get into. I didn't think I'd be one of them, but I was. I was actually doing okay but then I hit chapter 10--forty-eight pages of mid-nineteenth century letters, written in italics with lots of lots of em-dashes (on one page, chosen at random, I counted 41). This made for some extremely tedious reading, and I wanted to poke my eyes out. Overall, I found the whole thing excessively wordy, and at times very show-offy and pretentious. At one point a "gentlemanly civil servant" criticizes that "they do go on so, don't you think, those Victorian poets, they took themselves so horribly seriously." My sentiments exactly. It all made me a little cranky.

What I did like: In the end, I did come away with a mostly favourable impression of the book. I love the layers of complexity. There was outstandingly beautiful imagery. The short postscript set in 1868 was pure genius. And I just loved the symbolism of all the bathrooms. I'd love to write a paper on the bathrooms in Possession.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Based on what I've said here, I know it sounds like I didn't like it all that much--I really did. I just have some reservations. I expect I'll reread this one day, and I hope that I'm not in such a grumpy mood and I won't see it as dealing with trivial things, but instead it will be grand and fabulous and important.

Recommended for: lovers of intricate, recondite, hermetic writings; lovers of literary mysteries; lovers of Victorian poetry. Also people who want to read all the Booker Prize winners.

131Nickelini
Sep 17, 2016, 2:24pm Top

>127 Simone2: I have had a copy of The Children's Book for years but I never can find the motivation to read it.

I owned it for a few years before I tackled it -- you definitely have to be in the right mood. It's packed full of imagery, people, events, art. You definitely need some energy going in.

132Simone2
Sep 17, 2016, 4:12pm Top

>129 AlisonY: I also skipped the poems most of the time and still didn't feel as if I missed anything.

>131 Nickelini: I am sure I will one day. I already love the cover, that one alone is reason to keep picking it off the shelf.

133AlisonY
Sep 18, 2016, 4:20am Top

>130 Nickelini: thanks for pasting your review. Based on your thoughts in that I'm still not 100% if I have the staying power for it. But I'm still curious....

134Simone2
Edited: Sep 18, 2016, 5:05am Top

>133 AlisonY: That's how I feel about The Children's Book!

135Caroline_McElwee
Sep 18, 2016, 7:40am Top

I really liked The Children's Book, but Byatt does demand staying power I agree.

It is a novelisation about the life of E Nesbitt, and also the community around Eric Gill. Lots of exploration about creativity, but more importantly perhaps, how the creative life impacts on the lives of the creatives children.

My only criticism was the research showed a bit in the final 100 pages, where I imagine she was told the book would be too long if she carried on as she was going, so she appears to have stuffed as much of it as she could in at the end. Still a book I would reread though.

136SassyLassy
Sep 23, 2016, 10:02am Top

Now back from a wonderful holiday and so time to answer Question 5. I went all out on this, selecting the first 10 libraries and weighting the first 10 books in each, assigning the first suggestion the greatest weight and continuing on down to the tenth. I don't know if LT assigns weights, but it made it more organized for me.

QUESTION 5

a)
a) Tell us what they are.
Six books each appeared eight times on the lists, which were remarkably consistent. The overall weighted results were:

1. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
2. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
3. Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope
4. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
5. A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
6. Phineas Finnby Anthony Trollope
7. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
8. The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope
9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
10. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

b) Are there any surprises here, or have you been meaning to get around to these books someday?

In all there were only 20 suggestions out of 10 libraries. I have a lot of nineteenth century authors, and have only read one Trollope, so it made sense that he would be suggested again and again and again.

Oscar and Lucinda was a bit of a surprise to rank that high, until I considered the subject matter and era of the plot.

c) Would these suggestions be helpful in a reading slump?

With the exception of Trollope, whom I would never tackle in a reading slump, the rest of the 20 would be reasonable suggestions in a reading slump, especially something like Mercy among the Children, on my TBR, but never read. With the exception of the Trollopes and Call it Sleep, all the suggestions are already in my TBR piles, so I wouldn't have to look far.

Obviously I should be reading more Trollope and Faulkner!

137SassyLassy
Sep 23, 2016, 10:49am Top

It was fun reading all these comments at once.

>97 ELiz_M: A little bit of literary housekeeping in preparation for winter is always a good thing. It would be terrible if someone gave you a present after checking your library and you already had the book and it just wasn't entered!

>98 This-n-That: Thanks for participating.

>99 japaul22: I had sort of the opposite experience. Other than poking around in their libraries, I didn't "know" any of the top ten on my list. None were in Club Read.

>103 thorold: Interesting point about the collections we have influencing the suggestions, but perhaps no longer being relevant. I did expect to see the odd gardening history book or book on China pop up on my lists, but not a one. Perhaps people who have such books have far greater numbers of them than I, and so there was no comparison. However, I read a fair amount of Philip Roth and company at one time and I did see suggestions based on that.

Too funny about Girl on a Train.

>104 ursula: Quite a list, but I can see how it would daunt.

>105 rebeccanyc: That's certainly a wide choice. I've noted the Carlos Fuentes book.

>106 Nickelini: You get a varied list too. I would go for the Margaret Laurence. I'm not sure why they introduce her in high school, as like Doris Lessing, I think she is someone you need some life experience to appreciate, and too many people are turned off her too early.

>107 thorold: Gissing is someone to be read.

>108 Simone2: When I look at what I should borrow from the people answering this question it gets more interesting.
Nice approach. I should try it that way. I also like the idea of using the top ten similar Club Read libraries. I will try that to see if there is a significant difference.

>109 Oandthegang: Glad to see I didn't disappoint and I do indeed recommend all those books!

>110 thorold: (a stony lot, these Canadians!)
I have a great photo of two people next to a sign saying "Most Canadians sleep on hard rocks". It cracks me up every time, but it is actually from the Geological Service or some such agency, explaining the Canadian Shield. I think of it whenever I go camping and those rocks are just a little too intrusive.

>118 AlisonY: Had to look up The Narrow Road to the Deep North

____________________

Although it would have no bearing on the results, one of the things I did was look to see if there was a geographical concentration of the top 10 libraries on my list, wondering if perhaps I had stumbled into some group I didn't know, who perhaps all lived in Trollope land. It wasn't so. I found people from Hong Kong to Canberra to Ottawa.

138This-n-That
Sep 23, 2016, 10:58am Top

>137 SassyLassy: Thanks for posting the questions. That was fun!! :)

139SassyLassy
Sep 23, 2016, 11:09am Top

Based on the discussion around >129 AlisonY: ...if you skipped the poetry does the book still make sense? , lilisin has suggested this next question about skipping.

QUESTION 6

Authors make use of various methods to give us clues or forward the plot. Among these are epigraphs at the beginning of chapters or at the beginning of a book; and insertions in the actual text, things like quotations from other sources, or bits of popular songs, haikus, or poetry, whether by the characters themselves or another writer altogether, or even by an imaginary writer.

a) Do you read epigraphs or skip them all together?

b) If you read them, do you use them as literary pointers in your reading?

c) If the author inserts poetry or quotations into the work, do you read those?

d) If the insertion is by one of the characters, does it add to the character development?

e) If the insertion is the character quoting another source, do you look for information on that external source?

f) If the insertion is a song you don't know, do you try to come up with a tune to accompany it?

140.Monkey.
Sep 23, 2016, 3:26pm Top

Q6
I read everything in a book. If a character quotes something, sure, it can be development. No, I don't go looking up random quoted things, unless they were to really appeal to me and I was interested in knowing more.

141bragan
Sep 23, 2016, 6:59pm Top


My answers to Question 6:

a) I read the epigraphs. I read everything. It would never for a moment occur to me not to.

b) Is this asking whether I see something quoted in a work of fiction and then go out and read the thing quoted from? I don't think I have ever done that, although I couldn't definitively swear to it.

c) See part a!

d) Hopefully it should add to the character development, or at least fit with the characterization. If it doesn't, it may be out of place.

e) I suppose I may have looked up information on a source being quoted at some point in my life. I probably have. But it's not something I generally think about doing. Although if a book quotes a line of song lyrics or poetry and something in the back of my brain is going, "That's naggingly familiar, what is that from?", I might have to go and look it up just to put my mind at rest.

f) I don' t usually try to, but maybe once in a while I can't help it.

142japaul22
Sep 23, 2016, 8:03pm Top

a) Yes, I read epigraphs.

b) I often don't see a connection between the epigraph and the chapter or the book as a whole. If this is a case, I sometimes skim them or read them so fast they don't mean much.

c) Poetry makes my eyes glaze over. I almost always skim or skip poetry and songs that are inserted unless I think they might be important to furthering the plot. I think that is rarely the case, though.

d) Often not which is why I don't read them!

e) Not often. This is something I might have done back in college, but now I tend to read for pleasure, not literary analysis.

f) only when reading to my kids! Recent examples are Winnie the Pooh and Bread and Jam for Frances.

143VivienneR
Sep 23, 2016, 10:27pm Top

a) Do you read epigraphs or skip them all together?
I usually read everything, I will even look up something in the index to find out how inclusive it is

b) If you read them, do you use them as literary pointers in your reading?
Not always.

c) If the author inserts poetry or quotations into the work, do you read those?
I skim poetry unless it is from a favourite poet or poem; read quotations.

d) If the insertion is by one of the characters, does it add to the character development?
Sometimes.

e) If the insertion is the character quoting another source, do you look for information on that external source?
Often, especially if the topic is of interest or if it is something I'd like to know more of.

f) If the insertion is a song you don't know, do you try to come up with a tune to accompany it?
I hate to admit it, but yes. I love it when I know the song.

I remember there was one book that started each chapter with a few lines "sung to the tune of..." that annoyed me to bits. I gave the book a bad review and low rating.

Long introductions, while useful and of interest, can be annoying too. I'm always anxious to get to the book.

144This-n-That
Sep 23, 2016, 11:22pm Top

a) Do you read epigraphs or skip them all together?
I read them and sometimes they are the best part the book. (E.g. Flight Patterns)

b) If you read them, do you use them as literary pointers in your reading?
It depends if I understand what the connection is to the story.

c) If the author inserts poetry or quotations into the work, do you read those?
Yes, usually.

d) If the insertion is by one of the characters, does it add to the character development?
Sometimes it helps the reader to understand a character better.

e) If the insertion is the character quoting another source, do you look for information on that external source?
If I am really interested in the story, then I occasionally do. It can ruin the flow of a story to stop and look up information, so I have to make a mental note to do it at the end of my reading session.

f) If the insertion is a song you don't know, do you try to come up with a tune to accompany it?
No, but I might try to look the song up and listen to it. :)

145lilisin
Sep 24, 2016, 6:51am Top

I asked this question because I often tend to skip these things.

I haven't read much fantasy but when a bard would sing his song or trolls decided they needed to sing the song of their people I kind of just rolled my eyes and skipped those parts. Harry Potter also had some of these scenes if I remember correctly and those were also skipped. (Same in movies. I don't know why but I just dislike singing by characters in movies -- this doesn't mean a dislike in musicals, those are a different category.)

I mostly skip poetry and most of what I've come upon doesn't enhance the reading experience at all plus I'm not a huge poetry fan to begin with. So poems in Victor Hugo's works, I skip. The haikus in Tale of Genji and Taiko, for example, were pivotal to the action so those I read and really enjoyed.

So as a whole I do tend to skip these segments but I will usually do a quick skim to see if there is any pertinent information.

References to actual real songs I don't bother looking them up. Either I know the reference or I don't. Usually you get a feel for the scene without having to look it up anyway.

146thorold
Sep 26, 2016, 5:04am Top

Book-level epigraphs - I always look at these, they very often tell me something interesting, even if it's only where the author got the title from. A lot of the time, the epigraph gives an idea of what the central argument of the book is going to be about: in a non-fiction book it's often one or more statements of the view the author is (dis-)agreeing with; in a novel it establishes a context, and sometimes gives you a hint of how seriously you are intended to take what follows (a book with an Ogden Nash epigraph has to be read in a different way from one that quotes Theodore Adorno...).

Chapter-level epigraphs tend to be less interesting. You mainly get them in 19th century novels, and a few authors make them do useful work (e.g. Melville, George Eliot), but a lot of the time they just seem to be banal sentiments from a quotations dictionary (or, e.g. from Scott or Kipling, quasi-random fragments from the author's poetic slush-pile). I've rarely seen interesting chapter epigraphs in 20th century novels (often it's just antiquarian showing-off), but they can be quite important in academic non-fiction.

I'm interested in poetry anyway, so I do tend to take notice of interpolated bits of verse. Especially in something like Possession, where it's both relevant to the plot and a clever pastiche. And I enjoy things like the snippets from Border ballads in Scott and Dorothy Dunnett. If a piece interests me, I quite often look it up to find out more about the who, when and where. I don't really have enough musical imagination to make up tunes for songs in the text, but (especially since I discovered Spotify) I do quite often try to find a recording when a piece of music is mentioned in a book. I don't know what my neighbours think when they hear me listening to East German political anthems...

147ursula
Sep 26, 2016, 7:01am Top

a) Do you read epigraphs or skip them all together?
b) If you read them, do you use them as literary pointers in your reading?


I love the epigraphs at the beginnings of books. They often give me an idea of the author's thinking, or as >146 thorold: says, where the title comes from.

c) If the author inserts poetry or quotations into the work, do you read those?
d) If the insertion is by one of the characters, does it add to the character development?
e) If the insertion is the character quoting another source, do you look for information on that external source?
f) If the insertion is a song you don't know, do you try to come up with a tune to accompany it?


I don't get along with poetry so I skim poetry at best. Really, what usually happens is I skip it entirely and then convince myself that I should skim it in case there's something important contained in it. But then I don't get anything out of it so I repeat the process if they do it again and, going forward, I just skip over it and resign myself to possibly missing something. The quote would have to be pretty intriguing for me to look up more information. It's probably happened, but I can't think of an example offhand.

I've definitely tried to come up with a tune to accompany song lyrics. Most of the time it's because the lyrics read awkwardly to me and I'm trying to imagine what kind of melody would smooth them out. "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" in The Shining was one of those.

148SassyLassy
Oct 2, 2016, 7:21pm Top



QUESTION 7

A recent comment on a CR thread that "the ship had sailed" for reading a particular book leads to these questions:

a) Do books have a "best before" date?

b) If they do, what kinds of books would fall into this category?

c) Do you read memoirs, letters, diaries, or other first person accounts of events from the past, books like Ten Days that Shook the World, or The Diary of Samuel Pepys?

d) Do you think such books have value today?

e) What book(s) have you read that you feel are past their prime (this does not include books that are just plain stinkers!)?

149Narilka
Edited: Oct 2, 2016, 11:03pm Top

QUESTION 7

a) Do books have a "best before" date?

I think they can, yes.

b) If they do, what kinds of books would fall into this category?
I have problems reading old books about science that have been proven wrong. Same thing with old scifi classics - if modern science has proved the old science "fiction" wrong or the theory has since developed into science fact and works differently, then it will take me straight out of the story. For example, I had issues reading the 3rd Divergent book due to the quasi-genetic scientific explanation used for their social experiment.

c) Do you read memoirs, letters, diaries, or other first person accounts of events from the past, books like Ten Days that Shook the World, or The Diary of Samuel Pepys?
Yes.

d) Do you think such books have value today?
Yes, definitely. History should be remembered and learned from. I was just reading a discussion on another forum about Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and how important it is.

e) What book(s) have you read that you feel are past their prime (this does not include books that are just plain stinkers!)?
I'm sure I have but it's been a while. I have been staying away from books I think will be like this for the last few years.

150Nickelini
Oct 2, 2016, 10:51pm Top

Still back on Q 6
a) Do you read epigraphs or skip them all together?


I at least try, but often they are cryptic or have little relevance until I've read the book. Sometimes I go back and reread them after I've reached the end.

b) If you read them, do you use them as literary pointers in your reading?

I suppose, although often they're just too disjointed from the first chapter that they don't mean much up front and then I forget them.

c) If the author inserts poetry or quotations into the work, do you read those?

Always try, but quickly abandon them if they're not working for me.

e) If the insertion is the character quoting another source, do you look for information on that external source?

