Catching up on Booking Through Thursday

I love book blogs and have been reading many of them for years now. I tried keeping my own book blog on other sites or on social networks, but since I am more of a reader than a writer, it really was no surprise when disinterest in writing hit me (therefore, leading me to abandon those blogs). But for some reason I really want to keep this blog going, and to do that I will need consistent, regular postings. So, what better way to post regularly than with memes, right? I’m always up for memes. And Booking Through Thursday is perfect for this.

Today is Friday and I’m frustrated that I’m one day late. I can hardly wait for a whole week to pass by before I can start answering the new BTT question. So to pass the time, I think I’ll answer the older questions—dating as far back as January 3, 2008! I’ve got time on my hands right now. I think I’ll do just that.

Let’s begin.

January 3, 2008

What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

Let’s see. I remember looking forward to Ken Follet’s World Without End. It was released in the US in late 2007 but wasn’t released until the new year here in Manila. I was finally able to get a copy last month, but I’m still waiting for a certain mood to set in before I devour this heavy tome.

I also looked forward to my guilty-pleasure reads: Kate Brian’s Legacy (Private, Book 6) and Ambition (Private, Book 7). Both books I was able to get on Amazon and Powerbooks, respectively. I am now looking forward to the next in the series Revelation (Private, Book 8 ) plus the prequel Last Christmas: The Private Prequel (Private). Anticipation!

I also remember looking forward to Curtis Sittenfeld’s new book, American Wife: A Novel. Well, I’m still looking forward to it since I don’t have a copy yet. I hope it will be available at the Manila International Book Fair this September!

January 10, 2008

May I Introduce…?
How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift? Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

I don’t have a huge list of favorite authors, but I do have one of favorite books. Most of the time I only like a few or have just read a few of an author’s books, so I don’t feel fair in saying that he or she is my favorite author. However, there are still some who I do love and whose books I look forward to buying and reading.

My favorite authors are Curtis Sittenfeld, Megan McCafferty, Emily Giffin, Philippa Gregory, and Bill Amend. The first four mentioned I came across simply by clicking-clicking-clicking on Amazon (Listmania, So You’d Like To, Recommended Books). I’d read about the reviews of their books and how many people marked them as their favorite. I became curious so I decided to buy their books (Prep, Sloppy Firsts, Something Borrowed, The Other Boleyn Girl) at the local bookstore (but I mooched Something Borrowed). And for all of them, it was love at first sight!

Prep: A Novel was ah-mazing. I laughed, I cringed, I cried. It was high school all over again. Some people didn’t like this book because it was too realistic, too heartfelt, but that’s why I loved it…it didn’t glorify the high school experience.

Sloppy Firsts: A Novel was also a great read. McCafferty, like Sittenfeld and Giffin, is an excellent and witty writer. I love her narrative. I’m not a Marcus Flutie fan, but I do love Jessica Darling. She is one of my favorite characters in fiction.

Something Borrowed was AWESOME. I remember seeing copies (about a dozen or more) of this book three years ago on the floor at National Bookstore. It was forever on sale and I thought, why should I buy this book if all of the copies are on sale? It must be an awful novel. So I ignored it and forgot about it. It was only this year that I decided to give it another chance when I saw the rave reviews on Amazon. Thankfully, my friend CZ had a copy available on BookMooch so I got it from her. I was hooked from the first page. Emily Giffin’s writing blows me away. She’s intelligent, witty, observant, and funny—she has a talent at turning dreary and clichéd relationship issues into something original and true and achingly real. She also gives her books excellent perspective (I’ve read her follow-ups, too: Something Borrowed, Baby Proof, Love The One You’re With). Emily Giffin is a genius.

The Other Boleyn Girl marked the beginning of my Tudor obsession. I was already interested in Henry VIII and his wives when I was in high school. I had no problem remembering all their names and children (heck, there were only three anyway). But I soon forgot about them until Gregory’s book on Mary and Anne Boleyn. Granted that it took several liberties on the story (it is fiction after all) but it did lead me to seek out biographies by Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser, and other novels by Jean Plaidy, Norah Lofts, Margaret Campbell Barnes, Anya Seton, and many more.

