Some time ago my acquaintance-who-I-pretend-is-my-friend did a book week on her blog, and when I mentioned how much fun that would be, she kindly created this bookish questionnaire for me! I don’t have a whole week of book posts for you just now (hopefully coming later), but as a person who has wasted entirely too many hours doing stupid Buzzfeed quizzes, I great fun filling this much-better-than-Buzzfeed-quiz out. If you want to participate, I’d love to hear you answer your favorite questions in the comments as well.
1. What’s the last book that made you cry?
Possibly Gentian Hill, by Elizabeth Goudge, or if not, definitely The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. In The Bean Trees, a girl from a forgotten town in the east hops in her car and drives west to escape her life. She ends up having an abused baby girl abandoned in her car, which she has to take care of. It’s poignant and sweet and probably a little irreligious and sort of heartbreaking.
2. What’s the last book that made you laugh out loud in public?
I’m going with A Zoo In My Luggage by Gerald Durrell. I mean, describing bush babies’ huge eyes as containing the horrified expression of a spinster who has just caught a man in her closet…it’s brilliant.
3. What’s a book that people make fun of but you secretly love?
This isn’t so much one that other people made fun of as an author that I scorned myself. I always thought Agatha Christie’s books must be composed of pulp fiction fluff akin to Janette Oke, only more mysterious and less romantic. And then I read one. And another. And another. And I can’t stop! Much like O’Henry who always manages to surprise me with his endings, Agatha Christie gets me every single time. It would be annoying if it wasn’t so brilliantly done.
4. What’s the longest book you ever read?
Which is longer unabridged, Les Miserables or War and Peace? I’m not sure, but at least Les Miserables manages to be interesting, perhaps discounting the entire chapter about the sewers in Paris. But I slogged through all three million pages of War and Peace, only so I could say I had read it unabridged. Was it worth it? Probably not. I’ve ranted about it before, but come on Tolstoy, did you really need to include FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-NINE characters, all with impossibly long names and nicknames to boot? DID YOU?? If you read and enjoyed it, you are a better man than I.
5.What’s a genre that you love so much that you’ll read even sub-par books so long as they’re in that genre?
Food memoirs. Don’t even ask how many I’ve read.
6. What’s the last book you purchased?
Hmm, I can’t remember the last one I purchased, but I did pick one up off a sidewalk that somebody was discarding last fall. It was Reese Witherspoon’s cookbook/life lessons, and no, I haven’t read it yet; it’s a bit ruffly and cupcakey for my taste. “It’s just so… so pink!”
7. What was your favorite book as a pre-teen?
What did I even read as a pre-teen? Oh yes, I spent hours rereading stories from Abeka and Bob Jones literature books. I carefully skipped over The Lady Or the Tiger (gah, just the memory of that awful story makes me mad) but I loved many of the others, such as the one about the girl who lay sick in bed and said when the last leaf fell off the vine she was watching out her window, she was going to give up and die. But she didn’t know that a friend risked his health in terrible weather to climb a ladder and paint one last leaf onto the wall behind the vine, so that she wouldn’t give up.
8. What was your favorite book in your late teens/early 20s?
When my family discovered Escape From Colditz around this era, most of us read it in turn, and each time someone would finish, we would have a flurry of discussion all over again regarding our favorite parts. One of my personal favorites was when the prisoners-of-war stole a ladder from behind a German soldier’s back, only to realize it was too long to take up the spiral staircase. So they quickly sawed off the bottom 4 or 5 feet and replaced the short section behind the soldier, taking the rest up and away for future escape efforts. When the German turned around, his ladder had mysteriously diminished, and the soldier hadn’t the slightest clue how.
What’s your current favorite book?
I always feel as if someone is making me choose a favorite child when they ask this question. I mean, sure, all parents have favorites, but they aren’t supposed to admit it! So allow me to say that ONE of my favorite children, I mean books, is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. It has adventure and searching and Christianity and romance and grief and C.S. Lewis and Oxford and everything you could want, not to mention, it contains one of my all-time favorite descriptions of the timelessness of Heaven. Okay, I think it’s time to read it again.
Have you ever read a book so many times that you ruined your copy of it?
When we were kids we were obsessed with The Picture Bible. We didn’t ruin one copy, we ruined multiple ones. To this day, I still envision the Old Testament characters as depicted in that book.
Tell a story about something interesting that happened to you in a bookstore.
Interesting things don’t seem to happen to me in bookstores. According to all the memes and movies and novels ever, bookstores are supposed to be where you meet handsome strangers and have passionate arguments and run into eccentric geniuses and find your soulmate and such things, but in real life, they seem to be a bit more musty and less action-packed. Still, I keep waiting for the day when it becomes a thing for guys to buy a girl a book at a bookstore like they would a drink at a bar. That’s a world I would very much like to live in.
If you could forget the entire plot of one book, just so you’d have the chance to read it for the first time again, which book would you choose?
Have you ever read a book all the way through, thinking you loved it, but the ending just destroyed it for you?
Yes! One time I bought a book in a thrift store just because I liked the cover, without knowing anything about the author or the plot. I read it and very much enjoyed it, so I decided to brave a second one of her books, and took it with me on a beach vacation. I lay on the beach, wrapped up in the sunshine and the story line and before I knew it, suddenly the book was about assisted suicide. What a let down.
Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why?
But really, I cannot choose. I have found some of the most delicious lines in fiction, but I also absolutely love reading a good story that makes your jaw drop with incredulity, only to remember it’s actually true.
What book has given you advice that still sticks with you?
Advice? Probably How To Win Friends and Influence People. When I finished that one, I wished I could hang it on a string around my neck just so I could remember it better in everyday life. It has such simple concepts- such as how much people like to hear their own names, which make it easier to communicate well- and you just wonder to yourself, “Duh, how did I not think of this myself?”. Many other books have given me ideas which, while they aren’t exactly advice, stick with me for years. For instance, I’m not entirely convinced Borrowers are not actually real, and L. M. Montgomery’s description of “The Flash” put words to a feeling I never knew could be named.
Which fictional man would you most like to marry?
How about the Scarlet Pimpernel? Dashing, debonair, and masquerades as a dimwit. Just kidding, just kidding. I was actually going to say Mr Knightly, because he seems sensible and smart and must surely have a good sense of humor to put up with the impossible Emma, a quality which is quite indispensable. But then I remembered Professor Bhaer from Little Women and the competition was up.
Which fictional woman would you most like to be friends with?
I’m pretty sure Judy Abbott from Daddy-Long-Legs is real and is my friend. You cannot persuade me otherwise.
Which fictional house would you most like to live in?
This is a tough one! I want to live in about a dozen places simultaneously, right now in my real life. How could I possibly choose? If pressed to it, my first inclination is the house in Pilgrims’ Inn, by Elizabeth Goudge. That lady has a gift of descriptive writing unmatched by many others, and entering the lovely English stone house she describes is like walking into a hug. Also, I really want to spend a year in Patty’s Place with Anne of Green Gables and her other college friends.
Has anyone ever read a book over your shoulder on public transportation?
Not to my knowledge, although I have had to explain myself on public transportation when I laughed too much over what I was reading.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I currently have a book on my nightstand in NYC called The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. It rivals War and Peace for length, and is so heavy I’m still not sure my shoulder has recovered from carrying it home from the train station. (Thanks P!) I badly wish I had it with me in North Carolina since I have extra reading time now, but alas, it’s not a travel-friendly book, so there it stays, gathering dust in my absence.
So there you have it! Thanks to Emily for the fun trip through my old reading lists! What about you- what are you reading?