If I'm invested in the book or character, yes. If it's something intriguing, yes. So easy to do with google at our fingertips.

f) If the insertion is a song you don't know, do you try to come up with a tune to accompany it?

I'm not that musically creative, but if it's a real song, I might look it up. I did that recently in Swing Low when she mentioned her father's favourite hymn (which was ironic and reflected on his character).

151thorold
Oct 3, 2016, 4:19am Top

QUESTION 7

a) Do books have a "best before" date?
I find that a misleading metaphor: unlike groceries, books don't have a built-in decay process, so if their impact changes it's the world around them that has changed, not the content of the book. But it obvously does happen.

b) If they do, what kinds of books would fall into this category?
In non-fiction it's very easy to see how books written to give useful information to a wide audience can change to being interesting only as documents of their time - just think about the old travel-guides you see in the boxes outside secondhand bookshops. Or manuals for things no-one uses any more, physics books written before the 1920s, schoolbooks from a couple of generations ago, etc., etc.
Fiction is more difficult to pin down, but I would think about books that had a big impact when they were published because they opened up topics that were in the forefront of people's minds at the time, but which we now read mainly as curiosities, or as "the book that inspired..." - things like Clarissa, Werther, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Roots, Invisible man, Dancer from the dance, Last exit to Brooklyn, Lady Chatterley's lover, ...

c) Do you read memoirs, letters, diaries, or other first person accounts of events from the past, books like Ten Days that Shook the World, or The Diary of Samuel Pepys?
Yes - I have a long-standing weakness for letters and memoirs, especially 19th-century ones.

d) Do you think such books have value today?
Yes

e) What book(s) have you read that you feel are past their prime (this does not include books that are just plain stinkers!)?
I (re-)read Werther and L'étranger this weekend! Both still trememdously worth reading, but they don't have anything like the impact now that they had on their first generation of readers.

152.Monkey.
Edited: Oct 3, 2016, 4:51am Top

Q7
a) Do books have a "best before" date?
I think >151 thorold: said that pretty well. However, even when the world has changed, I think it's quite rare for a book to no longer be worthwhile, because even old science/history that has since been shown wrong, still shows us how people used to think. I think it's quite interesting flipping through old encyclopedias to see what random outdated stuff they say that now we think of us crazy.

b) If they do, what kinds of books would fall into this category?
As I said, science/history are pretty much what's there. The only other thing are fiction books that were important to their time but are now just ...bad. Like Oroonoko, the "first English novel" written by the "first known professional female writer," which afaic is just a short racist piece of dreck, but back then it was even a sort of an anti-slavery piece etc. But I vehemently disagree that things like mentioned in 151 are "mainly curiosities" now. They (at least some of them, two I've not heard of) are important pieces of work that ought to be read.

c) Do you read memoirs, letters, diaries, or other first person accounts of events from the past?
Of course.

d) Do you think such books have value today?
Of course.

e) What book(s) have you read that you feel are past their prime (this does not include books that are just plain stinkers!)?
The one I mentioned above. But I find this quite a rare thing. If a book has literary merit, that doesn't simply disappear. I think it really only applies to things that got big & important for being the "first" of something, and that's the only reason they're still remembered, as opposed to for their actual quality.

153thorold
Oct 3, 2016, 7:16am Top

>152 .Monkey.: I must have been typing too quickly this morning - "mainly curiosities" is wrong. I think what I meant was more that they aren't quite as transformative for us as they were for their first readers, because the battle has already been fought. I certainly didn't mean to imply that reading them nowadays has no value!

154.Monkey.
Oct 3, 2016, 8:43am Top

True, they don't have the same impact once they're more of a piece of cultural history that we've moved forward from.

155Nickelini
Oct 5, 2016, 3:20pm Top

QUESTION 7

A recent comment on a CR thread that "the ship had sailed" for reading a particular book leads to these questions:

a) Do books have a "best before" date?
b) If they do, what kinds of books would fall into this category?
e) What book(s) have you read that you feel are past their prime (this does not include books that are just plain stinkers!)?


By "best before," I read as "lost their freshness" and absolutely. What immediately comes to mind are those books that are hot and everybody is reading one year -- they may or may not have staying power, but mostly not. One recent book that strikes me this way is Gone Girl -- I think its days are dwindling. Pretty much everyone who wants to read that book has read it already. You can look at any bestseller list from years ago to see more examples, but to illustrate my point, I'll suggest Love Story, Clan of the Cave Bear, Roots, and the entire works of Mary Stewart and Sidney Sheldon. These are just a few examples.

It doesn't mean no one will ever read them again, or that they have no merit. Another book I'd add to that list is Snow Falling on Cedars, but despite that, I still plan to read it one day.

Currently I'm reading a Canadian novel, October, by Richard Wright, which was published in 2007. I'm beginning to think this one is past its prime because one of the major plot points is the controversial doctor-assisted suicide. Except it's 2016, and doctor-assisted suicide is legal in Canada and isn't considered all that controversial now--the vast majority of Canadians support death with dignity. So the subject is no longer provocative. Doesn't make it a bad or worthless novel, but it's not fresh.

156Oandthegang
Oct 6, 2016, 4:36pm Top

>155 Nickelini: Very well put. I've been thinking round this question without being able to frame a response, but my thoughts are much along the lines of yours.

Another thing I wondered about was how some books belong to a particular period, but also, through fashion perhaps, there are times when everyone is reading a particular author and then s/he is dropped. In the former category I would include White Noise and The Names (which for no obvious reason Touchstone thinks is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). I read both DeLillos when they came out in the eighties - in lovely Picador editions if I remember rightly - and while I still have both books and think of them fondly I can't imagine rereading them as I doubt they would have the same impact now. DeLillo is still widely read, though someone should rein him in on the increasing volume of his volumes. Back in the eighties public transport was full of people reading various books by Italo Calvino but now I seldom see anyone reading him. The eighties rush might just have been his books being newly translated into English. I can imagine sitting down to reread some of his books at any time.

There are also the books that people seem to read at particular points in their lives, and if one has passed that stage without reading such a book it can no longer be a match for you. The ship may have sailed but you were no longer heading that way anyway.

157SassyLassy
Edited: Oct 11, 2016, 9:52am Top

QUESTION 8



This year's Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded on Thursday, October 13th. The list of contenders is not revealed until years later, so there is no way of knowing who the favourites are.

a) Tell us who you would select for this award and why.

b) If you wish, have a go at writing up your own Nobel citation.

c) Come back when the winner has been named and give us your thoughts.

d) What author(s), now dead, should have won in the past?


Here is a link to previous winners and a bit of the citation for each: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/

____________

Edited to add part d

159thorold
Oct 11, 2016, 2:37am Top

Just about all the good candidates I can think of are either dead or have won it already: the few who aren't ineligible for those reasons probably won't win for the reasons given in the article Dan cites.

I hope Javier Marias wins eventually, but as Shephard says, he's probably still a bit too young.

For the sake of mentioning a name, I'm going to nominate Les Murray, even though he's male and from an English-speaking country. Poets are under-represented, and he's a poet with enough standing to be a credible winner, but enough sense of humour to subvert the whole thing and keep it in proportion.

What I really hope is that the winner will be someone I've never heard of but will enjoy once the Nobel Committee make me aware of their existence. Preferably someone from China, Africa, or the Indian subcontinent. Murakami, Bob Dylan, Joyce Carol Oates and the rest don't need either the publicity or the money!

160This-n-That
Edited: Oct 11, 2016, 12:10pm Top

>158 dchaikin: Interesting article. I noticed they mentioned Thomas Pynchon. :)

I won't even hazard a guess to the question of who should or could win. The whole process sounds very complex and political.

161dchaikin
Oct 11, 2016, 10:12pm Top

Pynchon has as about as much a chance as Jodi Picoult.

I certainly haven't got a clue.

Interesting that of the (very small number of) Nobel Prize winners I've read, I've really enjoyed them all. Can't say that for others awards. Like Mark, I hope they have chosen someone I haven't heard of and would enjoy discovering.

162lilisin
Oct 12, 2016, 7:37am Top

I don't know who will win but I know who won't win: Haruki Murakami. Every year people want him to win but while he is popular and writes good general fiction he has written nothing with bite, with gusto; something that makes you stop reading so you can pause over his words. That is not his style and that's not a bad thing; it just means it's also not a Nobel Literature Prize style.

163thorold
Oct 13, 2016, 7:29am Top

Hmmm. So we were all wrong, especially Mr Shephard.

Obviously the Swedish Academy decided it needs a bit of publicity, even if Bob Dylan doesn't...

164SassyLassy
Oct 13, 2016, 7:41am Top



Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American tradition"

My own choice would have been Ismail Kadare, but Bob is fine with me.

165dchaikin
Oct 13, 2016, 7:48am Top

Ok then...

166Nickelini
Oct 13, 2016, 10:31am Top

Colour me not impressed.

167thorold
Oct 13, 2016, 10:42am Top

The Guardian quotes a lovely tweet from Irvine Welsh: "I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies."
Sounds as though he might have been half-hoping for a call from Stockholm too...

168LolaWalser
Oct 13, 2016, 10:50am Top

Interesting that he seems to think hippies were exclusively male. The seven members and associate members of the committee for the literature prize this year include three women, incidentally.

There is nostalgia in awarding the Nobel to Dylan, but I don't think it's "ill-conceived" in the least; quite the contrary.

169thorold
Oct 13, 2016, 11:36am Top

Nostalgia belongs to the Nobel: most laureates seem to get it very late in life. The only real argument for not giving it to Dylan is that it seems to be completely redundant. What does he need more recognition and a big pile of cash for? The same applies to Churchill. In those cases, you wonder whether the committee sees the award more as a way to promote itself than as a way to promote literature.

Anyway, it's up to them to decide how to use the award, not us...

170LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 13, 2016, 11:58am Top

>169 thorold:

I think it's helpful to change the end of the scope here--instead of seeing it as a prize "for the winner", think of what a prize for this or that winner means for, i.e. to the public.

I never saw Nobel as being about the cash (however pleasant a windfall that may be to many of its recipients); I doubt anyone writes for the chance of getting the Nobel money.

As I just posted elsewhere (and on other occasions too), I think the common perception of the Nobel as some kind of race that a "best" person can win is utterly wrong and misleading. They are all "best" in some sense or another, the question is "best for what".

171dchaikin
Oct 13, 2016, 1:15pm Top

I thought the Nobel was supposed to encourage further work by the author, scientist or whatever. That's part of the logic behind giving it only someone living. Seems too late for Dylan. (??) A lot of other winners are past their most creative years too.

I found it interesting that Dylan was ever considered and, actually, the more I think about it the more I like that he won. Gives a different path for other authors to think about more seriously. It's not just about the novel - especially considering the online world. When does a blogger win?

172tonikat
Oct 13, 2016, 2:36pm Top

I'm very happy about this.

I'm against literary competitions though, but I'lll soon get over that.

Then go back to disliking literary competitions.

173LolaWalser
Oct 13, 2016, 3:17pm Top

>171 dchaikin:

I thought the Nobel was supposed to encourage further work by the author, scientist or whatever.

Not in the least. The literature prize in particular is famously awarded for one's entire œuvre.

When does a blogger win?

When a blogger becomes as important as Dylan.

174thorold
Oct 14, 2016, 6:13am Top

>170 LolaWalser: (and Lola's post on Darryl's thread)

Yes, that makes sense. The award has obviously made a lot of people very happy, and that's not something to ignore.
I do wonder a little bit how we would have felt if they'd decided to give the award to someone who had a large popular following among people we don't like, though...?

On reflection, my initial rather negative reaction is probably because - for whatever reason - I approve of Dylan "in theory" as a kind of subversive political institution, but don't have any kind of emotional engagement with his creative work. It's just not the kind of music I ever felt attracted to (probably simply by accident of time and place). So it felt rather as though they had decided to give the award to Amnesty International or something...

175LolaWalser
Oct 14, 2016, 1:33pm Top

>174 thorold:

how we would have felt if they'd decided to give the award to someone who had a large popular following among people we don't like, though...?

Well, the Peace prize in particular has gone to some very rum characters (Henry Kissinger??? OFF WITH HIS HEAD!) but the prize has been consciously ethically high-minded by design from its inception. Moderate conservatives like Vargas Llosa can win, but I'm pretty sure no outspoken fascist could. Hamsun got his in the twenties; that would not have happened post-war.

I approve of Dylan "in theory" as a kind of subversive political institution, but don't have any kind of emotional engagement with his creative work.

This is pretty similar to how I feel (for various reasons, most to do with when I was born, I can't say I really heard anything of his until the mid-eighties), but that actually only goes to show how potent are the charm and message of his protest years, how necessary for our ability to hope, when even the non-involved and the late-born are aware and appreciative of them. Dylan means something even to non-fans.

176SassyLassy
Oct 18, 2016, 8:39pm Top

QUESTION 9

For various reasons, from time to time we all succumb to the need for some self indulgent reading, perhaps tossing aside great authors and books, or perhaps returning to a favourite classic, all in the search for just plain comfort.

a) Do you have a particular genre you fall back on, such as whodunnits, short stories, poetry, sci-fi, romance, you name it?

b) Is there a particular author(s) who always rewards in such circumstances?

c) If you do have a favourite comfort book, what is it? (or what are they?)

d) Do you read in a different spot than you normally do?

e) Are there other required items for this to be a successful read, a sort of ritual retreat?

177.Monkey.
Oct 19, 2016, 4:17am Top

Q9
a)
Basically, genre fic. Horror/thriller and mystery/whodunnit are most prevalent, but it could be scifi etc.
b) Too many to bother trying to name.
c) No. I nearly never reread.
d) No. I can read anywhere, I don't care in the least. My most typical spot is just sitting here, at my desk.
e) No.

178thorold
Oct 19, 2016, 9:25am Top

QUESTION 9 - comfort reading

For "normal-strength" relaxation (e.g. Sunday evenings when I don't want to start thinking about Monday...) I usually have a genre of the moment on the go - for the last couple of years that has been continental (mainly French or Nordic) crime, but it goes through phases - British crime, historical fiction, Patrick O'Brian, Terry Pratchett, etc. have all been there at various times. For more serious relaxation (times of high stress, hospital visits, that sort of thing) I often re-read old favourites, usually P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, maybe Trollope or Dickens.

"Normal-strength" could be anywhere (boat, train, under a tree in the dunes) but is often at home on the sofa, with something reassuring and relatively undemanding, like Haydn quartets, playing in the background.

If I need the heavy-duty comfort reading it probably means I don't get to choose where to read.

179Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Oct 19, 2016, 10:11am Top

I’m well behind on these, but will start with the last one:

QUESTION 9

For various reasons, from time to time we all succumb to the need for some self indulgent reading, perhaps tossing aside great authors and books, or perhaps returning to a favourite classic, all in the search for just plain comfort.

a) Do you have a particular genre you fall back on, such as whodunnits, short stories, poetry, sci-fi, romance, you name it? When I think about it more non-fiction, and often about place.

b) Is there a particular author(s) who always rewards in such circumstances? Lots, including Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, F Scott Fitzgerald, May Sarton, Helene Hanff to name but a few. I am a re-reader – you never read the same book twice, your experience changes/enhances what you read, or you simply see things you missed before.

c) If you do have a favourite comfort book, what is it? (or what are they?)
I’ve read The Great Gatsby 35+ times, read it most years for the quality of writing. I still find sentences I don’t remember reading before.

I think the common thing with my comfort reads is tone. Out of Africa (Dinesen), 84 Charing Cross Road (Hanff), A Postilion Struck by Lightening (Dirk Bogarde), Plant Dreaming Deep (Sarton) are among the non-fiction. In fiction aside from Gatsby, On the Black Hill (Bruce Chatwin), Mrs Dalloway (Woolf) (and Cunningham’s The Hours), Middlemarch (Eliot), The Railway Children (E Nesbitt).


d) Do you read in a different spot than you normally do? No, reading chair or laying on my bed.

e) Are there other required items for this to be a successful read, a sort of ritual retreat? well in winter, a hot toddie is good!

