Friday, November 19, 2010

A thrilling book related meme

So, Amanda over on Floor to Ceiling Books is doing a Passion series to kind of familiarize her readers with who she is as a person. I thought this was an interesting idea and since I'm not reviewing a book today I figured I'd kind of do my own take on her idea. I found this book related meme which I've filled out and linked to various things. I generally don't do this kind of thing, but whatever.... sometimes it's fun to take a break from the routine. 

If you think this meme looks interesting, feel free to fill it out over on your blog and link me to it so I can learn more about you, as well. 

Anyway, here it is. Prepare to be thrilled. 

What's the most books you've ever read over a vacation?

So, about 10 years ago I was a competitive swimmer. I ended up blowing out my shoulder doing the 100 fly at a meet. Four surgeries (and 10 years) later it still isn’t the same. Anyway, the point of this is to say the past two Yuletide seasons I’ve been recovering from some pretty extensive reconstructive surgeries. Before these surgeries I’d go raiding the bookstore and get my “post surgery reading list” fluffed up. I started reading Malazan Book of the Fallen before my last Christmas season surgery so, for a present to myself I ordered all the books in the series and plowed through books 3 – 8 during recovery. Now, that’s not a ton of books but I’m counting that here because those books are L-O-N-G.

What's the best book you've ever read on vacation? What made it great?

I went to Ireland in March and read C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy while I was there. Not sure if it was the country I was in or the books themselves, but I freaking love that trilogy and I think the fact I was reading it in Ireland just made it that much better. I also read part of The Wheel of Time series while I was doing a tour de force of Europe a few years ago. Not sure if it was the where I was or what, but that series has a special niche in my memories because I enjoyed it, and I loved where I was when I was reading them (plus, a humorous experience with buying the next book in the series in Germany as I didn’t bring enough books with me and couldn’t wait to continue on with the series till I got back in the states). Sometimes when great books and great places line up perfectly it’s hard to figure out if you loved the book for the book, or for where you were when you read it…. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Do you consider reading at the dinner table to be rude and exclusive, or a nice way to dip in and out of the conversation?

Ha… depends on if I’m alone or not. Generally speaking, I don’t read while I’m eating if people are with me but I have no problems reading while I’m cooking.

Do you prefer music on when you read, or other background noise, or a profound silence?

Okay, so being a recent college grad there are a few things I learned during my time in college. 1 – I cannot study or read unless I have music on. 2 – if this music has any words in it in English, I spend all my time trying to analyze the lyrics than reading/absorbing information. Usually my choice of music includes bands like Tool, Godsmack, Nine Inch Nails and that sort, but the lyrics are in English and I spend most of my time analyzing what the song is about than anything else. Anyway, long story short, I found a genre of music called World Fusion and that is now my study/reading music and that’s pretty much what you can count on me listening to if I’m reading. If you care, some examples of what I enjoy can be heard here, here and here. I'm obsessed with other cultures and traveling and I guess my World Fusion music reflects that. 

Do you have a book-related pet peeve?

I’m not sure what this is referring to. I guess I’ll answer this two different ways. One pet peeve I have is if people break the spine of the book and fold the book back on itself – or NEVER dog ear my books. Never. God I hate that.

However, if we’re talking about an actual body of work I’d have to say that my biggest pet peeve is when an author has a problem clearly switching perspectives in their work so the reader is left trying to figure out who the hell they are currently reading about. Or, for example, when I read (and reviewed) In the Shadow of Swords by Val Gunn, he started each chapter with this ultra dramatic 4 or 5 word sentence. I can’t believe how quickly that got on my nerves. That seriously almost made it so I didn’t want to finish the book. Small things like that can really add up to being incredibly annoying when they are done redundantly and dramatically affect the overall enjoyment of a book as a whole. 

What do you do with books you've purchased/were given but didn't enjoy?

I usually donate them to a friend/family member I think might enjoy them more than I did. I rarely buy books. My local library has been voted as having one of the best selection of books in the country several times running so, thankfully, I rarely have  a reason to buy books - so I avoid this problem. 

Name three authors that have influenced or changed your reading selections.

- Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon was the book that got me started with Fantasy/SciFi when I was in my teen years.
- Robert Jordan – he’s the first “epic fantasy” author I ever read and, at 15, that started me on epic fantasy.
- Richard Dawkins – that probably says quite a bit about my personal uh… philosophies but he writes some really cool stuff about evolution and science in general that started me on a whole religion/science binge that has, in turn, filled up a huge chunk of my bookshelf.

All your books disappear mysteriously overnight, but insurance pays up for them - with which authors/particular books do you begin replacing them? Are there any that you would like to exempt from this hypothetical example as the copy itself is too precious to lose?

