When in Doubt, Meme

I don’t really do memes, on the whole, but now and again it’s a mildly diverting way of passing a few minutes.  So: meme on the subject of Book Habits.  I’ve seen this in one or two places, first I think on Antick Musings, so we’ll say I borrowed the idea from there.

What is your favourite drink while reading?

Don’t actually drink much while reading (what if I spilled something on the book?  Horror!).  But tea is pretty much my favourite drink in all non-social settings, so that’d get my vote.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

Horrify might be a bit strong, but it definitely makes me a bit queasy.  I like my books clean so I’m highly unlikely to start scrawling annotations in one.  The only exception would be if I was reading the book for research, but even then I’m much more likely to take notes separately.

How do you keep your place while reading a book?  Bookmarks?  Dog-ears?  Laying the book flat open?

I feel a faint pang of guilt when considering this question.  I suspect the appropriate answer for a true bibliophile, someone who gives books as physical objects the full love and respect they deserve, is Bookmark.  But I haven’t used one of those in years and years and years.  I’m a dog-ear man through and through these days.  In my defence, I would never, ever mark my place by laying a book flat open other than for a matter of moments (like when going to get another cup of tea or something). Testing book spines to destruction is not my thing.

In fact, now that I think about it, it’s not quite that simple.  I read a lot of graphic novels, and I’d never dog-ear one of those.  It’s never hard to find where you left off in a graphic novel, ‘cos of the pictures and all, so memory works just fine for them.  Also, on the rare occasions when I’m reading a hardback, I’d never dream of dog-earing: that’s what the flaps of the dustjacket are for.  So it’s actually just the poor old paperbacks – which is what I mostly read, admittedly – that get the dog-ear treatment.  I guess the mass produced, mildly disposable feel of paperbacks makes it feel psychologically acceptable.

Fiction, nonfiction or both?


Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

Unless in an advanced state of exhaustion (or possibly boredom, I suppose) I’ll always be looking for a natural break in the text before I set a book down.  Leaving things in the middle of a scene would make feel a bit fidgety.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

Nah.  I’m the type of person to just quietly stop reading, put the book aside and go looking for another one if I’m not enjoying it.  If I found the actual author irritating rather than just the book, that would be a different matter: then, I’m probably not going to be reading one of their books in the first place, I suppose.  Come to think of it, I very rarely find books irritating: you can like or dislike a book, but I tend to think life’s too short to get seriously irritated by a book. (There are exceptions, of course, but we won’t get into that …)

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

I might, but it’s not happened in quite a long time, as far as I can remember.  I tend not to read the kind of books that would contain a significant number of words I don’t know.  Me no like think too hard.  Either that or I’ve got a truly brobdingnagian vocabulary.

What are you currently reading?

Most recently completed: Godland volume 4.  Thing I was reading last night: The Kalevala.  Thing I’ve been reading intermittently for ages (for research purposes), and may well be consulting again today: Burke & Hare by Owen Dudley Edwards (long out of print).

What is the last book you bought?

The aforementioned Godland volume 4.  Although I’ve got another graphic novel – Scalped Volume 3 – on its way to me (UK postal system permitting).

Are you the type of person who reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

Ha.  I wish I was the type of person who only reads one book at a time.  I used to be that person, back when I had an attention span, and plenty of time at my disposal.  Now I’m more likely to have as many as half a dozen books on the go at any given time, scattered around the house.  Some of them’ll never get finished, some of them are re-reads, some of them will go on hiatus and I’ll come back to in a month or three’s time.  It’s a shambles.  But, of course, some of them’ll grab hold of me despite my pathetic shortcomings, by force of quality or style or whatever, and force me to read them straight through.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?

Not relevant.  It’s not a question of where and when I would like to read, it’s a question of where and when I can read.  Which as often as not amounts to in bed, at night.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

Don’t care.  I’m all about the quality, man.  If it’s good, I’m in.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Lots.  Dan Simmons, for the Hyperion books and The Terror rather than his whole catalogue.  Guy Gavriel Kay for pretty much his whole catalogue, at least as much of it as I’ve read.  Neal Stephenson’s CryptonomiconWar and Peace.  I could go on and on.

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author’s last name etc.)

Every couple of years – sometimes more often, sometimes less – I will make a valiant attempt to impose some sort of order on the books in the house.  I don’t try for anything too ridiculously ambitious.  Just aim to get all the spec fic clustered together, with all a given author’s books next to each other; get the non-fiction in a group, with a very vague common-sensical arrangement by topic or theme.  Literary fiction here.  Poetry – all three or four books of it – there.  Graphic novel series in sequential order, all grouped by publisher.  That kind of thing.  It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, really, not in the grand scheme of things.  Apparently it is, as the system’s usually displaying severe signs of wear and tear within a few months.  Sigh.

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