I’m going to add an (f) what do you think leads you to want a comfort book (other than circumstance): For me the main reason is a trusted voice. It’s not necessarily about needing something gentle, just something that won’t let me down, whether in tone/writing or the feeling it leaves me with. Also, if I’ve had a good run of reading, but not what I perceive as fine writing – out comes Gatsby.

180timjones
Oct 23, 2016, 1:12am Top

Question 9:

For me it's almost always whodunnits - cosies, or at least, light on the violence. Everything else about where and how I read stays the same.

181This-n-That
Edited: Oct 26, 2016, 9:57am Top

a) Do you have a particular genre you fall back on, such as whodunnits, short stories, poetry, sci-fi, romance, you name it?
It varies depending on how I am feeling. Sometimes it is romance, a short classic or poetry inspired by nature. The feature they unusually have in common, is a light or inspirational story without a lot of heavy drama, turmoil or violence. If that doesn't suffice, then I take a break from reading altogether.

b) Is there a particular author(s) who always rewards in such circumstances?
Not any that I consistently return to, since I don't do a lot of rereads. Maybe Jane Austen, Rosamunde Pilcher, Elizabeth Gaskell or E.M. Forster would be candidates, depending on the specific novel I have in mind to read.

c) If you do have a favourite comfort book, what is it? (or what are they?)
Little Women, the Harry Potter series, Cranford and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

d) Do you read in a different spot than you normally do?
No, I usually stick to my favorite recliner.

e) Are there other required items for this to be a successful read, a sort of ritual retreat?
Hot tea and maybe pretzels or cookies. (Also, a blanket during chilly weather.)

182Nickelini
Oct 23, 2016, 5:27pm Top

Q9

a) & b) -- it changes over time. In the early 1980s it would have been Stephen King, in the 1990s, Maeve Binchy. Now if I want to take a break from challenging books, I'll indulge in something a little fun -- Jane Austen retellings, or novels with some humour, such as Where'd You Go, Bernadette. The kind of books reading snobs sniff at. I read enough high brown stuff, and once in a while it feels good to let down my proverbial literary hair. I also like mid-twentieth-century novels by women--Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Drabble, etc.

c) - Right now my ultimate comfort read is Pride and Prejudice, and a long with that, other novels from the 19th century.

183dchaikin
Oct 23, 2016, 10:00pm Top

a) Do you have a particular genre you fall back on, such as whodunnits, short stories, poetry, sci-fi, romance, you name it? I can never figure this out. When I break down I seem to fall into straight forward history books.

b) Is there a particular author(s) who always rewards in such circumstances? not sure

c) If you do have a favourite comfort book, what is it? (or what are they?)no. : (

d) Do you read in a different spot than you normally do? Anywhere quiet without kids, or noisy without kids.

e) Are there other required items for this to be a successful read, a sort of ritual retreat?coffee is always welcome.

184Oandthegang
Edited: Oct 25, 2016, 10:53pm Top

a) Do you have a particular genre you fall back on, such as whodunnits, short stories, poetry, sci-fi, romance, you name it?
When I'm feeling unsettled - too much work, builders in, etc. - I often purchase random whodunnits, usually vintage, but not always. When I need proper comfort I look to the authors in (b).

b) Is there a particular author(s) who always rewards in such circumstances?
I would reach for Austen, Wodehouse, or Dorothy Sayers. Wodehouse is the more unreliable, as I have many books of his yet to read, but while some will have me weeping with laughter I find others somewhat dull. So perhaps a new Wodehouse when I'm starting to get low, but an established favourite when it gets bad.

c) If you do have a favourite comfort book, what is it? (or what are they?)
I'd been thinking about this since you posted it, wondering which I would go for, but the answer came at a point where I particularly needed comfort and I had the urge to reread The Nine Tailors. Fortunately I resisted, so I still have it to look forward to as a traditional New Year's read. Second choice would either be Pride & Prejudice or Blandings/Psmith.

d) Do you read in a different spot than you normally do?
No. Would read in bed.

e) Are there other required items for this to be a successful read, a sort of ritual retreat?
No, but pleasant extras would include cocoa, hot buttered toast, a mohair blanket, and a cat.

185This-n-That
Oct 26, 2016, 9:56am Top

>183 dchaikin: Based on your answers, now I understand why you prefer to listen to audiobooks in the car (likely without kids).

186dchaikin
Oct 26, 2016, 10:53am Top

I've tried, Lisa, in the car with the kids. Rarely they say ok...but I usually need to listen again on my own afterwards.

187This-n-That
Oct 26, 2016, 2:31pm Top

>186 dchaikin: Totally understand. Audiobooks take a certain degree of concentration, sans background noise. :)

188SassyLassy
Oct 27, 2016, 11:25am Top



QUESTION 10

Book lengths vary enormously. Does size matter to you?

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?

b) Do you read novellas?

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

189.Monkey.
Oct 27, 2016, 2:31pm Top

Q10
a)
It depends, but I really do not favor short books/stories. I like depth and substance and you really can't get much of that in something short. I mean there's some good ones but, it's different. So, I will read short things, if they're classics, or by loved authors, or whatnot, but, they often tend to be put aside for later.
b) On occasion, not often, as I just described.
c) I prefer books to be a min of 300, 350-450 being probably my "ideal" but I have zero problem with anything continuing over 450, provided it's well-written. I don't care how long they go on if I'm enjoying what I'm reading, I get sad when they end!
d) No. Like I said, I will read short things if I think they will potentially have merit, I just don't prefer it.
e) This is just getting redundant.

190tonikat
Edited: Oct 27, 2016, 3:41pm Top

I hope it isn't breaking any rules or just bad form to reply to the question before this first...i will try to make up by getting back on thread and then answering the most recent. (only read here irregularly)

QUESTION 9

For various reasons, from time to time we all succumb to the need for some self indulgent reading, perhaps tossing aside great authors and books, or perhaps returning to a favourite classic, all in the search for just plain comfort.

a) Do you have a particular genre you fall back on, such as whodunnits, short stories, poetry, sci-fi, romance, you name it?

- I'm not sure, at the moment I'm quite focussed on poetry - Dickinson, Blake, Dylan Thomas, Rimbaud, Wordsworth, Coleridge, lots of others, and reading poets on poetry, that is a comfort (mostly). I fancy some romance - so many people have recommended Georgette Heyer, but have not tried her yet. As Christmas approaches maybe some Dickens.

Edit - I suppose I am saying books and especially poetry have been a big help to me. Poetry and memories of fiction and also stories of incidents in writers lives are often a comfort when I need it.

b) Is there a particular author(s) who always rewards in such circumstances?

I don't reread a lot - I like to think I read very thoroughly when I do (amateur I know). I do know that though I do not reread that much (more so poetry - obviously(??), that I can reread and do)...but whilst i don't reread much I know I often spend time sitting thinking about books, and then yes I may get up and reread a passage I think of, daydreaming in a way about their world and story. Often think I would have been better off rereading or reading something else -- but that can be a great comfort and also leads between books and from books to events that are relevant...I am sure I also learn this way...but can fear it is where some misunderstandings and idiosyncrasies can come in. There are authors I like to think about - Tolstoy, Wittgenstein, Pascal, Dickinson, Wordsworth and also particular books, Owen Meaney, Richard III, Anna K, Resurrection, A Christmas Carol, The Scarlet Letter, Islands in the Stream, A Moveable Feast (Hemingway, though less now) and particular poems, some by George Herbert, R. S. Thomas, Hughes and Plath, Edward Thomas, Mary Oliver. All lists I am sure I could expand on but that still feel sadly limited which I'd like to expand on very much.

c) If you do have a favourite comfort book, what is it? (or what are they?)

I don't think so - the Bible, maybe, The New Testament. In recent years also have reread some favourites from childhood or again thinking about books I have enjoyed. Also thinking about the books I want to read (many that i never will I am sure).
(edit - see end of last question)

d) Do you read in a different spot than you normally do?

Often read on my back lying on my bed, may be more prone to do so at such a time. I know many spots on walks I always think it would be nice to sit and read in, but rarely do, as I'd be walking or else if out then watching the world. Can feel quite jealous of people in some nook reading, but never seem to do this, remember seeing someone reading at sunset looking very cosy with a great view of the Thames, but whenever I find myself in such a place it seems rare and i watch the sunset. In summer love to read in the garden (latitude relevant here).

e) Are there other required items for this to be a successful read, a sort of ritual retreat?

time - time so I can have a walk too which is a big helper, time to write...and space, from others and allowing myself space from myself and cares, if in need of comfort then even more than usual, to have a good long read. rarely get to read a book in a day these days - i saw Anthony Minghella interviewed once say he read The English Patient in a day, before he came to film it and that is a luxury I'd love -- especially when needing comfort reading therapy.

QUESTION 10

Book lengths vary enormously. Does size matter to you?

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?

It can do i suppose given the long books I have not finished in recent years, I don't want much to add to that list. In my abortive readings of Infinite Jest I've often thought about its effect on my biceps, bad! (but that's not why i stopped, honest)

b) Do you read novellas?

Yes.

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?

No.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?

yes - they are what they are, especially if I want to read them.

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

yes I am sure - Tolstoy, Emily Dickinson, others I am sure, cannot think of any more right now, am thunked out. you got me with question nine, though i hope I read the question properly.

191Nickelini
Edited: Oct 27, 2016, 4:06pm Top

Q10

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?


I generally avoid long books-- usually anything over 400-500 pages has to have excellent recommendations or a good reason for me to start it. I have several reasons for this, but the biggest one is that I just don't want to be in the world of one book for so long. Tell your story, tell it well, and move on.

b) Do you read novellas?

Yes, in the hands of someone who knows how to write them, they can be excellent. I prefer them to short stories.

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?

My favourite book length is 150 - 300 pages. I find most books in the 300-500 page range are in need of editing and are unnecessarily bloated.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?

Yes. Some writers actually have something to say for 500 pages, and write in a manner that continues to flow without getting bogged down. For example, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a 600 page Margaret Atwood, because I know she's a quick read.

Despite my avoidance of long books, some of my top favourites are very long. This list includes Anna Karenina and Bleak House.

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

Yes. I will consider books of any length if there is reason to believe that I'll enjoy it, and I'm more likely to do this with authors I've loved in the past. That said, one of my favourite writers is Virginia Woolf and I'm pretty sure I couldn't handle a 900 page version of The Waves. That book was as long as it needed to be.

192thorold
Oct 27, 2016, 5:14pm Top

Q10 Does size matter to you?

We are talking about books, here, right...?

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?

It probably influences when I read it more than whether I read it. There are times (e.g. long journeys, lazy holidays) when I want to immerse myself in a long book, and others (e.g. after work) when I am looking for something I can finish in an evening or two.

Authors who go over about 500 pages or so need to give me a pretty good reason to read them, though...

E-books make it easier to take a stack of small books with you when travelling, I'm gradually adapting to that, but my instinct is still to grab a Victorian novel for a long trip.

b) Do you read novellas?

Yes. Some of my favourite authors are specialists in short forms (e.g. Thomas Bernhard).

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?

Not really. But see (a). I probably read more short books than long ones, overall.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?

Up to a point. It's not reasonable to expect narrative history or biography to be novella-length (although there are some very good thumbnail biographies around).

If I want to read a book for a good reason, I'm not going to be put off by its length, but if I'm not sure about it a short book always has a better chance.

Some types of long books are for dipping into rather than reading linearly, of course: poetry anthologies and "collected poems of" would be obvious examples of that.

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

Probably. But there aren't many who really excel throughout the length range. Tolstoy and Thomas Mann, obviously, but I wouldn't want to read a thousand-page epic by P.G. Wodehouse (or Nickelini's 900-page VW!). Or a haiku by Walt Whitman...

193Narilka
Oct 27, 2016, 5:26pm Top

QUESTION 9

For various reasons, from time to time we all succumb to the need for some self indulgent reading, perhaps tossing aside great authors and books, or perhaps returning to a favourite classic, all in the search for just plain comfort.


All my comfort reads are rereads of favorite books. They are either fantasy or cozy mysteries. Nothing special required other than one of my favorite books and a comfy spot to read without being distracted.

QUESTION 10

Book lengths vary enormously. Does size matter to you?

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?

I'm similar to >192 thorold: on this one. If I know I'm taking a trip and will have a long flight or drive I plan accordingly and take a longer book since I know I'll have plenty of uninterrupted time for reading. Otherwise it's the story/subject that determines my decision, not page length.

b) Do you read novellas?
Yes, sometimes.

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?
Nope.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?
e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

If it's a book I want to read then page length isn't going to stop me.

194bragan
Edited: Oct 27, 2016, 8:24pm Top

QUESTION 10

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?

I'd sort of like to be able to say no, but I'd be lying. In theory, I'm not the least bit intimidated by very long books. In practice, however, I am much more likely to pick a 300-page book off the TBR shelves than an 800-page one. Partly that's just because the giant tome is more of a time commitment, not to mention being more awkward to haul around. But, I admit, the way I keep track of my reading is undoubtedly a factor. If I read three short books instead of one long one, it feels like I'm making more progress, especially if I'm reading books I can count for the ROOT group challenge. I'm aware that this isn't very rational, though. If it amounts to the same number of pages, it really is still the same amout of progress through the TBR, no matter what the numbers say. So I do make a bit of a conscious effort not to let that drive me to avoid long books entirely. (And one day soon I will get to The Count of Monte Cristo, I promise!)

b) Do you read novellas?

Yes, when I encounter them. More often in collections, probably, than as separate volumes, but I do have a few of those, too.

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?

My preferred book length is as long as the book needs to be to tell the story. There are way too many books out there that are longer than they need to be, and not a few that are shorter than they ought to be.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?

Poetry aside, I'm not at all sure that length has much to do with genre. Certainty it doesn't have much to do with how I think about genre or which books I'm likely to read or skip based on length.

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

Absolutely.

195Nickelini
Oct 27, 2016, 8:29pm Top

>194 bragan: Can I just say "me too" to your answer a)?

I've been telling people on the internet for 20 years that I don't like long books--but that's just my preference. I do read long books, and often really like them.

I also don't like heavy books (damn you, Harvard Press Annotated Jane Austens!), which is why I'll wait for the trade paperback.

196This-n-That
Edited: Oct 27, 2016, 10:15pm Top

QUESTION 10

Book lengths vary enormously. Does size matter to you?

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?

Yes, especially if it is a library book.

b) Do you read novellas?

Yes, if A Christmas Carol, Siddhartha, The House on Mango Street and Breakfast at Tiffany's are part of this category. Some were more enjoyable than others to read and I don't necessarily seek out novellas. Often it is just a book I want to read that happens to be a novella.

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?

250-400 pages are preferable. The last few years I have been disappointed with quite a few books over 500 pages. I felt most should have been edited more.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?

Yes, if a book comes highly recommended by someone with similar reading tastes. I'd still prefer shorter over longer though.

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?

Absolutely!

197bragan
Oct 28, 2016, 1:57am Top

>195 Nickelini: You can!

Although I'm more likely to tell people that I do like long books... It's just that that's not always reflected in my reading reality.

198AlisonY
Oct 30, 2016, 2:27pm Top

QUESTION 10

Book lengths vary enormously. Does size matter to you?

a) Does the length of a book influence your decision when selecting a book to read?
Yes, often, but usually in direct relation to how busy I am with other things at the time. I'm quite happy to read a fairly lengthy book, but it can put me off if work & life at home is busy and it's going to take me forever to get through it as a result (hmm, like this last month when I've taken a month to get through a book over 500 pages).

b) Do you read novellas?
Yes, from time-to-time. Sometimes zipping through a short book can be good for the reading soul.

c) Do you have a preferred book length range?
In theory I prefer books that are up to the 300 pages mark, and probably read more of these as they're not as much of a commitment as longer novels, but many of my 5 star reads have been chunky 500-600 page reads. I find many of these weightier tomes are so successful because there have all those extra pages in which to develop the characters and plots.

d) Do you make allowances for certain types of books (nonfiction, poetry, scifi) which are outside your usual preferred length?
I seem to have a psychological issue with anything beyond 700 pages, but will make allowances for a favourite author rather than genre.

e) Are there certain authors you will read no matter what the length of the book?
If there's an author I know I already like I will go beyond the 700 page mark, but I will choose my timing carefully in relation to how much time I have to give to the book. I hate to drag a book out for weeks and weeks just because I'm too busy to get to it. In that situation a very long book messes with my head and I find myself avoiding reading completely.

