Booking Through Thursday: Love

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What do you love most about reading?

I don’t know who said it first, but it’s a common enough sentiment that George R. R. Martin mentions it in A Dance of Dragons (which, no, I haven’t read it, I’m saving it, like those technical commentaries on The Lord of the Rings):

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.

There’s a lot I love about reading—the weight of a book, the moment when a sentence is so perfect it pierces your heart, its weird telepathy, and how characters can come alive. But that’s what I love most about reading, this peculiar and specific blend of escapism, empathy, and horizon-broadening.

Booking Through Thursday: Influence

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Do other people influence what you choose to read? When a family member recommends something, or a friend says they hated a book you were planning to read … does it affect your reading choices?

My immediate response was no, but I think that’s just because you mentioned family. My family aren’t big readers. We always had copious amounts of books in the house, but they were mostly self-help or travel books. And my brother just finished a book I got him a few years ago. The last time my mother forced me to read something—it was either Silas Marner or Anna Karenina—I was still enough of an angry little wombat that I spitefully forgot everything about the book but the title. (I was an extremely mean child.) My parents also confiscated my copy of Lit Riffs once as a kid (they’d bought it for me sight unseen), so I think I just figured out at some point in my pre-adolescence that my reading, thin on the ground as that was, was best kept to myself. And that’s colored our bookish relationship; I’m the one that recommends. 

But I do take some recommendations from friends. A very few come from friends in real life, but the most come from the wonderful book bloggers I’ve come to know over the past three years. I think Ana, Jodie, Renay, and Eva have the most recommendations to their names on my giant spreadsheet. It’s still fairly sparing, but I think that’s because most of my recommendations have come out of Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust and More Book Lust, so.

As for people telling me they hated a book I was planning to read… I usually power through to see what the fuss is about. If it’s awful, then we’ve got something to snark at together! If it isn’t—well, taste is so subjective.

Booking Through Thursday: On Loan

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Do you lend your books? Are any out on loan right now? Do you have any that have been loaned to you? Do you put a time limit on these? Do you think people should make an effort to read the loaned book quickly?

I very rarely do; in fact, I’m tempted to say that I used to and won’t anymore. My library is quite small and inaccessible, as it’s at my parents’ house at the moment, so that cuts down on lending anything from it out. If I want someone to read a particular book, I’ll usually try and find a copy at a thrift store for them.

I’ve just had really atrocious luck with lending my books out. In middle school or high school (it’s a blur, thank God!), I lent a friend of mine my treasured copy of Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault—I had a very poor grasp on what a library could do for me at the time and I had been so very proud I’d managed to get my parents to buy a book with queer content for me without them noticing. She returned it to me many weeks later than I expected, the book—gasp—damaged by being shoved into her backpack. I was utterly shocked. When my dad wanted to read Wicked, I cautiously lent him my copy. He didn’t damage it, but he never even opened the book—I had to steal it back out of my mom’s study a few months later for my trimonthly reading of the novel. (Oh, high school.) And my very first week of college, I lent my French textbook to a girl who promptly lost it in the rain.

So, yeah, I don’t really lend books or borrow them from other people—I prefer renting the library copies, because we all have agreed on the condition of library copies. In fact, I have a book out with a cracked spine that’s marked for repair as soon as I return it. But it’s a communal book, so I have no stake in its condition beyond “readable”. But otherwise? Lending doesn’t really work out for me at all.

Booking Through Thursday: Soundtrack

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Do you ever try to pair music with the book you’re reading? Play the movie soundtrack while reading the original book? Find mood music that fits with your story?

Well, yeah. I’m from fandom, where this phenomenon is called fanmixing (and extends to all texts), and I was introduced to it through a bunch of Harry Potter fanmixes. I’m not a very musical person myself, so when I listen to music, I’m constantly imposing other texts on it; the only songs where that doesn’t happen is “Layla” and “Because the Night”. I wouldn’t say that I actively try to do this, because I rarely do it while I’m reading and I constantly do it whenever I listen to music, which is whenever I have to walk somewhere farther than the bathroom down the hall.

A small sampling of current and favorite between music and books include “Love is Blindness” for The Great Gatsby, as inspired by the upcoming film’s trailer, “Marchin’ On” for Harry Potter, Little Talks” for Sherlock Holmes (while Watson thinks Holmes is dead), “Heavy Cross” for Thor (specifically, Amora the Enchantress—I’m always trying to frame her thing for Thor as something that’s not the key to defeating her), “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” for A Princess of Mars, and I have a whole playlist for Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (anchored by, of course, “Rolling in the Deep“), as well as Mary Morstan’s setlist, should she ever appear as a guitar-playing barista in Elementary. A girl can dream, right?

