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Current Status

2. What are you reading right now?
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

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 Ironic time to ask me this question, or rather, these questions. Because in light of the second answer, the first one is going to strike a bit incongruous. But here we go. Also, let’s try to be quick because as I work on this, I’m actually out of town on a trip to the Creation Museum (yay).

What I am reading right now is the book in the featured image, that is, Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott. It is a copy I estimate to be around 80 years old, but a lazy cataloger put it in as the date of the edition (1827) and there’s frankly no way this book is from the 1800s in any respect. Ironically, it’s from the collection of the college library that I interviewed at two years ago almost exactly, which is something I found very funny. I’ve been meaning to read Waverley for simply ages, and especially been wanting to since climbing to the top of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh a year ago. While it’s slow reading (500 odd pages), it’s tremendously enjoyable, and I’m very charmed by Scott’s chatter at me throughout (apologizing for gregarious characters, for example, or explaining why he’s about to end a chapter where he is).

However, today, I will be buying up a stack of books at the Creation Museum. Which leads me to the answer of my next question, because I’m confident after today I’ll be reading more than one book — and now as I actually get to answering this question, I realize I don’t know what to say.

It’s complicated. (No surprise.) In general, because I am a completetist and I’m all about finishing, I find that I prefer to read one book at a time because I can get through one to the next quickly. And I do find as I think about it that part of me rankles at the concept of having several going at once. But my kneejerk initial answer to the question was “several” — how can this be?

Aha, I have it now. In general, I prefer to read one fiction book at time, but multiple nonfiction are totally fine. And where a book is lengthy, I don’t mind having several (for example, I have to read about 42 pages of Scott per day, so reading other books at the same time wouldn’t interfere with this). I also don’t mind reading one book toward my challenge and another with no specific goal in mind. Reading multiple, though, can get annoying in carrying them all around. Which is no argument toward putting them on an e-reader because, despite whatever you might think, that’s simply not reading to me. That’s another topic entirely, but, honestly, I like to read books because I like books and that’s all.

marginalia2

Claim the Margin

4. Bad book habit?
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
18. Not even with text books?

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I’m taking these questions in a swoop because they all have to do with each other: first of all, the 17 & 18 questions are clearly one question, and 4 clearly encompasses all of them. Now, the short version, here’s the thing: I do not have bad book habits. I may have said this in some form before, but here it is again: I love books more than most people, and by that I mean, not only do I love books more than most people love them, but I also love them more than I love most people.

The physical entity of the book gives me an electric charge that can’t quite be explained, not just to the uninitiated, but to anyone at all. I want to own just about every book I see in a Half Price Books, just because they are beautiful things. I like to sort, organize, rearrange, handle, look at my books almost more than I like to read them. I enjoy reading, I really do — I love characters most and stories second — but reading is all about finishing. I time how long I anticipate a chapter or book will take me. I don’t loiter over them. I don’t like to read them over the end of a month. But when I’m just visiting my books, there’s no time limit on that. I’ll rearrange them all day long. I take care of them. I am good to them. I do not treat them badly, and I don’t take kindly to other people treating them badly — carving them into sculptures or nailing them to the wall, or gutting them, drilling holes in them, ripping out the pages for use in craft projects — the whole thing strikes me as more macabre and gross than Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the one from the 70s). Ugh.

All that being said, let’s quit right now with this misconception that writing in a book is some form of maltreatment of a book.

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Peace, love, and high up rocks!

Comfort and Guilt

Is not the name of the new swordfight show at the Ohio Renaissance festival. Ah, wait. Okay, let’s talk comfort zones. Didn’t I just bring up comfort zones in connection with reading when I did the whole genre question a bit ago? I did, I know I did. Well, I’m going to bring it up again, and with them, I’m going to talk about guilt.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

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I’m going to talk about it because this question seems to beg the question that if I have a guilt-free pleasure reading, I must also have a guilty pleasure reading, and allow me to tell you that I don’t do things I feel guilty about doing them. Defensive teenage Tumblrs, take note: if you find yourself getting absurdly defensive because you’re “made to feel guilty” over your reading choices, perhaps reevaluate those choices. We experience guilt when something is wrong with the choice. Either the choice or your perception of it is wrong; justifying “guilty pleasure,” or the idea that it’s okay to do some things you feel guilty about doing, has probably been a link in the long chain leading to the fall of western civilization.

But I digress. I was actually going to start on the subject of comfort zones,  and thanks (ironically) to the Tumblr Fields of Hitchhikers, I have a very succinct thing to say about comfort zones –

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Not as advertised

Sands of Disappointment

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

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 Surprisingly not as easy as it should be to answer this question. While I do make it my habit to read every book version of any movie I see, and to see most film versions of books where they exist, it’s hard to pick an exact film that really disappointed me. I’m often disappointed in books after a movie — because I take for granted the book should be better, and it often isn’t — but not so often the other way around. And plenty of times, I come in to a book so late, after buzz about an adaptation has assured me that it’s no good, that for me to be disappointed would take an incredible amount of naivete on my part.

