BTT (on Friday)

I haven’t done a Booking Through Thursday in a long time, and I do love me some lists, so I thought I’d give this one a shot. :)

1. Favorite childhood book?
The Baby-Sitters Club books.  Harriet the Spy. Addie Meets Max.  Was I supposed to pick just one?

2. What are you reading right now?
Children of God, Once in a Blue Moon, My Name is Memory, and The Year of Living Biblically

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Just Mockingjay.  I’m trying to tone it down a bit with library books right now.

4. Bad book habit?
Reading too many at once.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
The Year of Living Biblically, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, My Name is Memory, The Red Queen, The Stuff That Never Happened, and The Handbook for Lightening Strike Survivors.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
nope.  And I’m not dying for one either.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Several!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes, I read more now, and a wider variety.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet and Hush, Hush. It’s a tie.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Without taking into consideration my rereads, either The Danish Girl or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not often enough, but more now than before I was a blogger.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Contemporary fiction, young adult, and nonfiction on subjects that interest me.  But I like lots of different types of fiction too.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I don’t ever take the bus, but if I did I think I could read on it.

14. Favorite place to read?
Outside when the weather is in the mid-80′s.  When the weather is not so nice, on my couch.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I’m okay with it, as long as I trust the person.  I love for people to enjoy the books I love, so in order to experience that I need to be comfortable with lending them out!

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Almost never.  Only in an extreme bookmarkless emergency.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No.  I don’t like writing in books.  In college I would highlight but never would I write in a book.

18.  Not even with text books?
See above. :)

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English – it’s the only language I know.

20. What makes you love a book?
Compelling and realistic characters.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I can usually find something positive in most books, to the point where I can say a certain type of person might enjoy it.  Even if I personally didn’t.  So I’m able to recommend a lot of books.

22. Favorite genre?
Contemporary fiction.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Graphic novels.  The more I read them the more I love them.

Favorite biography?
Ummm…. I can’t really think of any biographies I’ve read recently.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yes, but I don’t anymore.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth

28. Favorite reading snack?

a glass of wine!  Not really a snack but I do love a glass of wine while I read in the evenings.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Waiting for Columbus.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good book, it’s just that I was expecting something earth-shattering and it didn’t quite live up to that.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t read book “critics” so I wouldn’t know.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I don’t like it too much, but I strive for a mix of honesty while also trying to find something positive to say about everything I read.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French because I used to be able to read (and speak) French in high school but my laziness caused me to lose the language.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Most classics intimidate me.  So pretty much any classic I’ve ever read intimidated me to some degree.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Any classic I haven’t read yet. :)

35. Favorite Poet?
Not sure… I don’t read a lot of poetry.  I do like one poem by e.e. Cummings (the famous one that everyone knows, which was featured in In Her Shoes)

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Anywhere from 5-10.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Usually for every 5 I read, there’s 2 I don’t.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Anne from The Sparrow.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Cathy from East of Eden.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I feel like reading when I’m packing. :)

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
In high school, I would go weeks without reading because I was just really, really busy.  But now, I try to read every day.  Even if it’s just a few pages.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Dracula is Dead. Not a bad book, just not my cup of tea.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Conversations.  Anything else, I can read through.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
He’s Just Not That Into You. I thought it was a really sweet movie made from a stupid book.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Umm.  Lots.  But I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I don’t buy a lot of books, really.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Never.  I always just dive right in, and if I’m not enjoying it by 50 pages or so I’ll give it up.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If I’m not clicking with the story or the characters, or if it’s just boring.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes.  My fiction is alphabetized by author’s last name, and my nonfiction by subject (like a library). :)

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep the ones I love, give away the ones I don’t.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Not on purpose.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Hush, Hush.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Never Let Me Go. I thought it would be complicated, over my head, and too science fiction-y for my tastes.  But it was exactly the opposite and I loved it so much.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Story of a Girl. I didn’t dislike it exactly, it was just okay.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Young adult fiction.

