Have you fell foul of click bait here? Opening this link thinking you are going to be reading some interesting insights from a new author to watch out for or an old favourite with a new book in town? Well I’m sorry, it’s just little old me here, I’ve decided to have a go at the A to Z book questions and thought you might like to read the results. Once you’ve finished you’ll know my ABC, next time won’t you sing along with new? (Terrible, I know, terrible).
Author You’ve Read The Most Books From
I had a good think about this, wondering if it was Graham Greene or maybe Austen, then it hit me..JK ROWLING! When you count in Harry, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Casual Vacancy, she really does keep knocking them out the park and I keep on diving for them!
Best Sequel Ever
Well this really is difficult isn’t it. We don’t ask people to choose favourite children! At the moment I am belatedly in the throws of Ferrante fever, I adored ‘The Story of a New Name’, I thought that the characters really developed depth in this sequel and the claustrophobia of living in such a small town was beautifully contrasted with the taste of freedom Elena was given. The circumstances of young women at that time had me biting my fist in anger and I felt like Ferrante herself would have been smashing the keyboard in these moments to vent her own frustrations, you could feel her rage bubbling beneath the text. As a little side note, I don’t see a ‘prequel’ part anywhere on here and this somehow lets me wedge another book in, so for that I will say ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, for opening my eyes and making me realise that I had been totally negligent when thinking of poor Bertha, not considering her story at all and accepting Mr Rochester at his word. My feminist eyes were awoken and Jean Rhys did so with prose that felt fresh yet still made the text work with that of Charlotte’s (my mate, no need for second names here!)
Three books at the moment (With working in a bookshop I have a system to make sure I am reading what I want and need to!) The first is The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, within a chapter I knew I was in for a riot of a read and the book itself is stunning, I will be happily recommending this to younger readers to stoke their imagination and older readers to get them to go back to times of classic tales being told. The second has been out for some time and I must confess to nervously putting it off. ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’ is a collection of short stories and essays, all written by a young women called Marina Keegan. During her time at Yale she was spotted as a writing star of the future and you can see why from this collection. Sadly 5 days after her graduation she was killed in a car crash. The book jacket stops me in my tracks, a photo of Marina gazing confidently out at you in her bright yellow coat demanding that through her work she will certainly never be forgotten. Last but not least I have just started ‘What Belongs to You’ by Garth Greenwell. Told I will love this by the same people who had me reading ‘A Little Life’, there was no way I was going to pass this one by! You can expect a review on these pages soon!
Drink of Choice While Reading
99% of the time I will go with a giant mug of green and lemon tea, the other 1%, well, it is always nice to read happily in a cafe with a large glass of white isn’t it?!
EReader or Physical Book
Ah I was finding so much of this hard until I got to this question. Breathing or suffocating anyone?! I do completely understand why people choose EReaders, I know they are great for travel, for those who holding a great tome is not the easiest and you can blow the text right up if small print is proving a bind. BUT. Books, books, beautiful books. To hold them in my hands, to smell the paper (or to heap on scorn if they have used a cheap glue for binding), to feel the jacket, to try and keep them in good shape but to end up with marks of your life on them which will forever connect those in the story to your own time line (the folk living inside Curtis Sittenfeld’s ‘Eligible’ will always be linked with the first sunny day I sat outside for lunch in 2016 and then proceeded to drop an entire char grilled red pepper on one of the pages). Books are my art, they are packed in everywhere in my flat and I can sit and gaze at their spines for hours, remembering the journeys that they took me on, the lessons that I learned from them or the person who bought me the beautiful edition because they knew I would love it. A book to me can often be so much more than the text itself and I don’t think I would get that full experience from an E Book.
Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School
I would LOVE to have dated Gilbert Blythe from ‘Anne of Green Gables’, I mean, come on, he is perfect in every which way. I like to think I would have been as wonderful as Anne and smashed a chalk board over his head but he probably wouldn’t have noticed me being meek in the corner. Realistically Neville Longbottom, who some may mock but look, the boy done good – could you have destroyed a horcrux?!
Glad You Gave This Book a Chance
I had three in the running for this but I am going to go with ‘A Girl is a Half Formed Thing’. If you don’t know this novel then an incredibly brief summary is that after 9 years of struggling to get published, it finally received the recognition it deserved and won The Baileys Prize. It seemed the initial hesitation over the book was not actually due to its intensely serious and upsetting subject matter but the style of the prose itself. The story is told in stream of consciousness and begins with our protagonist in the womb. The style jolts around just as our thoughts do. Some found this easy to settle into but I really struggled for the first two chapters and considered giving up, I just couldn’t get to grips with the style and kept complaining to everybody around me. By the end of the book I was declaring it genius and one of the most powerful and original use of the technique I had ever read.
Hidden Gem Book
If I am ever unwell or there is a raging thunder storm outside my idea of perfection is to curl up with ‘I Capture the Castle’. Now this is a gem but clearly it is not hidden! What I choose as my hidden gem is a book I read two years ago by the same author, Dodie Smith. It is actually a memoir and is titled ‘Look Back With Love’. If you had told me I would not only read and then fall in love with a memoir that covered the scant years of 4 to 12 I would have laughed, exactly how much could anybody have to say for that time of their lives? Well, it turns out quite a lot! Smith was a precocious young girl and I think it must have been immediately clear to all she would go on to do great things. If you ever wonder where her ideas of the eccentric family come from in ‘I Capture the Castle’ then you need look no further than here, the story of her own home life is an utterly delicious one. I also adore that she published this aged 78 simply because she was so annoyed at Enid Blyton’s success.
