This is an oldish meme via Steph Su Reads, but I’ve been thinking about it because I can’t imagine many other questions that would define a person as a reader. So here goes:
Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Hardcover for library books, trade paperback if possible for books I own, old mass market paperbacks for anything science fiction or fantasy, particularly if it’s rocking some crazy mid-60s cover.
Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Umm…. Brooklyn Public Library? Seriously, I almost never buy books these days. The only time I’m tempted is by a really cheap used bookstore or an indie with great staff recommendations. But I have a Barnes & Noble membership, and give books as gifts a lot, so probably B&N.
Bookmark or dog-ear?
Dear sweet lord, the thought of dog-earing hurts me RIGHT HERE. I actually meticulously unfold every dog-eared corner I find in library books. I use bookmarks without fail, particularly old Amtrak ticket stubs and this cache of overnight loan bookmarks I found in my library.
Amazon or brick-and-mortar?
Brick-and-mortar, if I’m buying.
Alphabetize by author, or alphabetize by title, or random?
I use up all my organization at work, so my home library is roughly grouped by genre and then by size. Everything’s double-rowed and stacked on top of each other anyway, so it doesn’t make too much difference.
Keep, throw away, or sell?
Seriously, who ever throws a book anyway unless it’s fallen in the bath or something vile’s happened to it? I just started getting really into Bookcrossing, so my new answer is: release! I used to be a huge keeper, but ten years of living in small Brooklyn apartments and within steps of a great public library system have made me less possessive. I generally only keep or collect books that I’m head over heels for, have sentimental value, or are out-of-print or otherwise difficult to find.
Keep dust jacket or toss it?
Read with dust jacket or remove it?
Remove it while reading, but I very rarely read hardcovers that aren’t from the library.
Short story or novel?
Novels, mostly. I have to make a project out of getting through a short story collection.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Harry Potter. I am my mother’s daughter, and she is the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan. (Seriously, we went to London for the Deathly Hallows release so she could be “where the action was.”) Mr. Penny loved Lemony Snicket, but I stalled out in the second book. I’m willing to give them another try, but I don’t think it has the same level of emotional depth that inspires such great devotion.
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I like chapter breaks. I’m generally checking to see how many pages are left in a chapter all the time… reading in 20 or 50 page chunks is generally perfect for me.
“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Once upon a time. (Although I’d pick Wrinkle in Time over a lot of fairy tales… is this a science fiction vs. fantasy question in disguise?)
Buy or borrow?
Borrow, but from the library, not other people. Borrowing from other people makes me feel pressured to get to the book immediately, and I hate feeling like I have any kind of obligation or agenda that’s been in any way imposed on me. Reading is an area of my life that I’m completely free, and I want to keep it that way as much as possible. (That kinda sounds worse than I meant it… it’s not like I’m all oppressed or anything. Just don’t tell me what to read, OK? Don’t tread on me!)
Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?
Reviews, I guess? I read a lot of librarian/YA book blogs, the Times Book Review weekly, watch what comes up in my Goodreads friend feed, and generally keep my ear to the ground. You can’t beat browsing, too, especially on the new books shelves in the library.
Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Wrap it up, people. Tidy endings, all the way (but they don’t have to be quite as tidy as Deathly Hallows, with the corny tribute kids’ names and all).
Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
All of the above. Some before I leave for school. on the train, with kids when they’re in the library for independent reading blocks, on lunch if I’m eating alone, on the train home, a chapter before I check my email, in the evening, in bed. I best love long stretches of Sunday afternoon reading, though, when possible.
Stand-alone or series?
I’m getting a little burnt out on the series right now, particularly the fantasy trilogy these days. I actually think twice before picking up a book if I see the line “first of a projected trilogy” in the review. A series has to be pretty phenomenal to get me through the whole thing these days.
Lord of the Rings, The Lioness Quartet, His Dark Materials, the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb (but not so much the other two trilogies in the same world), Sandman graphic novels… wow, this is hard. There are probably more.
Favorite children’s book?
This is killing me, to pick a favorite. Seriously: as a child, I read constantly and with circularity. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading something new while simultaneously rereading some much-loved book for the umpteenth time. The first ten books I can think of that I loved intensely will have to suffice: The Phantom Tollbooth, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Egpyt Game, A Little Princess, Little Women, The Cricket in Times Square, Charlotte’s Web, Little House on the Prairie, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie of the Wolves.
Favorite YA book?
See above. First ten faves that come to mind: Alanna: The First Adventure, Beauty, The Golden Compass, Summerland, The Thief of Always, Coraline, Arrows of the Queen, Deerskin, The Changeover, Ender’s Game.
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
The Impossible People by Georgess McHargue. This deserves a separate tribute at a later date. Let’s just say that I probably had this book checked out of my town’s library continually from the time I was 8 until I turned 11.
Favorite books read last year?
2008 brought me: The Time Traveler’s Wife, All the Pretty Horses, American Elf: The Sketchbook Diaries, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, Bone, My Antonia, Midnight’s Children (again), Moomin, Reefer Madness, Love & Rockets, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Shriek: An Afterword, Assassination Vacation, Ex Machina, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, White Teeth, Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Blow-Up and Other Stories, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose, The Plain Janes, Count Karlstein, Unequal Childhoods, The Lightning Thief, Buddha by Osamu Tezuka, Spacer and Rat, MIddlemarch, To the Lighthouse, Whales on Stilts!, The Wordy Shipmates, Lives on the Boundary, The Changeover… it was a busy year, full of Sarah Vowell, comics, some short stories, and a few classics for which I’m still patting myself on the back.
Favorite books of all time?
Can I do that thing where I name ten again (oh, but I’ll cheat, and count some series as one book)? The Last Unicorn, Lolita, The Stand, Sandman, Jane Eyre, The Lioness Quartet, Lord of the Rings, Neon Vernacular, Jelly Roll, The Arrival.
What are you reading right now?
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, Tales Before Tolkien, and The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for American Workers by Steven Greenhouse.
What are you reading next?
I need to reread Graceling for the NYCSLA book club (twist my arm!) and I’m excited that I just checked Ash out of the library today, so those are probably up next.
Favorite book to recommend to an 11-year-old?
That really depends on the 11-year-old, now doesn’t it? Probably Bone or Diary of a Wimpy Kid for the book-shy, Gregor the Overlander or The Lightning Thief for the Harry Potter graduate, and Coraline for the scary story buff.
Favorite book to re-read?
I love to read The Stand if I find myself home sick for a few days. I’m going to reread Sandman since I’m splurging on the Absolute editions this year. The Last Unicorn never fails to get me, every time.
Do you ever smell books?
Sure, but I don’t generally discuss it in public.
Do you ever read primary source documents like letters or diaries?
Not too often, although I’ve been thinking about reading Virginia Woolf’s journals sometime, and I’m curious about Elizabeth Bishop’s letters.