199SassyLassy
Nov 8, 2016, 10:40am Top

>190 tonikat: No rules here. Answer whenever you can... happy to "see" you.

200SassyLassy
Edited: Nov 8, 2016, 3:05pm Top



QUESTION 11

a) Do you read political fiction?
(I'm not speaking of political platforms here)

b) If you do, do you prefer it set in the past, the present, or a dystopian future?

c) Do you prefer reading about your own country, or do you find it a way to gain knowledge of other countries?

d) Tell us some of your favourite political novels, plays, even films.

e) Are there some writers who excel at this kind of topic?


_______
edited for formatting

201bragan
Nov 8, 2016, 2:46pm Top

Answering question 11 while attempting to distract myself from the actual election:

a) Hmm... Contemplating that question, I realize I don't even really have a good idea of what "political fiction" is. I was going to say I don't really read it, thinking of it as the book equivalent of say, House of Cards orThe West Wing. But then I thought, well, I do sometimes read, say, fantasy novels that have lots of political intrigue in them. Does that count? Maybe it does.

b) Probably in SF or fantasy settings. Again, if that counts.

c) When I read about political topics -- although I'm mostly thinking non-fiction, here -- I do mostly read about my own country. Call it an attempt to be an informed citizen. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in other countries. Although if this is meant to be a more general question than that, well, I'll read stuff set anywhere.

d) I haven't seen the US House of Cards, but the UK version was amazing. Even if I still don't understand UK politics. (Hey, if films count, why shouldn't television?)

e) Probably. I look forward to everybody else telling me who they are.

202This-n-That
Nov 8, 2016, 5:31pm Top

QUESTION 11

a) Do you read political fiction? (I'm not speaking of political platforms here)

Yes, but it is usually integrated into the historical fiction books I read.

b) If you do, do you prefer it set in the past, the present, or a dystopian future?

Past.

c) Do you prefer reading about your own country, or do you find it a way to gain knowledge of other countries?

Other countries are far more interesting but I do own America's First Daughter and plan to read it next year.

d) Tell us some of your favourite political novels, plays, even films.

Books (historical fiction with a political component): The Kite Runner, Wolf Hall (audio version), and Crime and Punishment.

Films: The Ides of March, Bridge of Spies, The Bourne Identity, to name a few.

e) Are there some writers who excel at this kind of topic?

I am sure there but none that I read on a regular basis, such as a favorite author.

203thorold
Nov 9, 2016, 7:28am Top

QUESTION 11

a) Do you read political fiction? (I'm not speaking of political platforms here)

Hmm. Like >201 bragan: I'm not completely sure what that is - just about all worthwhile novels deal with political issues, but I don't suppose we would use the term "political fiction" unless the book is actually about politicians or the political process. I suppose I've read a few political novels in that sense, but it's not a genre I specifically look for. I'm more likely to read non-fiction (in particular history) about politics.

b) If you do, do you prefer it set in the past, the present, or a dystopian future?

Mostly the past or (the writer's) present. I never really got hooked on the dystopian thing.

c) Do you prefer reading about your own country, or do you find it a way to gain knowledge of other countries?

Yes to both.

d) Tell us some of your favourite political novels, plays, even films.

Mostly classics, probably: South Riding (probably the best novel ever about local politics unless Middlemarch counts...), Trollope's Palliser novels, La Chartreuse de Parme, Shakespeare's history plays, Alejo Carpentier, Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie...
I used to read a lot of H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Sinclair Lewis and so on (in my teens), but seem to have lost interest a bit since then. I never got a taste for C.P. Snow, who's probably the best-known 20th century British political novelist - the one novel of his I tried I found dry and humourless.
More recent books: Wolf Hall was mentioned above. I've been dipping into Yo el Supremo but haven't got very far with it yet, but I think that will be another one to add to the list when I do.
I have to admit to enjoying Yes Minister, House of Cards (UK), and The West Wing. And Citizen Kane, of course!

e) Are there some writers who excel at this kind of topic?

See (d).

204SassyLassy
Nov 14, 2016, 6:58pm Top



QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

205Nickelini
Nov 14, 2016, 8:03pm Top

Q 11 re: political novels -- Couldn't really think of much to say for this question, so I guess that means that I don't read political novels. I know that when I read historical fiction, I get really bored if it bogs down with talk of treaties, or "this leader said X, but was opposed by Y." For example, in all the books I've read about Elizabeth I, I can't keep any of her councel straight. I prefer novels that are about the day-to-day lives of people.

QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?


Rarely. But there are a few that I've read all or most of . . . Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Douglas Coupland, to name the first ones that come to mind.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

Depends how hard they are to find, and if I plan to keep them.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

Absolutely. When I find nice editions of a well-loved author, I try to collect as many of the set as I can. Actually, if I find nice editions of an author I don't particularly like, I'm often tempted to buy them anyway.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

That has never crossed my mind, but perhaps it relates to series (which I don't read) and not an author's oeuvre. Because who cares if they read Northanger Abbey or Emma last?

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

I have multiple special collections of Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, & Chronicles of Narnia.

I have special collections of Evelyn Waugh, EM Forster, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Shakespeare.

As for special collections by multiple authors, I seek out NYRB classics, Persephone Classics, Virago Modern Classics, Penguin Special Editions, Vintage Classics, Everyman's Library, Belknap Press Annotated editions (Harvard U Press), Europa Editions, Norton Critical Editions, Books are Beautiful editions, Canadian Library editions, Penguin Decades, to name my favourites (I know this is a bit off the original question, but for me it's all part of it).

206japaul22
Nov 15, 2016, 9:01am Top

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?
I've read all of Austen and am on my way to reading all of Virginia Woolf's novels. I'll probably read all of George Eliot's novels as well and also Barbara Pym. I'm not a total completist, though, as I rarely read an author's short stories and don't feel compelled to read every novel if some don't appeal to me. Even with mystery series, if they start getting weak as the series progresses, I'll easily abandon them. I have read a bunch of children's book series, like Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?
I would say my goal in book ownership is to own nice editions of my favorites (over lots of paperbacks that I haven't read yet). I own the complete set of Harvard Press annotated Austen coffee table books. I own the complete Palliser and Barsetshire novels by Trollope in Oxford Press hardcover editions. But then my Virginia Woolf novels are all random paperbacks. I also collect the NYRB books because I love how they look on the shelf (and I tend to love the books!), but I won't buy any that I don't think I'll enjoy reading. I also buy used Easton Press editions on ebay of my favorite books and love to buy Folio Society editions of my favorites.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?
Whoops, I think I already answered this in b).

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?
No, I never intentionally put off reading a book. I love rereading, so I don't have that fear of there not being another book - I'd just reread one I loved.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.
Also, already answered - but mainly classics that I know I'll reread. I guess that's the key; I want to own the books that I love enough to reread and all the rest can go once they've been read.

207ursula
Nov 15, 2016, 9:45am Top

QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?

I have vague plans to read all of the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey-Maturin books and there are a couple of authors I'd kind of like to read everything by. But obviously I'm not really on a mission - I started the Aubrey-Maturin books around 10 years ago and I've read 7 or 8 of them.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

I don't keep books, so this doesn't really apply to me. One day I'd like to have a small collection of books I've enjoyed and in that case, I would like all of them in a series to match.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

Definitely. This is my idea for the future - special, beautiful editions of some books I've really loved.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

Since I'm not in a hurry to "complete" any author, I don't think this has come up yet.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

I'd probably collect Murakami books, Garcia Marquez ... I don't really know who else.

208thorold
Nov 15, 2016, 12:41pm Top

QUESTION 12
a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?

If I start reading a series and like it, I usually read the lot, or as many as come to hand easily.
I've done the "complete works" thing for at least a few authors I'm especially interested in, but it's not something I'm doctrinaire about - juvenilia, letters, forgotten stage works, etc. might spend a long time at the bottom of the pile in some cases.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

I'm not dogmatic about it: I like the look of a row of matching editions, but there's also something reassuringly organic about books that look as though they've been acquired for their content over a period of many years. In practice, most of the time it is higgledy-piggledy.

These days, for crime novels and the like I usually prefer to borrow them or read e-books, so there are some authors I'm fond of who aren't really represented on my shelves at all.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

I have done from time to time, I own quite a few Folio Society Hardys and their Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes and Mapp and Lucia sets, for instance, but they're a tiny proportion of my books.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

Hmmm. Not consciously, but I haven't read the posthumous unfinished Patrick O'Brian book yet.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

Well, I own 87 titles by a certain P.G. Wodehouse. I'm only missing a few of the obscure early works there, I think.
I have a complete Thackeray in 26 volumes (in terrible condition and probably not worth the 20 pounds I paid for it 30 years ago). The other authors who appear in really big print in my author cloud include Georges Simenon (but a lot of those are e-books); Ordnance Survey(!), Patrick O'Brian, Simon Raven, Mary Renault, Terry Pratchett, Patricia Highsmith, Margaret Drabble, Margaret Atwood, Reginald Hill, and Thomas Bernhard. A pretty random selection, I suppose...

209tonikat
Edited: Nov 15, 2016, 6:15pm Top

thanks :) >199 SassyLassy: - so:

QUESTION 11

a) Do you read political fiction? (I'm not speaking of political platforms here)

No - I studied politics in the past and it's left me with little wish to read about it. I do want to read 1984 and possibly, sometime we (is that fiction? I forget). Lots of things have political basis, or part, but those lists could be endless.

b) If you do, do you prefer it set in the past, the present, or a dystopian future? No idea - I really liked John Steinbeck's the short reign of pippin iv once, kind of alternative present.

c) Do you prefer reading about your own country, or do you find it a way to gain knowledge of other countries?
I love to learn about other places - but as a result badly read in some ways about my own places. The past, as we all know, is another country anyway.

d) Tell us some of your favourite political novels, plays, even films.
I did like Dune - never read the newer prequels. it's said to have been influenced by Toynbee, who I'd like to read (I am marginally more interested in reading history, but it makes me feel very sad mostly...but some classic works...if I can stop myself from reducing all mankind to cynical clarity and networks of causes/effects).
Shakespeare is rather good at history plays. I like.
I did not get along with Wolf Hall and really have no intention of ever reading the last seventy pages or so. I just did not like TC really and also had not followed some of his character development, I suppose I liked him earlier, but not later. And it rather ruined my man for all seasons view of Moore. Now I don't know what to think and would have to do quite a bit to have any idea again.
I started reading Aristotle's poetics at the weekend and my copy was prefaced with parts on poetry from Plato's The Republic, which I've never read. Anyway it (The Republic) struck me as satirical perhaps and was glad to see others argue it is ironic (want to read Kierkegaard apparently think so) -- and so I have to read it now and then think on how much of the last 2,500 years (a tad less I know) may have been based on misunderstanding. I mean who would throw the poets out of the city?
I'm trying to think of Uk political films - I like Ken Loach's point of view. That recent film about the Irish troubles was excellent and scary - forgot its name, was it called '71? Brazil is a fab film, but again may depress me. I've been watching Jean Luc Godard's films which in their view seem to have a lot of politics...I'm kind of with him, was it at the end of Made in USA, I think, what can be said really.
Mostly I want to leave politics well alone

e) Are there some writers who excel at this kind of topic?
I expect so but don't want to think on it anymore, not my cuppa. I have a feeling that at other times political discourse may have been healthier than than we have now with our mass media at least - in a way I think of Dickens being quite political, and the Romantic poets setting a tone of respect for other humans and ourselves that informed the nineteenth century that feels positively under threat and in danger of being bullied out of some parts of public discourse...of course it never can be...maybe it's just been a challenging week. i also think of the pre television age and early television age as more literate, my impression, at least in what they chose to read and also think about...not basing that on evidence in particular though (the historian in me notes, except impression over years and what people i know seem to do now - i.e. not read much and definitely not read much of the good stuff.

QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?

In theory but not much in practice.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

Usually higgledy piggledy. Only exception was the latest edition of Kilmartin/Enright's Proust as it was wrong to sit there with the picture on the spine incomplete (publishers do not take note). Mostly finances have precluded nice smart sets all the same edition. Maybe i could now, and given how much I have been spending on books. I like allowing myself to pick up things second hand too which gets in the way of order in this.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

Not really - sometimes it is a bit of a factor and I buy more hardbacks than I used to.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

I have done - Hemingway, as a teenager, when it would have been fine as reading him now I am sure would be almost as good as new.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

I'd like to collect Tolstoy - but that feels like a bad answer as I'm not reading Russian so I won't ever complete him and cannot complete all the versions of him I am sure.

Others too. But am also focusing on focus and read what I want to. And need to. and don't want to spoil that by saying.

210mabith
Nov 15, 2016, 9:17pm Top

QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?
Depends on how much I like the author. If I really love the author I'll read some types of books I might not pick up otherwise. If I start disliking a series though I don't feel pressured to continue it.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?
I'm happier if things match, but I don't insist on it.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?
If I happen across a nice edition for a good price I'll buy it. I have occasionally bought a nicer edition of a book I already own if it's cheap. For me it's mostly about covers, other than the Penguin cloth-bounds. I've been a bit careful about getting nice editions of my Elizabeth Gaskell books.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?
No. I like rereading, and there are enough great books in the world, I'm not going to run out.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.
Elizabeth Gaskell, Daniel Pinkwater, Carl Sandburg, Donald E. Westlake

211thorold
Nov 16, 2016, 4:52am Top

>210 mabith: Elizabeth Gaskell, Daniel Pinkwater, Carl Sandburg, Donald E. Westlake

...well, maybe my list wasn't as idiosyncratic as I thought, then :-)

212mabith
Nov 16, 2016, 9:55am Top

>211 thorold: Ha, eclectic is what I do best. Those are just the authors I currently collect really, some comic book authors (Carl Barks and Walt Kelly, if you don't purchase new collection/reprints right when they come out you're not going to find them at an affordable price, so actually owning them becomes vital, this is what I tell myself anyway).

213This-n-That
Nov 16, 2016, 10:47am Top

QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?

It really depends on how much I am caught up in the story. Sometimes I read a few books and decide not to continue, especially if I don't feel a connection to the characters.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

Definitely matching is my preference! :)

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

No.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

No.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

The only series I currently have is Harry Potter. Otherwise I have matching anthologies for Austen, Dickens, Poe, Twain and Brontë. Since I often read ebooks now, I am not as likely to collect hardbound editions.

214bragan
Edited: Nov 17, 2016, 11:38am Top

QUESTION 12

a) Are you a completist when it comes to a particular author or series by an author?

With authors, no, generally speaking, although if I like an author enough I may eventually end up with all of their books, anyway. With series... Kind of. There are exceptions, but in general if I'm going to read a series, I want to read it all the way through in order. I may abandon it after a while if I lose interest (although I probably don't do so as often as I should, to be honest), or it might take me a very long time to get through it, but it's very, very rare for me to skip books.

b) Do the books have to match or do you pick them up higgledy-piggledy wherever you can find them?

Very higgledy-piggledy. I would never turn a book away from my door just because it doesn't match what I already have. Indeed, I love the feeling of giving poor, misfit books a home. Give me your cheap book club editions, your books with hideous cover art, your lone paperback in the middle of a series I have in hardback. I will take them and love them all, and give them a place to belong.

c) Would you seek out special bindings?

No. I have a couple of lovely, leather-bound books, but I didn't seek them out, I just happened upon them.

d) If the author is dead, do you put off reading a last volume since there will never be another?

Surely not. Maybe it doesn't say good things about me, I dunno, but I've never understood the mindset that says you should put off good things you want and will enjoy, so that you can keep on anticipating having them in the future. Give me the good thing now, and then I will have it! Plus, what if I get hit by a bus, and never get to read that book at all? How tragic would that be?

