I was recently tagged by Sarah in a…tag post, as she so rightfully calls it. And its about reading, which is something I do a lot, so here it is….
Is there a book on your nightstand right now?
The book on my nightstand is The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau. It’s an interesting book but heavy going stuff, so this isn’t my ‘current read’ so to speak; it’s an ongoing read. I only read a few paragraphs at a time, and only when I’m really in the mood to concentrate. It’s been on my nightstand a while, and will probably be there a while longer. Surprisingly for me, I have no fiction on the go just now – instead, I’m reading Staring at the Sun by Irvin D Yalom – to be fair, it’s not an easy read either as it’s about making peace with our fear of death. I heard them speak about it on Radio 4’s book of the week and it sounded like it would be an enlightening read. I’ve only just started it though, so will reserve judgement for now.
What was the last truly great book you read?
I really can’t think of the last great fiction book I read, so I’ll go for Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read it in January and its already on my to-re-read list. Some of it is a bit out there, but most of it it very sound, down-to-earth advice that I kind of already knew but didn’t realise I knew. And its a great reminder that all creative people have their struggles. I could pretty much read this book over and over forever and I’m sure I’d learn something new every time.
If you could meet a writer, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you want to know?
George RR Martin. A cliche, I know, but seriously! How the hell does he keep track of everything? I’d love to see how he works, although that’s more from my perspective as a writer than as a reader. I can barely keep track of a short story at times. I’m sure I could learn a lot from him.
What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
You might be more surprised to find out that I don’t have a lot of books. I rarely re-read books unless they’re absolute favourites so I tend to buy a lot secondhand, then donate them back. Ummm….. *has a quick look over at bookshelf* I have a copy of the bible? It makes surprisingly interesting reading (in small doses).
How do you organise your personal library?
I don’t. My small bookshelf is arranged by size, and my kindle is just a mess, which breaks my heart. I hate the filing system on the new style-kindles.
Is there a book you have always meant to read but haven’t got around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed not to have read?
The Alchemist is one that I’ve wanted to read for a while. And I had wanted to read Rebecca for years before I finally got round to it. For some reason I felt kind of embarrassed that I hadn’t read it sooner, but on the whole, I’m over reading books just because I think I *should* read them. If I don’t fancy them, it doesn’t happen.
Disappointing, overrated, just not good: name a book you feel you were supposed to have liked but just didn’t. Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
Great Expectations. The Hobbit. To the Lighthouse. Following on from what I said above, I don’t force myself to read classics, or books that everyone else is reading. I will try reading more classics in future, as there are some that I love (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Vanity Fair, Emma) but if they don’t grab my interest by the first chapter or so, or if I’m struggling, I stop. Life is too short.
What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you steer clear of?
I’ll be honest and say I’m quite bland, as I like stories set in, or near, the present day with female protagonists who are roughly the same age as me. I like reading about real life, and I like reading about people who could be me. I tend to avoid sci-fi or fantasy, although I love the Game of Thrones series. Not that fussed about thrillers or crime either, although again I break my own rule by loving everything Ian Rankin and Peter May have ever written. So I don’t think there’s anything I’d 100% steer clear of.
If you could choose a book the President/Prime Minister had to read, which would it be?
Right, what would I force David Cameron to read? I really don’t know. Something about people living in poverty, or who have had to grow up in poverty. I suspect he could learn a lot from that, but he’d probably choose not to.
What do you plan to read next?
The next book on my to-read list is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. I bought a copy of it a while back and it’s been waiting patiently. It’s one that I really want to read, so I’m looking forward to it.
I’m not going to tag anyone on particular because I don’t know who reads my blog these days.But if you’re reading this, I tag YOU. Yes, YOU. Get on with it, and make sure to link back to here so I can read about what you’re reading about.
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