fajrdrako: ([Shakespeare])

Booking Through Thursday for January 5, 2012: If you could sit down and interview anyone, who would it be? And what would you ask them?

    I'd interview William Shakespeare, because I love his works, and his life is a mystery. I'd ask him all the questions you'd expect: where did he go after leaving Stratford? Who was the Dark Lady? Who was the Fair Lord? Why did Iago hate Othello? Was there really a sequel to Love's Labours Lost? If he could change any of his plays, which would it be, and how? Which play is he happiest about? Which is he least happy about?

    And what does he think of the reaction to his plays in the twenty-first century?

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday for September 29, 2011: 1. What do you think of reading aloud/being read to? Does it bring back memories of your childhood? Your children’s childhood?
2. Does this affect the way you feel about audio books?
3. Do you now have times when you read aloud or are read to?

    1. I love being read to. Very much so - particularly by a good reader. Yes, it brings back memories of my childhood, where some of my happiest times were being read to by my mother - but that isn't particularly the point; I don't love it because of the good memories, I love it because of the pleasure I get in it, which is the same now as then.

    I might add that having a decent book is necessary. Having someone read a book to me that I wouldn't want to read at also wouldn't be a joy.

    2. I like audio books, of course... Especially when they have a good reader. But the joy of audio books is their convenience, being able to listen while in a car, or while doing housework, or while exercising. All things being equal, I prefer reading print to listening to works.

    So who is a good reader? I've been listening lately to Ray Dotrice reading A Dance With Dragons, and I think he is terrible. I like Sam West, Stephen Fry, Nigel Planer... I prefer male readers to female.

    3. I have managed to make some times where I read to people. I haven't done it at all in the last year or so. I'd like to. I wonder if I should approach some people with this as a proposal?

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for August 18, 2011: You’ve just had a long, hard, exhausting day, and all you want to do is curl up with something light, fun, easy, fluffy, distracting, and entertaining.
What book do you pick up?

    Tonight it was The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous by Jilly Cooper, because I recently enjoyed Jump! so much as hospital reading, and because [personal profile] commodorified and [personal profile] fairestcat were kind enough to lend it to me.

    Often, it's graphic novels or comics books.

    Often, it's something I have read before and loved - a Dunnett novel, or Guy Gavriel Kay, or Georgette Heyer; something of that stripe.

    Often it's a mystery. Any mystery.

fajrdrako: ([Captain Jack Harkness])

Booking Through Thursday for August 11, 2011: It’s National Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status (We’ve done something similar to this before, but it’s always fun, so … why not?)

    I had a pile of books on my desk yesterday, but moved them to my bedroom. The only published book within reach now - "published" in contrast to notebooks and apazines - is a wonderful graphic novel called Thor: The World Eaters by Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry.

    The pages are not numbered - there are no margins - but I turned to page 56, and discovered that it starts with some odd fragmentary sentences - the patter of a con man pulling in his crowd. Taking each word balloon fragment as a sentence, the fifth sentence is:

      I hope you all want to play with me.

    I find that absolutely delightful.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for August 4, 2011: What’s the last book you were really EXCITED to read?
And, were you excited about it in advance? Or did the excitement bloom while you were reading it?
Are there any books you’re excited about right NOW?

    It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I'm actually excited about almost every book I start, when I start it. It's either the excitement of discovering a new author, or of having something new from a wonderful favourite writer, or something new I want to learn. Sometimes the book turns out to be a dud, sometimes I'm disappointed, but that doesn't stop me from feeling that moment of thrill each time I start a new book. Even when it's a book I've read before, there's that frisson of anticipation: will I love it as much as I did the last time?

    Recent books that have excited me particularly:

    1. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin, because I've been hanging on the cliffhangers from A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows for six years now.

    2. Jump! by Jilly Cooper. I haven't read one of her books in a very long time; I was reminded why I once enjoyed them so much.

    3. Thor: The World Eaters by Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday for January 20, 2011: Even I read things other than books from time to time … like, Magazines! What magazines/journals do you read?

Generally speaking, I think magazines are poor value for money compared to books, but I have my weaknesses. I love:

  1. Magazines about my favourite fandoms - Wizard, Comic Heroes, Doctor Who, Torchwood, SFX. I find the British magazines better than the American, because they have more full-page photos, and I like to frame these for my bathroom wall - which currently has pictures of the Ninth Doctor with Rose, the Tenth Doctor, Daken, and two of Methos.

