I borrowed this tag from Bookforager — who borrowed it from other bloggers — who had no idea where it came from — so that’s the accreditation done.
I’m not a habitual tag-user on this blog — many tags, especially those ubiquitous blogging ‘awards’, seem designed to elicit the kind of private details (name of pet, favourite place) that fraudsters seek to ferret out — so I only introduce such Q&A posts sparingly, and only when I like the tone of the questions.
As here, in which the prompts are all book-related. And, even better, there are only eight questions, substantially less than on a tax form…
1. Inside flap/back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough?
I tend only to skim-read blurbs, picking up on key words, when the cover design, or author’s name, or book title had prompted me to pick the copy up in the first place. It’s only at the end, or perhaps en route to the end, that I’ll glance at the blurb again to, what, confirm my impressions? or clarify that I haven’t missed the point?
Here’s what puts me off most: the kind of detail where there are lists of alien / made-up / obscure words and names (as much speculative fiction goes in for), publisher’s value-judgements on the book (‘the most rivetting / explosive / revealing book you’ll read this year’), or where a plot twist is clumsily revealed.
2. New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback or Hardcover?
Many of you know I don’t ‘do’ audiobooks or ebooks. That’s just a personal quirk, or maybe an aspect of my particular autism, but I plump for print medium every time.
As for whether it’s hb or pb the choosing will depend on a mix of whether I’m feeling stingy, or have predetermined that a title is a classic that needs to be kept as a treasured possession, or is part of a series I want to maintain in a similar format. Simple answer: either.
3. Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books; take notes, make comments, or do you keep your books clean, clean, clean?
I have a disparate collection of notebooks going back to childhood based on books I’ve read. From which you may gather I never write in books. Not even in pencil: ink pens and highlighters are anathema in the same way that spray paint and the Taj Mahal shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath. (Oops.)
The only thing I leave in books are paper-thin bookmarks or postcards. Always a delight to find when I pick up a book I last consulted a score or more years ago.
4. Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when you’re deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the author’s gender?
No. And no. Probably only in retrospect does it matter when I’m evaluating whether the book succeeds on its own terms. Though I have to admit to reading more female authors than I was wont to in the past.
5. Ever read ahead? Or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?
Two rare possibilities. Either when a book is so tedious or opaque that I want to see if it’s worth my investing time and effort in it. Or when I’m so cut up about the characters that I seek reassurance (but then I nearly always regret doing so).
6. Organized bookshelves or outrageous bookshelves?
Both. Books by favourite authors tend to be together, some even arranged by publication date or together in series. Other times by colour (Penguin Classics), or size (I have inherited odd-spaced shelves) or subject (if non-fiction) or vintage hardback. But at least half are higgledy-piggledy, new with old, unread with well-thumbed, pamphlets and booklets next to atlases and artbooks.
They most resemble my mind.
7. Have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)?
Yes, especially if it’s part of a series format, or a hardback with a particular dust jacket. Easier to say the opposite: I’ve refused to buy many a book based on its lurid or tasteless cover design, preferring to wait for an edition with something aesthetically pleasing.
The same applies to secondhand books that are filthy or falling apart — I wouldn’t touch them with the proverbial barge pole.
8. Take it outside to read, or stay in?
Outside? Very occasionally, and mostly when on holiday away from home, or when there’s no phone signal to distract. And on those rare occasions when I’ve been ill and I can find a shady corner undisturbed: ‘Woman lying on a bench’ by Carl Larsson (whose paintings have long been one of our go-to images of consolation) captures that feeling well.
But, I have to say, inside for preference, and in bed.
This is where I’m hoping you’ll take this relay baton and run with it. Because it’d be a good guide as to whether you’re my kind of bibliophile, and whether I’ll continue to follow you…
Seriously, think hard before you answer…