Now with Bill Amend, I found out about his FoxTrot comic book series from my aunt who gave me a FoxTrot school planner (I can’t remember if it was 1995, 1996, or 1997—it was sometime in the 90s). I remember that I didn’t have much use for the planner because I wasn’t big on organizing my schedule back in high school (it was only in college that I started being OC with how I spent my time), but I lovedlovedloved the comics every few pages! OMG, it was so funny! And nerd-funny, too, because it had a lot of physics and computer jokes. After that, I just had to get all his comic books. My love for FoxTrot grew more when sometime in the late 90s (1997? 1998? 1999?) I sent an email to Bill Amend thanking him for drawing and writing FoxTrot—just a typical fan-letter. I expected an automated reply (because he stated on his web site that he can never find the time to reply to everyone’s email messages, so only had the server generate automated replies), but instead got a real email from Bill Amend himself! Awesome! That email is long gone now, but I do remember that he said that he was very, very happy that he has a big fan in the Philippines and that he looks forward to having FoxTrot in a Manila newspaper. I asked him how to go about getting FoxTrot printed on the Philippine Star or Manila Bulletin or the Philippine Daily Inquirer, but he just said that I should contact the newspaper directly, etc, etc. Of course, I wasn’t able to do any of those because I didn’t know where to start. But years later, surprise! surpise! The PDI printed FoxTrot! Woo-hoo! (Of course, the dailies have stopped now because Bill Amend chose to do just Sunday runs so he can spend more time with his family.) I can hardly wait for his next FoxTrot book. I wonder when that’ll be written and released.

January 17, 2008

Let’s Review…
How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

If there’s a book I think I might want to read, I always check the Amazon reviews. If the reviews are very good, then there’s a bigger chance that I will go out and buy the book immediately. If the reviews are bad, but it’s a book that I’m really curious about, I’ll just put off buying the book and maybe wait for it to pop up at Booksale (secondhand bookstore). Now if it’s a book I’m sure I won’t like but the reviews are all positive, I might still go and read it but I will not shell out big money for it. I would probably just borrow the book from someone or wait for it to reach Php 15.00 (US $ 0.33) or Php 40.00 (US $ 0.85) at Booksale.

January 24, 2008

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

I absolutely love Susan Breen’s The Fiction Class. I wasn’t expecting much when I bought the book. I’m not a big fan of mother-daughter issues (who is?) but I bought it anyway because of its cover and because at the back of the book the synopsis says that Arabella Hicks is “passionate about books”. That’s good enough a reason for me to buy and read it!

After reading just a few sentences from page 1, I was hooked! I couldn’t stop dog-earing pages (I do this when I especially like a certain passage). I even took out a new notebook from my shelf and started to do the writing assignments. The book was beautifully written (none of those flowery phrases—just direct and heartfelt narrative) and so easy to read. I couldn’t put it down even when the sun had started to set and my eyes were straining to read the pages. It was so good I just kept tilting the book so the the last of the sun’s rays would light up the pages. I remember that I grumpily turned on the light so I could keep reading (I was very annoyed that I had to stop reading for even 5 seconds).

I am really surprised that this book isn’t on the bestseller lists or any kind of list. It rates 4-1/2 stars at Amazon but only has 22 reviews. I wish more people knew about this book. I’m sure booklovers and writers will really enjoy it.

January 31, 2008

Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

Hmmm. This is a tough one. I’ll have to pass on this BTT question.

