So Civil


28. Favorite reading snack?

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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Nicholas II in 1898



24. Favorite biography?

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?)

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?

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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A Customer’s Perspective

I really like reading customer service complaint stories. Anyone I know should be able to tell you this, and my internet search history would probably betray an hour and a half a day on  I love reading these stories, cite them in everyday conversation, and just in general enjoy the feeling of shocked scandal at some of the stuff people have to put up with from entitled jerks.

But there’s another version of the “customer service horror story,” and that’s where certain members of the customer service or retail industry — whom I take to be young, given the trendy sorts of sites I see these lists on, and their presence on Twitter — sit around and whine about working for a living. Unlike places like NotAlwaysRight, where the customer actually has to do something horrifying (for example), the offending customers featured on these lists or Twitter accounts do obnoxious things like order macaroni and cheese at Panera Bread, ask for the featured special, or, I don’t know, walk in the building. I don’t know the exact Twitter handles, but they show up on Buzzfeed as “How to be the worst customer at Panera Bread,” “How to be the worst customer at Subway,” and “Reasons your barista hates you.”

And for a person like me, already awkward and uncomfortable when I have to make a request of anyone even when they’re being paid to handle my requests, these lists — as out of bounds as they sometimes get — make me self conscious to the point where I would rather just go home than deal with the judgmental attitude of the 19 year old behind the counter who might have an inexplicable grudge against whatever I want to order.

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My dream cast for "the coffee books"

Coffeehouse Crap


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

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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When A Book Takes Hostages


10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

This is a good time to ask that question, since there are only about 14 weeks left in the year and I’m about 20 books from the end of my challenge to read 78 books this year. I’ve read 58 –

  • 6 five-star,
  • 30 four-star,
  • 43 fiction (including short stories/collections of short stories)
  • 15 nonfiction,
  • and 14 repeats.

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Pardon the Egg Salad Stains


35. Favorite poet?

Oh, I have such an answer to this. You see, I am very fond of poetry. I even like to write it and have the audacity to think I’ve written a couple of very fine ones. And I love poetry from all over the place, modern and Elizabethan and ancient; American and English and in translation; I’m really very catholic in my tastes and odds are, if it’s in verse, it’s already halfway to staking out territory in my heart. It’s the words, you see, I am all about words, and poetry is nothing but words. But out of all the poets, the prose poems and haikus and sonnets and all the other little bits of versification, there is one I love. There’s one I’ve sought to buy every book, one I’ve read over and over, especially when I’m wanting comfort — as I’ve emphasized repeatedly, reading books when I’m depressed is a chore, but reading poetry is like sinking into a pool of refreshing water and washing off every care and stress I’ve ever had.

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And the Questions Continue

My blog dried up when I ran out of book questions, didn’t it? Both my blogs did, actually. It’s sort of my end of summer traditional blogging hiatus otherwise known as a creativity freeze. Fortunately for me, or perhaps for you, or for anyone who wants to read me opine with more authority than I’m entitled to about books, I have 36 new posts, which I can coax to the end of the year by following the two challenges per week format with a little cheating.

By way of a life update, circumstances are still extremely stressful, but I have made the life step of buying a computer — his name is Maximilian and he is a Sony L-series All-in-One with Windows 7 — and all I do with my life anymore is play Sims because I have missed playing Sims. While I’m still pulling tempy-type salary, the possibility of it working into a real job seems very real indeed as I am being trained for an assistant position to the product support team. They gush endlessly about my work. So there’s that going for me.

And now on to the new questions. As usual, anyone who wants to play along can find all my Reading Questions here, the original source here, and the master list of new questions (via). This time, however, not only have I grouped similar questions (there are 55 total), I will be answering them in an order that makes sense to me, aka apparently at random.

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Rather Soviet looking back entrance

Sense from Senses

I’m working on a series of posts that I assume will be controversial in nature and probably won’t win me any friends, so before I get into the killing, I thought I’d do a nice pleasant little post about smells.

The link between scent and memory is extraordinary. Recently, around lunchtime, there has been a particular smell in the office that makes me feel like I’m ten and at the Columbus Museum of Art. I don’t even exactly know what this smell is, which is how I started on my being frustrated to describe it. In my mind, it is just “lunch smell.” It reminds me of chicken salad and baking bread. And it is exactly what the CMA’s lunch cafe always smelled like.

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