Sunday thoughts… (TSS)

I have been having issues with my reading and blogging lately.  I don’t know what it is, I suppose I’m just in a funk.  I’ve only finished two books this week (not nearly what I normally do) and haven’t gotten up the gumption to review either of them.  Part of it is definitely just the way summer makes me feel – lazy, like all I want to do is sit outside and drink a cocktail.  And I’ve been doing my share of outside-enjoying, cocktail-drinking, fun-having in the past few weeks.  Last weekend was a busy one, with the holiday and all – we went out for dinner and fireworks with friends on Friday night, then spent most of the day and night on Saturday at a friend’s Fourth of July party.  Then this weekend, I had my best friend’s birthday extravaganza on Friday night, was out all day yesterday running errands and then at a graduation party, and my husband and I went out for dinner last night.  I was so exhausted from lack of sleep on Friday that I went to bed early last night, after reading a measly 20 pages of a book.  And today I had lunch with friends and just returned home about an hour ago.  It’s been a fun couple of weekends (normally I don’t have nearly that much activity; I’m really a homebody at heart) but it’s definitely wiped me out.  And I WANT to read, but none of the books I’m currently reading are excellent so far – they’re all okay – which is not helping.  When I pick them up to read at night, if I’m already tired, I can’t stay up and read books that aren’t page turners.  It just doesn’t work.

So needless to say, I’m trying to snap out of it.  I did finish a book this morning, and I actually picked up Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the other day in the hopes of kick-starting my reading pace.  I know I’ll fly through that one, and it’s such a comfort read that it makes me want to read other equally satisfying books.  So we’ll see how the rest of this month works.  Lately if I have the choice of reading or lounging by the pool with friends, I’ve been choosing outside stuff.  I can read outside too, but it takes more concentration for me because of the sun and I also read a lot more slowly outside – I get distracted by everything around me.

The Booking Through Thursday question this week was to show pictures of our TBR piles.  Mine is out of control, to say the least, but I braved it and took a few pictures to share.  I have one TBR bookcase (I refuse to buy a second) but it’s double-stacked and crammed as full as possible.  My TBR review books are completely separate.  Here are some pictures of my TBR situation…

001Here’s the bookcase.  This is the front stack of books…

002… and here are the books behind those books.  As you can see, I really need to work on both a) reading books I already own (there are some great titles in there!) and b) not acquiring new books.  I’ve been great about not buying books, but not so great about avoiding giveaways and bookmooch.  What can I say?  I love books.

003And here are my review books.  The stack on the left contains the books I have accepted for review, and I need to read these in the next 1-3 months (well, according to my review policy I do give myself six months but I try to get them done quickly when I can).  The stack on the right contains unsolicited review copies that were all surprises from publishers.  I may or may not ever get to these ones.  In fact, I plan in the near future to whittle down this pile to the ones I am really interested in and give away the rest.  So keep your eyes peeled for that.  Note that the stack on the left does not include the 5+ books I’ve recently accepted and am expecting to arrive in the mail shortly.

So.  Do you ever have a reading funk?  Any particular time of year you have more difficulty reading than other times?  What do you do to jump-start your reading again?  What about a blogging funk – what do you do when you just don’t feel like writing reviews, or writing anything for that matter?

I’m going to watch a movie, and hope that later tonight I’ll be more in the reading mood.  Happy Sunday everyone!

BTT – Sticky

This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Okay, here goes.

1.  Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhough

2.  I Know This Much is True – Wally Lamb

3.  The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri

4.  A Map of the World – Jane Hamilton

5.  A Fine Balance – Rhoton Mistry

6.  The Working Poor – David Shipler

 7.  Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

8.  White Oleander – Janet Fitch

9.  all Harry Potter’s – J.K. Rowling (I think that’s cheating but I don’t care)

10.  The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell

11.  Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells

12.  House of Sand and Fog – Andre Dubus III

13.  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

14.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

15.  The Secret History – Donna Tartt

BTT – A Second First Time

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What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?

Oh, so many.  The first book that comes to mind is The Time-Traveler’s Wife. The first and only time I read it I literally locked myself in my room and didn’t emerge until I had finished the entire book, sobbing uncontrollably for the last fifty or so pages.  Another one that I can think of is I Know This Much Is True.  I actually have been meaning to reread it but at a staggering 928 pages it’s a big commitment.  In fact, I have Lamb’s newest book sitting on my shelves right now, just waiting to be picked up and I’m really hoping it will give me the same “holy cow” feeling that I Know This Much Is True did.  And my final answer to this question is the entire Harry Potter series.  Getting to know those characters for the first time, following along with them on their many adventures, was one of the  most fun reading experiences I have ever had and I’d LOVE to do it all over again.