I wouldn’t want to lose any of my autographed books. That would just suck because they were all so exciting for me to get. If I lost my collection though, and had to start replacing books I’d probably start with Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Mists of Avalon, A Song of Ice and Fire and The Coldfire Trilogy and move out from there. I’d have to replace a lot of my nonfiction books, too. I have some great stuff written by the Dalai Lama and Gandhi and my Jared Diamond collection is a must-replace. So are my books written by Carl Sagan. I also have quite a collection of humanitarian books which I always want to own as they remind me what is important, philosophically. So I'd want to replace Three Cups of Tea, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World which are my two favorites out of that batch. My memoirs and freethought collection would have to be replaced, too. I've worked hard to gather the books I have and would want them all replaced but if I had to choose I'd replace my books on Einstein, Gandhi, and Benjamin Franklin, and my books by Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens first out of those.

Is there an author whose book recommendations, even short blurb-acclaim on the cover, will persuade you to read it?

Oh, if Steven Erikson blurbs anything I have to read it. No question about it. 

12 comments:

  1. I was a swimmer too! That's awesome. Not good at fly though, nope, not at all.

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  2. Awesome!!! I miss swimming. My doctor won't let me get in the water anymore because every time I do I end up having to have surgery after. My absolute worst stroke in the world was breast stroke. I usually competed in 100 fly and 200 IM and relays. Good hell, I miss swimming so much!!

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  3. Me too, I need to go more often. I'm so out of shape. I did 200 IM, but mainly because I could get pretty far ahead when it came to backstroke. Also terrible with breaststroke. :)

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  4. There is an awesome book that builds on Jared Diamond's work and extends it (as well as using a ton of sf examples from Nightfall to Hari Seldon to...) and that to my mind answers the main criticisms that Guns, Germs and Steel faced
    Ian Morris - Why the West Rules - for Now

    I am seriously thinking to review it on FBC despite being non-fiction as being utterly relevant for any big sff reader. I am now at the second read through though I tend to do a chapter at a time.

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  5. Liviu, thank you SO much for that recommendation! I'm going to have to check it out ASAP. Improving upon Guns, Germs and Steel AND using SF examples is too good to pass over.

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  6. David Keck has a recommend from Erikson. I'm reading In the Eyes of Heaven right now.

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  7. I'm actually sort of in awe right now that you were able to comprehend Malazan post surgery. I tried to read Toll the Hounds when sick (with a flu, not anything intense) and couldn't even being to wrap my head around the constant viewpoint changes, the writing, etc.

    What books has Erikson blurbed? It occurred to me that I've never seen him comment on any, though I know he reads a fair amount of fantasy from interviews and the like.

    I gave my answers on my blog (http://evilhat.blogspot.com/2010/11/book-meme.html), though I warn you that I'm not very good at concision. As revealed by my three paragraph comment on a meme.

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  8. Sarah, what you and I have in common is SCARY!

    I also used to be a competitive swimmer (Fly was my best, I was the ringer who my coach always dropped into the fly end of a relay, cause she new I'd win...LOL!), and that's something I no longer due because of an injury. Seriously!

    My biggest pet peeve is when people break the spine of a book. I once saw a girl do it to her book on the subway and I winced...and she saw me and raised an eyebrow and I asked "What did that book do to you?" LOL. I also dislike people who dog-ear pages....use a bookmark FFS! Heathen's.

    I actually only lend my books out to a select few people who I know will care for them, and there is a standing rule. If you break the spine on one of my books, you get me a new copy. thankfully that only happened once and it was my mom's partner who did it and he was quite apologetic.

    I would also replace my Malazan books, and my ASOIAF if there was a fire....all in Hardcover (or in Malazan case, large softcover trade). wink wink, the insurance company will never know!

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  9. Oh, also Sarah. I realized that Bookworm Blues wasn't in my blogroll over at IcebergInk....duh, meanwhile I read your site everyday. LOL.

    I've rectified that, and you are now in the blogroll.

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  10. Scott - that honestly blows my mind. Great minds think alike, right?

    First of all, I should say that fly is a superior stroke, and thus, anyone who has done (or does) fly in a competition, is therefore superior. The fact that you used to fly AND you treat your books as though they are prized religious documents AND you are a Malazan fan....

    I think I just heard the heavenly angels break into song.

    I just realized that Iceberg Ink isn't in my blogroll so I'll go and rectify that right now.

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  11. Haha! Indeed, heads are exploding from bibliophile/swimmer/Bridgeburner meeting greatness. Woot!

    It's funny, all these years later and if I get in a pool, people still ask to see some Fly..and thankfully I can oblige them for a few strokes anyway. I miss it.

    How jazzed are you for THE CRIPPLED GOD? I'm SO excited!

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  12. I used to be an offender of folding page corners over to mark my place (my first copy of Jurassic Park has them everywhere) then one day I suddenly realised 'what the hell am I doing? I'm a monster!' Thankfully I give my books more respect nowadays.
    I've only read the first of the Coldfire books, I need to get my hands on Wings of Wrath to play catchup, methinks.
    Good choices on Godsmack, Tool and NIN too. When I read I tend to play Iron Maiden. The music has the kind of style and imagery behind it that gets me in the fantasy/sci fi mood, but I've heard it enough that the lyrics don't distract me. If I want inspiration, then it's Kamelot, Falconer or similar obscure Scandanavian power metal band :P

    I've also given you an award over at my blog too :)

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