Earlier in the year I posted this reading survey/book quiz. It was fun so I thought I’d have a go at another one. I’ve taken the questions from a quiz/survey that I’ve seen posted in a few places, but I’ve cut out the questions I wasn’t interested in answering. It’s quite long so I’ve split it into three parts. This is part three; here are the links to part one and part two.
What books are you most likely to bring on vacation?
I don’t really go on vacations, but if I did then I expect I would take my Kindle loaded up with a variety of books.
What is the longest you’ve gone without reading?
Usually I am a serial reader, so as soon as I finish one book I am straight into the next. I usually read every day, even for just a short period. There are times when my concentration is not so good, so I may take a break from one book and switch to another, but I am always reading something.
What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?
I’ve written a bit about this before. Basically I generally try to finish a book, and usually even if it’s pretty bad or I’m not enjoying it, there is still part of me that wants to find out what happens so I keep reading. But if I reach the point where I just no longer care about the characters or the plot then I will just stop. I’m gradually coming around to the idea that I’m not obligated to finish a book that I’ve started!
What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
I find that any background noise at all can be distracting. So when I’m in public, for example on a bus or train, or in a coffee shop, then I’ll listen to music through my headphones when reading to block out other noises. But at home I tend to read in silence.
Do you like to keep your books organized?
Of course! I go for the traditional alphabetical order. Maybe a bit boring compared to some of the fancy colour coordinated bookshelves you see, but I find it works best.
Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once they’ve been read?
I usually keep them all until I start running out of shelf space, then I sort through them and any that I didn’t particularly enjoy are passed on to charity shops. But I generally try to keep all of the books that I have liked.
Are there any books that you’ve been avoiding? / What is the most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones (and the A Song of Ice and Fire series in general). I know so many people who rave about the series (both people who read it before the television series started, as well as more recent converts). As I’ve got more into the fantasy genre, I’ve increasingly felt guilty that I haven’t read this series. I do intend to read it in the future, and hopefully it will live up to the hype, but I’ve decided that I’m going to wait until the series is complete before I start reading it.
Name a book you didn’t expect to like but did?
It’s not so much that I didn’t expect to like it, but I was very wary of all the hype around The Book Thief and so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be as good as people said it was.
What is your favourite guilt-free guilty pleasure reading?
I do occasionally read YA novels even though I am out of that age demographic, but some of them are very good books and so I don’t really feel too guilty about that. I also enjoy a good Agatha Christie novel now and then. I can always rely on PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster novels to cheer me up.
Earlier in the year I posted this reading survey/book quiz. It was fun so I thought I’d have a go at another one. I’ve taken the questions from a quiz/survey that I’ve seen posted in a few places, but I’ve cut out the questions I wasn’t interested in answering. It’s quite long so I’ve split it into three parts. This is part two; here are the links to part one and part three.
What makes you love a book?
I especially like well-written, clever books with wonderful characters, books that are thought-provoking but also entertaining and captivating.
What is your favourite genre?
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. It used to be mostly science fiction, but over the last year fantasy has slowly taken over as my current genre preference.
What genre do you rarely read (but wish you did)?
I occasionally think I should read more literary fiction, but then I start reading some and remember why I don’t often go there. I would perhaps like to explore the crime or mystery genre a bit more, but I’m rather picky about the books I’ve read in that genre so far. But in general I am willing to try things outside my comfort zone every now and then.
What is your reading comfort zone?
As with the genre question, it’s largely science fiction and fantasy. Within that, I do like trying new authors and new subgenres.
How often do you read outside of your comfort zone?
I try to do this every now and then. Sometimes it just serves as I reminder of why I usually stick to my comfort zone! But then sometimes I come across something new that I really like.
What is your favourite biography?
Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! by Richard Feynman is a phenomenal book.
Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience? / Name a book you expected to like but didn’t?
I’ll combine these two questions. I heard so many good things about Wool by Hugh Howey, so I was really looking forward to reading it, and I ended up disappointed as I thought it was a rather mediocre book.
How often do you agree with the critics about a book?
I don’t read a lot of reviews written by “proper” critics, but I like reading informal reviews on blogs and book websites. Sometimes I agree with the consensus and other times I do not, but there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to it.
How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
My reviews are my honest opinions and reflections on the book, so if I didn’t like it then I will say so, and try to explain why, whether it was because I thought the book was actually bad, or just because it was not to my taste.
What is the most intimidating book you’ve read?
That would probably have to be Infinite Jest.
Earlier in the year I posted this reading survey/book quiz. It was fun so I thought I’d have a go at another one. I’ve taken the questions from a quiz/survey that I’ve seen posted in a few places, but I’ve cut out the questions I wasn’t interested in answering. It’s quite long so I’ve split it into three parts. This is part one; here are the links to part two and part three.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading The High Lord, the final instalment in Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy. I have really enjoyed the whole series so far. Next up I’m going to reread one of my favourites, The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks and after that I will be reading The Martian by Andy Weir, for my SF book group.