Although, that being said, I will admit it took me a little while to feel up to reading Pratchett's The Shepherd's Crown, because I knew it was, as the kids these days say, going to hit me in the feels.

e) Tell us the authors or series you are most likely to collect.

I do have, like, three shelves worth of Discworld books, and it does still bum me out that there will never be any more.

215Nickelini
Nov 17, 2016, 12:43pm Top

>214 bragan:

I would never turn a book away from my door just because it doesn't match what I already have. Indeed, I love the feeling of giving poor, misfit books a home. Give me your cheap book club editions, your books with hideous cover art, your lone paperback in the middle of a series I have in hardback. I will take them and love them all, and give them a place to belong.

Ah, you bring a tear to my eye. You'll forever be known as St Bragan.

I've never understood the mindset that says you should put off good things you want and will enjoy, so that you can keep on anticipating having them in the future. Give me the good thing now, and then I will have it!

Hear, hear! Besides, tastes change. Read the books while you're interested in them.

216bragan
Nov 17, 2016, 3:03pm Top

>215 Nickelini: Ah, you bring a tear to my eye. You'll forever be known as St Bragan.

Thank you, thank you. A friend and I have a running joke about how I have elected myself Pope of the Book Church. That probably needs to be in our scriptures somewhere.

Read the books while you're interested in them.

Mind you, that does still run up against the "So many books, so little time" problem.

217lilisin
Nov 20, 2016, 11:27pm Top

>214 bragan:

your lone paperback in the middle of a series I have in hardback. I will take them and love them all

The horror! At least there are some brave souls out there who are willing to sacrifice the aesthetics of their bookshelves.

218bragan
Nov 21, 2016, 7:07pm Top

>217 lilisin: Aesthetics are overrated. :)

219lilisin
Nov 22, 2016, 12:12am Top

>218 bragan:

While I like the aesthetics a lot, my real preference for books within the same edition and size is for storage and stacking. It's so much easier to organize bookshelves when books are the same size!

220mabith
Nov 22, 2016, 12:51am Top

>219 lilisin: If only they were all the same size! Or if just all the hardbacks and all the paperbacks were the same separate heights.

221SassyLassy
Nov 27, 2016, 6:15pm Top

This question came out of a recent discussion on Caroline_McElwee's thread.



QUESTION 13

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?

b) Do you know why?

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?


222thorold
Nov 28, 2016, 5:48am Top

QUESTION 13

Eeek - mindmaps! My classifier's brain revolts at all that messy mixing up of categories, even though I know perfectly well with my reader's hat on that categories are messy, and boundaries run in multiple dimensions...

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?

If you take genre in the sense of prose/verse/drama, long/short, fiction/non-fiction, etc., then I'm pretty open-minded, but if you take it in the bookshop sense of Crime/Romance/Fantasy/Western/Horror/Young Adult then I would certainly be convicted as a genre-snob: I tend to avoid everything that has a genre-label on it, apart from a few specific areas, mainly in crime and historical fiction.

b) Do you know why?

Short answer: Prejudice
Long answer: I'm sure there's a residual element of "educated/respectable people don't read that kind of trash" from my upbringing, even though I try to avoid it. And most genre books come with the kind of cover-art you wouldn't want to be seen with in public. I don't think anyone would be likely to mistake me for a shop-girl or a Young Adult on the bus, but even so, I wouldn't want to project that image...

More importantly, there's the practicality of the sticking-with-what-you-know thing: every genre is likely to consist of at least 90% rubbish and maybe 10% good stuff, and in the areas I'm familiar with I have a pretty high chance of reading the signs correctly and finding something entertaining and competently written. Plus, I don't really have all that much interest in dragons, spaceships or vampires to start with.

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?

I've read a good proportion of the "classic" genre books, I suppose (Tolkein, Verne, Wells, Bram Stoker, Poe, etc.). And I make exceptions for a few authors (I enjoyed Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, for instance, but they didn't entice me to explore any further in their respective genres).

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?

"Classics" I mostly know about already; if someone makes a very good case for a current author in a genre I normally avoid, they might well be able to persuade me to try it. But not if they are people who think Isaac Asimov knew how to put a sentence together...

223.Monkey.
Nov 28, 2016, 7:18am Top

The only things I avoid are romance/chicklit because frankly, imo, it's junk. There is no such thing as "classics" under those, unless you want to try to claim things like Jane Austen or the Brontës fall under the same "romance" umbrella (which I would strongly beg to differ!!), so no, not a chance. Aside of this I will read & enjoy nearly anything. It just needs to be interesting, and preferably well written (though if it is interesting I will still give somewhat bad writing a shot, up to a point anyway).

224ursula
Nov 28, 2016, 7:26am Top

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?

Poetry.
Fantasy.
Scifi.

b) Do you know why?

Poetry feels like work if I'm really going to get anything out of it. And if I'm not, it's just too short and esoteric for me to enjoy.

Fantasy loses me with dragons and fairies and elves and whatever. I'm not interested in any of that. Names that are unpronounceable or just like ours except spelled weird, magic spells, blah blah blah.

Science fiction, well if it's not hard scifi I might be okay with it. But long explanations of how things work/much explanation of anything technical just bores me to tears and I skip a lot of it.

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?

If someone posts a poem, I might read it, but I don't voluntarily choose to read poetry ever.

I read the first couple/few Game of Thrones books because I wanted to find out what happened, but I was rolling my eyes a lot. If you want to count magical realism, I will definitely read those. I don't have a problem with that as a genre.

I read The Martian a couple of years ago, which I wasn't at all sure I'd enjoy, but I did. I also read To Say Nothing of the Dog a few years back, which was recommended to me as something a person who didn't read scifi might like, and the recommender was right.

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?

I will read some of the classics, with trepidation. I am also sometimes willing to read a recent book that sounds really interesting, but it takes a lot to get me to read those genres.

225thorold
Nov 28, 2016, 7:31am Top

>223 .Monkey.: romance ... Brontës

That's an interesting one - a romance that "transcends the boundaries of the genre" is simply a literary novel and you'd never really think of it as anything else, whereas up-market crime, science-fiction and horror always still have a foot in both camps.

226.Monkey.
Nov 28, 2016, 9:37am Top

>225 thorold: True, true. I would never label them that myself, they're just, as you say, literary classics. As far as I'm concerned there is no comparison at all. But the others, yes, even on the occasion they're more literary, they do still fall firmly into a genre. I suppose it's that they were simply literary novels that involved some sort of romance, whereas the others would always be first & foremost the genre, even if literary. You can't really have something that is literary that just happens to involve some scifi or horror, lol, it just doesn't work in that way.

227Nickelini
Edited: Nov 28, 2016, 11:15am Top

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?

Sci-fi, fantasy, westerns, horror, poetry, mysteries, romance.

b) Do you know why?

They don't interest me as much as other books.

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?

and

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?

I like to be well-rounded, so I do occasionally zip out of my comfort zone.

- I usually read a volume or two of poetry every year, even though I feel like I don't understand it.

- I generally stay away from sci-fi, but this year I read the cyper-punk classic Neuromancer and a few years ago I read the highly recommended Demolished Man. Neither was my thing. However, I do like sci-fi if it's the Twilight Zone-ish type, like the books written by John Wyndam.

- Romance -- never read, until last year I read A Dangerously Sexy Christmas, which was a Harlequin Blaze. The title just made me laugh, and actually, the book wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.

- Mysteries - used to love them, don't know why I rarely read them anymore

- Westerns - they look so boring. I think I read one in 1994 and it was dreadful.

- Horror - I used to read, but it's not interesting to me. Even when I was reading everything Stephen King wrote, I was bored by the real horror stuff and much preferred the freaky or spooky stuff

- Fantasy - on principle I don't mind fantasy, but the books tend to be very long, or worse, are in a whole series of long books (I don't like series or long books), and they are filled with characters named Aewenthbyg and Foorgli, which all just makes my eyes swim.

-

228SassyLassy
Nov 28, 2016, 5:05pm Top

>226 .Monkey.: You can't really have something that is literary that just happens to involve some scifi or horror, lol, it just doesn't work in that way.

How about the original Gothics, like The Monk, Anne Radcliffe's The Italian ( touchstones here giving me everything from The Cat in the Hat to Othello, but not The Italian) Melmoth the Wanderer and so on?

229.Monkey.
Nov 28, 2016, 5:27pm Top

>228 SassyLassy: As you said, they are Gothic. I definitely was not saying genres could not be literary (I said otherwise!), I was agreeing with >225 thorold: that even when those things are literary, they are still labeled by their genre as opposed to being "just" a literary classic. Sure, some of the old Gothic novels were certainly literary, and they are indeed classics. But they're Gothic. Gothic horror, Gothic romance, Victorian Gothic, etc.

230dchaikin
Nov 28, 2016, 9:39pm Top

QUESTION 13

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?


genres - all of them. Romance, thriller, fantasy, mystery, western, chicklit, scifi, speculative fiction, etc etc

b) Do you know why?

There is just too much junk out there under all these categories. I see the covers, and my eyes immediately roll. Although I keep telling myself I should try mysteries.

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?

except westerns, I've read from all of them and I enjoyed many of them at the time. I just don't think I would enjoy them now.

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?

I think I should try mysteries. And I am willing to revisit scifi and fantasy, probably others too.

231mabith
Edited: Nov 29, 2016, 8:12pm Top

QUESTION 13

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?
Modern mysteries, police procedurals, thrillers/spies

b) Do you know why?
Partly lack of interest (particularly with thrillers). With mysteries/crime I was burned by Encyclopedia Brown as a kid, and find that many contemporary mysteries rely on their key character becoming very foolish for a bit to advance the plot or drive them into danger.

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?
Yeah, I've read some.

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?
I feel much more strongly about avoiding spy books and thrillers, but plan to read Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy and maybe others at some point. The thing with contemporary mystery is none of them are classics yet! I do read golden age mysteries, and historical mysteries, so I don't feel like I'm just ignoring an entire genre.

232AnnieMod
Edited: Nov 30, 2016, 1:13am Top

QUESTION 13

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?
Most romance novels (although I read a few authors)
Self-help books
Conspiracy theories and alt history unless if it is science fiction or a proper "what if"

b) Do you know why?
Romances - mainly because of a period of a few months in my mid-teens when I read too many of them and they were pretty much the same (think Harlequin type ones). The rest - not really. Usually there is a better explanation than aliens, world conspiracy and "science lies" :)

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?
Yes, I never give up on anything before I try it.

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?
Probably not - mainly because none of them really have classics (and the classic Victorian romances are not romance novels in my book)

PS: And I really wish people stop calling science fiction "sci-fi" - it is SF... Sci-fi is the cheesy bad part of the genre that gives it a bad name and generally considered a bit offensive for the genre as a whole :)

233bragan
Nov 30, 2016, 4:16am Top

OK, answering this one before I read anybody else's responses:

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?

Romance. Not all books with any kind of romance in them, of course, but I've come to the conclusion that the romance genre itself is not really my thing.

Books, fiction or non-fiction, that focus on sports, because I find sports unbelievably boring.

New Age-y or Christian books, particularly the type that are supposed to be "inspirational," because I do not share either of those worldviews and find no inspiration in them. (Non-fiction books analyzing said worldviews and their history can be interesting, though.)

I also feel a mild allergy to the self-help genre.

And that's pretty much it, really. Otherwise, I'll happily try just about anything.

b) Do you know why?

I guess I already answered this for two of the kinds of books in question. But for the romance... I've actually put a little thought into this recently, and I think it's a case of just not personally caring for the formulae and conventions of the genre, or not being able to just go with them them the way you need to be able to do for it to work. Even if the story is doing everything else in a way that I'm OK with, there's something in my brain that just can't quite ignore the artificiality in how obstacles are built up only to suddenly get resolved just in time for the foregone conclusion of the happy ending. Such is my conclusion from my very limited experience with the genre, anyway. It's a bit odd, because I can deal just fine with lots of other formulaic kinds of books, but there it is.

As for self-help books, my perception of the genre is that most of them seem to be more about empty platitudes or pseudoscience than anything actually helpful.

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle?

I have recently read a couple of romance books, although I kind of had to be prodded into it. I've also read a couple of self-help-y books that seemed less platitudinous and psuedoscientific and more up my alley, but I wasn't entirely enthused about those, either.

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views?

Again, I think I kind of did that recently with a couple of highly regarded romance books. I get why they were highly regarded, and they certainly had a lot of good qualities, but they weren't my cup of tea. As for the self-help, I am very occasionally tempted to pick up How to Win Friends and Influence People, as I have heard interesting and surprisingly non-offputting things about it.

I have zero desire, however, to read anything whatsoever about football (either kind) or listen to someone trying to tell me how I need Jesus or healing mystical energies in my life.

234bragan
Nov 30, 2016, 4:28am Top

And having now read everybody else's responses, I am now, of course, totally patting myself on the back for being more broad-minded than most of you, not to mention self-possessed enough not to care if people catch me reading books with dragons on the cover in public. ;) But I'm also chagrined to suddenly realize that I didn't even think about my totally irrational, probably-based-mostly-on-horrible-internalized-sexism distrust of anything that looks too much like "chicklit." The shame! Maybe I should go try some and see what it's actually like.

235Nickelini
Nov 30, 2016, 12:16pm Top

>232 AnnieMod: And I really wish people stop calling science fiction "sci-fi" - it is SF... Sci-fi is the cheesy bad part of the genre that gives it a bad name and generally considered a bit offensive for the genre as a whole :)

Sorry, didn't know. I use sci-fi because that's what I was taught, and to be truthful, it all seems cheesy and bad. I know it's not, but that's still the impression I get.

236AnnieMod
Edited: Nov 30, 2016, 2:39pm Top

>235 Nickelini:
A certain TV channel name (and their current name is even worse) made people that do not read the genre believe that this is the genre name I guess. :) But it does have negative connotations for almost anyone that reads and works in the genre - which is why I mentioned it. I guess I was tired enough last night to actually decide to post anything about it.

As for the cheesiness - whenever you decide to try modern SF, let me know and I will see if I can recommend a title or 10 that may challenge your opinion. Which does not make 90% of the genre (most of the self-published stuff included) exactly what you imagine it to be - but the genre had grown up. Somewhat :)

237valkyrdeath
Nov 30, 2016, 2:58pm Top

>236 AnnieMod: The trouble with SF as a term is that it's started to be used to refer to the horribly vague concept of "speculative fiction". Having read SF collections that are virtually all fantasy and horror, I think I'd welcome the unambiguous sci-fi label on things. Surely they're both just abbreviations of the same thing?

238AnnieMod
Nov 30, 2016, 3:03pm Top

>237 valkyrdeath: There is that of course. But that does not make sci-fi lose its connotations or history. I'd love a new label (I just hope we do not end up with syfy or something equally terrible). I'm at a point where I am just writing science fiction the same way I am spelling the full name for mysteries or detective novels - I'd use SF/F/H for example but when I am talking just for the genre, I would just spell it out. :)

239Oandthegang
Dec 2, 2016, 4:58pm Top

>232 AnnieMod: onwards. Having spent years in organisations within an industry with a fondness for using abbreviations which ultimately overlapped and meant different things to different people, making communication harder rather than easier, I'm a big fan of people stating in full what they mean, rather than taking it for granted that everyone understands the same specialized meaning of particular terms, or any meaning at all for some acronyms, although I must cut off my own feet to some extent by allowing for the many cases when there will be a reasonable expectation of common understanding (e.g. references to 'Labour' in British news being a taken for granted reference to one of the United Kingdom's political parties).

Here's a link to uses of SF as an acronym http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/SF

I think that where a particular group has evolved its own specialized in-group terminology the group insiders need to bear in mind that such terminology is probably not obvious to outsiders, particularly where an expression which is otherwise neutral has been given a specialized nuance within the group, as in the statement that "Sci-fi is the cheesy bad part of the genre that gives it a bad name and generally considered a bit offensive for the genre as a whole". Considered offensive by whom? Because some people have decided that the expression has particular connotations, that does not mean that others attach those connotations to it. The expression sci-fi has been around a long time and I know no-one who uses it to mean "cheesy, bad" science fiction. It would confuse my discussions with other people if I were to start using the expression in that narrow way in deference to the opinions of some science fiction readers/writers rather than in the general way used by the population at large.