  2. Science magazines like New Science and Scientific American.

  3. Domestic magazines like Woman's Day, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens. And magazines with good recipes.

  4. Magazines with interesting photography and beautiful women, like Glamour, Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair.

  5. National Geographic, when it has historical and archeological articles, or articles about pandas, or somewhere that interests me.

  6. Esperanto magazines.

  7. Magazines about yoga.

There's a pattern here - I like magazines about things which interest me. Next I'll be getting magazines about knitting, just wait and see.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for January 6, 2011: Any New Year’s reading resolutions?

1. Read more.
2. Read more Esperanto.
3. Read a few books I've been meaning to read or reread: Bede's Ecclesiastical Hisory, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Cambridge Medieval History of the Middle Ages.
4. Read some of the unread fiction on my bookcases.


Sep. 30th, 2010 10:44 pm
fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for September 30, 2010: If you read series, do you ever find a series “jumping the shark?” How do you feel about that? And, do you keep reading anyway?

If I'm not enjoying myself, I stop reading, regardless of whether it's a short story, a novel, or a series of novels.

And of course I am disappointed when a series that was good starts to be less so. On the other hand, some series gain depth and get better as they go, so I guess there's compensation.

I am more likely to stop reading if I'm not enjoying a single book, and hang in a little longer for a series, just because a series often has more hooks - I'm already more invested in the action.

Series I stopped reading would include the Dune books by Frank Herbert, or the Pern series by Ann McCaffery. At one point I stopped reading the Marcus Didius Falco books by Lindsay Davis, but then they got better again, so I resumed - with a gap in the middle.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for August 26, 2010: If you’re not enjoying a book, will you stop mid-way? Or do you push through to the end? What makes you decide to stop?

There are two reasons to read books: for information, or for pleasure.

If it's a book I'm reading for information, I'll read until I get the information.

If it's a book I'm reading for pleasure, I'll stop when I realize I'm not enjoying it. That probably won't be mid-way through. It will probably be less than fifty pages into it. If a book meant for pleasure isn't pleasurable, it's a waste of my time.

I would read more, probably, if someone whose taste I trusted had really enthused over it, or if it were part of a series in which I'd loved the other books.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for August 19, 2010:

Questions and answers about reading... )

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    I never feel guilty about what I read. I have no shame.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday for April 15, 2010: God* comes to you and tells you that, from this day forward, you may only read ONE type of book–one genre–period, but you get to choose what it is. Classics, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, History, Business … you can choose, but you only get ONE.

What genre do you pick, and why?

Can I cite "the really good books" as a genre?

I don't necessarily care what kind of books I'm reading, if the writing style is good. And beautifully written books happen in every genre.

The thing is, I haven't seen a lot of good writing in my favourite genre over the last while, and got somewhat discouraged about looking for it. The genre is historical fiction. So if I can't cite quality as the criterion, then I'll choose the genre I most love and most want to be of high quality. Yup, historical fiction: with fond thoughts of Samuel Shellabarger, Norah Lofts, Sergeanne Golon, Baroness Orczy, Anthony Hope, Geoffrey Trease, Louise Andrews Kent, Mary Renault, Georgette Heyer, and, of course, Dorothy Dunnett.

This does not include mystery novels set in the historical past, with the exception of Ellis Peters. These books always get my hopes up and always disappoint me. Unless there's something I missed, they are usually substandard as mysteries and stylistically substandard as fiction.

My next choice would be the fantasy writers whose fantasy most resembles historical fiction: Megan Whalen Turner, Guy Gavriel Kay, Karin Lowachee, and Ellen Kushner, to name a few.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for April 15, 2010: In general, do you prefer the beginnings of stories? Or the ends?

My main test as to whether to read a book is to read the first paragraph, sometimes the first page. I never, never look at the end till I get there: I hate spoilers. I've also learned to avoid reading the blurb on the back cover, because they often reveal too much. Beginnings are perfect: they show you setting, character, and writing style. All the most important things.

This makes beginnings very significant to me. Masters of good beginnings: Guy Gavriel Kay, Charles Dickens, Dorothy Dunnett, Dick Francis,

But there's nothing I love more than a good ending to a book. Feel-good endings, twisty endings, satisfying endings, endings which thematically refer back to the beginning of the book, surprise endings, strong endings, endings that make me smile or cry.

Generally speaking, the beginning of a book tells me whether I want to read that book. The ending of a book tells me whether I want to remember the book, and how to value it.

