(Borrowed from dorianegray)
--Hardback or paperback?
I prefer paperbacks for general reading purposes because they fit in my
I like owning hardbacks, though. They're more satisfying objects than paperbacks in some ways. (Hardbacks are the aspirational, paperbacks are the actual.)
--Highlight or underline?
If a book must be written in, marginalia.
--Lewis or Tolkien?
Lewis's non-fiction or Tolkien's minor works. If I must.
--E.B. White or A.A. Milne?
A. A. Milne. I was going to say "has E. B. White actually written anything apart from Charlotte's Web?" but then I decided I'd better google first, in case I ended up looking like a complete idiot. And, indeed, he's written heaps. Phew. Just as well I didn't say anything before googling, eh.
--T.S. Eliot or e.e. cummings?
Eliot, every time. cummings is great, but Eliot is the way I think.
--Stephen King or Dean Koontz?
King, because I've never read any Koontz. (Willing to give him a chance, but right now I'd choose King.) King is at his best in his short stories; he's even better when he manages to resist the urge to GIVE EVERYBODY GUNS and BLOW EVERYBODY'S BRAINS OUT. I would defend his literary worth, though that would be partly out of inverse literary snobbery and sheer contrariness.
--Barnes & Noble or Borders?
--Waldenbooks or B. Dalton?
--Fantasy or science fiction?
Books which are worth reading transcend genre.
--Horror or suspense?
--Bookmark or dogear?
On the whole, bookmark (with anything to hand) unless the book is already so tatty that I really can't bring myself to care. I rescue waifs and strays from the Oxfam bins, and they're usually already so foxed, badgered and generally buggered that a couple of dogears would just join the menagerie without comment.
I do, however, more shamefully, dogear when I run out of bookmarks with which to mark interesting passages, phrases, etc. Usually when I'm on a train or something and have literally used up every receipt in my wallet (torn into tiny strips) already.
-Hemingway or Faulkner?
Can't remember ever having read any Faulkner. The only Hemingway I've read is A Farewell to Arms, about which the only thing I can recall is that it was relentlessly miserable.
--Fitzgerald or Steinbeck?
No strong feelings about either. Though Of Mice and Men made me cry, when we studied it at GCSE.
--Homer or Plato?
I want to be the sort of person who chooses Plato, but I think I'd have to choose Homer.
--Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser?
Again, I want to appreciate Spenser, but my heart's with Chaucer.
--Pen or pencil?
For writing in books, pencil (and it has to be a propelling pencil in order to write small enough for the margins). For everything else, probably pen.
--Looseleaf or notepad?
Whatever comes to hand. I have a strong visual memory so I'll remember what I've written something on; at the moment I'm wondering what the hell has happened to a battered old yellow hardcover notebook with most of its pages (surprisingly flimsy pages for a notebook with such inflexible covers) torn out, in which I remember writing a poem about somebody when I was on a train on the way back home after visiting them. I can see the notebook in my head. Very frustrating. I've written poems on the back of chewing-gum wrappers because they were the only paper I could find on my person at the time.
By author, but for fiction only. Non-fiction is currently loosely grouped by subject. I need a tame librarian to come and apply a proper system of classification; but preferably one who's also a dab hand with plastering, painting and putting up shelves, because the real problem is the heaps of books in the middle of the room which have no order to them at all.
--Dustjacket: on or off?
Off, while reading. It just gets in the way, and gets unnecessarily battered.
--Novella or epic?
Novella. In my not so humble opinion there are very, very few stories which actually need to be of epic length. My father objects to fiction on the grounds that you could write down all the ideas in most novels on one sheet of A4 paper; I wouldn't go that far, but I do think paper-rationing would force people to be more focused. And I've never yet found a writer who writes great novels but poor short stories.
--John Grisham or Scott Turow?
I read a book by John Grisham once. It was almost as slow-starting as the film, but without such good explosions at the end. That is all I can remember.
--J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket?
Both! Rowling is a big cream bun; Lemony Snicket is a bag of acid drops. You'd get sick from too much of either, but in reasonable doses they're excellent. I unsophisticatedly and unashamedly love Rowling's characters, and for all her many flaws I think she tells an engaging story with emotional integrity. (I think she could really use an editor, but I read fast enough that I can forgive her rambling.) Whereas Lemony Snicket is nasty, ironic, self-referential, too clever for his own good, and keeps me delightedly smirking for page after page of Unfortunate Events. I should point out that I've only read the first three or four, so it's possible that the joke palls eventually, but on the whole I think the books are short enough that I could forgive them for all being the same. (The books are also a lovely chunky shape and size, and they're not proliferating merchandise like Harry bloody Potter, so they win points there.)
--John Irving or John Updike?
Of the two I have only read Updike, and found him unobjectionable but unmemorable.
--Fiction or non-fiction?
Yes please! I find it much easier to read fiction, but when I do force myself to read non-fiction I enjoy it.
--Historical biography or historical romance?
I'll go for the poke in the eye with the sharp stick, please.
--A few pages per sitting or finish at least a chapter?
Depends on the book. There are books which I have to just Sit Down And Read because I know that until I've finished them I won't be able to give my full attention to anything else; but there are also books which are so dense and rich that I can only manage a tiny bite at a time.
--Short story or creative non-fiction essay?
Both! And all the grey areas inbetween.
--"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?
Avoid clichés like the plague.
--Buy or borrow?
I prefer to buy; partly because I like owning things, and partly because I am so bad at getting round to reading books and getting them back to their owners.
--Book reviews or word of mouth?
Word of mouth. I rarely read book reviews and have rarely been inspired by those I have read; but I've frequently discovered books that I've come to love as a result of recommendations from other people. Friends are more likely to know me well enough to know what sort of thing I will appreciate; also, one of the reasons I read books is to gain common ground with people whom I want to know better.