Important Moment in your Reading Life
When I was young I was poorly for a length of time and taken out of school. Pretty uncomfortable my mam would take my mind off things each night by reading me a chapter of Matilda. Obviously she is a girl after my own heart with her love of books and I remember begging my mam for an extra chapter before bed. It was the perfect lesson in how fiction can transport.
This will be appearing on the site soon for a full review. ‘A Life Discarded’ by Alexander Masters has left me seriously sunburned after I read it in one sitting on my day off. We follow Masters as he investigates the mysterious 148 diaries he finds in a skip. All penned by one hand, of course in a diary we never name ourselves, it is always ‘I’, so it is an addictive treat to uncover more about this prolific writer at the same time as our author does.
Kind of Book You Won’t Read
For me horror is a no no, my imagination is far too over active to cope with that! I HATE the term ‘chick lit’ but unfortunately it does come in handy for this answer, I guess what most people would consider the kind of chick lit that is sold in supermarkets or airport shops, I find it too formulaic and I need some real doom and gloom to keep me interested!
Longest Book You’ve Read
War and Peace would be awarded that prize I think. Hefty tomes are no longer so daunting after the likes of ‘A Little Life’ and ‘the Luminaries’, when fiction is that good you will fly through it no matter what!
Major Book Hangover
My last book hangover would probably be ‘Spill Simmer Falter Wither’. I couldn’t stop thinking about those last few chapters, I was far too emotionally involved to be healthy!
Number of Bookcases You Own
So actual book cases I have 11, but then I probably have about 5 piles about 10 books high on the floor at the moment. I also have a stool that is solely used for a pile of books, my TV stand is padded out with books in all the places electronics are not. The bottom of my bed is lined with piles of books and I also have quite a large wardrobe that has stacks lined the whole way along it. Oh, and my desk and my bed side table, I think that covers all the storage places!
One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times
I have read The Magic Faraway Tree (well, the whole Enchanted Wood Series really) many a time. When I was in my last year at University it was my read to help de stress me. I still long to jump over a little dip into an Enchanted Wood, climb the tree and meet Moonface and Silky.
Preferred Place to Read
I have recently been gifted a wonderful reading chair by my parents, there are few places I am as happy as sitting in that but I must confess, the greatest place to read in the world would be at Beadnell on the Northumberland coastline, it is where I am most content and peaceful. At all times I wish I was at Beadnell.
Quotes that Inspire You/Give You All The Feels From A Book
SO many but today I am going with “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will”
Easy – when I was little (and to this day) I adored The Jolly Postman, I am a sucker for a book I can get involved with in such a physical way. I decided I too could recreate the style of the book in my own, small, pudgy hand and did my own illustration along side. I immediately realised what a mistake this was and have regretted it ever since.
Series You Started and Need to Finish
Again this is a question I could provide a list that would be like reading a book in itself. At the moment the first that jumps to mind is the Iremonger trilogy by Edward Carey. Heap House and Foulsham were captivating and true originals, I need to head back to that world and see how it all ends in Lungdon.
Three of Your All Time Favourite Books
Ok these are not the three definitive books, they are just three of MANY, because again, I don’t go round forcing people to choose favourite children. So immediately I must say Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada, the book should be taught in schools for the amazing true story that it is based upon, I get shivers when I discuss this with people in the shop. I Capture the Castle because I love a tale of some eccentric English folk and last but not least The Complete Dorothy Parker, because I can always turn to her for wisdom and wit.
Unapologetic Fan Girl For
Tonke Dragt – ‘Letter for the King’, really there is nothing at all to be apologetic about here, but if some people think fiction for ages 8 to 11 isn’t for them, they are WRONG. This book is everything.
Very Excited for This Release More Than All Others
I am very, very excited about the quartet of novels that we are to expect from Ali Smith, the first being Autumn and then each next release being named after the seasons. She is a master of her craft so you just know you have hours of blissful reading ahead of you.
Worst Bookish Habit
Well, for every one book I read another 5 to 8 come into my flat at the same time, so I cannot keep up with myself but I do question whether this is actually a bad thing, I *need* those books. Probably forcing my book talk on every single person I meet, fine when I am with fellow book friends but sometimes I can see others glazing over thinking ‘please, just stop’.
X Marks the Spot: Start on the Left Side of your Shelf and Then Name 27th Book In
More than happy with this result, ‘Miss Chopsticks’ by Xinran.
Your Latest Purchase
I have just spotted a tiny novel from Europa Editions today, ‘The Prank of the Good Little Virgin of Via Ormea’. I am always interested in seeing what has been translated by this publishing house, the cover of this novel grabbed my attention immediately with an illustration that really took my liking and the story sounds incredibly intense and serious yet it is described as a comedy on the end paper, so I am intrigued to see how this is handled.
Zzzzzz Snatcher Book (last book that kept you up late)
‘Eligible’ by Curtis Sittenfeld had me up far too late and resulted in me yawning a lot in work the next day. After reading a lot of heavy fiction it was such an addictive, funny and light read I could just sit back and enjoy without having to overwork my brain. I reviewed it here if you want to have a look at my thoughts just after finishing it.
So there we go, my A to Z of reading! It was quite interesting to see what books popped into my head as answers to some of these questions, not always the ones I would have expected. Do you have any answers that immediately jump out to you? What do you think to my responses? Join in below with any letter or all of them if you like!
Just to let you know, Dog Eared Reads now has its own twitter account if you want more up to the minute book chat, our handle is @dogeared_reads I’ll hopefully see you over there!