My statements above are intended only in relation to the discussion about the use of the terms science fiction / sci-fi / SF etc.

240mabith
Dec 2, 2016, 5:29pm Top

>239 Oandthegang: I have a feeling that sci-fi vs SF/science-fiction feelings are also somewhat regional and maybe age-related as well. I know a lot of science fiction diehards and none of them has negative feelings towards sci-fi being used as a genre title (I did some informal polling).

It is interesting with genre titles. Crime is used overwhelmingly to describe a type of fiction, to the extent that for most non-fiction books about crime we use the name True Crime. Pretty much no one reading in English ever needs to be told that mystery titles are fiction, so "mystery fiction" just isn't used.

241thorold
Edited: Dec 3, 2016, 1:09am Top

>239 Oandthegang: I think you're fighting a losing battle - the adherents of every genre I've ever come across have some kind of terminology war going on. And most of them go back a long way. (Sir Walter Scott was arguing about how far back something had to be set to be called "historical fiction", for instance.) Friends who were into slide-rules and spacesuits were lecturing me about using the wrong term for science-fiction at least forty years ago, but I wouldn't have remembered whether it was SF or Sci-Fi that was frowned upon...

>240 mabith: ...but there are lots of shades of meaning between "crime", "mystery", "detective", "whodunnit", etc. :-)

242mabith
Dec 3, 2016, 1:28am Top

>241 thorold: Absolutely! Donald E. Westlake wrote a great essay about the inadequate nature of all of those genre names for the sprawling, diverse set of books they usually encompass. But they are all fiction.

243SassyLassy
Dec 8, 2016, 10:05am Top

QUESTION 14

It's the best time of the year for booksellers.




a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on?

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?

f) Do you give books to non-readers?

g) Do you give sets of books?

244dchaikin
Dec 8, 2016, 3:12pm Top


a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?

No

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?

An insecurity, really. I'm afraid to put pressure on someone to read a book. I find when someone buys me a book I feel some pressure to read it, and sometimes some pressure to like it. So, I simple don't give books.

On the other hand, some books I have received as gifts have been special.

No need for me to answer the rest...

245ursula
Dec 8, 2016, 7:39pm Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?

I can't remember the last time I gave someone a book. It was probably my daughter, and it was definitely over 5 years ago.

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?

Much the same reason as dchaikin above. I spent enough time as a bookseller to know that while you can make some educated guesses, there are just strange unpredictabilities about what someone will really end up liking. I would maybe give my husband a book, because I don't mind pressuring him to read something so that we can discuss it. But I also realize that if he doesn't like it, I've obligated him to slog through it anyway. ;)

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?

I think the last kind of book I'd be likely to give is one that is actually important to me. I recommend books that I think someone might like or connect to, but I don't take it personally if they don't like it. If I were saying "here I am in book form," or "here is this book that speaks to my soul," I would probably have a hard time if they said they couldn't get through it or thought it was kind of awful.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?

Again, answering for when I've given books in the past - I used to give books to my son in hopes of finding something that would interest him enough that he'd magically turn into a reader. That didn't happen. :)

246mabith
Edited: Dec 8, 2016, 9:26pm Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?
Yes, frequently. Some people I pretty much ONLY give books to. I also login to my parents library accounts and put books on hold for them. I am a book evangelist but family and friends seem to like that.

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
I like giving Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury to people who don't read much non-fiction, as I think it's such a great one for them, and just a really interesting book in general. I'm a big giver of children's books and funny books.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on?
My go-to graduation gift for high school or college is Higglety Pigglety Pop!: Or There Must Be More to Life by Maurice Sendak. That or On Bullshit.

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?
Not really, other than children's books. Some of my favorite favorites are fairly contentious love/hate books, or just feel too personal.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?
I don't have a gift-giving relationship with any non-readers. I'd probably still be trying to give them comics at least.

g) Do you give sets of books?
Nope. That would probably cost more than I'm able to spend on any one person. Other than short children's trilogies or something.

247AnnieMod
Dec 8, 2016, 10:30pm Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?
Yes and no. I usually do not but there had been a few people through the years for whom I had bought a lot of books.

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?
I am always worried about pushing the books I like, giving someone a book that they already have or giving them a book they won't like. So outside of a few people (the friend that got all my books that I did not keep when I moved for example - I had given her a lot of books before that, as she had done for me or the guy that told me that there is no way he will like fantasy and science fiction (and now reads only exclusively the two genres) and dared me prove him wrong) I would rather not send books - vouchers so they can buy whatever they want is more my style.

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
Not really. Too worried that people will hate what I love.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on?
No.

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?
No but I had given books important for the person that got it - I have a Catholic friend that really likes Saint Augustine so when a nice edition of that was published, I decided to get her the books.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?
No. I talk about books a lot to non-readers though.

g) Do you give sets of books?
Yes - when it make sense (like the Saint Augustine books for example)

248thorold
Dec 9, 2016, 10:13am Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?
Yes, not always, but I like to do it when it makes sense. I should think (almost) everyone I've ever cared deeply about has had books inflicted upon them at some point...

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?
It's too often a waste of time giving books to the "I already have a book" and "I've read everything" people.
There's also not much pleasure in giving someone a book that you wouldn't want to read yourself (those people get vouchers they can spend on college textbooks or football annuals...).
As others have said, that leaves you with those people you know well enough to have a pretty good idea of something that they would enjoy and are not likely to have come across.

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
Not consciously.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on?
No

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?
Yes. Sometimes I find I've given away my own copy and had to buy another one.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?
I have, occasionally, but only when they've given me reason to believe that they are open to trying something I suggest. It's a real pleasure when that works out well.

g) Do you give sets of books?
I have occasionally given a child a whole series in one go, but more usually if I'm giving someone more than one book I try to put together an interesting spread, ranging from something safe and obvious to something they definitely wouldn't have thought of themselves.

...and I try never to chase recipients for feedback, which is perhaps the most difficult principle to stick to!

249.Monkey.
Dec 9, 2016, 11:27am Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?
Nope. I will give giftcards to bookstores to known booklovers.

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?
I basically try to live by my adaptation of the "golden rule," which is basically flipped around - if I don't want (to do) something, then I try to avoid putting others in that spot. I don't generally like being given books unless I've given someone a wishlist for them to pick off of or something. I want to choose my books, there are only so many I will be able to read and I'd rather have the ones I have an interest in than what someone else thinks I ought to read or caught their eye. So I don't want to do that to others, either.

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
I have some favorite titles I will recommend to people if they're looking for ideas of what to read, but even that depends on their response to "what kind of thing are you looking for," I never even just toss out titles w/o knowing what they like to read.

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?
If someone has a young child, I have given them the Dr Seuss books I love and think have great points, or just early favorites of mine, but that's the only time I'll ever choose books for anyone - picture books.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?
The only time I have ever given a book to a non-reader was when I bought my dad a book -- a cookbook of recipes using chipotle peppers, which he loves. When I handed it to him he was a bit concerned, being able to tell it was a book lol, but then he opened it and flipped it to the front and was like OH! Haha. But yeah no, I don't give books to readers, I certainly don't give them to non-readers!

250bragan
Dec 9, 2016, 11:57am Top

Question 14:

I'll give sort of a general answer to this one, because my point-by-point answers probably wouldn't be very interesting.

I do love giving books as gifts, but I give books that I'm pretty sure the recipient will like, rather than handing out books I liked for myself. Generally, it's either a book that's on the person's wishlist, or a book, usually non-fiction, that deals with what I know is a big area of interest for them (assuming I can ascertain that they don't have it already). E.g. last year I got a friend of mine who's a huge Monty Python fan a book about Monty Python. So, no standard book gifts I like to give everyone, or anything like that.

I have been known to give books to non-readers, but only if I think it's something they're actually going to be interested in regardless, not as an attempt to make them read something. I remember once giving my stepfather, who was definitely not a reader, but who loved nothing more than a gambling trip to Las Vegas, a book called How to Win at Gambling. He told me he kept staring at the wrapped package going, "That looks like a book. Why did she get me a book?" and then was delighted when he opened it and realized what it was. Although whether he actually read/used it or not, I don't know.

Also, my dad isn't much of a reader these days, but he does love the Lord of the Rings movies, and I discovered that making-of-the-movies art books for those were kind of a hit with him.

I've never given anyone a set of books, though. That sounds like it could get expensive.

251VivienneR
Dec 9, 2016, 12:35pm Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?
Often. For a specific event or no reason at all. My family are all big readers, so they can always depend on books from me. The bookstore is the first place I go to for gifts. I've even given a beautiful cookbook as a wedding gift that was much appreciated.

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?
Doesn't apply. There is a book for everyone.

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
Can't remember ever giving the same title to more than one person, although I might recommend a favourite title to several people.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on?
No.

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?
Never. Although special to me, it might not suit someone else.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?
Yes, and I've had a lot of success. The trick is finding the perfect book. Sometimes a little convincing is necessary. It's good to hear back that the choice was right.

g) Do you give sets of books?
No, but I may give a subsequent book by an author the recipient previously enjoyed.

252japaul22
Dec 9, 2016, 7:49pm Top

I give books for gifts quite a bit, but I try to do it with the reader I'm buying for in mind instead of just giving my favorites to everyone. This year for Christmas I bought John Stewart's new book for my sister who had mentioned wanting to read it (so that's easy!), Ruth Reichl's new cookbook/memoir for a friend who loved Gourmet (her magazine) and Reichl's fiction, an audible subscription for a friend who has been getting into audiobooks from the library, and A Month in the Country for my mother in law who has been reading a lot of WWI fiction.

I also buys books often for the kids I buy presents for. My own get tons from me and I also give books as gifts to my young nieces and nephews.

253Nickelini
Dec 9, 2016, 8:54pm Top

Over the years I've given lots of books. This year there won't be many. My 16 year old always has a list, so that's easy. If I see something appropriate for someone, even if they're not much of a reader, I'll give it. In the past my brother in law was a big reader and he was very easy to find interesting books for, so I'd always give him a few. However, he has a new love interest and she doesn't read at all, so I think he's stopped to do stuff with her. No books for him this Christmas!

When friends have babies, I always get a nice basket and then fill it with books. The one I always try to include is The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, just because it's not the expected book, it's good for ages 0-7 (at least), it has retro charm, and it's just delightful.

254mabith
Dec 9, 2016, 8:56pm Top

>250 bragan: >252 japaul22: Yes, I hope it goes without saying I only give books I'm pretty sure the other person will really love (same with recommendations even).

Others have mentioned not following up, and I'm the same. I give a book, and then from there it's up to the other person. Barring my best friend, but best friendships are a bit different.

256japaul22
Dec 10, 2016, 12:14pm Top

>253 Nickelini: We really like that one too! It was a gift from a great-aunt and I had never heard of it. Great gift!

257Oandthegang
Dec 11, 2016, 3:34pm Top

a) Yes I give books for birthdays etc and sometimes just randomly.

c) Sometimes if I've just discovered a book that I like I will enthusiastically buy copies for those of my friends who might also like it.

d) There are a number of books which I think children should have, hopefully to love, but at least to keep in their libraries, so I repeat these titles at birth and for the first couple of years (I generally stop when they are old enough to know what they are being given). The titles are not just for the first years, but things they will hopefully read, and even come back to, in years to come.

e) I suppose in the books I give at d), yes.

f) Books are always my gift of first resort, but if extended subsequent exposure to the recipient leads me to suspect that books will only gather dust I fall back on more traditional, neutral, gifts or just quietly give up altogether. People in this category are generally spouses/children/parents/in-laws of friends with whom I share Christmas.

g) Yes, as part of the congratulations on being born, now get reading, collections. Things like Beatrix Potter, all four of the A A Milne Pooh and poetry books, both the Alice books, and a bit more randomly the original Flower Fairy sets, the Narnia books, etc.

(I don't know The Story Of Ferdinand, will have to look it out.)

258thorold
Dec 12, 2016, 5:00am Top

>248 thorold: c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
Not consciously.


Hmm. I placed a big order yesterday, meant to cover most of my family Christmas presents this year. On the spur of the moment I added a book that "would be perfect for" one particular family member: matching one of his big interests, but from a direction that he would never have thought to look in. But now I'm almost sure that I must have bought him the same ook for the same reason three or four years ago...

259tonikat
Dec 13, 2016, 11:37am Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?

Yes. Though increasingly unsure I should in some cases on the basis of how much some get read.

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not? - n/a

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?

No - try to fit the book to the person.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on?

no.

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life?

yes - if I think they are relevant to the recipient, or especially if we've discussed them, or I know they are interested in such things.

f) Do you give books to non-readers?

yeah, see question 1...not complete non readers just not big readers maybe or at the mo.

g) Do you give sets of books? not as yet

260This-n-That
Dec 13, 2016, 3:09pm Top

My answer to all of the above is I only give books as gifts to a few people I know are avid readers and tailor the choice to something I think they will enjoy, such as a new release from their favorite genre.

261AlisonY
Dec 13, 2016, 6:36pm Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?
I buy my kids books all the time. I love to encourage their interest in reading, and there is the small matter of that book-shopping compulsion thing. A good pal and I regularly give books as birthday gifts to each other, as we both know how much the other appreciates a good read. I occasionally give books as Christmas gifts, especially interiors books.

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not? - n/a

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)?
Not at all - I buy books based on the interests of the person I'm buying for.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on? No. I enjoy book shopping for other people as much as for myself, so get a kick out of browsing for new titles.

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life? No. I think we each tread our own path in that respect. It's like trying to force your favourite song onto someone else; it's your moment, not theirs.

f) Do you give books to non-readers? Occasionally, although whilst you can bring the horse to water you can't make it drink. I think a fair number of books I've bought have ended up unopened.

g) Do you give sets of books? No, unless perhaps for the kids. I like buying book sets and splitting them up as party gifts instead of giving cheap bits of plastic in party bags when it's my kids' birthdays.

262SassyLassy
Edited: Dec 15, 2016, 10:32am Top

QUESTION 15

Audio books are definitely here to stay. However, there is a real difference between an aural and a visual experience.



a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?


__________
image from bluestacks.com

263ELiz_M
Dec 15, 2016, 11:22am Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?
Yes

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?
Mostly while doing other things -- cooking cleaning, running errands. Occasionally while traveling.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?
Depends on the book reader -- some work better and are more vivid as audio books and some don't.

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?
Yes. I prefer plot-driven books for audio; non-fiction rarely works for me in audio.

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?
See above.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?
Print books if I'm reading, but really it was more movie versions of books :)

264ursula
Edited: Dec 15, 2016, 3:22pm Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

Of course. I'm not sure what "fake" reading would be.

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

I listen to audio books mostly while I draw. Or while I run.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

It really depends. Generally I think it's comparable, but I miss more details, like names and that sort of thing. For the entirety of a book I thought that the arctic explorer ship the Terror was the Terra because of unfamiliarity with the name and listening to a British narrator. When I'm telling my husband about a book that I listened to, there's a lot of "then this one guy" and "oh wait, maybe that other thing happened first."

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?


I listen exclusively to non-fiction. I hate listening to dialogue or different character voices or whatever other devices are used in fiction. You do still get those in non-fiction but it's not as continuous.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?

If I'd only broken my legs or something and could still work, I'd probably do the same as now - mostly print with audio while I work. If the circumstances were different, I would prefer to go with all print. The only circumstances I can really imagine going all-audio would be if, obviously, the problem were my eyes, or if I couldn't hold a book or turn pages.

265bragan
Dec 15, 2016, 11:47am Top

I don't do audio books, myself, although I do listen to a lot of podcasts, including some that do short-form fiction. So it's not that I'm opposed to consuming things in audio format. Come to think of it, the fact that I have more than enough podcasts to fill up all my available listening time is probably part of the reason I have zero desire to do actual books on audio. For what it's worth, I always do do other things while listening to the podcasts, such as housework, driving, or taking a walk. It has to be something that doesn't require a great deal of conscious thought, though. (I will add that I'm amused by the wording of "Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?" I do other things while reading print books all the time!)