I think my favourite ending of all time is the last few paragraphs of The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett. They made the world to hang in the air. But Dorothy Dunnett is, on the whole, the master of wonderful endings.

Other favourite endings, with no spoilers:

  1. The very famous ending to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Not the words: the events.
  2. The end of Thud! by Terry Pratchett. ("More important than this?" said the Dwarf King.)
  3. The very end of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevky, before the epilogue. That ending haunts me.
  4. The ending of Madselin by Norah Lofts. Possibly the most romantic ending to a novel I've ever read, all the more becuase it doesn't even mention the love story that is the book's theme.
  5. The ending of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.
  6. Aral Vorkosigan's speech to Cordelia about honour which ends Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold.
  7. The end of Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney. It isn't really an end. Half a sentence leading us right back to the beginning.
  8. The end of Torchwood: Almost Perfect by James Goss, when the alien addresses Captain Jack with a certain familiar voice, and Jack's actions in reply. ("What do you want?")
  9. The ending of The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox: "I put myself between you and gravity."
  10. The vitriolic ending to Troilus and Cressida by Shakespeare:

      Till then I'll sweat and seek about for eases,
      And at that time bequeathe you my diseases.

A few links for first sentences: fatz, Library Thing, SF on io9.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for Nov. 19, 2009: What items have you ever used as a bookmark? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever used or seen used?

I like to use postcards as bookmarks. They have good pictures, they often have good memories attached, they're substantial enough to hold a page, and they're the right size for most books. I particularly love using the postcards I sent home to my parents when I was a student in England; they're nice memorabilia, and they mostly show pictures of castles.

I also use commercial bookmarks. Occasionally when I'm really stuck for a bookmark, I tear a pace out of a magazine, fold it in six, and use it. Sometimes when I want to mark a particular passage or line, I'll use a post-it note, at least in theory. But I've never done that often. Occasionally I use theatre tickets or business cards.

I don't think I've ever used anything really strange, but I do have a bookmark story. There's a book I read first when I was an undergraduate student at Carleton University, back in the early 1970s, called Chronique d'Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier, a 12th century historical work written in Old French. In the 1980s I got it from the library again from time to time, for a reread. I can't read Old French very quickly, so I checked it out several times. Then a couple of years ago... I believe I mentioned it in my LJ at the them... I checked the book out because I hadn't read it in twenty years, and wanted to look at it again. Someone had left their bookmark in the book, a postcard with a picture of the Justice League of America. It was dated to the mid-1980s. It was my postcard.

I figure I'm the only person in Ottawa who ever actually read that book.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday for Nov. 19, 2009: Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

First of all, I don't think books are necessarily good because their authors are dead and lived long ago. There are lots of reasons books can be popular, and there are lots of different tastes, and the enduring books are those which have appealed to a lot of tastes. I note they didn't list Shakespeare as a classic author - perhaps because no one is of his calibre. But of course there will never be another Dickens, Austen or Bronte - good or bad, every author is unique.

So, who do I think from our era might be read 100 years from now? At a guess: Tolkien (if you'll allow mid-twentieth century authors to be considered of our era, even if they're dead), J.D. Salinger, Robert B. Parker, Terry Pratchett, Bill Bryson, Dorothy Dunnett, J.K. Rowling, Peter Schaffer, John Fowles, Chaim Potok, and Diana Wynne Jones - along with many others.

I think (and hope) that writers will not just be remembered for their books and novels, but also for their movies, TV shows, comics and plays.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday for Nov. 12, 2009: Suggested by JM: "Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation. That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading. Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

Why waste time on bad books?

As I see it, there are three basic reasons to read a book:
  1. Pleasure
  2. Information
  3. Curiosity
If I'm reading for the sake of pleasure, there's no point in continuing if I'm not getting pleasure from it. If I'm not engaged by a book after half a dozen pages, I'll probably stop. I am almost as particular about books as about TV shows. I see no reason to torture myself by reading (or watching) crap.

If I'm reading for information, and the information isn't good or trustworthy, I don't continue. I might browse a little, or skim, but again, why waste time? I suppose I might be reading something in order to refute it, and I've read non-fiction for the sake of being commissioned to write reviews that I'd never read otherwise.

Curiosity is a different issue. Though the first two reasons are my usual motivation for reading, occasionally I'll read a best seller or a book highly recommended by friends, and finish it even if I'm not thoroughly enjoying it. These are usually not bad books - though they might be: The Da Vinci Code was a bad book by just about every measure I know except sheer readability, and I stuck it through to the end. And learned that there is, in fact, a certain pleasure in being able to yet "You idiots!" at the protagonists every few pages.