What books do YOU wish you could read again for the first time?

Check out other answers to this question at the Booking Through Thursday blog.

BTT: Best book I’ve never read

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We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?

Well, most of you have heard me talk about my TBR problem… I have about 200 books in my house, right now, that are on my TBR list.  It’s a bit overwhelming, so I’m working on trying not to acquire so many these days.  For this week’s BTT, I’m going to pick out a few from my TBR shelves that I REALLY plan to get to soon.  Here’s a few that are on the top of my priority list:

  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  • The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer-Bradley
  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  • What is the What by Dave Eggers

… and I could just as easily list 10 or 20 more…

So, which one should I read first?  And what is the best book YOU have never read?

BTT – faves

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It’s a week or two later than you’d expect, and it may be almost a trite question, but … what were your favorite books from 2008?

Well since I just did this about a week ago, I will just reiterate by copying that post back to here. 

Top Fiction Reads of 2008:

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

2. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

3. Love Walked In – Marisa de los Santos

4. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

5. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

6. Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri

7. Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe – Jennie Shortridge

8. Nefertiti – Michelle Moran

9. The Wednesday Sisters – Meg Waite Clayton

10. Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

Top Nonfiction Reads of 2008:

1. Escape – Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer

2. What Matters – edited by David Elliot Cohen

3. Choice – edited by Nina de Gramont and Karen E. Bender

4. An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore

5. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman

Great question, but I suppose I was a little ahead of the curve on this one. :)

BTT – enough time?

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1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

Of course I don’t get enough time to read!  Between working, spending time with my husband, family, and friends, I pretty much only read every night before bed for an hour or so and on Sunday afternoons.  I would love to have more time in my LIFE but since that isn’t realistic I will say that I feel like I do a pretty good job of fitting in as much time for reading as possible with my schedule.  I recently started listening to audiobooks on my commute to and from work and that has helped me fit in about an extra book every week or so. 

If I did somehow magically have more time in life (or didn’t have to work a full-time job!) I would read more of the same types of books I read now.  I have a TBR bookcase just packed full of stuff I plan on reading “someday” and I’d love to have more time to devote to those books.  I’d also spend more time really browsing at the library, picking out new books to read.  Currently I get almost all of my book suggestions from blog buddies, so it would be nice to have the extra time to browse and find some more obscure titles.  And yeah, I would totally read more magazines if I had more time.  I love magazines but don’t read too many because I’d rather read books with whatever time I do have. :)

A very appropriate BTT

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

Well, isn’t this question timely?  :)  Personally, I just recently began receiving requests for reviews and I am somewhat picky about the ones I accept – I certainly don’t want to waste my time reading something I would not have picked to read on my own if it were not free.  I think that as bloggers our primary responsibility is to our readers and to ourselves – to give honest reviews of the books we have read.  After all, that’s why people read our blogs – to find out what our opinions are on books we have read – right?  If we do not give honest opinions, then what’s the point of reviewing books, really? 

I also think that we are not required to write reviews any certain way – everyone does things differently, it’s your personal blog so you can, truthfully, write whatever you want and however you want to.  Any author or publisher that is going to send a book to a blogger for review should at the very least take a look at that individual’s blog to kind of see the way they write reviews… so they know what they’re getting into, so to speak.  I have written more than one review in which I explain the reasons why that particular book just wasn’t for me, and I think it’s safe to assume that any publisher or author who sends me a book for review should know that, having “read” my blog. 

Having said that, I do try to be as balanced as possible in every review that I write.  I always try to find something positive about every book that I read, even if I found 100 reasons to dislike it there’s almost always one thing that can be said in favor of the book.  And also, I don’t think I’ve heard of a book that not one person liked.  So what I usually say is, these are the reasons the book was not for me, but you may like this book if you typically enjoy x, y, and z.  That way I am honoring the author’s hard work and point of view while still remaining as honest and true to my own opinions as possible.

