Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Q & A

Over at Novel Readings is a Q&A about books that I thought I'd try.

What was the last book you bought?

Well, that's easy. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, which kinda sorta started this whole blog thing. Before that I bought Anna Karenina, which I'm still slowly reading. Both in paperback.

Hardback? hmmm.

I think it was The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell.

Name a book you have read MORE than once.

Just one? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Possession by A.S. Byatt. Every Dorothy Dunnett novel. Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

I'm not sure any book has changed me fundamentally. Books have made me think long and hard about things. For instance, Dream of Scipio made me think long and hard about the meaning of 'civilization'.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?

Recommendations are important. But I admit that cover design will make me pick up a book I've never hear of to read the first paragraph. The best cover design won't make me read the book if the first paragraph doesn't grab me - not from a plot point-of-view but from an author's style point-of-view.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. But I still read a lot of non-fiction.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

Writing. Plot without beautiful writing bores me. But a combination of beautiful writing and gripping plot - heaven.

Most loved/memorable character?

Dorothy Dunnett's Francis Crawford.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

The Fountainhead by Any Rand
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

but then there's the "pile" on top of the bookcase:

Inez of my Soul by Isabel Allende
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (yes it's a kid's book ... so?)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser
The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block
The Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

What was the last book you read?

The Amber Room by Steve Berry. I blogged about it here.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?

More and more as I get older. But I don't remember most of them. The most 'famous' book I've given up on (twice) is DH Lawrence's Women in Love. I think I've read everything else by Lawrence except that and for the life of me I can't get past page 100.