The Inside and Out Book Tag

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…

Carl Larsson, ‘Woman lying on a bench’ (1913)

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…

Only joking!

Seriously, think hard before you answer…

27 thoughts on “The Inside and Out Book Tag

  1. Pingback: The Inside and Out Book Tag – Annabookbel

  2. I loved this and found myself nodding in agreement on every point. Until the last one. Possibly because it doesn’t happen often but my idea of bliss is reading a book outside in the shade on a sunny day with a long cool drink beside me. Or at least it always used to be, now I increasingly find myself distracted by the state of the garden. Perhaps I should follow your lead on number 8 too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tricksy questions, some of them! Shade on a sunny day is my idea of bliss as I’m not good in direct sunlight these days, clarting my hairless head in factor 30 on walks or wearing a hat, and seasonal rhinitis doesn’t improve my temper.

      But we had a good holiday on the Devon coast a year ago this week, when I read two Agatha Christie novels and part of a Robertson Davies trilogy, so I’m not totally agin sunshine reading!

      However, lazing in the garden reminds me of the little jobs I should do, like strimming, or digging out an encroaching buddleia, so that’s why I tend to read indoors… 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I suspect a lot of my answers would be so similar to yours that I’d be accused of plagiarism! Definitely no writing in books – ugh! What are notebooks for? Don’t care about gender and never check if the name is ambiguous till I review it and have to know what pronoun to use. Half tidy shelves, half a jumble! But I do like my Kindle and an occasional audiobook so we’re clearly not clones… 😀


    1. That’s good news, I’d hate for either of us to think we each were un-individual! I own and have tried a Kindle and really, really felt uncomfortable using it for reasons I ought to analyse sometime in depth; however, I can imagine occasions when an audiobook would suit, after all on long car journeys I enjoy Radio 4 as much as Radio 3, being a sort of captive audience but unable to read anything apart from road signs…


  4. Nice tag, and cool answers! I’m afraid I’d have to repeat most of what you’ve already written here, so I’ll just have to believe you won’t abandon our blog if we don’t do this tag 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. piotrek

      I could say the same, really… I’m more radical when it comes to blurbs, I’d like to see them abolished. Never bought a book because of them, and they make the book look uglier. The worst thing is when they put them on the front cover of a new hardcover… ugly, evil marketing people.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t mind short intros, three sentences tops, no spoilers, but these long mini-essays that you sometimes see, pah! And I don’t care what some other supposedly less obscure author has to say about an author new to me (and therefore also obscure) nor even some generic comment that a big name said in some tweet or other. And such details on the front cover? It’s bad enough when they’re on the back! “Ugly, evil marketing people…” Can I quote that on my next blockbuster?!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Inside and Out Book Tag – let’s talk about bookish habits! :D | Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

  6. I can be tempted to join the relay 🙂

    I’m with you on cover blurbs – while it can reassure me to see a certain author enjoyed it, the list of authors whose opinions I care about is awfully narrow (and not decisive). The thing that really annoys me is when publishers put their hype in the actual name for listings (BOOK NAME TOTALLY THE BEST THING IN 2020 by An Author does nobody any favours…).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s the publisher’s job to do that work to convince us their author’s work is worth picking up, not to let another writer do that work for them. (Though of course an author can do that, as with Amanda Craig getting rightly excited that Philip Pullman tweeted admiration for her recent novel, but totally unprovoked!)


  7. I’m too easily tempted by tags and memes and when I saw the subject of this one I was very keen. But I shall refrain at least for the time being. Far too many posts I want to get out this month. But there’s always next month, or the month after that. By which time you may have forgotten your threat to unfollow those who don’t tick the right boxes! 😉😆

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m afraid to do this tag because if I say the wrong thing I’ll become persona non grata and then I’d be afraid to visit Crickhowell in case I bumped into you and we’d feel awkward 🙂

    I’d be on safe ground with some questions: I don’t write in books either, or pay any attention to the author’s gender. But we might fall out over audiobooks ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should go for it, Karen, and I promise I won’t award any black marks against you for audio books! Actually, I can imagine a time when I might be really grateful such a concept exists…


  9. Pingback: Inside and Out Book Tag – findingtimetowrite

  10. I must have the printed book, too! I suppose I’d be driven to e-books if I were traveling for an extended period of time and space was limited, but otherwise, I’m on a screen enough as it is. 🙂 Do you consider audio theatricals to be separate from audio books? I find those stories told with a cast and effects like radio theater to be a lot of fun to listen to compared to read-alouds, but I do like taking notes in the margins when possible…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s something material in the p-book, Jean, isn’t there! In the sixties and seventies I do remember listening to radio dramatisations — Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Shakespeare, for example — but teaching and a growing family largely put a halt to that, and I’ve never returned.

      Also, what you call audio theatricals need a commitment in time and, what with distractions of social media, a need to do something manual (not just tapping a keyboard!) and regular tasks (like mealtimes! shopping! cleaning!) I just can’t commit to that commitment…

      But actual books? Well, I mostly read in bed — I’m kept active by holding the book — turning the pages — taking notes — visualising the story even more than what’s conveyed aurally… But, marginal notes I draw the (metaphorical) line at!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Notes are rare, I admit. 🙂 I do have a few reading journals scattered about the house. I actually have a problem reading while keeping still. It started in graduate school; all the sitting while writing, grading, etc. got me desperate for any reason to move. So, when I needed to read, I just started pacing in my little studio apartment.
        And now I can’t read without that need to move. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, that’s fascinating! A lovely image of you pacing, your eyes glued to the page (while the three Bs run rings round you?!). Do you pace faster when things get exciting or stop stark still?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I stand stark still! And yes, I got used to pin-balling my way about the house depending on what kid’s left what toy where. (This is why I also insist that Lego is NOT the most painful thing to step on. Hot Wheels toy cars are THE most painful toy. Anyone who says otherwise is welcome to walk on some and prove me wrong.) 😉 xxxxxx

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh, they’ve been generally well taught by their parents — but there’s always the odd hard object that works its way out from under a sofa or table after a visit and launches itself unseen under my path!

              Liked by 1 person

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