What about you?  What are your feelings on being honest when you are sent free books to review?

Booking Through Thursday – book buying

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I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

Personally, I would LOVE to say that I buy most of my books brand new but the truth is, I really can’t afford to.  I do, however, do an awful lot of bookmooching, which is sort of like buying because if I want to I can keep any books that I mooch and like.  What I especially love about keeping books – whether bought or mooched – is the fact that one day I will have a good-sized personal library of all the books I have loved over the years.  I also like to loan books out to people – if I enjoyed a book, my favorite thing to do with that book is to share it with someone else so they can enjoy it too!  And obviously this cannot be done unless I own the book.  I also frequent library book sales, goodwill, and the bargain shelves of Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble in an attempt to acquire books that I love, or hope to love, for reasonable prices.  I am lucky in the fact that I don’t mind used books, so long as they’re still readable and in decent condition, which enables me to collect quite a few books from more affordable sources.  Of course, just like any other devoted reader, I looove the feeling of cracking open a brand new book, knowing that I am the first person to enjoy the story inside (and who doesn’t love beautiful new books on their bookshelves?).  But I am also a pretty thrifty person, and it’s hard for me to buy brand new books when I know that logically I can probably mooch them or find them somewhere used for a lot less money.

I do enjoy the library quite a bit, and unlike a lot of bloggers I really don’t mind having time limits on when I need to get books read by – if I don’t finish them, I’ll either renew them or return the ones I truthfully will not get to anytime soon.  But with the enormous amount of mooching I have been doing lately, combined with the years of library book sale books I have acquired, combined with the books I’ve been receiving by authors/publishers/free book drawings, I almost feel guilty borrowing books from the library when I have so many unloved books at home.  I do sometimes peruse just for fun, though, and usually end up taking a few home (how can one resist?). 

So I’m feeling like I didn’t even answer this BTT question, now that I’m rereading my answer.  The reason I buy, when I do buy, is usually because I really, really, REALLY want that particular book to sit on my shelves forever and ever.  I want it to be a part of my library and I usually plan on loaning it out too.  I very rarely will pay full price for a book I haven’t read, and definitely not for a book I just find on a whim.  It has to be one I already love, or one that I’ve heard just SO MANY OMG amazing things about that I am 99% certain it’ll become one of my favorites.  Unlike buying full price, however, when I’m getting books for super cheap or mooching them, I am not so picky.  I will mooch just about anything, with the knowledge that I can always mooch it back to someone else.  I am slightly more careful with my discounted book purchases, because I’m still spending my hard-earned money on something I’m not sure about, but I’m a lot more adventurous than when I’m buying something full price.

How about you?  Do you buy, mooch, borrow, or a combination of all three?  Why or why not?

BTT – what I’m reading

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

Well I haven’t participated in one of these in FOREVER, but I would really like to get back into the BTT groove, and this is an easy one to start with.  I can’t say I’m reading anything particularly juicy… but I am reading several books right now, so here they are…

First, I began Wuthering Heights a few nights ago as the first selection for the Classics Challenge, and it’s definitely been slow going so far.  I’m really awful at reading the classics, so I thought this challenge would help me become better, and I still think it will, but I do think it’ll be the toughest challenge to get through that I’ve participated in thus far.  I’m about 70 pages into this one and it’s just ok as of right now.

I’m also reading the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman – I found one of those all three volumes in one massive book at Half Price Books for like 10 bucks and couldn’t turn it down.  I’ve never read these before, in fact the only fantasy I’ve really read is the Harry Potter series, and so far I’m enjoying The Golden Compass (I’m about halfway through it).

Third, I just started Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, which so far is also just ok.  I’m actually still not sure what the point of this novella is… it’s basically a family swearing and yelling at each other, then getting drunk and being depressed because they’re poor.  Oh well… at only about 90 pages, it’ll be an extremely quick read for me.

Also on my nightstand, soon to be started, are We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.  I’m hoping to finish one that I’m currently reading soon so that I can get to one of these, as I’m really looking forward to both of them.

What are YOU currently reading this 4th of July weekend?