Wednesday, 16 July 2014

30 Really Quite Excellent Questions for a Bibliophile


I found these book-related questions on Tumblr the other day and decided I'd pick the best ones and answer them here on my blog. If you ever wanted to know anything about my favourite books, how much I read or my opinion on books becoming movies, I guarantee the answer will be somewhere in this post!

1. What was the last book you read?
I'm currently ploughing my way through American Gods by Neil Gaiman (recommended by my cousin), but the last book I finished was Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski.

2. Would you recommend it to other people?
It depends who to - if you're a teenage girl between the ages of 14 and 18 definitely, but otherwise perhaps not. The story is made up of ten chapters, each of which explain the story behind something the main character April and her friends wished they hadn't done. The story take place one semester when April's dad and his girlfriend move house, but she eventually gets permission to live with her friend Violet, whose mum is away travelling, so the two girls essentially have a house to themselves. Something I really liked was the way each flashback has a time and date on it, so you're never confused as to which part of the story is happening when. However, when it comes down to it the book is really just your average teen chick lit - easy, relatable themes, humour, life lessons and a quick, mostly enjoyable read.

3. How often do you read?
I read for at least an hour every night during school time, as I simply don't have the time and energy after a day of school and a mountain of homework. In the holidays I can read for an hour before I even get out of bed, then curl up with a book for a good 3 or so hours in the afternoon, and then read for 3 or 4 hours before I go to sleep.

4. Do you wish to be a writer?
When I was younger I wanted to be an author, and my life's ambition was always to write a best-selling novel. Since then I've realised that not only do I probably not have the skill and patience for writing something as lengthy as a novel, it's also not the most practical of career goals. But while I've actively decided not to pursue a career in writing, I have no doubt I will always continue to write a bit of this and that in my spare time.

5. Has any book every influenced you greatly?
Personally I think everything I read has some kind of influence on me in terms of my understanding of the world, but if I were to name one book it would have to be Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. I first read it years ago but it's one of those stories which has stayed with me, as it offers such a fascinating insight into what may or may not happen when we die.

6. What's your favourite book?
Since this is impossible to answer straight off, here are my top 7:
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Gilt by Katherine Longshorne
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

7. What's your least favourite book?
My least favourite book of all time is The Owl Service by Alan Gardner. I read it for school, didn't understand it and hated it unreservedly.

8. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?
Physical books, definitely. I don't own a Kindle, and neither do I want to, because nothing can beat the fresh, clean smell of the pages a new book.

9. When did you learn to read?
I learnt to read when I was about 3 or 4, when I was taught through a mixture of Nursery school and my mum's hard work. I have actual proof of this on old video tapes, where you can see me reading the names and tags on Christmas presents and carrying them over to the person in question.

10. What is your favourite book you had to read in school?
The Catcher in the Rye, without a doubt.

11. What is your favourite book series?
Again, so many contenders for this prestigious title!
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
CHERUB by Robert Muchamore
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
PRIVATE by Kate Brian
and of course, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

12. Who is your favourite author?
I suppose this is different from the 'favourite book/series' question, because by definition all the authors of those are my favourite authors. But if I had to choose one I haven't mentioned so far, it would have to be Agatha Christie.

13. What is your favourite genre?
Historical fiction. I used to be obsessed with dystopian, sci-fi type things, but in the past year or so my tastes have changed radically and now I've got a bit of a thing for anything set in the 16th or 17th century in particular.

14. Who is your favourite character in a book series?
My favourite character in a book is Lux Lisbon from The Virgin Suicides, but my favourite character in a book series would be Hermione Granger from Harry Potter - stunningly original, I know.

15. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?
Of course, I think I have a very flexible imagination so with even a little description I can easily get a vivid mental picture of a setting or building, to the point where I often feel like I've been to places I haven't. Some good recent examples of this include Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which I definitely felt transported me to a little Welsh island in World War II, and the Bright Young Things trilogy by Anna Godbersen which brought 1920s New York alive in my brain.

16. Which book do you wish had a sequel?
This is a really tricky one, because most of the books I wish had sequels actually do, I just haven't read them yet. If I had to answer I'd say Shadowstory by Jennifer Johnston, which I felt left quite a lot of loose ends untied.

17. Which book do you wish didn't have a sequel?
Not so much not a sequel, but less sequels: the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I have the first 10 of these (and I'm determined to get all of them when they're out, just to find out what happens at the end once and for all) but even having only read the first 8 I wish the authors had stopped at 6 or 7, as by now I feel like they're just spinning out the story as much as possible.

18. How long does it take you to read a book?
It depends massively. I read the last Harry Potter in 2 days the day after it came out in 2007 (I was only 10!), but it was the summer and I had nothing else to do. Similarly I can read a couple of easy reads in a day during the holidays, but it might take me up to a week to finish anything slightly hefty during school time.

19. Do you like when books become movies?
Yes and no, but mostly no. If a book becomes a movie, if goes without saying that I will always read the book first before seeing the movie (the exception to this being The Book Thief, which I watched on the plane back from the US at Easter because I needed a way to make the time pass quicker and it was the only thing I felt like watching). But mostly I hate two things about books becoming movies: first, how it invariably destroys the picture I have in my mind of the characters and setting, and second because when a book is made into a movie it always becomes insanely popular and mainstream.

20. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?
You might expect me to say TFIOS here, but surprisingly I'm going to go with Twilight. When I first read Twlight it was more or less unheard of (thank you Sadhbh and Orlaith, for introducing me to the series before most of the rest of the world), but as soon as the first movie came out it gained a somewhat undeserved reputation for flimsy plots and sparkly vampires, mostly through Kristen Stewart's (admittedly flaky) acting.

21. Which movie has done a book justice?
Harry Potter. The first movie came out in 2001, and as I noted above the last book came out in 2007, so I never really had a chance to read the books before seeing the movies. However, I do think the movies, especially the earlier ones, completely and utterly do the books justice.

22. Where is your favourite place to read?
In my bed when it's dark outside and the rain is pouring down and I can hear rumbles of thunder in the distance.

23. Who gave you your love for reading?
Funnily enough, I was thinking about this today when my friend told me that Jacqueline Wilson was the author that really got her into reading. In my case the equivalent would be Lucy Daniels, the author of the Animal Ark series which I loved to bits when I was about 5, but I also credit my mother for encouraging me to read from such an early age.

24. What book is next on your list to read?

I used to actually have a list of books to read, but I could never stick to a precise order as I just like to chop and change between genres on a whim. Next I think I'll read either Revolution by Jennifer Donnelley, or One Day by David Nicholls.

25. When did you start to read chapter books?
Back when I was in my old school, so when I was around 4 or 5.

26. Who is your favourite children's book author?
When I was little I loved anything by Gwyneth Rees, but one of my favourite series nowadays which could be called children's books is the Pure Dead Saga by Debi Gliori.

27. Which author would you most want to interview?
Realistically, Elizabeth Wein. Unrealistically, Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath or Agatha Christie.

28. What book have you reread the most?
The Princess Diaries, hands down. I was given the first 6 for Christmas when I was 8 years old, and since then I have reread them at least twice a year every year, and sometimes more.

29. Which books do you consider 'classics'?
In my mind I have three criteria for 'classics': one, the author is dead, two, they are timeless pieces of literature, and three, they are the books which everyone wants to have read - I realise this is far from scientific, but nevertheless it is quite accurate.

30. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie as an example of crime novel excellence, The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams for sheer cult value, and The Diary of Anne Frank because everyone should have to read that book.

If anyone has actually read this far, you are my fabulous person of the year!


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