I’ve been tagged by Laurie Steed at The Gum Wall to join in a fun Books and Writers Q & A. I always enjoy a game, so here goes:
Book Q&A Rules
1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover.
3. Answer the questions below.
4. Tag a few people to answer them too.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!
1. What are you reading right now?
I’m reading ‘An Unknown Sky’, which is a collection of short stories by Susan Midalia, a local WA writer. I’ve nearly finished it, from beginning to end and in order …
I’m also reading a quaint little book called ‘Tasmania’s North East’. It was written in 1928 by the Hon. A. W. Loone. I’m enjoying reading history as told by a local and at a time that’s now itself historical. The book is full of quirky anecdotes and I recognise a few surnames of people I grew up with.
I like to have a book on the craft of writing on the go, and at the moment that is ‘The Art of Character’ by David Corbett.
2. Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
‘Mateship With Birds’ by Carrie Tiffany is sitting on top of the pile on my bedside table.
3. What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
I’ll limit my answer to the Classics. When the following are mentioned, I make a mental note to myself that I must read them:
‘1984’ by George Orwell because he was such a clever writer and I loved ‘Animal Farm’. What’s more, I finished school in 1984.
‘Les Miserables’ by Victor Hugo because this is my all-time, most favourite musical ever.
‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell to see how it compares to the movie.
‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier because everyone who’s read it says it is a really good read.
‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley because it was the first of the horror/sci-fi genre.
4. What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?
I subscribe to Writers’ Digest and Limelight, but I think they’ve mated as their piles beside my bed are growing.
5. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
I’ve read many crappy books in my time, especially in my teens. Things like Judith Krantz, Harold Robbins and Danielle Steele. Luckily, I haven’t read the Twilight series or Fifty Shades as their reputations preceded them.
6. What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. The self-obsession irritated me too much and I dumped it after eight chapters (out of the 128 in the book).
7. What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
I recommended ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak to everyone for a while, but a lot of people hated it. Sometimes, there’s no accounting for people’s tastes.
8. What are your three favourite poems?
As a child I enjoyed ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll because it’s imaginative and silly. I recited a poem that I loved at the Launceston Eisteddfod one year. It was called ‘I remember …’ but, ironically, I can’t remember much else about it, except that it was an old man reflecting on his life. At the time, I was a young girl of twelve, but I somehow managed to win. I love old Australian poetry that evokes our landscape, like Dorothea Mackellar and Henry Lawson, and I love Gwen Harwood’s poetry, mainly because of her feminist themes, but also because she’s Tasmanian.
9. Where do you usually get your books?
From the Bookcaffé, which is around the corner from where I live, or online from Booktopia.
10. When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Do you mean ‘particular’ or ‘peculiar’? I had a few of both:
I enjoyed Enid Blyton – ‘Mr Pinkwhistle’, ‘The Secret Seven’, ‘The Famous Five’ – except I couldn’t cope with ‘The Enchanted Forest’ and ‘The Faraway Tree’. There was something about climbing a tree and entering another world that did my head in. ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ upset me for similar reasons.
I loved the ‘Silver Brumby’ series by Elyne Mitchell as I was infatuated with horses, and I enjoyed the ‘Billabong’ series by Mary Grant Bruce, but my absolute favourite of all was the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, which I read a number of times.
11. What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?
I can’t remember. It would be before children as I can barely keep my eyes open for longer than a chapter these days. Probably something like Colleen McCullough’s ‘The Thorn Birds’, which I read as a teenager and in one night.
12. Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
I faked reading the last half of Wuthering Heights at school. We had an essay due, so I borrowed the study guide from the library, and hoped it gave me enough to answer the question. I didn’t fail …
13. Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Yep. I’ve picked up books next to the register as I’m paying, birred through their pages while I wait, and then said, ‘Might as well have that, too …’
14. What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Storm Boy by Colin Thiele. I cried and cried when I read it. I’ve read it to each of my kids, and I still cry each time.
