I found a bookmeme over at Booking Through Thursday and decided to use it as an excuse to post here again. After all, November is coming up… it’s either a novel or the blog, and god knows that I haven’t got a book in my these days, so.

What was the last book you bought?

A double-header:  The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and The Flip Dictionary (a birthday present for a friend). It’s surprising; my book buying has actually decreased since I started working at one, but every once in a while I can’t resist. The last book that I got for free as a perk at said bookstore job was Pillars of the Earth because I find it advantageous to read Oprah’s picks–I can sell any book so long as I’ve read it.

Name a book you have read MORE than once.

Pnin by Nabokov! I just finished my fourth reading of it–and I rarely read books more than once. I never tire of Nabokov’s sentences, and Pnin is such a tragic–yet resilient and hopeful–character. I’d like to meet him.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Probably. Probably I could write a whole post about these books. Maybe I will someday.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

Never by cover alone! I choose books by recommendations, canon, reviews, and sales. In that order. The last is for the job. Recommendations and reviews (by a trusted reviewer, which is almost the same thing as a friend) have the most weight.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Fiction! I like nonfic, I start a lot of nonfic, but I tend to get bored or distracted before I finish. Fiction is always more riveting. Perhaps it’s the stereotypical escape from reality.

What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

What, can’t I have both? Which I find more satisfying depends on my mood, but really, an ideal book has both. Which isn’t to say that I don’t love things like Proust, which is all lovely sentences and little plot… Yeah, it’s mood-dependent. On rainy dreamy days sentences are the way to go. During weeks of drudge and boredom plot thrills me most. (Though there is, of course, a certain standard of quality that must always be maintained.)

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

I already talked about Pnin! Carson McCullers’ lonely teenage girls are also dear to me–Frankie from The Member of the Wedding and Mick from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. My fondness for them might be pure narcisism, though. Benji and Quentin Compton from Faulkner’s Sound and the Fury are haunting. I used to be in love with Daniel Deronda and spent a lot of time trying to manifest his doppelganger in my real life.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Life & Fate by Vasily Grossman, Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz, The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Macado de Assis, the best short stories of 2008, and How the Dead Live by Will Self. I didn’t notice until this moment that (excepting the anthology) they are all male authors. Don’t tell my women’s college, they’ll take away my diploma!


~ by Not Alice on October 11, 2008.

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