February 7, 2008

But, Enough About Books…
Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

When I’m not reading, I am BookMooching (surprise, surprise) or shopping for books at Booksale (love those low, low prices). Okay, so enough about books. I also like to bake cookies, cakes, bars, and pies. I like to watch TV (CSI, Psych, Everyday Italian, Healthy Appetite, Barefoot Contessa, and you gotta love those F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reruns, too). I also love arranging and re-arranging my books on my shelves. Sorry! I really can’t get enough of books. I almost have no life outside books. Okay, that’s not completely true. But if it is, that wouldn’t be so bad a life, now would it? 🙂

February 14, 2008

After the Honeymoon
Here’s something for Valentine’s Day.
Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

I had to think really long and hard about this one. I was going to say that I am still in love with all of my favorite authors, but then I just remembered one author who got bumped off the list…Madeleine L’Engle. I still love her Time Quartet but her other books just didn’t interest me anymore. I guess I outgrew her Chronos and O’Keefe books. However, I still have yet to read her other adult fiction books. So maybe it’s too early to say that I have fallen out of love with L’Engle’s writing. Let’s wait and see. Maybe we’re just on a break right now.

February 21, 2008

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

I was going to say hardcovers because they hold up well and don’t age too quickly (because hardcovers have better-quality paper than paperbacks) and that they look good on a shelf, but they’re just too difficult to hold. I sometimes like to read in bed and there were just too many times that I dropped a hardcover on my chest or head (it’s annoying and painful!). So my final answer is paperbacks. Most of my books are paperbacks anyway and I do like the feel of a paperback in my hands. But FYI, I prefer trade paperbacks to mass market paperbacks even if the small ones are cheaper.

February 28, 2008

Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

Definitely Jessica Darling of Megan McCafferty’s books. Jessica is witty and sarcastic and smart. Megan McCafferty, in her website, describes Jessica the best: she is ballsy. I also wish I were more like her back in high school. (Lee Fiora is a close second to my favorite heroine. Flawed but so real.)

March 6, 2008

You should have seen this one coming … Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?

Oooooooooh…let’s see, let’s see. I looooove Matt Farrell and his strength, determination, and raw sex appeal, but not his stubborn pride. I also love Ian Thornton because unlike the Westmoreland brothers, he has a head on his shoulders when it comes to women (he’s also incredibly tall and handsome in my head). I love Henry, but can’t remember why exactly. I have to read the book again to remember. I lovelovelove Dex Thaler despite the fact that he cheats on his girlfriend. Tall, smart, cool, handsome…*melt*. And I love Andy as well. The perfect husband.

I just realized that all my favorite male characters have the same things in common…they’re all tall, smart, and handsome. And all deliciously yummy. *grin*

March 13, 2008

Playing Editor
How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:
__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.

Breaking Dawn would have been a much better book if Little, Brown whacked Stephenie Meyer on the head with the manuscript and demanded her to re-write the whole book.

March 20, 2008

The End
You’ve just reached the end of a book . . . what do you do now? Savor and muse over the book? Dive right into the next one? Go take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park, before even thinking about the next book you’re going to read? What?

(Obviously, there can be more than one answer, here–a book with a cliff-hanger is going to engender different reactions than a serene, stand-alone, but you get the idea!)

If it is a book that I lovedlovedloved, I always take a few minutes after reading and just hold the book in my hands. Sometimes I hug my books—don’t knock it till you try it! It’s a great feeling!

If it’s a book that is merely satisfactory or something I didn’t like all that much I just put it back on the shelf. No fanfare.

Now if it’s a book that really annoyed or disappointed me, I either put it back on the shelf or leave it lying around the house (hmph) and quickly march to the nearest computer and rant about it on aNobii.

March 27, 2008

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

I do judge books by their covers. I have no shame in saying that. Why shouldn’t I? If a publisher cared about their product they should ensure that it gets great cover art! Anyway, if it’s a book that I am already looking forward to read, I couldn’t care less about its appearance. But if I’m shopping at a bookstore and I’m looking to buy something new, I take the cover art into consideration. When I take the book home and discover that I didn’t enjoy reading the book, I think at least it will look pretty on my shelf! 🙂

I prefer trade paperbacks to mass market paperbacks. I like hardcovers but only for display. Books with deckled pages win extra points. I love paperbacks with inner flaps. I don’t like books with pages like newsprint (I really don’t like those Penguin books)—they fox and yellow easily. I would also prefer that books not have the author’s photo on them. They distract me to no end! I don’t want to see what they look like!

