Books, books, and more books – a questionnaire

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Inspired by the post this morning, I dug out this old questionnaire from one of my disks.

When I decided to follow in Kendall Hailey’s footsteps and become an autodidact by way of reading every book ever written (like she did), I kicked off my quest with this very questionnaire that another blog friend send to me at the time. I told myself I would answer the same questionnaire exactly one year later, to see how far I had progressed in my goal.

Well, I didn’t get very far then. And still haven’t as of now.

But here is the questionnaire, along with my most current answers. And if this interests you at all, please feel free to take it and post it on your own blog with your own answers, because I love to hear what others have to say about their favorite kinds of literature.

(And I know this is a lot to read from me in one day, and I’m sorry for all the words, but I’ve just been so talkative lately, and I can’t figure out why.)

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1. What author do you own the most books by?
~ I’ll name the top bunch, with how many books owned in parentheses: Anne McCaffrey (8), Jane Austen (a 7-novel tome), Sarah Vowell (6), J.R.R. Tolkien (6), Sylvia Plath (5), Robert Shaw (5), Aaron McGruder (5), Edith Wharton (4), Maya Angelou (3), Alice Sebold (3), and Lorrie Moore (3).

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
~ A little book called Journal Sparks by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta Russ. I don’t remember why, exactly, I have two copies of that book, but that’s okay. I carry one with me in my bookbag at all times and I have the other at home on my bookshelf. It works out.

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
~ No. Sounds better than saying ‘Of what book do you own the most copies?’ or ‘By what author do you own the most books?’

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
~ None at the moment. Past literary crushes included Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series (ehh, I blame Alan Rickman) and Razumikhin from Crime and Punishment (well, he seemed like a really nice guy).

5. What book have you read the most times in your life?
~ Any of my favorites, but especially Zibby O’Neal’s The Language of Goldfish.

6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
~ Again, The Language of Goldfish.

7. What is the worst book you’ve ever read?
~ There is no ‘worst’ book I’ve ever read (well, excepting my answer to No. 14 below). There are several books I wasn’t too keen on the very first time I read them, like Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates and George Orwell’s 1984. I usually need to read a book more than once – to make sure I didn’t miss anything the first time – before I determine whether or not a book is worthwhile. But as far as I’m concerned, there really is no such thing as bad literature. It’s all a matter of opinion. What’s trash to someone is treasure to somebody else. *shrug* Or I might just be too generous.

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
~ There were two, actually: Swimming by Nicola Keegan and Vanishing and other stories by Deborah Willis. I loved the short stories of Deborah Willis, and I should never have lent Swimming to Older Sister because I will probably never see that book again. (Yes, several things like books, movies, jewelry and clothes go missing at my sister’s house. Poltergeists. Just kidding – apparently, I have good taste, because she borrows this stuff and never returns it. Well, at least I know where to find it.)

9. If you could force someone to read one book, what would it be?
~ Oh lord, that’s a tough question. I really couldn’t choose just one. There are so many I would choose….

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
~ I don’t read very much at the moment, so I wouldn’t know.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
~ Most books have already been made into movies, so I wouldn’t know.

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
~ Same as above. Most books have already been made into movies, so I really wouldn’t know.

13. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
~ Oh, well, it wasn’t weird, and it wasn’t a dream. I had nightmares after reading Steve Allen’s short story “The Public Hating.” No need to say any more.

14. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
~ I can divide this up, actually. Lowbrow as in guilty pleasure – Phantom by Susan Kay. I don’t know why, seeing as how I didn’t really like Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera (that was weird), but I liked Susan Kay’s book. Lowbrow as in lowbrow – Innocence by Jane Mendelsohn. I loved her first book I Was Amelia Earhart, so I had high hopes for Innocence. Oh my god! HORRIBLE book, in my opinion! It had something to do with a vampire cult that was hellbent on recruiting this teenage girl. Or something like that. I don’t know; I literally fell asleep reading it. Horrible, horrible book. But that’s just my opinion, mind.

15. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
~ Crime and Punishment, and I didn’t even read the whole thing! I’d have to start all over now, which makes me tired just thinking about it!

16. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
~ Please. There is no such thing as an obscure Shakespeare play. I think I read and/or saw all of them during my school days. And like I said, Shakespeare = barbed wire.

katia-reading-1974.jpg!HD

17. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
~ You have the likes of Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers) and Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) vs. the likes of Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment). No question, the Russians.

18. Roth or Updike?
~ Neither, even though I’ve read some of John Updike’s short stories; “A&P” is my favorite story of his. By ‘Roth,’ I’m assuming they mean Philip Roth, right? Because I don’t know.

19. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
~ Dave Eggers, though I’ve only read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (it’s since disappeared at my sister’s house).

20. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
~ Sadly, none. You know my opinion of Shakespeare. Milton, I’d actually never heard of before this questionnaire, and so haven’t read yet. And I’ve been meaning to borrow The Canterbury Tales from Older Sister, just to be able to say that, yes, I have read Chaucer. But I haven’t done it yet.

21. Austen or Eliot?
~ Edith Wharton, although I have seven Jane Austen novels that I have yet to read and I need to reread Silas Marner by George Eliot because I didn’t like it the first time I read it. And while I’m at it, I ought to read some Harriet Beecher Stowe again. It’s been a while.

22. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
~ Right now. See my previous post.

23. What is your favorite novel?
~ The Language of Goldfish by Zibby O’Neal. It is my favorite book of all time. That book would tell you more about me than even this blog ever could. Might be hard to find, but it is well worth the read, and it would only take a person about one afternoon to read the whole book, so.

24. Favorite play?
~ “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. I would love to try to play Abigail Williams. Just. Once.

25. Favorite poem?
~ I can’t tell you the exact poem just yet, because I have a recurring series going about ‘favorite poems’ here on my blog. You’ll just have to wait for that one. I will tell you. Eventually.

26. Favorite essay?
~ You know? I don’t really have a favorite essay. I have Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I haven’t read them in a while. I should read them again.

27. Favorite short story?
~ “What You Want To Do Fine” by Lorrie Moore; there’s one particular passage in that story that is so incredibly beautiful! And at one point in time, I used to have a particular vignette from Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted memorized word-for-word (the one titled “The Other Lisa”).

28. Favorite work of non-fiction?
~ Anything by Sarah Vowell, though if I had to pick only one book of her’s that I think you should read, it would be Assassination Vacation. And by the way – Sarah Vowell is also best known as the voice of teenage superhero Violet Parr in the Pixar movie “The Incredibles.”

29. Who is your favorite writer?
~ It’s a toss-up between Sylvia Plath, Edith Wharton, and Lorrie Moore, actually. I wish I could write like they do.

30. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
~ As I don’t read a lot at the moment, I really couldn’t tell you.

31. What is your desert island book?
~ Ooo, tough question. I can’t decide. I’d have to have a whole desert library. I really couldn’t choose just one book.

32. And finally….what are you reading right now?
~ I’m re-reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck at the moment, and then will probably get back into the poetry tome of Anna Akhmatova’s that I own. After that, we’ll see how it goes.

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Like I said, feel free to take this and make your own answers to these questions on your own blog, because I’d love to hear from others!

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