Catching up on Booking Through Thursday Part II

And here we go again…June to August 2008.

Let’s continue.


June 5, 2008

Trends
Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?

I think my taste in books has changed over the years. Of course, when I was very young, I could only appreciate Archie Comics, Sweet Valley Twins (not High, not Kids, just Twins), Sweet Dreams, and Love Stories (Mills & Boon for teens, I suppose). I didn’t read too much in grade school and high school except for these teen fluff books. I absolutely had no interest in Newbery titles or other recommended books for the YA/teen set. I did read Judy Blume but enjoyed the teen romances more.

It was in college when I started to appreciate the better written YA book. I’m not sure how I stepped out of my teen-romance phase and into broader genres. I can’t remember what it is exactly that made me realize that there are more books out there. But I do know that it was only after high school that I became a booklover.

After high school I started to read Newbery titles, other award-winning and controversial teen books, and then branched out to general fiction. And then over the years I started to appreciate a few classics, some historical titles, and then even tried reading non-fiction books. I grew to love the Medieval era books and books on the Tudors and Tudor era. Memoirs and biographies became good reads for me, but I still preferred memoirs by non-political and celebrity figures. I still love a good YA book and I am addicted to a few teen series. And it is only recently that I discovered that I liked regency romances.

Yes, my taste has changed over the years and will continue to do so.

Right now, I very much enjoy light fiction (not frivolous, just light). I can only take books with serious and challenging issues once in a while. I try to appreciate sci-fi/fantasy, but I think I’m not at that stage yet. I do know that I will never like mysteries and suspense novels. I get scared too easily. I want to read more of the heavy classics, but I also know I’m not ready for that yet. Soon, soon.


June 12, 2008

Clubbing
Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?

I am not a part of a book club and will never be a part of a book club. I am a solitary reader. I like it that way. I read to escape reality and immerse myself in a good story. Whenever someone asks me what the book I’m reading is about, I get annoyed and just shove the back cover under their noses. Read it yourself, I always think. And when I’m done reading a book and they ask me what I thought of it, I just say I loved it, I liked it, I didn’t care for it, or I hated it. I’m not the kind of person who analyzes books and the characters’ motives. I prefer to enjoy the reading experience by merely letting myself be enveloped by the story. I may muse about a book for a while after reading, but never aloud or to someone.

Maybe that’s why I never liked writing long-winded book reviews. I prefer just giving my star-rating, giving a synopsis in one sentence, and then just saying what I liked or hated about the book in a few sentences as well. Some people love doing book reviews or talking about books with their friends or even joining book clubs. Good for them, but those aren’t for me. I may talk about some books with my friends, but never the in-depth kind (books, not friends). I may do book-ratings or mini-reviews, but never the super long and intense kinds. But I just can’t take part in a book discussion with a book club because it lessens the fun in reading. It will start to feel like homework, and I don’t ever want to turn my reading pleasure into something obligatory.


June 19, 2008

Flavor
Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books . . . what is it about them that makes you love them above all the other authors you’ve read? The stories? The characters? The way they appear to relish the taste of words on the tongue? The way they’re unafraid to show the nitty-gritty of life? How they sweep you off to a new, distant place? What is it about those books and authors that makes them resonate with you in ways that other, perfectly good books and authors do not?

I love Megan McCafferty, Emily Giffin, and Curtis Sittenfeld. Their writing is witty, smart, funny, sarcastic, and straightforward. I am not a big fan of flowery and lyrical writing. I don’t like very descriptive prose. I don’t need two pages of a description of a sunset. One sentence will do. And these three authors know just how to capture a scene or an emotion without overdoing it. That’s why I like them so much.

My favorite book is The Pillars of the Earth. I love its sweeping majesty. Follett took everything that I love and put it in one book: the Middle Ages, a good love story, a good versus evil situation (and good triumphing over evil), and straightforward and gripping writing (okay, I admit I dozed off during the part where Follett was describing the cathedral ceiling or something). I was also so disappointed when I only had a couple of pages to go, and was more disappointed when the story ended because I wanted more. Great books do that to me. Make me want more!


June 26, 2008

Definition
What, in your opinion, is the definition of a “reader.” A person who indiscriminately reads everything in sight? A person who reads BOOKS? A person who reads, period, no matter what it is? … Or, more specific? Like the specific person who’s reading something you wrote?

A reader is someone who reads all the time. It doesn’t matter if it is for leisure (fiction? romance? graphic novels?) or for academic reasons or for enlightenment. As long as he or she picks up a book, understands what he’s/she’s reading, takes pleasure/enlightenment from that reading, then he or she is a reader.


July 3, 2008

Holidays
It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple––What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

Let’s see. July in the Philippines isn’t summer. Summer ended in May. But looking back on early July, I was reading Lori Lansens’ The Girls. Not exactly light reading, but it was good!


July 10, 2008

Doomsday
One of my favorite bookstores burned down last weekend, and while I only got to visit there while I was on vacation, it made me stop and think.

What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable?

Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an internet shop … what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business you would try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buying from some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?