15. What book changed your life?
I think it would be a non-fiction book as they tend to have more of an impact on the way I think. I wrote in last week’s post about how the book ‘Parent Effectiveness Training’ by Dr Thomas Gordon influenced the way I parented. I’d even say it helped me through adolescence by helping me to parent myself. Other parenting books have heavily influenced me, too, like ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman and ‘The Optimistic Child’ by Martin Seligman.
Like a good Catholic girl, I read the Bible as a child and the ‘Book of Everyday Saints’. I wanted Mary to appear to me, like she did to Bernadette. I carried my Rosary beads in my pocket and bought a ‘glow-in-the-dark’ statue of her that I prayed to. Unfortunately, she never visited …
Then, I read Bertrand Russell’s ‘Why I Am Not A Christian’ and that opened up a whole new way of thinking …
16. What is your favourite passage from a book?
The final paragraph of E. B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’ – I can’t read it without my lip quivering.
‘Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.’
17. Who are your top five favourite authors?
Ann Patchett, Tim Winton, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kate Grenville, Lionel Shriver, Ian McEwan.
Oh, I named six? Well, I simply cannot cull it any further. I’ve already had to omit Julian Barnes, Amy Tan, and Sebastian Barry.
18. What book has no one heard about but should read?
I loved ‘Plainsong’ by Kent Haruf. It’s plainly and simply told, yet it is so moving.
19. What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
I love books with great characters and where you’re given the evidence and have to work things out for yourself. I hate it if I feel manipulated or led by the author as to what to think about a certain character, etc. Consequently, my favourite authors and books tend to do this …
20. What are your favourite books by a first time author?
Mary Ann Shaffer’s ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ and Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’.
21. What is your favourite classic book?
‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy. So utterly tragic and preventable and all of those things that leave you completely traumatised after reading …
22. Five other notable mentions?
‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë. Aided and abetted by the Kate Bush classic.
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë. At least it has a happy ending. (I’d also like to ask Mr Brontë how he raised such creative, intelligent daughters.)
‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald. Still resonates today — human nature will always be the same.
‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell. So clever and I love clever.
‘The Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. Poignant and tender. Perfection in my opinion.
Thanks for the tag, Laurie Steed. I don’t know any writers with blogs who haven’t already been tagged, so I’m inviting anyone and everyone who reads to have a go. It’s fun! Let me know in the comments if you’ve joined in the game.
I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on ‘An Unknown Sky’…I certainly enjoyed it. And I’m thankful that there are now three local publishers (UWA among them) who still publish short stories in book form.
There is certainly no accounting for taste, but I thought ‘The Book Thief’ was fantastic.
I read Charlotte’s Web a couple of years ago, and that ending passage is beautiful, isn’t it? Though I can still hear Debbie Reynolds singing over the top of it. Likewise, Anne Shirley With An ‘E’ (Anne of Russet Lodge???) came to me via Megan Follows and Ken Sullivan. My father thought I was off my head for getting so into it. He still occasionally laughs at me for it. I’d say Anne probably provided me with my first acquaintance with Tennyson, too.
I love the music of Les Mis. I even managed to get into a production of it, some years ago…
I am thoroughly enjoying ‘An Unknown Sky’. I’m not a good short story writer — I don’t know how to end — so I take my hat off to writers who can pull it off and do it well. It’s a shame they’re not big sellers.
And you’re my new best friend for loving ‘The Book Thief’, ‘Charlotte’s Web’, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and ‘Les Mis’! You obviously have good taste. I’m envious that you were in a production of Les Mis! Well done! Who did you play?
I was Jean Prouvaire at the Regal in 2005. But all of us who weren’t principals (probably about thirty people in total) got little cameos and ensembles throughout the show as well.
It’s my hope that short story readership will at least remain fairly steady into the future; it may even have grown a little in the last few years, at least in Australia. Certainly the number of short stories written, as opposed to read, has exploded in recent times, particularly with the proliferation of competitions and creative writing courses. I remember saying on someone else’s blog not so long ago that I thought short stories would always remain important to those who had already been captured by them. But the novella market may yet open up with the upward trend in e-publishing, because the unfavourable CAPEX/Sales Price ratio for the genre doesn’t apply in the online format as it does in print.