And even though it's not something I do myself, if you've listened to a book in unabridged audio format, I'd say of course that counts as reading the book.

266AnnieMod
Dec 15, 2016, 1:57pm Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?
Yes.

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?
Depends on the book (but the same applies to paper/electronic books as well sometimes). If anything, I am more likely to pay attention just to the book than when I am reading the text - no way to listen to music and to an audio book for example. I tend to listen to books when I am working on my cross stitch projects and similar things - it is better than watching a movie or the TV while trying to do that.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?
Again - depends on the book. I do not listen to non narrative non-fiction - I am a visual learner and the listening without taking notes had never worked for me. But for fiction or narrative history? It's a different kind of memory but not a worse one. Of course switching between audio and print can be challenging in the speculative fiction field (especially with creative authors that are inventing words and languages) but then I had been switching between languages for those for a long time and that is actually harder than audio/printed

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?
No for the most part - I have series where I would listen to one book and read another for example. And for some of the classics, audio is my preferred format (usually a new translation or something I had read before in a different language)

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?
No.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?
Depends on why I am laid up. If light is re-triggering my migraine, I would go audio. Other from that - what matters is what I want to read at the moment.

267tonikat
Dec 15, 2016, 3:16pm Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

I don't feel I have read them in a way, I think that's where I get any feeling like this from -- and yet for poetry or say a play this is such a good format. I think I waver a bit on this answer. I've not been listening to them for a variety of practical reasons.

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

I quite like to listen when I drive (but can't at the moment, ipod/car not getting along) or when I walk (but don't now as I don't like walking about with headphones on, the ear plug things are bad for me). I like the idea of listening when I do chores but it doesn't work for me somehow. It'd be nice to listen and draw. I couldn't listen and write.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

I think I remember print a bit better, for non fiction anyway - looking at my audiobooks I have no fiction, just biography, poetry, drama, other non fiction. I do get frustrated when i want to go back and check something - easy in a book not very doable in audiobooks (for me anyway). I was listening to 7 habits of highly effective people and enjoying that, but I kept wanting to flick backwards and forward and look at the chapter organisation or index which I couldn't at all. I think I had an idea that audiobooks would be a way to get some interesting info another way, but maybe not for things I most wanted to read.

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

no

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?

I think they are good for poetry - though I heard a poem read by a voice I could not stand and I dislike this poem now for that reason, less for the voice than for the way they tried to act the poem. It put me off my poetry theory, and chose whose voice to hear much more carefully after that.

I've no idea why I have no fiction - I like the whole oral tradition and the idea of telling stories - I wonder if I listen to lots of stories and this is a reason I don't listen to more this way.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?

print as long as I were able...or being read to by a real live human, need more such people in my life to read to and be read to by (current count, outside of classes, of people who a) would or b) have the time to is zero)...there is a line in a Paul Durcan poem 'I want us to read novels to each other', I'd forgotten this was an option until I read that.

268dchaikin
Edited: Dec 15, 2016, 10:17pm Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

It's different than reading...not entirely different, but still. I can listen to audio book without ever getting into it. It's like skimming. But then I can also get carried away in a manner different from that of reading. But mainly, with audio I lose intake control. I can't doublecheck, or look things up and I have trouble with names. I confuse them and I lose that chance to hover on their first appearance and put into memory.

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

Oddly, I'm a terrible listener. My attention goes everywhere. (True with other things to - like simple conversations.) I mostly listen while driving to and from work.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

Names are tough. And my attention drifting means I miss parts (different than forgetting). Those are input issues. As for memory itself, while I think the nature of the memories are different, they are more or less equivalent in quality.

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

Lighter. Audio for me needs to have a simple narrative. Boring is ok. But if it's just a little complicated, I get confused.

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?

I like nonfiction a lot. Fiction can work wonderfully if the reader is composed and handles it well, and the nature of the narrative is straightforward storytelling. Authors who are better storytellers read better in audio.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?

Print. If I'm not doing something, I'm terribly impatient with audio. It's like watching a clock.

269dchaikin
Dec 15, 2016, 10:11pm Top

Rethinking the memory issue. One thing unique with audio on my commute is that I have spatial memories. I associate parts of the book with the place (and time) I listened to. With print I just don't move around as much.

270thorold
Dec 16, 2016, 2:41am Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

I've only ever listened to about five or six audiobooks, so I don't have much experience, but I didn't find the result any "less" than reading a paper book or ebook.

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

I have real trouble listening to something and doing nothing (no problem in a theatre or concert hall, but when I'm on my own I really have to force myself to do it). The few times I've listened to audiobooks it's mostly been whilst travelling on trains or walking. (I don't drive, and the time I spend on non-noisy housework like ironing doesn't add up to enough to make it worthwhile listening to a book then.)

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

Better - but that could be because it's unusual for me to be listening to a book. As someone mentioned above, I associate the book with where I was listening to it, and v.v.

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

Not really.

e) Are audio books better for certain kinds of books, for instance those with lots of dialogue or storytelling?

I can't imagine using audio for something technical where you need to refer back and forth and look things up.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?

Audio might be an option: I didn't think about it last time I was in that position. I can imagine that the constant interruptions of hospital life might make it less pleasant to listen than to read, but listening is physically much more flexible than reading, so it might be more comfortable if you're constrained in terms of movement. Nuisances like battery life and restrictions on radio signals come into play too, though...

271.Monkey.
Dec 16, 2016, 5:42am Top

I dislike audio books. To me it doesn't seem in the same ballpark as actually reading, it doesn't hold my attention, and I don't like just sitting there trying to listen while not doing anything - but if I do something then I'm hardly listening. I wouldn't tell anyone else they couldn't tick something off as read, or whatever, that they listened to, but for me, it just doesn't count; it isn't right, it isn't the proper reading experience, it's not absorbing the words on the page. Kind of like if I saw a stage production of something, I wouldn't count it as having read it, even though I heard all the words. Again, not arguing against anyone else, strictly my own perceptions for me.

272This-n-That
Dec 16, 2016, 1:03pm Top

I'll answer in a summary format. I consider audiobooks real reading and feel they are great for people who have long commutes, etc. However, I usually have problems paying attention while trying to multitask, which is why I don't gravitate towards them currently. The exception is for classics, especially if I can download the ebook for free and pay under $2 for the audio. In that case I read the book but may listen for a while at night, when my eyes are tired and sore. My concentration and interest is high while listening to a friend or family member but I am an impatient audiobook user. I can read much faster and cannot stand to speed up the audio. I miss too much and it reminds me of the Chipmunks Christmas Album.

273Nickelini
Edited: Dec 16, 2016, 2:08pm Top

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

Of course

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

Audiobooks are perfect to listen to while doing things that don't require thought or reason. I used to listen to them* while painting, cleaning, gardening, or walking. They are also good on long commutes.

If I have to think or make decisions, they don't work -- I can listen while cooking, but if I have to stop and look at a recipe, the listening stops. Likewise, I can't listen while crafting because I have to make choices and measurements.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

Depends on the book, not the format.

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

I don't think it's a lighter-heavier, but instead perhaps more linear

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?

Don't know, never been laid up for long. I think it depends. I've had two friends recovering from cancer who thought they'd read a lot and neither was able to focus.

* I haven't listened to audiobooks the last few years because I got frustrated with the free service from the library. Now I just listen to podcasts.

274kac522
Dec 20, 2016, 11:40pm Top

I'm new to this party, but thought I'd answer the last question:

a) Do you consider listening to audio books "real" reading?

No, not really, because I don't feel that I'm paying 100% attention because I'm usually doing other things (like driving or mindless busy work on the computer).

b) Do you listen with undivided attention, or unlike reading a book, while doing other things?

See above.

c) Do you remember the book better or worse in an aural format?

Worse. I miss stuff, and I don't always follow. BUT I would say I get a better emotional feel for the book when I'm listening, depending on the narrator. MUCH depends on the narrator, IMHO.

d) Are the books you listen to lighter than the ones you read?

I can easily listen to non-fiction and generally follow along, even if I miss parts, or am not fully paying attention.

However, I never listen to fiction for the first time on audio because I miss too much. I listen to fiction books that I have loved reading, already have an idea of the plot, characters, etc., even if it was some time ago. Because I don't have to concentrate on the story, I listen for the language and the author's use of words. I listen for the characters--here's where a great narrator can bring characters alive through dialogue, different voices, etc., and can speak lines in a completely different way & manner/emphasis than I may have read them in the book.

I've got the complete set of Jane Austen on audio, with Juliet Stevenson narrating 5 of the 6 novels. Despite the fact that I've read all the novels numerous times, Stevenson's readings are like discovering the books all over again. Her reading of Persuasion is particularly poignant and wonderful.

For me listening to fiction on audio after reading the book, is akin to reading the book first, then watching the movie. A great book with a great reader is like watching (maybe better than) the best movie version.

f) If you were laid up for a while, would you go with audio or print books?

Depends on whether I could concentrate on physically reading with my eyes and holding a book/e-reader. If I wasn't up to it, I would listen, for sure.

275SassyLassy
Dec 22, 2016, 2:04pm Top

Elena Ferrante, whoever she/he is, has said the focus should be on books, not authors.



QUESTION 16>

a) Does the author's persona, personality or political views affect your book choices?

b) Are there certain authors you refuse to read because of who they are or what they represent?

c) If so, could you name a few?

d) Do you feel that reading only works by authors who are perceived to fit the current ethos limits your range?

276.Monkey.
Dec 22, 2016, 2:28pm Top

Q16
a)
Yes, if they're very vocal about it. If someone has some personal beliefs I don't support but keeps it to themselves, it's only known to those who actually know them personally, then whatever. But if they use their fame (or their books) as a platform to spew hate, they can rot in hell and they will not get one cent of my money.

b) Most definitely.

c) Orson Scott Card is the one that really comes to mind. His miserable anti-gay bullshit is just, no, screw off. I had intended to read ...oh, Ender's Game? I think that's it, but hadn't gotten around to it. Then all that crap and, yeah I won't even touch a used copy, I want nothing to do with him. I'm sure there's some others but it's not something I really think much about... Oh, well, I guess some others would be like Bill O'Reilly & co, trying to read any of that drivel would literally drive me insane, I would go mad. But, they write nonfic explicitly about that, too, it's not like the author of a novel where the person behind it isn't supposed to be the focus, so it's a bit different.

d) I'm not even sure what you're trying to say here. But if you mean does ignoring bigots limit me, no, I certainly do not believe it does. I don't need to swallow someone's hatred in order to be aware that exists in the world, and there's far more stories than I will ever have time to read so why waste time on theirs?

277dchaikin
Dec 22, 2016, 2:34pm Top

I disagree with Ferrante. I think knowing the author is part of the book. I think I would feel differently about Ferrante's novels if she turned out to be some young guy who has never left Cleveland, OH, as I'm reading her book assuming some familiarity with 1950's-1960's Naples, Italy. That wouldn't make the books bad, but it would make them very different.

These specific questions are tough for me as I can't think of names on the top of my head, but I'm sure some terrible people have written some wonderful books and were only able to write them because of who they were. I'll still read them (if their work is not merely serving some distasteful agenda. But then it wouldn't be wonderful, right?). And I try to read an author understanding that their ethos are different from mine.

278Nickelini
Edited: Dec 22, 2016, 2:52pm Top

I'm going to have to think about this because on first reading I have conflicting opinions. I think we have to separate fiction and non-fiction. Given the Bill O'Reilly example above, I agree I wouldn't read him because he has horrible things to say, but even more so, I wouldn't read him because he has no credibility with me. However, if something he wrote was a very important topic to me, I might read it in an act of researching the opposition.

But it would be completely different if he wrote fiction, and fiction that was completely separate from the normal ballistic nonsense that comes out of his mouth (“Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.”). I still wouldn't read it just because there are so many other books to read, but it would be a different story.

279.Monkey.
Dec 22, 2016, 2:58pm Top

>278 Nickelini: Given the Bill O'Reilly example above, I agree I wouldn't read him because he has horrible things to say, but even more so, I wouldn't read him because he has no credibility with me. However, if something he wrote was a very important topic to me, I might read it in an act of researching the opposition.

Right, it would depend on the source though. As you say, he has zero credibility so even if he somehow wound up publishing about something important, it would still just be nonsensical drivel. Now, if someone who was actually intelligent and a bigot wrote something about an important topic, then I might possibly read it, or at least skim through it, to see what exactly they were trying to argue.

But if O'Reilly wrote fiction, it would be the same as OSC, I wouldn't touch it because he's scum and I don't care about any story he would possibly pen.

280tonikat
Dec 22, 2016, 3:14pm Top

a) I think its possible the charisma of an author, their reputation could attract me to a book sometimes, and so maybe the opposite is also possible. But its not the main thing, that's the charisma or reputation of the book usually, or if I'm reading someone its place in their work.
Political views - they may affect it I guess. No wish to read Hitler. Their morality and philosophy in general may affect the choice. Though I'm sure its no bad thing to read people i don't agree with, but can I be bothered? (I'm sure people on the right are well versed in the thoughts of the left.) People putting bad arguments, clearly bad, I may not want to read...but maybe that is part of how we have got to where we have, if it weren't just me.

b) not sure about refuse to read. But I definitely don't have to (as yet).

c) do i want to in current political climate?

d) I'm not sure I do do that - and which climate, there are loads of micro climates out there...I need to think about all this a bit more. There are often parts of books I do like that I don't agree with, and often aspects of authors I do like that I don't like. I also think that authors of the past may have got away with all sorts, lost in the mists of time or just not as observable b others as our world is now.

281bragan
Edited: Dec 22, 2016, 4:10pm Top

I think I may kind of prefer not to know too much about authors beyond what is embodied in their books, especially if it's something unpleasant. Because while I sort of like to take the books on their own terms, it can be impossible not to judge them based on what I know about the author, or to let that knowledge color my reactions. I mean, I don't think I'm ever going to be able to enjoy an Orson Scott Card novel the way I did back when I first read Ender's Game knowing nothing of Card's politics or opinions, to use an example that's already been brought up. And I did enjoy that book. It would be weird to wish I'd enjoyed it less, wouldn't it? Although, on the other hand, I suppose I am glad to know that he's not someone I want to support, in order not to give him any more of my money.

I do think it's good to read a little bit from the perspective of those who disagree with you, or have very different beliefs, or whatever. But there are limits to what I'm willing to sit and listen to. And I'm not interested in the thoughts and opinions of idiots, so, yeah I'm not going to pick up anything Bill O'Reilly has written, either.

282AnnieMod
Dec 22, 2016, 4:10pm Top

QUESTION 16

a) Does the author's persona, personality or political views affect your book choices?
No. I would not read a book by someone that claims that evolution never happened not because of their views and beliefs but because I really do not care to read on that topic. If the same guy produces a book on a topic I am interested in and where he is not on the fringes? He can claim that the Earth is square for all I care if he knows what he is talking about in the other book.
And if fiction is concerned - I care even less. I find some science fiction authors to be a sorry excuse for a human being but if they have the talent to write? I'd still read them.

b) Are there certain authors you refuse to read because of who they are or what they represent?
No. But I end up not reading some simply because I am not interested in what they produce (and sometimes it is because of their views and inability to write anything that does not scream "nonsense" from the cover). And I do read books from authors I disagree with - as long as they actually can present their theory in a way different than "as every child knows" or "the Bible says" or "It is because I say so, I am not going to prove it"...

N/A on the other 2 based on a and b:)

283mabith
Dec 22, 2016, 4:42pm Top

QUESTION 16>

a) Does the author's persona, personality or political views affect your book choices?
Yes, more or less depending on whether they write fiction or non-fiction. I very seldom follow up on authors, so I learn about those issues haphazardly.

b) Are there certain authors you refuse to read because of who they are or what they represent?
Probably? I haven't thought about it too much.

c) If so, could you name a few?
I certainly wouldn't pick up a Bill O'Reilly 'history' book, because it's clear he doesn't know how to be remotely impartial or fair-minded (or have the background necessary to write a really good history text). There are others, like Robert Harris (supporter of Roman Polanski), where I read the last in a trilogy he did, but won't read more. If I want to reread my favorite by him, I make sure to get via the library, or with any method where no money goes to him.

d) Do you feel that reading only works by authors who are perceived to fit the current ethos limits your range?
No. For one thing, there are sooo many books published that unless you read incredibly narrowly you'll never be limited. Also, we read books by people we disagree with all the time but don't realize it. I don't think it's really about the 'current ethos' as it is personal values (and with non-fiction it's usually more about accuracy of reporting).

