This is the second part of the series of questions I began answering last week. You can find Part 1 here.
- 29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I didn’t read The Hunger Games until last November because I wanted to approach them separated from the hype, which was definitely the right choice. In general, that’s always been my approach.
- 30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
No idea! I don’t read a lot of criticism, particularly before reading something – I prefer not to have preconceptions when I approach something. I’d rather find something in a text myself than notice it because a critic put the idea in my head beforehand.
- 31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think it’s imperative to remember that authors are people capable of doing a Google search and finding what people write about their work, and I try to remember that when I’m writing a review. Obviously I don’t think that nobody should ever criticise or say anything negative about written works, but I in the same way that I expect a reviewer to be able to explain positive commentary on a book, I think the same should be done for bad reviews. Rather than ‘I didn’t like this and therefore it’s awful’, I prefer reviews that can say ‘I didn’t like this for these specific reasons, as demonstrated here, here and here.’ I think it’s absolutely fine to dislike something, but if you’re making that public I think it’s polite to at least say why – and to realise and acknowledge that it might just not be your thing, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s bad! It can be difficult to recognise the lines between ‘bad writing’ and ‘not what I prefer to read’, but I think reviewers should at least make the attempt at acknowledging the difference.
- 32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
- 33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, or Mrs Dalloway by Viriginia Woold – just because they were so different to anything else I’d ever attempted! Once I actually got into them though, I loved both.
- 34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I think one of the most useful things an English degree did for me was cure me of feeling intimidated by books. I might be occasionally nervous to start something, but doing that course gave me the tools to know how to approach a book under those circustances, and be confident that I can get to grips with it, even if it takes a while.
- 35. Favourite Poet? Seamus Heaney? Carol Ann Duffy? Yehuda Amichai? Sylvia Plath? It’s impossible to choose!
- 36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Between 2 and 4. The library in my town is excellent and I love spending time there, and they’re pretty good at getting in new titles. They’re also happy to bring in titles from other branches in the county, which is really helpful.
- 37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Quite rarely! I haven’t done that at my current library yet. I did do it a few times at my University library!
- 38. Favorite fictional character?
Oof! I’ll have to go Elinor Dashwood from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, simply because I admire her so much.
- 39. Favourite fictional villain?
Again. This is so difficult to pick. Ultimately, I’m always fascinated by Ian McEwan’s villains. Thinking about it, you could say that Briony is the villain of Atonement. If that’s not an acceptable answer, then I’ll choose another McEwan and go with Jed Parry from Enduring Love.
- 40. Books you’re most likely to take on holiday?
I have some staple holiday reads, which accidentally became sort of traditions! After reading it for the first time on holiday in France, I often re-read Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty. Another re-read is By The Time You Read This by Lola Jaye. Cheerful chick lit like Trisha Ashley (my favourite being Good Husband Material!) or my favourite YA (John Green, Rainbow Rowell) and poetry are the other likely ones – I very rarely go on holiday without taking my copy of Keats’ Selected Poems and Letters!
- 41. The longest you’ve gone without reading.
Without reading fiction… maybe four or five days? I almost always read before going to sleep at night, so definitely no longer than that!
- 42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I struggled to get to the end of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, and I have absolutely no idea why. I dropped off about halfway through and just didn’t pick it up again. I really struggled to get through The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, but I did manage it, to my complete surprise.
- 43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
My husband and my phone!
- 44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
I love the 2007 adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement starring Keira Knightly, because I felt it did what a real adaptation should do in translating not just plot but theme and tone to the screen. I think last years’ film of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is one of the most ‘faithful’ adaptations I’ve ever seen. My favourite ever adaptation full-stop isn’t a film but a TV series: the BBC 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth!
- 45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The 2006 adaptation of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon. What on earth was that?!!
- 46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
£76, at my favourite bookshop, Ystwyth Books in Aberystwyth! I still remember picking things out… Ali Smith and Vladimir Nabokov and Anton Chekhov and Sylvia Plath… *happy memories face*!
- 47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Very rarely… actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever done this! I tend to glimpse at the first page and the blurb, but I don’t flick through!
- 48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Lack of interest and motivation. If I don’t like where the book is going or I think it’s been badly written and plotted, then I don’t force myself on through it – I prefer to spend my reading time on things I am definitely enjoying! The only reason I’d stop reading mid-book other than not enjoying it would be because the subject matter was upsetting me.
- 49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes! I’m quite specific about how I arrange my bookshelves, but I they’re not organised alphabetically. I arrange them partly by series – so all the OUP editions, the Penguin Black Classics, Arden Shakespeares, Very Short Introductions, Faber and Fabers are grouped together looking gorgeous. Some of it is dictated by size – hardbacks and big reference books only fit on certain shelves unfortunately! Otherwise they’re organised by style and time they were written, and then organised by colour, because I like them to look pretty! It’s possibly not actually that organised, but nobody needs to find their way around them but me!
- 50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
If I enjoy them, then I keep them. If I don’t think I’ll read it again, then I might give it away to a charity shop or sometimes I pass things on to friends when I know it’s more their style than mine!
- 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Fifty Shades of Grey. Ugh.
- 52. Name a book that made you angry.
Without having read it, Fifty Shades.
- 53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
These questions always stump me, because I don’t usually start a book if I don’t expect to like it. I guess the closest would be books that I read specifically for University, rather than by choosing to. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut was very different to my expectations – I’m not sure what I expected from it, but it didn’t seem like it would become one of my favourites.
- 54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. That said, I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I find that… surprising. It’s the only John Green book that I’ve started and not been particularly drawn into.
- 55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Definitely Philippa Gregory – The Queen’s Fool, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance or The Constant Princess.