I like asking you questions, seeing if any of you who stop by here to read (thank you for doing that!) will answer….

Do you prefer to read hardcover or paperback books? Hardcover or larger sized paperbacks? Borrow? I like hardcover best, or quality/trade paperbacks, because they have more substance, you’re not fighting a too-tightly glued spine as you do with mass market paperbacks (which is the reason they crack so quickly if not handled carefully.) I have noticed that Algonquin books puts out smaller hardcovers than most publishers do, and they use a particular finish to their jackets that make their books pure joy to hold. This isn’t the best way to describe it, but the only way I can–their jackets remind me of the feel of sea glass in my hands. (And of course this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t read a mass market!)

Do you have a favorite place to read in your home? I love to read in bed, but I also like to wrap up in one of my mom’s wonderful afghans or one of my very old, soft quilts, in front of the fire, and dive in to a good book. If I can’t do that, I curl up in my favorite chair, ‘the Mommy chair,’ which is a big fat overstuffed armchair on rockers, bought for the advent of the Kid (who is now the Teen and who sits in the Mommy chair more than I ever get to!) and fall in. 

 Do you have a favorite place to read away from, or outside of, your home? I LOVE lying in a hammock in the shade and reading, and I love reading on the beach. I get terribly restless when we’re traveling if I can’t read, so I’m usually the nighttime driver! I also read while I am waiting in a doctor’s office, because if they’re running late it helps me stay cool about it.

Do you snack while you read? Sometimes, usually something like grapes and cheese and crackers, none of which leave fingers tacky, because I will NOT mark up a book that way. Not often, though. I’m much more likely to have a drink–a glass of wine, a margarita, a cup of tea–than food. Books ARE my food. 

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? Well, that depends. Textbooks are heavily highlighted and underscored, and so is my Bible, although both were frightening, at first, having been raised never ever to desecrate such books that way! When I lived alone I found that I underscored particular passages that moved me, because there was no one to whom I could say, “Listen! oh, listen to this!” and then read it aloud….marking those lines made me feel they were better heard, somehow.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? Gaaah!!–laying the book flat open? NO WAY. Nor would I dog-ear a page. I use the front or back fold of the jacket, if there is one, and if not, a bookmark. And yes, I have quite a collection of them, but really any piece of paper will do–it amuses me when I buy used books and find they’ve been marked with business cards, boarding passes, and the like. Makes me wonder, did whoever owned it first actually finish reading?

Fiction, non-fiction, or both? Both. There’s actually little I won’t read; sci-fi/fantasy is about it. And I really have tried to like those, but I just cannot get into them.

 Hardcopy or audiobooks? I prefer reading to myself, but if I am ‘reading’ an audiobook, it’d better be well-read or forget it. I like them best when read by the author, because then I feel as if I’m hearing every pause, every nuance, every inflection, exactly as the author did when creating.

 Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? If I cannot read it all at once–and if it’s good, that’s what I want most–I always at least finish a chapter or a section. Even when re-reading a favorite, I will still tell myself I’m going to stop at page 100, or the end of chapter 12, or whatever.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Write it down to look it up later? Just try to infer what it means from the rest of the sentence, and keep going? It’s been a long time since I’ve come across words I don’t know, and when I do they’re usually foreign words or phrases. So a few years back I bought a small phrasebook for just such moments.  I like looking up what I don’t know; because once I know it, it’s mine forever. But I’ve been known to write down words that were particularly perfect for certain phrases and passages, and I’ve also been known to simply place the unknown in the bigger picture of the sentence, and figure it out. 

What is the last book you bought? Hmmm..I buy them in such quantity–used or not–that it’s hard to say. I have an eternally ongoing list of books TO buy. But since it’s lying here beside me, it was two cookbooks; one is for the book group I belong to. That one is AN EVERLASTING MEAL: COOKING WITH ECONOMY AND GRACE, by Tamar Adler. And the other is Bobby Deen’s FROM MAMA’S TABLE TO MINE. It’s time to revamp old ‘comfort food’ recipes into lighter, healthier versions. 

What is your all time favorite book? Now, how many times have I answered this? Good grief…is there anyone out there who knows me who DOESN’T know that it’s Anton Myrer’s THE LAST CONVERTIBLE? Because that has been true since 1979, it seems mighty safe to say that it will always be my favorite. But I want to know what your favorite book is! And why!

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can read more than one at a time? Depends. There are books that demand undivided attention and they receive it; there are others that are almost picaresque, and can be read in small pieces here and there, as if each chapter is a separate essay or story, and lose none of their power for being read so. It’s true that there are books everywhere; in certain places–by the bathtub, in my car, in my bag or beach bag, I choose to put old favorites that I love so much I can open them at ANY page and begin to read wherever I land, and feel just fine about it.

Do you like re-reading books? Of course I do. It’s like visiting old friends. And what never ceases to amaze me is that even such as my favorite, which is practically committed in its entirety to my memory, still will present itself in new and different ways, making me re-think a line or phrase in a way I never had before. I think that’s an equal blend of skillful writing and whatever is going on in my life at the time, and how that colors my thinking.

BONUS: Are there certain themes/ideas/qualities you tend to be drawn to in books? Sure. I like ‘armchair traveling’ a lot–books about places I’ve yet to go but want to; I like cooking memoirs because I know how much love I put into my own cooking. I want anything I read to be well-written; I don’t want stupid names and stupid plots. I don’t want graphic gore and detailed autopsies, but that doesn’t mean I cannot read crime novels or even true crime, because the workings of the mind are fascinating. I love biographies, especially those of authors and writers.

I want whatever I read to be so engrossing I can hardly stand to wait to the end (but I do–never ever do I read ahead) and then the minute I finish, I want to be disappointed that there’s no more, and so begin to read it all over again. I’d love to think that’s how someone is going to feel when they read some of my own work.


One thought on “Bookishness

  1. Let’s see …. I just read any book I can get my hands on — hardback, soft cover, even electronic. I read wherever I am. Since I usually go out to eat alone, I even will have a book open in a restaurant as I have a meal.

    I do mark books whose ideas I want to dialogue with. A favourite author, Parker Palmer, wrote about how important it is to give credence to our own thoughts as we read. I also will dog ear corners and mark books in a variety of ways that would probably make you gasp. It is the thoughts in the books I volue. There are some I treasure and those are treated with more reverence.

    I prefer reading to the end of a chapter but can put it down at other points. I look up words if they seem to be important to the story. However, I usually wait to see it the context of the story will clarify the word first.

    I just bought 5 books yesterday, mostly short stories. I find that is my favourite writing style so want to explore more about them. Favourite genres are fantasy fiction and book about overcoming difficulties. Love a good mystery too.

    Thanks for sharing your love of books.

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