30-Day-Book-Meme in One Day

I found this little meme from Nishita’s blog.

Day 01 – The best book you read last year

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. Absolutely broke my heart.

Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I re-read this once around every three years. It’s a comfort read.
Day 03 – Your favourite series

I would have to say Harry Potter! I did love it so much and despite what critics may say, I thought J. K. Rowling wrote a rather spectacular series with memorable characters and a vivid world.

Day 04 – Favourite book of your favourite series

Prisoner of Azkaban – book 3. Hello Sirius Black!

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

Tintin! My favourite is Tintin in Tibet.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad

I don’t think any book makes me sad in its entirely although I did wallow on the endings for The Mill on the Floss and Great Expectations. Or any book by Hardy too, I suppose.

Day 07 – Most underrated book

I’m going to cheat on this question. I’m going to say The Age of Reason by Sartre – not because the book is underrated but because, I think, its readability or accessibility is underrated. I found it a really enjoyable read. Forget about the intimidation of the author and its philosophical significance and just enjoy the story.

Day 08 – Most overrated book

I’m afraid I still don’t get the obsession for The Great Gatsby despite reading it three times since high school. Perhaps one last shot in the future?

Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. I’m not a crime fiction fan and I’m aware that this book was the talk of the town a few years ago so I steered clear. I bought a copy at a library sale (for 2o cents!) the day before I left for my holiday and I simply couldn’t put it down. I wanted to stay in my room while in Vienna so I could just finish it. What an amazing and creepy story. If you find  an old library copy of this in Prague, that was probably mine.

Day 10 – Favourite classic book

Jane Eyre but I love most classics.

Day 11 – A book you hated

I don’t think I’ve ever hated a book but I wasn’t a huge fan of The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham.

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore

I recently tried reading the ‘reunion’ book Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal. I grew up on these as a child and teenager and was crazy about them. I haven’t re-read any of the old titles since but the latest book was just horrendous. I couldn’t get past the first five pages because it was just so cringe-worthy and cliched.

Day 13 – Your favourite writer

Classics – the Bronte sisters. Modern – Jasper Fforde

Day 14 – Favourite book of your favorite writer

The Eyre Affair. Ah, so uber-creative. And the word play!

Day 15 – Favourite male character

I thought nobody could top Fitzwilliam Darcy but Frederick Wentworth managed to knock my socks off.
Day 16 – Favourite female character

Thursday Next! Tough, gritty, resilient, resourceful. And she knows her books.

Day 17 – Favourite quote(s) from your favourite book(s)

“He was filled with regret. In his life, nothing had ever had a tomorrow. He had admired afar all beautiful and passionate love-affairs; but a great love was like ambition, it would have been possible only in a world in which things were important, in which the words one spoke, and the things one did, left their mark; and Gerbert felt as if he were being cooped up in a waiting-room whose exit no future would ever open for him.” – p. 271. She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir.


I go, I go away, I walk, I wander, and I wander to no purpose: this is the University vacation, everywhere I go I bear my shell with me, I remain at home in my room, among my books, I do not approach an inch nearer to Marrakesh or Timbuctoo. Even if I took a train, a boat, or an autocar, if I went to Morocco for my holiday, if I suddenly arrived at Marrakesh, I should be always in my room, at home. And if I walked in the squares and in the souks, if I gripped an Arab’s shoulder, to feel Marrakesh in his person, well! – that Arab would be at Marrakesh, and not I: I should still be seated in my room, placid and meditative as is my chosen life, two thousand miles away from the Moroccan and his burnous. In my room. For ever. – p. 186. The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you

Perhaps controversially, Emma by Jane Austen really disappointed me. I found it irritating and not as funny as I’d thought I’ll find it and I just didn’t warm to Emma.

Day 19 – Favourite book turned into a movie

Bridget Jones’ Diary. 🙂

Day 20 – Favourite romance book

I don’t read romances but the most romantic book I’ve read would be Persuasion.

Day 21 – Favourite book from your childhood

Matilda by Roald Dahl. Enough said. And The Magic Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton.

Day 22 – Favourite book you own

All my books are precious to me so it’s like choosing your favourite child!

Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

Where do I begin *eyes off toppling TBRs*? Right now, it is Our Mutual Friend by Dickens and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy.

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read

The Child’s Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper. Loved this strange, eerie book.

Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most

Would it be disturbing if I said Esther Greenwood? At least I’m not answering with Patrick Bateman!

Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something

Dark Victory by David Marr. It’s a detailed investigation on the Tampa asylum seekers crisis back in 2001. It completely opened my eyes to the situation and it’s saddens and infuriates me that ten years later, asylum seekers are still used as political fodder.

Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending

I’m not really sure. Most of the books I read plod gently and aren’t really into shocking readings. I suppose the last twisting-and-turning book I read is Before I Go to Sleep by by S. J. Watson.

Day 28 – Favourite title(s)

What I Loved

Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked

I can’t really say but I did really like American Psycho. What does that say about me?

Day 30 – Your favourite book of all time

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. “I married him, dear Reader”.

One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four … and Five…

This fun meme is floating around blogosphere lately having originated from Stuck in a Book so I thought I’d give it a go too.

1 – The book I’m currently reading:

I’m halfway through One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde. I’m in love with this series and it’s one of few, if any, fantasy books I read. The little literary in-jokes, the word play, satire and sheer imagination of Jasper Fforde never fails to amuse me. Here’s one passage that illustrates why I snorted out loud on the train:

[Lady Shalott] wasn’t the only one to be physically morphed by Reader Expectation. Miss Havisham was now elderly whether she liked it or not, and Sherlock Holmes wore a deerstalker and smoked a ridiculously large pipe. The problem wasn’t just confined to the classics. Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he’d have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe. – p. 75

And one of my favourite passages so far:

Unlike Acheron, who differed wildly from his in-book persona, Bertha really was bonkers. She had come to us after a gruelling forty-six-year stint as Anne Catherick in The Woman in White, and was now quite beyond any form of rehabilitation. In a cruel and ironic twist, Grace Poole kept our version of Bertha Rochester locked up securely in the attic. It was safer for everyone that way. – p. 110

2 – The last book I finished:

Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally. This is the book that the movie was based on. I’d had it on my shelves for quite a few years but I couldn’t work myself up to read it. My recent visit to Auschwitz I and II made me really want to read this. It is a fascinating read about a spectacular man in one of our worst moments in history.

3 – The next book I want to read:

I have plenty I want to read next! At the moment, I’m tossing up between Prozac Nation, a Hardy or following the WWII theme, Stasiland by Anna Funder which has also been sitting patiently on my shelves.

4 – The last book I bought:

This will be detailed in an upcoming post. 🙂 Borders is closing down and I’ve just gone a little cuckoo over their sales. I’m also heading off to Book Town again this year – this Saturday in fact. Hurrah!

5 – The last book I was given:

Sadly, like many other book lovers, I’m rarely given books. The last book I received from Another Cookie Crumbles who gifted me a lovely Persephone, Farewell Leicester Square, when I met her in London. 🙂

Booking Through Thursday

I haven’t done one of BTTs in awhile but I realised that Deb has posted my question that I asked earlier in the year! So I guess it can only be fitting that I join in. 🙂

“I couldn’t sleep a wink, so I just read and read, day and night … it was there I began to divide books into day books and night books,” she went on. “Really, there are books meant for daytime reading and books that can be read only at night.”
– ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera, p. 103.

Do you divide your books into day and night reads? How do you decide?

To a degree, I do. I don’t consciously divide my books but I find that my brain is more perceptive to some books during different times of the day as I discovered during uni. Lighter books that don’t need too much concentration are read during the day. The more difficult books, including non-fiction and theories, are read during the night. There’s really no point in trying to read and digest them during the day because I’d just need to re-read everything at night. I find I like reading classics most during the night.

This passage really struck me because I have sleep issues and am a semi-insomniac. I’m generally nocturnal and do everything better at night. It also makes me feel better and more energetic than during the day and in sunlight (perhaps I’m secretly a vampire. I do sparkle some times). All my best uni work, writing and research was done at 3am. 12am to around 4.30am is/was my peak and most productive period. Of course, since I started working, I can’t do that anymore but I always find myself up at 3.30ish on my days off even without meaning to.