What is your favourite childhood book?
I read a lot of Star Trek novelizations as a child. They were my gateway drug to proper science fiction novels.
What is your bad book habit?
I have a tendency to buy books only to have them sit on the shelf unread for ages while I continue to buy new books. It means there are always a lot of books to choose from when I’m deciding what to read next, but I do feel bad about not getting around to reading some of the books for a long time.
Do you have an e-reader?
I’ve had a Kindle for a couple of years now. I like it a lot, but I still mostly buy and read paper books. But when I do read books on the Kindle I find it to be a positive experience.
Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
I usually read one at a time, but sometimes when I am having trouble concentrating I will have a couple on the go at once. Usually when I’m reading a non-fiction book I will have a fiction one that I’m reading too.
Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes. I think a bit more about what I am reading so that I can write my little reviews. I also read things which I see recommended or discussed by other readers who review books on their blogs.
Can you read on the bus?
Yes. I used to find it made me sick, but when I started working with a rather long bus commute I quickly got into the habit. Now I read quite a lot of the bus, I wouldn’t be able to get through the daily commute without a book!
What is your favourite place to read?
I love to lie in bed and read. I always read for an hour or so in bed before I go to sleep.
What is your favourite film adaptation of a novel?
The Princess Bride is a wonderful film adaptation. The book is good but the film is utterly fantastic.
What is your most disappointing film adaptation?
The Harry Potter films were somewhat of a let down after reading the books.
Since I just made a big post about Star Trek: The Next Generation, I figured I should also talk about the other television show I am rewatching at the moment, The Simpsons. As with TNG I am watching this one with my boyfriend. We both watched and loved The Simpsons when we were younger, but slowly drifted away from it as we got older. Sort of like Star Trek except that The Simpsons is still being made after 20+ years! But we were keen to revisit the show so we’ve started rewatching it from the beginning and we’re currently almost finished season two. I’m not sure yet whether or not we’ll go through the whole show up to the present date, but we certainly plan to watch quite a few more seasons of it. I’m really enjoying it so far, and I’m surprised by how much of these episodes I remember. It’s probably because I watched so many of them over and over again at an impressionable age! My sister and I used to communicate largely in quotes from The Simpsons at one point! So part of it may well be the nostalgia, but I still think it’s a good show and I am happy to be watching it again.
So way back in April last year I purchased this massive boxset of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was a massive Star Trek fan as a kid. A couple of years ago I rewatched all of Deep Space Nine, which was a great experience, and I posted about it several times. I haven’t really mentioned TNG since I finished the (truly awful) first season, so I thought I would update you on my progress.
I’m now halfway through season four, just past the episode where Wesley Crusher has finally departed! (Yes I know he reappears in a few episodes later on. For the record I like Wil Wheaton, but Wesley Crusher is an incredibly annoying character). If you’re wondering why it is taking so long to get through it, that is because I’m watching the show with my boyfriend, and we only have a limited time together each week, not all of which is spent watching TNG. So we’re making slower progress through the series than I would be if I was watching it on my own, but we are still getting through it and enjoying it a great deal.
I was quite negative in my review of the first series but I said, “I am looking forward to it growing into the great show that I remember”. Well I think that has definitely happened now. There are still some pretty rubbish episodes here and there, but there have also been some very good ones, including some episodes that I remember as being classic defining episodes of TNG. The characters are also much more developed and actually now resemble the characters I knew and loved as a kid watching the show. Highlights so far include: The Measure of a Man, Yesterday’s Enterprise and The Best of Both Worlds. All great episodes.
I am looking forward to the rest of the series, and there are some particular episodes I know are coming up which I am waiting for with anticipation. I will try to post a bit more about it from now on, as I am really enjoying this experience, and Star Trek has always been a great joy in my life which I am thrilled to be revisiting again now.
I’ve been meaning to post something about this television show Uncle for a few weeks now, but I kept forgetting to do it, and now the series has finished. The show is about a failed musician Andy, who is slowly dragged into being a responsible uncle to his nephew, the eccentric Errol, while his sister is going through a messy divorce. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I watched the first episode, but I was pleasantly surprised. The show is funny, but also very touching at times, and full of great characters. I really liked it, and I meant to say so earlier to encourage other people to watch it. So a bit late now that the series has finished, but if you do get a chance to watch the show I would highly recommend it. It’s been renewed for a second series and I will be looking forward to that.
This was my birthday present to myself. I am turning 27 and I am supposedly an adult now. I mean, I have a job and pay bills and do grown up things. Which means that if I want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a Harry Potter box set then I can.
A couple of years ago I wrote about reading Harry Potter properly for the first time. I’d read a few of the books as a kid, but then drifted away from the series. My friend Michael very kindly bought me the first book on my Kindle and I was hooked and went through the whole series. At the time I wrote:
I’m not totally in love with them the way that some people are, but I can see why people do have that love for them, and I kind of wish I had read them when I was younger so that I could have that too. I do really like them though.