I read the Harry Potter books out of this kind of curiosity, and though I never disliked any of them, they never really tipped over into something I'd read if I wasn't operating on curiosity alone. The best part was reading one of them aloud to friends. That was fun.

I'm more likely to read a comic book to the end even if I'm not enjoying it: partly because individual comics don't usually involve the same time commitment as novels, partly because there are issues of continuity and character-loyalty, partly because of the cost investment; and largely because I am very analytical about comics, and like to work through the creative and corporate implications of even the poor stories, and especially of the tropes and clichés of the medium.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday for Nov. 5, 2009: Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

I choose books about people by their subject matter and writing style, just like anything else. I like memoirs - i.e., reflecting non-fiction written about the author's experiences - and I like biography of historical figures. But most people in the historical past didn't write about themselves, so usually I have to rely on modern historians writing about them. There are exceptions: one of my favourite books ever is L'Histoire de Guillaume Le Maréchal, a biography written about 1220 about William Marshal, who was Marshal of England for Henry II, teacher and friend of Richard Lionheart, and Regent of England for Henry III. Written in Anglo-Norman verse by his squire.
Qui ai bon matyre a feire
Deit si porveir son afaire
S'il a bel commencement...
De Bello Gallico isn't exactly autobiography, but it's odd how many of my favourite people were writers, one way or another. Can I count the poems of Catullus as memoirs in verse?

Probably the most significant biography I have ever read was one called Sir Francis Drake, which I read when I was eight or nine, when I was falling in love with history.

Favourite biographies: various ones of Shelley and Mary Shelley and their circle, Byron, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Henry II Plantagenet.

Favourite memoirs: Noel Coward, Bill Bryson, Annie Dillard, Michel de Montaigne. The letters of Byron, Shelley and Lord Nelson might fall into this category, too - not exactly written as memoirs, but serving that purpose.

Favourite autobiographies: John Barrowman and Christopher Plummer are two I recently read and loved.

There's another more rare category of autobiography: autobiography done in comic book form. My favourite of these is The Spiral Cage by Al Davison, in which a young man with spina bifida describes his life in comic book form. Then there is Melody, an autobiographical comic about a Montreal stripper. And the brilliant, brilliant Barefoot Gen is autobiographical - about Keiji Nakazawa's experiences before, during and after the bombing of Hiroshima.

fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?
I did have a chance to ask my favourite author questions. The author was Dorothy Dunnett, back when she was alive. Her answers tended to follow a certain pattern. I remember asking her, for instance, shortly after the publication of The Spring of the Ram, "What colour are Nicholas's eyes?"

"Wait and see," she said.

She wasn't exactly forthcoming.

I suppose I would like to ask Charles Dickens who killed Edwin Drood.


Sep. 21st, 2009 05:34 pm
fajrdrako: ([Books])

Booking Through Thursday What’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you’ve read recently? (Mind you, this doesn’t necessarily mean funny, since we covered that already. Just … GOOD.)
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday What’s the most informative book you’ve read recently?
Chamber's Dictionary, I suppose. The best dictionary ever, and I'm always delving into it.

But I tend not to think of books as 'informative'. Newspapers are informative. I read for knowledge, not information, and in my mind, there's a difference. If I want information, I look it up online now, usually - Wikipedia, Googling it, online references. That's not what I read books for.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Booking Through Thursday Suggested by Callista83:

Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?
In questions like this, I'm always a little wary of the noun 'celebrity' - as if being famous were separate from a person's accomplishments. Who decides who is or is not a celebrity? Actors, singers, members of a royal family - what about politicians? Scientists? Explorers? Journalists? Writers? Seems to me there is something dismissive in the word 'celebrity', that many people who are celebrities don't deserve.

Yes, I read celebrity memoirs - not often, and only when I have a reason. But I like autobiography, and memoirs, and biography, and essays. Let's see: I've read some of the volumes of memoirs by Noel Coward; I've read Anything Goes by John Barrowman; I've read the motorcycling adventures of Ewan McGregor, and I recently started the autobiography of Christopher Plummer. I read Cheryl Tieg's book which talked about her life as well as her health and beauty tips.

I suppose I can't count Caesar's De Bello Gallica in this list - ?


fajrdrako: (Default)

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