A to Z book survey

15 Aug
That time I dressed as Beryl Markham for Halloween

That time I dressed up as Beryl Markham for Halloween

Hi, new blog! I have been putting off posting something here forever, but I figured I need to start somewhere. Enter my friend Alison Cherry’s recent blog post, in which she took The Perpetual Page-Turner’s A to Z book survey about reading n’ stuff! So I decided to take it myself.  I feel like this is a good intro to what this site is going to be—an appreciation of all the many media things I like and won’t shut up about—because books are one of the biggest things I will not shut the fuck up about. Here goes:

Author you’ve read the most books by:
Not counting series (cause that would very much skew the results), probably Virginia Woolf. 11 books, all told. The Waves is my favorite. Oh and Shakespeare, if we’re counting plays?

Best sequel ever:
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. I was already totally hooked by The Golden Compass (a.k.a. The Northern Lights), and then he introduced Will Parry and the multiverse into the mix. I mean, damn.

Currently reading:
A Room with a View by E.M. Forester, Brian M. Wood’s new all-lady X-Men series and Matthew Rohrer’s poetry collection Rise Up. I like variety.

Drink of choice while reading:
Red wine. I once drank half a bottle and read a quarter of Swann’s Way in one night. Woke up with crazy notes scrawled all over the margins.

E-reader or physical books?
Physical books, forever and always. I will kick your ass, do not even.

Fictional character you probably would’ve actually dated in high school:
One of the Weasley twins, let’s be honest.

Glad you gave this book a chance:
Speak of the devil—the Harry Potter series. 14-year-old Jenna was convinced they were books for babies. My friend sat me down with The Sorcerer’s Stone and said I could put it down after 15 minutes and she’d never speak of it again if I didn’t like it. Two days later, I’d finished the first two books.

Hidden gem book:
So many, but most recently, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Everyone’s read “The Lottery,” but most people I’ve talked to haven’t read her other stuff. I found this book in a box on the sidewalk and it is just great—gorgeously written, wildly unsettling, perfectly paced.

Important moment in your reading life:
Again, so many—but the first that pops into my head: When I tentatively stepped into the comic book shop in Allston, Mass at the age of 22, and the manager said: Have you tried Sandman?

Just finished:
Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. Beautiful, poetic, provocative writing, but fuzzy plotting. It gets extra points for reminding me of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

Kind of books you won’t read:
Self-help books, books where female characters are two-dimensional foils for the male hero, books where a dog dies on the last page, books where the author is blatantly manipulating his/her characters to serve a theme. Everything else is pretty much fair game.

Longest book you’ve read:
Infinite Jest, natch. Loved/hated/loved every minute of it.

Major book hangover because of:
I felt shitty about human nature for weeks after reading 1984. I recall whimpering out loud in the coffeeshop I was sitting in when I got to the last page.

Number of bookcases you own:
Four. Probably another bookshelves’ worth stacked on the floor and dresser, and boxes more in my parents’ basement, stored for the day when I finally live in a giant library room.

One book you have read multiple times:
Angels in America (both parts) by Tony Kushner / The Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Preferred place to read:
On a train (not a subway, a real one), going anywhere.

Quote that inspires you from a book you’ve read:
I collect quotes like baseball cards, but two of my major personal touchstones: “I try all things, I achieve what I can.” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick) and “Move. Travel lightly. Occur.” (David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest)

Reading regret:
I skipped a Kurt Vonnegut reading my freshman year of college so that I could go to some stupid party or something. He died a few months later.

Series you’ve started and need to finish (in which all the books are out):
Slowly, steadily working my way through all of Anaïs Nin’s diaries—the expurgated and the unexpurgated ones.

Three of your all-time favorite books:
Christ, just three? Leaving out ones I’ve already mentioned, and trying not to think too hard: Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, West with the Night by Beryl Markham.

Unapologetic fangirl for:
Jack Kerouac. I know he can be kind of a crazy dick, but his writing just sticks to my ribs. If we’re talking about actual pilgrimages, the Keats/Shelley/Byron trifecta. I went to their houses, where there are lots of weird relics (Late Romantics be crazy), and name my electronics after them and stuff.

Very excited for this release:
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh and The Circle by Dave Eggers.

Worst bookish habit:
I buy books like a junkie buys whatever thing they’re on. And I have a butt ton of unfinished ones, and also have no money, but I always go out and buy more.

X marks the spot—start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino

Your latest book purchase:
A Woman Speaks by Anaïs Nin

ZZZ-snatcher (book that kept you up way too late):
I’m not sure if I slept or did anything else at all when I was reading the Hunger Games series. I know for sure I ate, cause I remember weeping into my enchiladas at the Mexican place near my old office on my lunch break.

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2 Responses to “A to Z book survey”

  1. Paula @ Find a girl who reads August 15, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    “I buy books like a junkie buys whatever thing they’re on.” That makes two of us! 🙂

    Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite authors but I haven’t read The Waves yet… I feel intimidated by it! To the lighthouse is my favorite.

    • doublenegative August 16, 2013 at 2:00 am #

      I wouldn’t recommend The Waves to everyone—it is a really strange, nonlinear book—but if you already love Virginia Woolf, you will probably love it. If her writing was beer, it’d be, like, the really strong-flavored high-ABV seasonal brew.

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