I haven’t reread the books since then, but my opinion of them has increased as I’ve been more aware of the Harry Potter fandom and interacted more with people who really love the books. I am really quite jealous of people who got to grow up with the books and the films as a huge part of their life!
I have the series on my Kindle, but I thought it might be nice to get a physical copy, and then I saw this really cool boxset and it was impossible to resist. My only gripe with it is that it’s an American edition which means it has Sorcerer’s Stone rather than Philosopher’s Stone! But other than that I am very pleased with this, and I am looking forward to rereading the series in the near future.
I’ve recently finished reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book. It was one of the books that I bought during the Kindle sale at the start of the year, my reasoning being that I could take a chance on something outside my comfort zone since it was so cheap. I’d heard really good things about the book (both before and after buying it) so I was excited to finally get around to reading it.
The book alternates between two narratives - Ruth is a writer living on a remote Canadian island with her husband in 2011; Nao is a teenager living in Japan with her suicidal father in 2001. Nao writes about her life in a diary which Ruth finds washed up on the shore of her Canadian island, sealed in a Hello Kitty lunch box. One strand of the narrative follow Ruth’s attempts to discover the origins of the diary and what happened to Nao and her family. This is interspersed with extracts from Nao’s diary, where we get her story.
I really loved the book, I thought it was just fantastic. I’ve said before that my favourite books are the ones which combine really interesting ideas with good writing, a compelling plot and strong characters, and this book certainly fulfils those criteria. It covers a lot of broad themes and topics, not limited to quantum physics, Zen Buddhism, the Japanese tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, ecology and the environment, suicide and bullying, and WWII Kamikaze pilots.
Ruth and Nao are both wonderful, distinct characters. The plot is very gripping, I got utterly caught up in the story and couldn’t put it down. The book also has a great sense of place; the descriptions of the island and the various Japanese locations were excellent.
I realise that’s a rather gushing and not very coherent review, but really this book just took my breath away. I’ve been reading a lot of really good books recently, but this one stood out as really excellent. Days after finishing it, I am still thinking about it. Really it was marvellous and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
For today’s video, I thought I’d share with you 18 books I love that you probably haven’t read. Each of these books has stuck with me over the years. I hope you’ll include in comments a book you loved that hasn’t found as broad an audience as you think it deserves. I’m going to read 18 of those and review them in a future vlogbrothers video.
Now this is interesting. I may need to check out a few of these suggestions.
I had intended to spend most of the month reading big fantasy books, but that got off to somewhat of a bad start, so I decided to change directions. Instead I read these two books as a bit of a palate cleanser. There are both YA novels, but I was mindful of this quote, and I chose these two as they’ve both had some great reviews.
Wonder by RJ Palacio is about August, a young boy who has a severe facial disfigurement. After years of homeschooling, he starts attending school for the first time, and the book shows how he gets on dealing with people and their reactions to the way he looks. I think the book does a great job of exploring how we define who we are, looking at the way we are perceived by others but also the way we perceive ourselves. I also liked how the book switches between the viewpoints of various characters in the story, showing how they interact and how their perceptions of the same events differ. It was very well written.
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick is another book which features a protagonist with a disability, and touches on the theme of how we are perceived by others, especially when there is something different. The main character in this book is Laureth, a teenage girl who is blind. She has run away with her younger brother in tow, travelling to New York to try to track down her missing father. He father is a writer who is obsessed with coincidences and the book does a great job of exploring that subject too. I really liked this book, it’s got a great story, excellent characters and it was overall just a really entertaining and compelling read.
So there you go, two books that I wasn’t planning to read, but I took a chance on them, and they both turned out to be really good.
Well this was a major disappointment. I mentioned only yesterday that I was reading this series of books, The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman. I had read the first book in the trilogy last year and I really enjoyed it. I reread it again now, and I still found it to be a good read - it has a fast-paced plot, some great moments of action, and an interesting setting. There are some flaws, it’s certainly not perfect, but I would still say that I liked the book. So I was looking forward to moving on to the next two books in the trilogy, The Last Four Things and The Beating of His Wings.
Well I got about 3/4 of the way through the second book and had to give up on it. All the flaws that were present in the first book were magnified - shallow, thinly-drawn characters, poor pacing, muddled religious metaphors, stilted dialogue, with the addition of some sexist and homophobic attitudes. It was just a mess, I could scarcely believe that it was written by the same author. I was very disappointed by this.
I’ve written previously about how I am usually reluctant to abandon a book without finishing it, but recently I have been trying to be more philosophical about this and not force myself to slog through books that I am not enjoying. Well in this case I really didn’t have any qualms about giving up on the book and the series. I just no longer cared about the plot or the characters.
I am aware that I may be coming across as quite harsh, and I’m maybe not in the best frame of mind for reviewing books given that I am currently ill and also in a bad mood generally. So maybe I will convince myself to give the series another chance in the future. But for the time being I am really not impressed, and it’s been a while since I was so disappointed with a series of books which started well and ended such up a train wreck of bad writing.