Booking Through Thursday: Winter

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It’s the depth of winter here where I live right now … what books do you like to read when it’s snowy and white? What books do you read to evoke a real feeling of winter (good or bad)?

Well, it may be winter in Georgia, but that just means that it is wet and even occasionally cold. We’ve had a couple days where it’s been warm recently, so I’ve never really experienced a winter that’s snowy and white.

I’m also beyond awful at seasonal reading; I never read anything at the right time. However, I did just finish up Wuthering Heights, and doing that in the midst of several overcast, drizzly, cold days was a delightful way to finish that off.

Booking Through Thursday: Gifts

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Do you like to give books as gifts? How do you feel about getting books yourself? Are you picky or easy?

I love to give books as gifts—it’s my first impulse when birthdays or holidays roll around. It’s fun to match books with people; a Molly Ivins biography for my mom, Napoleonic history for my brother, feminist sci-fi for my friends. Plus, there’s the old stand-bys for people I don’t know very well, like The Hobbit. I’m lucky in that I read more than anyone else I know, so I rarely give people something they already have, but it does happen—my mother already had that Molly Ivins biography. But that’s a chance you have to take sometimes; I can’t know everyone’s libraries inside and out.

I love getting books that I want to read. I feel it’s fairly easy to parse that out, given the blog and my reading list, which even denotes which books I can only get to by buying them. A little Google-fu is your friend! But I often get a handful of books I’ve never heard of, unless I specifically ask for a book. I am picky in that I have specific books I want, but… there’s rather a lot of them, which broadens the field somewhat. At the end of the day, a bookstore gift card is much appreciated.

Booking Through Thursday: Resolved

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Any reading resolutions for the new year? Reading more? (Reading less?) Reading better books? Bigger books? More series? More relaxing books?

And hey, feel free to talk about any other resolutions you might have, too … or why you choose NOT to have any.

I don’t have any specific reading resolutions—I’m quite satisfied with my current mix of fiction and nonfiction and I’ll continue on my exploration of the last sixty years in pop culture, so I don’t see anything I need to commit myself to. In fact, I don’t really have New Year’s resolutions this year; as I’ll be graduating college and seeking work, I want to focus on that.

Well, okay, I lied a little—I do have two small New Year’s resolutions. The first is to comment more and get involved with conversations more online, by including it as part of my correspondence that I take care of once a week. And while I’ve not been able to give my attention to it over the past few weeks because of the holidays (so busy!), I want to make Graffiti Reviews the best it can be in 2013—feel free to submit, cats and kittens!

Booking Through Thursday: Favorites 2012

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A deceptively easy question for this week (easy to ask but possibly hard to answer): What are/were your favorite book(s) of the year? (Bonus points if you know how many books you read.)

As per usual, I’ve got a year in review post coming up, which includes my favorite books of the year—that I’ve read this year, not published this year—so I shan’t spoil it here.

As for the bonus question, I read one-hundred-and-twenty books this year. The count may be a little off; around New Year’s, there’s stuff I read in the previous year whose review goes up in the new year, but I go by when the review was published for the sake of keeping my sanity.

Booking Through Thursday: Present Tense

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Any books you’re particularly hoping to be gifted this year? Any that you’re giving as presents this holiday season?

I usually give books as presents, except to my father, whose book hoard makes him a sort of Franco-Irish Smaug. Since my family does read my blog a little, I will only say that Tom Reiss and Molly Ivins are involved for the books headed my family’s way. As for myself, I rarely ask for books, since I rely so much on public libraries for my reading, but I have specifically asked for The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, based on my wild success with anything Perelman has ever written.

Booking Through Thursday: Contemplation

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So … you’ve just finished reading a book. For the sake of the discussion, we’ll say it was everything a book should be—engaging, entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking. The kind you want to gush over. The question is—do you immediately move on to your next book? Or do you take time to contemplate this writerly masterpiece and all its associated thoughts/emotions/ideas for a while first?

After I read an amazing, perfect book, I decisively close the back cover and then sit back in my chair for a few moments, savoring it.

And then I immediately move onto my next book. With the kind of schedule I have, I don’t really have time to let a book percolate on its own for a few days. However, because of my genre rule (I can’t read the same genre twice in a row), my reads are usually so different that my last read is percolating on the old subconscious back-burner even as I’m digging into something new. On the Nerdist, Chris Hardwick recently interviewed musician Paul Williams, who discussed how sometimes the best way to remember something is to think about something else; your subconscious is still pattern-forming, even as you’re doing something else. And that’s how I feel about it; even if I’m reading something else, I’m still contemplating what came before.

Of course, this is in the case of the kind of book that blows your hair back, which has been few and far between for me this year…