284dchaikin
Dec 22, 2016, 5:59pm Top

O'Reilly is trash. Card is more complicated since Enders Game is considered a scifi classic (I haven't read it, but not because the author is a freak) What about Ezra Pound?

But lots of authors have done despicable stuff - murder, rape, abuse, etc. - not to mention philandering, lying, cheating, personal attacks, having offensive political leanings, racism, mysogeny, ugly jealousies, intentionally or carelessly caused pain to many others in various inethical ways, etc. And a lot of this stuff is done discretely, leaving us to question about everyone. Common decency would shrink the literary pool substantially.

285Nickelini
Dec 22, 2016, 6:06pm Top

Common decency would shrink the literary pool substantially

Too true. And if you're going to be principled, where do you draw the line?

286thorold
Dec 22, 2016, 6:11pm Top

QUESTION 16>

a) Does the author's persona, personality or political views affect your book choices?

They affect what I choose to read, definitely, but I don't think it is ever likely to be my main reason for choosing or not choosing to read a work of literature. I'm not going to struggle through a dull novel just because the author is a lefty gay vegetarian cyclist, nor am I going to miss out on a great and entertaining work because it was written by an obnoxiously heterosexual Roman Catholic wine snob...

Of course, when you happen to know something about the author's life and opinions, it makes you that little bit more or less likely to pick that book off the pile. But it would be very limiting only to read people you agree with. And you could probably find a good reason for not reading just about everyone from Homer to Philip Roth, if you put your mind to it.

287.Monkey.
Dec 23, 2016, 8:19am Top

See lots of people have been tossing around the word "disagree." I think there is a massive difference between disagreeing with someone, and thinking someone is bigoted scum etc. I disagree with plenty of folks here about stuff, I disagree with conservatives, republicans, meat-eaters, etc etc etc, about many things. So what? That doesn't mean anything at all, I can find things to disagree with everyone on the planet about, including my husband! I don't feel simple disagreement is what this question was asking about.

And if you're going to be principled, where do you draw the line?
I draw it the same place I do for everything - personal opinion/life vs the rights of others. Do I think you're a great person if you're a cheating liar? No, likely not, but your life is your own and that's none of my business. But when your beliefs try to take away the rights & freedoms of other human beings, then we have a big problem, particularly if you are, as I said, using your prominent voice as a platform for these things.

288tonikat
Edited: Dec 23, 2016, 9:20am Top

>287 .Monkey.: it's a good point.

I suppose I've been spoiled by the defence of rights and not having much to defend being for myself, but as my situation changes, not to mention the world, I now see how much that's needed and how hate stalks and struts, hiding from understanding.

289SassyLassy
Dec 27, 2016, 3:53pm Top

Writing in the National Post newspaper on September 19th, Robert Fulford quotes a 1904 letter from Franz Kafka:



I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?... We need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply...


QUESTION 17

a) Do you agree with Kafka?

b) Tell us why or why not.

290dchaikin
Dec 27, 2016, 4:12pm Top

a) don't know

b) because I haven't figured out yet why I read.

(Skipping the obvious answers - that everyone reads for their own reasons. And that we like to enjoy what we read.

...

And, surely, there were times I would have been willing to agree with K, even if I never actually got to that point. And, that, logically, that statement must mean I don't agree with K right now.)

291tonikat
Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 6:04pm Top

a) I imagine he means as that will wake us better to reality, or truth and so ourselves and the divine.

I tend to agree - but maybe not exclusively.

b) Someone that could think to take such blows may have a lot of faith and experience at coping with such. I wonder if they see lots of the ways people need to deliberately hide from such - and I wonder if for at least some of those ways people need other reading, examples, methods, reassurance, community, the things some of us have missed (we all miss something), more, so we may start to be able to make such moves...as it may be is what we all do do, move towards such. Or maybe he also (rightly) has a lot of faith that when such happens to shock us then people are at their best in moving towards truth, in it, with it.

Coincidentally I've been reading Conversations with Kafka for a while, a few conversations at a time. Earlier today I read this on a train:

(it began with a section speaking of cinemas in the first Czechoslovak Republic and one named The Cinema of the Blind, for reasons explained in the text, and a story of presenting Kafka with some of his stories bound that upset Kafka who questioned whether he should be printed at all - this in the early 1920's)

". . .

I continued: 'You said that art is a mirror which - like a clock running fast - foretells the future. Perhaps your writing is, in today's Cinema of the Blind, only a mirror of tomorrow.'

'Please don't go on,' said Kafka fretfully, and covered his eyes with both hands.

I apologized. 'Please forgive me, I didn't mean to upset you. I'm stupid.'

'No, no - you're not that!' Without removing his hands, he rocked his whole body to and fro. 'You are right. You are certainly right. Probably that's why I can't finish anything. I am afraid of the truth. But can one do otherwise?' he took his hands away from his eyes, placed his clenched fists on the table and said in a low, suppressed voice: 'One must be silent, if one can't give any help. No one through his own lack of hope, should make the condition of the patient worse. For that reason all my scribbling is to be destroyed. I am no light. I have merely lost my way among my own thorns. I'm a dead end.'

. . . "

(Conversations with Kafka, G. Janouch p150)

So, problematic for him too.

"In much wisdom is much grief' - Ecclesiastes.

It also occurs to me - aren't the Gospels, the good news, though that too with grief. Though of course they do give that news. They are also truly radical.

292bragan
Dec 27, 2016, 7:02pm Top

Q17:

No. Because there are a million different things that reading can do for you or to you, and that, valuable as it is, is only one of them. I've always felt real pity for people who only seem to experience, or want to experience, one or two of those million things from books, whichever of those experiences they've chosen.

293cindydavid4
Dec 27, 2016, 9:10pm Top

I just discovered this post, and love going through the answers to questions! Wonder if this will be continued for next year?

295ELiz_M
Dec 27, 2016, 9:13pm Top

>293 cindydavid4: The thread has already been started in Club Read 2017.

296cindydavid4
Dec 27, 2016, 9:14pm Top

a) Do you give books as presents either for an event or for no reason at all?

Yes, all of the time

b) This being Club Read, if you don't, why not?

c) Do you have a favourite title you give frequently (to different people of course!)? The Good Omen for adults who I think will like it, and Phantom Tollbooth to kids who are ready for it.

d) Do you have a favourite title for particular events such as wedding, bar mitzvahs, Christmas, birthdays and so on? See above

e) Do you give books which are important to you, or that were important at a particular stage in your life? yes, depending on the interest of the reader

f) Do you give books to non-readers?
no

g) Do you give sets of books?
only if its a set of books that the reader could possibly be interested in

297cindydavid4
Dec 27, 2016, 9:19pm Top

QUESTION 13

a) We all do it. What books or genres do you avoid?

horror, westerns, romances. Mysteries of the whodunit variety (as opposed to psychological thrillers)

b) Do you know why? Horror because I don't like to be scared westerns coz living in Az made me really come to hate them. Romances because they are usually way over the top for me Whoduits coz usually I figure it out long before the end

c) Have you actually read from a genre you currently avoid, or do you just skip it on general principle? not really

d) Would you be willing to visit/revisit this type of book through 2 or 3 of its classics and reconsider your views? Yes, depending on the book.

298Nickelini
Dec 27, 2016, 9:26pm Top

Q17 -- No.

Currently I'm rereading Pride and Prejudice and noticing new things. This is my favourite novel, but it doesn't fit any of that . . . . P&P has made a huge impression on me, but wound me? Maybe I'm wounded that Mr Darcy hasn't whisked me away to Pemberley, but otherwise . . .

299.Monkey.
Dec 28, 2016, 4:50am Top

>292 bragan: No. Because there are a million different things that reading can do for you or to you, and that, valuable as it is, is only one of them. I've always felt real pity for people who only seem to experience, or want to experience, one or two of those million things from books, whichever of those experiences they've chosen.
This exactly.

300mabith
Dec 28, 2016, 11:07am Top

>292 bragan: >299 .Monkey.: Same.

Books that wound me are perhaps more likely to stick with me, but the same goes for a very humorous books or one that really affirms my experience of an aspect of my life or just a book that makes me happy all the way through.

301Oandthegang
Dec 28, 2016, 6:07pm Top

Question 16

I would not read anything by David Starkey as from my admittedly superficial knowledge of him he seems unable to contain his contempt for women, which appears to be so virulent that it must colour his interpretation of historical events. I heard him on a radio programme in which he seemed to having difficulty accepting that there might be any good historians who were female, so I don't know how he would deal with women of power and influence in history. It is not that I would not read him because I find his views offensive, just that I wouldn't trust what he is saying. I realise there are lots of historians out there who have personal political views which will tend to colour their interpretation of the past, but Starkey appears to be in a class of his own.

I would not read Hillary Mantel. Everything about her is like an army of hands scratching their nails on blackboards.

I think it is wrong to only read books which fit with the current ethos. One has to know and understand what is out there and what has been out there in the past. Reading only what fits limits knowledge and understanding and is potentially dangerous.

Question 17

I think Kafka's wrong. Great dramatic statement, but if taken at face value completely unsustainable. Sure, good thing to read books that amaze us, that hit us with something "like a blow to the head", but the idea that every book we read should experienced as a disaster, grieving us deeply, would mean that our reading lives should be something like living in a war zone, or waking up to an earthquake day after day, or a kind of Groundhog Day repetition of discovering that one's lover had just died - mental health issues would be likely to follow. (And unlikely to be good for book sales.)

302dchaikin
Dec 28, 2016, 6:25pm Top

O - interesting comment on Mantel. What has she done? (I look a peak at her wikipedia page and the controversies listed seem...well, admittedly I have more distant view, but they seem mild to me. )

303cindydavid4
Dec 28, 2016, 6:39pm Top

Yeah I don't get the Mantel hate either.

304AnnieMod
Dec 28, 2016, 6:51pm Top

>301 Oandthegang:

David Starkey is a lot more balanced when writing about the Tudors - being one of the periods where women are important, I've always found his treatment pretty good (if not even fairer than some other authors). Years later, I caught an interview with him somewhere that got my eyebrows up of his dismissal of women as historian. Admittedly the interview I heard was discussing a few books, written by female historians that were trying to prove that men had nothing to do with the Tudors successes (none at all) and in that context I was even agreeing with him that that is not balanced and you should check your sex out at the door. And for a while the whole period was treated as a gold mine for proving that women are better (as I call it "the misunderstood feminism" - where it is woman first no matter what and not a woman equality).

So if your opinion is based on 1 interview, it is your right of course. But it may be a bit misplaced. :)

305AnnieMod
Dec 28, 2016, 7:00pm Top

Q17
No. Books like that have their place but there is so much more in books.

306This-n-That
Dec 29, 2016, 12:36am Top

>298 Nickelini: Ah, another Mr. Darcy fan! I understand your wounded feeling, lol. ;-)

307KimBeMe
Dec 29, 2016, 10:49am Top

With each new book I read, I expect to learn either something about myself or the world around me.

308thorold
Dec 29, 2016, 12:41pm Top

Q17

I agree with most of the other posts above: Kafka's comment works very well as a rhetorical gesture and as one possible yardstick for Great Literature (among many), but it doesn't have any real practical application. Rather like Umberto Eco telling us that a book is only worth having if you haven't read it yet.

309Oandthegang
Edited: Dec 29, 2016, 3:39pm Top

>302 dchaikin: , >303 cindydavid4: She just irritates the hell out of me. Life's like that. Sometimes there are people that one simply can't bear, and she for me is one. I could cite the perfectly ludicrous passage in the article she wrote about her attendance at Buckingham Palace : ‘I felt that such was the force of my devouring curiosity that the party had dematerialised and the walls melted and there were only two of us in the vast room and such was the hard power of my stare that Her Majesty turned and looked back at me, as if she had been jabbed in the shoulder.’ I could say her writing doesn't appeal. But it doesn't matter. She's got millions of fans, she doesn't need me, and that fact that I can't bear her will not be getting in her way. And I have more than enough other books to read.

>304 AnnieMod: Glad to hear that about Starkey and the Tudors. I mentioned that one particular interview, but he has been pretty outrageous on other occasions too. I did buy Starkey's book about Henry VIII's wives at the same time as buying Antonia Fraser's (I get that sort of rush of blood to the head from time to time when taking up a new subject) thinking it would be interesting to compare and contrast them. Whether I get that far is another question, as this is a newish field to me and it is taking me some time to absorb all the information in Fraser. Suppose rather than reading each book through I could swop them over queen by queen...

>294 AnnieMod: , >295 ELiz_M: Slightly puzzled as to why Questions For The Avid Reader suddenly developed at 2017 edition sometime in early December. Wouldn't it make more sense for the 2016 thread to run through to the end of 2016 and then a new thread start on 1 January 2017? (I know we're almost at 1 January 2017 now, but I'm still curious.)

310.Monkey.
Dec 29, 2016, 4:44pm Top

Because the group is there, and the sole question is about plans for the new year ahead. You are welcome to abstain from answering until the 1st.

311AnnieMod
Dec 29, 2016, 7:17pm Top

>309 Oandthegang:
To allow the "what are your plans?" question to run before the year starts, Resolutions before the end of the year and all that :)

312SassyLassy
Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 12:39pm Top



Thanks to all who answered the questions over the last six months or so. I've had a lot of fun doing this and also learned a lot, confessing here to never having heard of Bill O'Reilly on this side of the pond, or David Starkey on the other, and so not even being sure if I have the correct touchstones!

It seems .Monkey. is doing this thread for 2017, so to be continued here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/243299

313dchaikin
Dec 31, 2016, 12:40pm Top

This was a wonderful thread, Sassy. Thanks for making it that way. Of course we all contributed, but you got us started over and over again. I do hope you get involved again in next years threads.

314cindydavid4
Dec 31, 2016, 2:09pm Top

I came late to this, but love it! Can't wait to dive in to the next batch of questions!

315ursula
Dec 31, 2016, 2:23pm Top

>312 SassyLassy: Thank you for putting those questions out there. Job well done - it's not always easy kick-starting conversation!

316kac522
Dec 31, 2016, 2:47pm Top

>312 SassyLassy: and Thank you! Great questions to spark discussion!

317tonikat
Dec 31, 2016, 5:19pm Top

>312 SassyLassy:, late getting here but I enjoyed your questions too, thank you.

318This-n-That
Dec 31, 2016, 10:09pm Top

Thank you, Sassy. I enjoyed all your thoughtful questions and had fun participating. :-)

Happy New Year, all!

319AlisonY
Edited: Jan 1, 2017, 2:50pm Top

Well done Sassy - some fabulous questions this year.

On the last one on whether Kafka is right about only reading books which wake us like a blow to the head, I don't exclusively read like that but I do get where he was coming from. If I look at my 5 star reads, many of them have made me cry real tears, and they have all left me with serious book hangovers.

I think it's overstated so say there's no point in reading anything else, but for me those kind of reads are the ones that blow me away. I believe it's down to personal taste more than anything else, and this is a 'right for me' rather than 'right' answer. I enjoy poignant music too, with vocalists who send me to a different mental place from everyone else (Bowie, sigh....). Perhaps it's ruminating too much - I don't know. But that kind of heart-tearing literature works for me.

320Nickelini
Jan 2, 2017, 2:22am Top

>312 SassyLassy: I'm sort of jealous that you didn't know who Bill O'Reilly is, although I mostly know him from watching Jon Stewart and Stephan Colbert, and they've brought me endless joy (much at O'Reilly's expense), so maybe that's the price.

Anyway, thanks for all you did in 2016.

321Oandthegang
Jan 2, 2017, 2:32am Top

>312 SassyLassy: Thank you for the year of questions. They've been fun.

Group: Club Read 2016

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