My favorite book source right now is BookMooch. If something were to happen to my beloved BookMooch, suddenly, devastatingly, and with no warning, I would probably mourn for weeks. I really would. Every day, since the day I joined BookMooch, I make time for the site, whether it’s to check my wish list, accept mooches, request for books, see what my friends are up to, or merely to window shop. I log in every day. I have to have BookMooch every day. So if BookMooch were to be taken away from me, I’d be completely at a loss as to what to do next. I could still get my books at the secondhand bookstore, Booksale, or at National Bookstore, Powerbooks, or Fully Booked, but it wouldn’t be the same. Sure, I could get my hard-to-find books on Amazon, but it still wouldn’t be the same. One big part of BookMooch’s success is the people who I trade books with. There’s something so amazing about exchanging books with someone in France or Canada or Portugal or Israel. It feels good to be part of a worldwide group of readers and booklovers. It would definitely be devastating if BookMooch would disappear from my life. I wouldn’t know how to pick up the pieces.


July 17, 2008

Vacation Spots
Another question inspired by the Bunch of Grapes on Martha’s Vineyard having burned down on the Fourth of July.

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?
Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?
What/Where are they?

All of the bookstores in the Philippines are the same: National, Powerbooks, Fully Booked, Booksale, A Different Bookstore, Goodwill…what else? If there are independent bookstores out here in the country, I would love to know about them. Most of the places I’ve been to on vacation had no bookstores. But abroad, I just go to the big bookstores like Barnes and Noble. I also like Books-A-Million in Chicago (love the remainder table). If I don’t have time to go to bookstores, I just do my book shopping at the airport!


July 24, 2008

Beginnings
Here’s another idea about memorable first lines from books.

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

“A few months ago, my husband and I decided to mix our books together.”

I love that line. And I look forward to mixing my books with my future husband. There’s something so comforting in sharing you love for books with the love of your life.

From Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader


July 31, 2008

Endings
I had a couple of people (Readerville and Nithin) leave me suggestions in response to last week’s post on Beginnings, but this one was already on its way! I mean, it was the obvious next question….

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked especially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

Adam looked up with sick weariness. His lips parted and failed and tried again. Then his lungs filled. He expelled the air and his lips combed the rushing sigh. His whispered word seemed to hang in the air.

“Timshel!”

His eyes closed and he slept.

From John Steinbeck’s East of Eden


August 7, 2008

Other Worlds
Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live? Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?

What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

(This came to me when reviewing a Jonathan Carroll book – I’m not sure I’d like to live in the worlds of his books.)

I am a very big Medieval Ages enthusiast, but I sure as hell don’t want to be alive during those times. Maybe as an invisible observant, yes. I would also love to have seen the Tudor court and all of Henry VIII’s wives, but still I wouldn’t want to be alive then.

So maybe I would like to live in Judith McNaught’s Regency England. Assuming, of course, that I am one of her strong-willed heroines with a happily ever after.


August 14, 2008

Gold Medal Reading

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:

First:
Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general? Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

And, Second:

Do you consider yourself a sports fan? Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story. (Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…)

This week’s answer will be super short because I don’t like sports-related books. I also don’t follow any sport or sports team. I may watch the occasional basketball game, but that’s about it. I do watch ‘Friday Night Lights’ though, but mainly for the hot guys.


August 21, 2008

Libraries
Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

My earliest memories of the library weren’t great ones. I didn’t enjoy going to the library because the nuns at my school were very strict. I had to be very quiet, had to have my hair tied back, and had to have my uniform clean and presentable before I was allowed to enter. I was also very, very obsessed with being cool when I was young (you know, peer pressure and all that) and since being at the library wasn’t cool, I didn’t go as often. I do remember sneaking in a few times to borrow some Judy Blume books. I wish I didn’t care so much about status when I was younger. I could have enjoyed all those books at the library.

I also remember that we had a special reading class every week at the library. We were required to read several short stories and then answer an assessment test. Depending on your score, you were labeled a certain color (let’s say red being the best reader and brown being the worst). I remember hating those reading assignments because I didn’t like being forced to read and then being rated afterwards. I don’t think I ever reached the best reader status even if I loved to read. Those forced reading classes ruined the library experience for me. (Well, that and the coolness factor, too.)

In college, I had a much greater appreciation for libraries. I checked out as many books as I could. That was a fun time because there were no more forced reading classes and I no longer cared about popularity.

Now that I am out of school, of course I can no longer use the school libraries. The public libraries here are in a very sad state, so I just get my books somewhere else. However, I do volunteer at one of the public libraries in QC. I help them acquire books through BookMooch and I make sure to get a variety of genres so that the library can attract more readers. Hopefully, I can help turn this library into a good one so that other libraries will follow suit.


August 28, 2008

Stories
If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

It’s me, too. I tried to give in to the pressure and read those award-winning and critically-acclaimed books, but I soon gave up the pretense. I don’t want to waste my time on books that are hard to read and so heavily laden with metaphor and meaning that it takes out the enjoyment in reading. I know some people love books like that (and others who pretend they love books like that) but I’m not one of them. Reading should be enjoyed. And I just enjoy reading a good, well-written story.

So, yes, it’s because I want to know what happens next. I’m just like you.


September 4, 2008

Peer Pressure
I was looking through books yesterday at the shops and saw all the Twilight books, which I know basically nothing about. What I do know is that I’m beginning to feel like I’m the *only* person who knows nothing about them.

Despite being almost broke and trying to save money, I almost bought the expensive book (Australian book prices are often completely nutty) just because I felt the need to be ‘up’ on what everyone else was reading.

Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

No, I don’t feel pressured to read trendy books. I read what I like. But I am sometimes curious about certain popular books. I don’t go out of my way and buy them full-price, though. I wait until I can find a copy on sale or on BookMooch or from my sister (who likes buying books full-price). And then I read them. If I don’t like it, I don’t finish the book. If I do, then great!


Done! Yay!

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