April 3, 2008

When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?) Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

The first thing I think of is the classics even though I know that literature encompasses much broader forms. I know that some book snobs (a.k.a. critics) do not consider popular fiction as literature but I disagree with them. I, however, agree just a teeny-tiny bit when they say that books with a poor standard of grammar and syntax shouldn’t be classified as literature.

To answer the other questions, I read what I like no matter how readers and critics classify them. The only books that I read because I must are text books.

April 10, 2008

Writing Challenge

  • Pick up the nearest book. (I’m sure you must have one nearby.)
  • Turn to page 123.
  • What is the first sentence on the page?
  • The last sentence on the page?
  • Now . . . connect them together.
    (And no, you may not transcribe the entire page of the book–that’s cheating!)

Augh. I’ve been working on this post for 20 minutes now and still nothing’s coming to me. I really suck at writing. Pass, please.

April 17, 2008

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

I always have my digital dictionary handy when I’m reading a book so that when I come across a word I don’t know, I look it up. And then I save the word on my word-list. If I don’t have a dictionary nearby, I either type the word on my cell phone (which is always nearby) or just dog-ear the page. There are other times, though, that I just forget about the word and hope that it will come up again the next time I have a dictionary with me.

April 24, 2008

Well, here where I live, Spring is sprung–weeks early, even. Our lilac bush looks like it will have flowers by this time next week instead of in the middle of May as usual. The dogwood trees, the magnolia trees–all the flowering trees are flowering. The daffodils and crocuses are, if anything, starting to fade. It may only be April 24th but it is very definitely Spring and, allergies notwithstanding, I’m happy to welcome the change of season. What I want to know, is:

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

Here in the Philippines we only have two seasons: sunny and rainy. I don’t really care much about the seasons. I just read pretty much whatever I want. My mood determines what I should read next, not the weather.

May 1, 2008

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember…

I would think that I would be too fidgety to be able to concentrate on reading something at length. So I would probably buy a magazine and flip through that. Or read a newspaper someone left behind. Or read the small print on my airline ticket. Or stare off into space. Or organize my wallet. Organizing my things calms me down. Surprisingly, reading doesn’t.

May 8, 2008

Manual Labor
Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?

I have lots of these books. But I never finish reading them. I’d buy them, maybe read a few chapters, put the book down, read something else, and then forget about the reference books eventually. It’s a little sad that these books are ignored by me, but right now I have no use for them. So they just sit on my shelves.

May 15, 2008

Manual Labor Redux
Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question…

Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not? Do you ever read manuals? How-to books? Self-help guides? Anything at all?

Yes, I read the manual cover to cover. I don’t read the other documentation like warranties and such, but I do read the how-tos and the troubleshooting guide and the features and what-have-yous.

May 22, 2008

Books vs Movies
Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

No. I want the same things from books and from movies. I want to be entertained. I want an escape from reality. I want to laugh or cry or cringe or be annoyed. I want good to triumph over evil. I want a happy ending but nothing too sappy. I want the same things, simple as that.

May 29, 2008

What is Reading, Fundamentally?
What is reading, anyway? Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them? What are your personal qualifications for something to be “reading” — why? If something isn’t reading, why not? Does it matter? Does it impact your desire to sample a source if you find out a premise you liked the sound of is in a format you don’t consider to be reading? Share your personal definition of reading, and how you came to have that stance.

(Two weeks late for Reading is Fundamental week, but, well…)

I am not a book snob. If someone prefers manga over a novel, that’s fine with me. If someone else prefers an e-book over a paperback, that’s fine. If another prefers romance over classic literature, it’s all right. And if someone likes an Archie comic book over a Newbery Medal winner, no worries. As long as everyone is reading something, learning something new (no matter how small a thing), and enjoying the experience of being a part of literature, then that should be perfectly okay, now shouldn’t it? Books in any form is a good thing. They promote literacy, make you exercise your imagination, and open up new worlds for you. That’s what reading is, fundamentally.

Okay, I’m done with BTTs from January to May. I’ll finish June to August over the weekend. I’m sure I’ll be done by the time Thursday rolls around. I can hardly wait!

To be continued…


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