Monday, January 20, 2014

The Book Q & A

Having first seen this on Margot Kinberg's excellent Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, I couldn't resist giving it a try myself, although it took me ages to do so!

What are you reading right now?

I usually have two books going at the same time-- one physical book and one eBook. Right now, I'm reading Bad Wolf by Nele Neuhaus and Touchstone by Laurie R. King.

Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that?

Just let me flip ahead in the planner that always lies open on my desk.... Yes, I'll be reading John Straley's Cold Storage, Alaska and Beyond Belief by Helen Smith. I keep track of any advance reading copies I have so that my reviews are posted in a timely manner. In this case, both are advance reading copies.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven't got round to?

Victor Hugo's Les Miserables; Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; American Road by Pete Davies ; and Fordlandia by Greg Grandin .

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/family room right now?

Absolutely none. I used to be a magazine junkie and subscribed to several. Now I don't subscribe to any, and the only time I buy magazines is before the holiday season. I'm addicted to interior design magazines that show Christmas decorations and share recipes and craft patterns. One of my friends even sent me two UK holiday decorating magazines as a gift last year.

What's the worst book you've ever read?

I honestly can't remember. If a book is that bad, I stop reading it and kick it (and my memory of it) to the curb!

What book seemed really popular but you didn't like?

I tend to avoid books that are greatly hyped. It may be years before I ever get around to reading them-- if I get around to reading them. At this time I can only think of extremely popular books that I've read and enjoyed, not any that I've read and disliked. It has to be that selective memory of mine kicking in!

What's the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

I grew up in a library, and one of the responsibilities I had was to help patrons with their book selections. Everyone's taste in reading differs, so I never make recommendations without knowing something about the person first.

What are your three favorite poems?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
W.H. Auden's "Funeral Blues"
Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Where do you usually get your books?

From buying expeditions at my favorite bookstore, The Poisoned Pen, through Paperback Swap, or through downloads to my Kindle from Amazon. Coming in fourth would be publishers for any advance reading copies I receive.

Where do you usually read your books?

I get tons of reading done in my pool during the summer, and in bed before turning out the light at night.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

Other than taking a book with me and climbing up into an old apple tree to read it? My teachers soon learned that I often had a library book tucked in back of my textbooks, but as long as I paid enough attention to answer questions correctly, they let me continue my stealth reading. Any other reading memory I have seems rather run-of-the-mill compared to those!

What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn't put it down?

I don't do that. What I do find myself doing is staying out in the pool much longer than I'd intended. The pruned toes do go away after a while!

Have you ever "faked" reading a book?

No, although there were times in high school that I was tempted. Sometimes I think those required reading lists do more to turn kids off reading than they do to encourage-- at least when I was in school. There were books I read that I wasn't emotionally or intellectually ready for. If I hadn't already loved reading, those books might have put me off it for life.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

No, I have never been a cover junkie. Having grown up in a library, I think my eyes were trained to examine book spines, and a good title does more to catch my eye than artwork. Pretty is as pretty does....

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I didn't have one favorite, just like I can't narrow it down to just one now. I loved Thornton Burgess's animal stories, Marguerite Henry's horse books, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. If you'd made me choose just one back then, I would've pouted mightily.

What book changed your life?

There were two, both when I was in college. John Steinbeck's East of Eden and R.W.B. Lewis's biography of Edith Wharton. It was a case of reading the right books at precisely the right time. I was experiencing overwhelming depression and Steinbeck's assertion of free will and choice hit me like a thunderbolt. From Lewis's biography I learned that I not only share a birthday with Wharton, but in many respects our life experiences and our reactions to them are very similar. If she could hang in there and find happiness, so could I.

What is your favorite passage from a book?

My favorite book quote is a partial line from Cervantes' Don Quixote: "with no limits but the sky." Loving a line like that shows you how difficult it is for me to narrow favorites to just one!

Who are your top 5 favorite authors?

This is a list that can (and often does) change every five minutes. Hmm... Leighton Gage, Ann Cleeves, Louise Penny, Peter May, and Steve Hockensmith have risen to the top first this time.

What book has no one heard about but should read?

This limiting questions drive me nuts even though I know they serve a good purpose! Edith Wharton's Custom of the Country will get my vote this time. Undine Spragg is one of the best characters in all of fiction, yet few people even know she exists!

What 3 books are you an evangelist for?

Ack! It would be much easier to share three authors. So much of my reading is done in series books that I tend to think in bodies of work, not individual titles, but I. Will. Obey.

These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner, a pitch-perfect fictional diary of a woman living in pioneer Arizona, based on a member of the author's own family.

Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia by Suzanne Massie. I am still stunned by the wealth of detail and in how Massie brought a time and a way of living to aching, breathing life. I experienced sensory overload while reading it, and I loved every second.

Nathaniel Philbrick's Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 is the best maritime history I've ever read about a period of American exploration very few know about. We didn't just explore the interior of our own country, folks. (I'm thrilled that Philbrick will be appearing at The Poisoned Pen in a few months!)

What are your favorite books by a first-time author?

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson
Funeral Food by Kathleen Taylor
Still Life by Louise Penny
Moonlight Downs by Adrian Hyland
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

What is your favorite classic book?

My mind immediately jumps on two classic adventure tales: Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, and Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. I'll settle on the Dickens book. In my opinion it's the book with the best opening and closing lines-- bar none!



  1. You have got to be one of the most organized people on the Earth! Carl gets Draft magazine but I don't get any anymore and don't buy them at the check out either. My mom passes a few on to me and I find I never get to them.

    1. Organized is one of the words most used to describe me, Kathy, so there must be something to it! LOL

  2. Cathy - Thank you so much for the kind mention. I see that you and I have about the same number of magazines in the house and feel the same way about 'hyped' books. Oh, and about best books by a first-time author? I agree completely that those authors wrote fabulous debuts. All different but all compelling.

    1. See? You have proof that I actually read your blog-- and I always find food for thought there! :-)

  3. Cathy-Enjoy visiting your site everyday. I thought I knew mystery books and authors pretty well but you have introduced me to quite a few new authors to try Oh, how I wish I could go to the Poisoned Pen to hear the authors speak.
    In regards to your current top 5 authors, I, too, enjoy Louise Penny and Anne Cleeves. I have downloaded The Black House by Peter May to read. I, also, enjoyed reading Margot's The Book Q & A..

    1. The Back House is a wonderful book, Lynn, and the second in the trilogy-- The Lewis Man-- was one of my favorite reads last year. I hope you enjoy the book!

      And thank you for visiting my blog everyday. Knowing that means a lot!


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