But nevertheless, I’ve come up with an excellent answer for you. Excellent in that the more I consider this now, the more I realize I was really disappointed. I’d heard bad things about the movie, but I did go in to it rather hoping that somehow, against all odds, I could love it anyway, just because the book itself demanded an exquisite visual. Hmm, I wonder what I could be talking about? Continue reading

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Gallery

So Civil

28. Favorite reading snack?

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I’ll be frank with you. No, Pete. I’ll be Pete today. Anyway, you already know, I take a certain amount of pride in doing things no one else does, in disliking things everybody likes, and preferring what most people don’t. To that end, I wrote this post, which still frankly embarrasses me a bit due to the discussion of reading on a toilet (that most hideous of all places to read).

But in that post, I emphasize how much I dislike that which most readers claim to love — reading in bed. I did not address reading and eating. I’ll do that now. Because, pace those who think the height of life’s joys is to read while eating, I just can’t do it.

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baking

Cooky Time

26. Favorite cookbook?

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Shocking truth time. I have never been interested in cooking, or enjoyed it when it came up time to do it. Okay, I don’t think I really shocked anyone with that. I like eating. I like the result of cooking very much. I have even enjoyed watching the odd cooking show (odder the better — ba dum chuh).

I mean, I certainly can cook. I don’t exactly understand how anyone couldn’t; you follow the instructions and produce what you’re supposed to produce. It’s not like drawing, where when you follow the instructions, you come out with a lumpy mutant cow when the directions swore you were doing a charming pastoral scene with a tree. There’s no innate talent required to measure six cups of flour and mix it with sugar and butter and leave the stuff in the oven for as long as it says at the temperature it says. At least I don’t think there is. Maybe it is possible that some person somewhere can follow every instruction to the letter and produces charred inedible globs as regularly as my sketches produce uneven creatures kindergarteners would be embarrassed to have drawn.

The point is mostly that I am capable of cooking but I find it at the best of times dull and at the worst of times, stressful. I do have 38 cookbooks on my Goodreads shelf dedicated to cookbooks, and about 700 recipes between 4 boards on Pinterest, but it’s the sort of thing I do of necessity and not for a sense of overflowing joy it gives me. Just as well, too, because my overriding philosophy of “like what no one else likes so people won’t steal it and you don’t have to wait in lines” (my niece and I got mushroom burgers at the RennFest because no one was in line for them; they were awesome but we were the only ones who wanted it) backfires when it comes to cooking things for groups. Whenever I produce a recipe at a family gathering or something, I have to literally force people to sample it, and the responses are overwhelmingly negative.

All of that prefatory material to make it clear that my favorite cookbook has nothing whatever to do with cooking.

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Nicholas II in 1898

Цaрь

24. Favorite biography?

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So I am occasionally extremely predictable. Presumably, you understood what the answer to this question would entail the moment you saw it. Although I’ve consistently read as many nonfiction as fiction books per year for the last half decade or so, biography is a relatively new genre in my repertoire — of the 76 on my Goodreads shelf, I’ve read 31, and of those, 15 are biographies of Romanovs. Of those, 10 are biographies of the Romanov (i.e., Nicholas II), so you know exactly what my topic is about to be. Sorry-not-sorry.

So Nicholas II is my homeboy. So what about  that?

So Nicholas II is my homeboy. So what about that?

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Mystery Science Theater 3000

Redux the Genre Question

22. Favorite genre?
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

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I know the point in asking these questions back to back is to get someone to define the boundaries of their comfort zone and then immediately define an area in which they feel obligation, interest, or a degree of ease in branching out in. And genre does seem to be a bit of a ghost hanging around and haunting me, because the fact of the matter is I never had any interest in genre whatsoever. I’ll detail that in a moment.

If you want the kind of answer the question is leading, then I point you to this post. Because, yes, I want to read more westerns, and it’s a pleasantly categorical answer. But the accurate and truthful answer to both questions — is science fiction.

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Some library books from 2011

Books a la Library

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

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And since the last post was talking about what I’ve read this year, it makes sense to me to switch over to my current library status.

My library status hinges on my reading status, which is kind of a tautology, I guess. But I have proven quite convincingly that I only want to read when I am happy, and I only need books from the library when I am reading, therefore the number of books I have out from the library at any given time is going to hinge entirely on my current state of joie de vivre.

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My dream cast for "the coffee books"

Coffeehouse Crap

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)

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I hadn’t anticipated splitting this into two posts, but I guess it still works. To review — I am pleased to update my status on books I’ve read this year because I’m only 20 away from the end of my challenge to read 78 books this year. I’ve read 58 –

  • 2 one-star,
  • 3 two-star,
  • 17 three-star,
  • 43 fiction (including short stories/collections of short stories)
  • 15 nonfiction,
  • and 14 repeats.

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