Given how our attention spans are decreasing in the digital age, I’m not surprised that short stories are growing in popularity. And the ‘short, short story’ and ‘flash fiction’. I’m sure it all waxes and wanes …
Yes, true enough.
All those book cover cliches that you linked to from your Facebook page were pretty depressing, huh? The gimmicks were just so lame, and yet we clearly fall for them. At least it’s sharpened up my consumer baloney detector a little bit! I think we should lobby Choice magazine to follow this up some more.
I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only person who doesn’t know how to end stories. I have a folder full of unfinished ones.
I’m laughing — I either end mine too abruptly, or too cornily where I sum up the moral of the story, or they just don’t end … and they become a novel!
I can just never think of how to wrap them up. or I think i’ve done so, and them my beta readers say, so what happens next?
Don’t they have their own imaginations? Or do they expect the author to do all the work? 😉
I know, right? Readers these days… so lazy!
They were all of the same woman! I can only assume the novels were about the same woman! Yes, very depressing …
Hi Louise, I love reading these lists, so much fun! I almost had 1984 on my list of books I’ve alway meant to read but haven’t got around to and ditched it at the last minute for Henry James. Not sure if I made the right choice! I have read 3 of the others on your list though: Gone With the Wind (loved it, but I was 20 at the time and an incurable romantic), Rebecca (gorgeously gothic) and Les Miserables, which I still have on my shelf today, even though I bought it when I first saw the musical, in 1990 so it has withstood the test of time and several book-culls. Have not read Remains of the Day so I shall have to add that one to my list of to-be-reads.
Thanks, Natasha, for slipping over, and reading and commenting. Making this list was a lot harder than I thought, but fun never-the-less! I’ve just read yours, and I want to change my lists now — you’ve reminded me of so many other books I could have mentioned! All of the books on my ‘to-be-read’ list are already on my bookshelf, so I should get started on them …
Hi Louise…loved your choices, both read and unread! its not surprising we read the same authors, as we also like each others’ writing. These days I’m telling everyone to read Elemental…and my science fiction loving hubby has just read it and been utterly moved, so that’s a very big deal in my family! Oh, yes, Wuthering Heights, Tess, Jane Eyre, ah, love them. I remember reading ‘Reviving Ophelia, saving the selves of teenage girls’ as being life changing in raising a teenager. I lent it to someone and never got it back! Also John Banville and Kate Atkinson are among my favourites. If you’ve never read Alice Munro, I would recommend her short story collection, ‘Friend of my youth,’ utterly lyrical and heartbreaking.
I will have to find a copy of ‘Reviving Ophelia’ — it sounds like my type of book. Also, you’re not the first to recommend Alice Munro — another writer I MUST read. I love lyrical and I love heartbreaking, so the two combined …
I am so enjoying this little meme! Thrilled to hear you are an Ann Patchett fan – she is one of my faves and I think very underrated. I’m an Ishiguro fan too – my favourite is The Unconsoled – i like a little bit of surrealism.
I’ve been wanting to read Kent haruf for ages and have Benediction on my pile as we speak.
Love the quote from Charlotte’s Web too – gorgeous.
I had a lot of fun with this meme, too, Annabel! Both writing it and reading other people’s favourite books and authors. It’s lovely to go back and remember favourite books …
Lynne Leonhardt, author of ‘Finding Jasper’, is joining this meme. Find her website by clicking here.
Don’t forget, this meme is open to anyone. So if you feel inclined to jot down your favourite books and authors, please do so and then post the link here in the comments.
Every time I read one of these, I feel like I’ve been remiss! I forgot so many great books!
I loved ‘horse’ books as a girl too. 🙂
I know, I know. I felt the same when I read everyone’s list, too. I could have gone on for pages …
Ooh, and I agree; Ann Patchett is underrated.
I loooove Ann Patchett! Bel Canto — the prose itself made me want to sing …
Louise, can you think of anyone who might like to be ‘tagged’ in Q & A post?
No, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been tagged already. If I think of someone, I’ll let you know …