Saturday, April 18, 2009


Yet another book-related meme that I picked up somewhere on my internet wanderings:

1) The worst reading experience that you have ever had?

Probably being trapped on an airplane with Battlefield Earth. Gaaah!

2) The best reading experience you have ever had?

I'm not sure there's any one best experience I can point to. But, man, there are few things in life as overwhelmingly pleasant as curling up in bed on a rainy day with a good book and a mug of cocoa.

3) Which book has affected or influenced you the most so far?

I'm going to have to say Carl Sagan's Cosmos (an answer I'm sure I've given to this type of question before). This was actually the companion book to his PBS series, but I read the book long before I watched the TV show, at a point when I was just beginning to feel some pressure to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I was already very interested in science generally and in astronomy specifically, but I give a lot of the credit (or possibly the blame) for my decision to major in astrophysics to Sagan. He just made studying outer space seem so freaking cool.

4) Have you ever read a book that you got really scared of?

William Sleator's House of Stairs freaked me the hell out when I first read it in my early teens.

5) What do you use as a bookmark?

I have a huge store of bookmarks, which I seem to just sort of randomly acquire from nowhere in particular. So mostly I use those, but in the rare occasions when I'm caught without one, I'll use a folded-in-half post-it or something.

6) When do you usually read? At home, work, while cooking, in the morning, noon, afternoon, before you go to bed...?

Yes. Also while waiting in line, while walking, while eating, in the bathtub, in the movie theater before the movie starts...

7) Do you remember the first book that you read?

Not as such. My mother tells me there was a Mother Goose collection I used to "read" when I was three, more by virtue of having the entire thing memorized than actually decoding the letters. I do remember that book, actually, but not necessarily reading it at age three.

8) Which do you prefer - paperback or hardcover?

I'm fine with either. Hardcovers have the advantage of being more durable and are easier to prop open with your plate while you're eating, but paperbacks are more portable and can be carried in the pocket of your jeans. I also buy quite a lot of trade paperbacks, or quality paperbacks, or whatever the actual technical name is for those things that are hardback-sized but have soft covers.

9) What are you currently reading? What page are you on?

I'm currently on page 140 of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, about to start a chapter entitled "Battle of the Sexes." Mmm, racy!

10) Do you ever leave "a mark" (deliberate and/or not deliberate) in your books? For example, write in them, underline quotes, coffeemarks or food crumbs and etc.

I do not write in books, with the not-recently-practiced exception of textbooks that I'm actually using for a class. (I regard those as being a special kind of book, and figure that helping me store and solidify my own knowledge is part of their function.) Unfortunately, due to my above-mentioned tendency to read while eating and bathing and etc., I do sometimes leave inadvertent marks in books. I'm afraid The Selfish Gene now has some chicken grease spots somewhere in the chapter about game theory and evolutionarily stable behavior strategies. I do try to avoid this, but as long as the book remains in readable shape, I don't obsess over it. In my opinion, books are meant to be read, not coddled. (I make an exception for books that don't belong to me, of course, although sometimes it seems that the harder I try to keep a book in pristine shape, the more impossible it gets.) Oh, and for books that do belong to me, I have a "from the library of" embosser that I use to stamp them with. It's a handy thing in case I lend them out.

11) Does the title, amount of pages and the cover affect you when you are considering a specific book?

An interesting title can certainly catch my attention, and although judging a book by its cover is just as bad an idea as the proverb suggests, sometimes it's kind of hard not to. I generally don't worry too hard about how long a book is when I'm deciding whether to purchase it or not, but it can certainly make a difference when I'm deciding what I want to read next.

12) Do you ever browse through to the last pages in order find out the ending?

Ye gods, no! I've occasionally accidentally read the last sentence of a book while flipping through to see exactly how many pages it is -- something I do fairly often -- and if I actually do pick up a spoiler that way, it upsets me.

13) Has knowing the ending of a book (example, through spoilers or a movie) ever made you decide whether you will read the book or not?

Not really, I don't think. Seeing a movie based on a book can sometimes make me decide to read the book, but generally that doesn't have any more to do with the ending than with any other part of the movie. Come to think of it, though, I have been considering picking up some more Agatha Christie books at some point, but will probably avoid the ones I happen to be spoiled for.

14) Is there a book that you have read more than five times?

I probably read A Wrinkle in Time that many times when I was a kid.

15) Have you ever been in an accident where the book was the cause? (for example, almost getting hit by a car when reading while walking, or having stacks of books falling on you from a bookshelf...)

There was the time Vir the cat knocked that omnibus volume of Harry Dresden novels off the headboard and directly into my cornea. I still have to lubricate my damned eye every night thanks to that.

16) Do you sell/give away your books or do you keep them, even though you don't like one of them?

I keep them. Obsessively. Even the sucky ones.

17) Do you have some kind of book system, where you write down what you are reading, have bought, will read, will buy and etc?

I have my entire book collection cataloged at LibraryThing, with tags indicating what I've read, what I haven't read yet, etc. I also keep an extensive list of books I'm interested in using Amazon's wishlist feature. (Speaking of which, Amazon does seem to have fixed their dodgy book-burying issues, which is good enough for me. Your level of internet-fueled outrage may vary.)


  1. 1. You didn't mention that you were stuck between two scientologists also. Otherwise the book would have been passable.

    3. I think I saw the series first and then the book appeared in my library. I think I was in 5th grade and so disappointed that he didn't show up at my school like he did that one in NYC.

    4. Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics. I have yet to get through the whole thing... nightmares...

    10. My parents taught me never never never never write in a book. I cringed when I got to college and they told me to mark in my physics book..

    12. Sadly yes.. sometimes though I read the book backwards so that I cant spoil the beginning.

    14. A Wrinkle in Time and My Side of the Mountain. I think also Between Planets and Phantom Tollbooth too. My grandfather read through 2 hardbound copies of The Count of Monte Cristo. I think he read the second one twice a year according to my grandmother (who had to hide it regularly so she could talk with him at the dinner table.)

    16. Sadly we had to sell two bookcases recently.

    17. Do you do that via ISBN numbers or is there some sort of scanner..

  2. 1) It oozed scientology out all over the plane. I swear it. It was hell.

    3) Heck, I watched the series again a year or two ago, and felt disappointed he'd never showed up at my school. :)

    4) Electrodynamics... ugh.

    10) I really did have to mentally categorize textbooks as a slightly different class of objects, or I would never have been able to overcome that inhibition, myself. It's a good thing I did, though, because apparently my most efficient study method involved obsessively highlighting whatever I really needed to understand.

    12) You, my friend, are a freak. :)

    14) Ooh, I think I've read The Phantom Tollbooth at least twice. And have a strange hankering to read it again, now.

    16) I'm going to need to buy some more bookcases soon to put all those books I keep buying in.

    17) I generally enter the ISBN numbers, although you can enter the title and the software will generally do a very good job of finding it for you via Amazon or the Library of Congress or one of a zillion other places. You can also use a scanner; they sell one through the site for something like $15.

  3. Are you still alive?

  4. Yes. Just lazy. It's too warm here, and I have no ambition. One of these days, I'll post some more random links, honest. :)