Friday, November 05, 2004

I Don't Get Out Much, So I Read.

OK, I've seen this book meme a few places now. And, y'know, it's a book meme. How can I resist?


Hardback or Paperback? Both have their advantages. Hardbacks are more durable, paperbacks are more portable... I'll happily buy and read either. I also buy a fair number of trade paperbacks. The larger format is nice, especially for heavily illustrated books, but they're usually considerably cheaper than hardbacks.

Highlight or Underline? Highlighting, but only in textbooks actively being used in a class, which sort of don't count as "real" books. Otherwise, very emphatically neither.

Lewis or Tolkien? I enjoy both, but if forced to pick, I'll have to say Tolkien. I really ought to re-read Lord of the Rings one of these days.

E.B. White or A.A. Milne? Ooh, tough call. I adored White as a kid, but I find myself deeply charmed by Milne, even as an adult. So it's Milne, by a whisker.

T.S. Eliot or e.e. cummings? Hmm. I haven't read either properly, really. I've read bits and pieces of "The Hollow Men," which has left me with the impression that Eliot is capable of some wonderfully vivid and memorable turns of phrase, but that he's one of those poets who you pretty much have to be in order to understand their work completely. Which annoys me. Language should communicate, damn it, and if you're the only person capable of understanding what you've written, in my view you've failed as a writer. As for cummings, he really annoyed me on first acquaintance, as I thought his lack of capitals and structure both pointless and pretentious. But, then, I was a snot-nosed kid then and pretty much looked down on poetry in general. I vaguely remember encountering cummings again much more recently and being surprised by how well the rhythms of his language worked. So, um, I think I'd have to really go back and look at both of 'em again to make a judgment.

Stephen King or Dean Koontz? They both have their good and bad points. Koontz is great at suspense and characterization and writes a great supernatural potboiler, but he basically just writes the same damned book over and over again. King is actually very talented with language, and when he's really on he can send the shivers up your spine like nobody's business, but he just doesn't know how to edit, and nobody's willing to do it for him. Regardless, I'm going to go with King, because, if offered a choice, I'm pretty sure I'd pick a King novel I hadn't read over a Koontz novel I might as well have read five or six times already.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Waldenbooks or B. Dalton? Waldenbooks and B. Dalton, sadly, are kinda pathetic these days. I spent many happy hours browsing their shelves as a child, but either their selections have gone downhill or my standards have elevated considerably, or both. Borders and Barnes & Noble are both great, but I shop at Borders a lot more often because there's one conveniently located at one of the Albuquerque malls.

Fantasy or Science Fiction? I read a ton of both, and I don't necessarily tend to think of them as distinct genres, as they really do blend into each other at the edges. I do read more science fiction than fantasy overall, I think, and much of the fantasy I do read is kind of on the fringes of the genre, as opposed to the Tolkienesque Epic Fantasy stuff that seems to predominate these days.

Horror or Suspense? Either, if it's done well. Although I probably read quite a few more books labelled as being in the horror genre than the suspense genre. Horror kind of blends into fantasy at one end in pretty much the same way fantasy blends into science fiction, and I tend to just go for that whole "speculative fiction" realm as a whole.

Bookmark or Dogear? Bookmark! Dogearing is marginally acceptable in textbooks, and an abomination anywhere else.

Hemingway or Faulkner? The Hemingway I was forced to read in high school left me with a strong dislike of the guy's writing style. I occasionally think I should maybe go back and give him another try, but I've never been particularly motivated. I've never read any Faulkner.

Fitzgerald or Steinbeck? I was also forced to read Fitzgerald in high school, and also very much disliked him. The Great Gatsby was actually one of the better-received assignments in my English class... I think I was the only person who didn't like it, probably because I simply cannot stand hanging around with shallow people, whether real or fictional, and Gatsby's about as shallow as they come. I think my English teacher's constant dwelling on the Deep Symbolism of the book's every trivial detail didn't help, either. In any case, it left me with zero desire to read any more Fitzgerald. So Steinbeck, who I've never read, wins by default.

John Irving or John Updike? I've never read either, but The World According to Garp is on my To-Read Pile, so I guess Irving wins.

Homer or Plato? Tough call. Homer told interesting stories, but got way too long-winded about it. Plato had some weird-ass ideas, but he presented them in a very readable and engaging way. I suppose it'd depend entirely on what I was in the mood for.

Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser? I read a few bits of the Canterbury Tales in English class, and couldn't really see the appeal. I suppose it might be interesting to give Spenser a try sometime, though I doubt I ever will.

Pen or Pencil? Definitely a pen. Although a keyboard is infinitely preferable to either.

Looseleaf or Notebook? Notebook. I'd lose looseleaf if I tried to keep notes on it.

Alphabetize: By Author or By Title? By author, and then by title for each individual author. For fiction, anyway. My non-fiction is roughly organized by subject.

Dustjacket: On or Off? On.

Novella or Epic? A story should be as long as it needs to be, no longer and no shorter. These days, they seem far more likely to be too long than too short.

John Grisham or Scott Turow? Haven't read either one, and I couldn't even tell you want kind of books Turow writes. So Grisham, I guess. My mother likes him, I think, and our tastes at least occasionally agree.

J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket? I greatly enjoy both, but I think, while Rowling may provide a meatier reading experience, my affection for Snicket is slightly greater.

Fiction or Non-fiction? A fiction-to-non-fiction ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 is just about perfect.

Historical Biography or Historical Romance? Genre romance generally isn't much to my taste, so biography, I guess.

A Few Pages per Sitting or Finish at Least a Chapter? Ideally, I prefer finishing at least a chapter, but in practice it's almost always a few pages per sitting.

Short Story or Creative Non-fiction Essay? Apples and oranges, man.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? I admire anybody who actually gets away with using "It was a dark and stormy night." (Hey, Madeline L'Engle did!) I also have a strange fondness for fairytale retellings, though, especially dark or modern ones. And "Once upon a time" is a lot easier to get away with...

Buy or Borrow? Buy. Curse my book-buying addiction!

Book Reviews or Word of Mouth? A little of each, though I tend to put more stock in casual reviews posted on blogs or newsgroups or wherever as opposed to reviews by people paid to write them for a living.

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