Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

An A-Z Book Meme

...to mark the end of the holiday, what better way to unwind after a two-day drive than with a book meme? With thanks to lexlingua for flagging it up.

Author you've read the most books by:
Almost certainly Terrance Dicks. I have read 80 of his Doctor Who books, with two more on the shelf. Next after him are Roger Zelazny, William Shakespeare and Terry Pratchett.

Best sequel ever:
Lord of Emperors, by Guy Gavriel Kay. The first book in the sequence, Sailing to Sarantium, sets up a vividly realised alternate history of Justinian, Belisarius and Theodora, and the bloke who is called in to design the equivalent of the Hagia Sofia. But the sequel takes this promising start, broadens the geographical picture, brutally compresses and twists the history from our own timeline, and triumphs.

Currently Reading:
The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie
Royal Assassin, by Robin Hobb
The Crown of Dalemark, by Diana Wynne Jones
The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright by Bryan Talbot

Drink of choice while reading:
Black tea. Sometimes beer.

E-reader or physical book:
I have a lot of physical books on the shelf, and they are much easier to share with family and friends. However if it is a book that I don't expect the rest of the household to be interested in, or that I am in a hurry to get to, it's the e-reader. (These days that means the iPad/iPhone, usually with the Kindle app but sometimes iBooks.)

Fictional character you probably actually would have dated in high school:
I think I would have gazed across the classroom at Jo Walton's Morwenna until she took the initiative. (Having said that, she was at an all-girls school, so it might have been tricky to arrange.)

Glad you gave this book a chance:
Not sure how to answer this one. I note that I have reported that every Hemingway book I have read was much better than I expected.

Hidden gem book:
The one I recommend to everyone is Ali and Nino, by "Kurban Said", the great love story of the South Caucasus, set in and around Baku before, during and after the First World War, combining vivid cultural descriptions (the scene varies from Dagestan to Iran) with a classic romance plot, all in a surprisingly short number of pages. The identity of the author remains contested, though I am convinced that it was Lev Nussimbaum, a Jewish convert to Islam whose mother had Stalin round for tea.

Important moment in your reading life:
When I read in a biography of Roger Zelazny that he planned out his reading so that he always had at least an sf book, a history book, a biography or autobiography, and a non-sf novel on the go. I had already been bookblogging for about a year, but decided to give this planning concept a try and have greatly enjoyed setting up and maintaining reading lists ever since. LibraryThing has been a great help there.
Another important point was after the racefail kerfuffle when I decided to monitor the diversity of my own reading, and to deliberately ensure I read more books by women and people of colour.

Just finished:
Rebus's Scotland, by Ian Rankin.
The Tunnel at the End of the Light, by Stefan Petrucha.

Kinds of books you won't read:
I have never tried pulp romance, not so much that I won't read it but more that I just haven't. Having said that, I really must give Georgette Heyer a try.
I must say I find a lot of immersive fantasies simply tiresome, and it takes a very strong and reliable recommendation to me to try a new author in that sub-genre.(Having said that, I've recently discovered both Robin Hobb and Patrick Rothfuss.)

Longest book you've read:
Either the Bloody Sunday Report, which I read in the summer of 2010, or Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which I took at a chapter a week (and skipping a number of weeks), over the course of two years. Well worth it. (I also read both the Bible (OT) and War and Peace over the course of 2012.)

Major book hangover because of:
Possibly the combination of finishing the Bible and War and Peace within a day of each other at the end of last year! It took several months before I got my reading speed back up to my usual pace.

Number of bookcases you own:
Two in the office - which I don't own but am responsible for stocking. One still in Ireland. Two in the living room. One on the landing. Two in the spare room (one of which is double width). Three in F's room, which probably don't count as they are his books. One in our room. And, er, about eight in the study if you count each of the IKEA shelf ranges separately. So that's a fair number really.

One book you have read multiple times:
The Lord of the Rings; time I went back to it again, in fact.

Preferred place to read:
In the back garden, in the sunshine. Failing that, on the train.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read:
Another difficult one. The end of A Tale of Two Cities always moves me. But there's also C.P. Snow's summary of how important it is to recognise one's own fallibility from The Masters:
"I want a man who knows something about himself. And is appalled. And has to forgive himself to get along."

Reading regret:
That I don't take more advantage of other people's bookshelves when I am staying with them. It is always educational and enlightening to get a fresh perspective. All my discoveries of great new books or authors have been from other people.

Series you've started but need to finish (all books are out in the series):
As noted above, I am doing well on Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy and Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicle at the moment (both cases where my suspicions of yet another big immersive fantasy series proved ill-founded). Also enjoying a leisurely canter through Dorothy Dunnett's Niccolò books.

Three of your all-time favorite books:
I've already mentioned a dozen so far! But I will note that we have had very little non-fiction so far, and a lot of the questions rather excluded it. So let me add The Diary of Anne Frank, the About Time series of books about Doctor Who, and The Island at the Centre of the World.

Unapologetic fanboy for:
Doctor Who. (A shocking and unexpected revelation, I know.)

Very excited for this release more than all the others:
The Winds of Winter. Sorry, but it's true.

Worst bookish habit:
I get a bit obsessive about reading fifty pages of one book, then shifting to fifty pages of another, and about keeping my reading lists in sync. It doesn't bother anyone but me.

X marks the spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
The top left shelf is my history of science shelf, and the 27th book is the excellent Church, State and Astronomy in Ireland: Two Hundred Years of Armagh Observatory, by my M Phil supervisor Jim Bennett.

Your latest book purchase:
Artemis Cooper's biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor, picked up at a motorway service station this afternoon.

Zzzzz-snatcher book. Last book that kept you up way too late:
I suffer from insomnia anyway, and last year tried a strategy of picking one particular author to read when I am trying to get to sleep. At first that author was Jonathan Gash, but eventually I could not take any more of Lovejoy's violent misogyny, so I have now switched to Agatha Christie. This also has limitations, in that her books are ingeniously constructed to keep one reading. It's less of an issue for the ones I have read before, but Death on the Nile failed to help me go to sleep quite dramatically a couple of weeks ago.

So, what about you?
Tags: books, interview memes
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