In Place of Something Bookish…

To try and cover up my lackluster blogging efforts, I’ve completed a meme I found on My Porch’s blog and which i enjoyed reading. I’ve been sick these last few weeks due to a bad cold (if I was a man, I’d say Flu ;-)) that seems to be floating around work and being curled up in bed with tea and Agatha Christie were the only things I could handle. 🙂

1. Favorite childhood book?
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

2. What are you reading right now?
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Heaps of things but mostly DVDs and magazines. Bookwise, I have the two ‘Room’ books shortlisted for the Booker.

4. Bad book habit?
Buying far too many and perhaps being a bit too precious about them.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
I belong to two libraries and the lists are very long!

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No, and I didn’t think about getting one until I saw how the iBook looked on the iPad which made me think ‘hmmm’. The display looked very good but it’s not something I’ll be getting anytime soon. I would rather buy more books or a lovely new bookshelf.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One but I’m greedy and impatient.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not much at all. I mainly use my blog to try to keep my writing skills from disappearing after university finished and to also try to promote underrated or favourite books. I suppose one thing that has changed is that I make more of an effort to read Australian literature and little known books so I can blog about and promote them.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
I don’t have a least favourite book but I was slightly disappointed with The Brontes Goes to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. I guess I was expecting much more after all the sparkle on the blogosphere.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
I really lucked out this year and enjoyed all the books I’ve read. The standout would be Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy which was just heartbreaking and The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett which was just hilarious and very geeky.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Almost all the time unless I’m unwell which has been the case lately.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Cozy mysteries! Agatha Christie, particularly Miss Marple, and Agatha Raisin. Or Jane Eyre.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Usually, unless it’s really noisy or the driver is particularly terrible.

14. Favorite place to read?
Bed, bed, bed.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I only lend to close friends and those that I know will take care of books.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Very rarely…

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No, but I mark the passages I’m smitten with softly with a pencil.

18. Not even with text books?
I scribbled all over my text books. With PEN.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. I would love to be able to read in a different language though. I had a tutor who once told us that the best way to learn a language is to grab a classic and a good dictionary. That was the way she apparently learned French with Candide.

20. What makes you love a book?
A good story that makes me think without me realising, a story that takes me away and when I finish leaves me that little bit breathless.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
A good read that I know the person would love or enjoy.

22. Favorite genre?
Literature and Classics.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Non-fiction. There are so many sociological texts I want to read but never get around to. Foucault is languishing on my shelves. Also, short stories.

24. Favorite biography?
I don’t think I’ve ever read a biography. Oh, yes I have! I just recently finished Beautiful For Ever by Helen Rappaport and it was great fun. Review to come soon! I was writing it when I got sick.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No. This is where I believe it’s better to be practical but I think I have used fiction to help me through things.

26. Favorite cookbook?
None. I don’t cook. I occasionally flick through cooking magazines but not cookbooks. I tend to make things combust.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre; The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot and, to an extent, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. I also can’t seem to count!

28. Favorite reading snack?
None. It distracts me and I’m usually in bed. I do like tea/hot chocolate/coffee though.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
See question 9!

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t think I agree but they provide a new perspective.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I don’t think I’ve ever given a really a bad or negative review. I’ve never hated or disliked a book that much but all the books I’ve read are my own pickings.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French and German.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Nausea by Sartre. I was intimidated starting off. Also, Madness and Civilization by Foucault.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Anything by Proust, Foucault, James Joyce. I’m still a Proust virgin though.

35. Favorite Poet?
Christina Rossetti.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Around 10. Ok, I’m lying. Around 20.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
About 50%! I like hoarding books.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Jane Eyre. And also dear Miss Marple.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Dear devious Becky Sharp. And Lydia Gwilt in Armadale by Wilkie Collins.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Usually more contemporary books or mystery/crime.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I have absolutely no idea! Perhaps from birth to the time I learned to read?

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. It took too long for me to get into it and I grew impatient.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Loud annoying noises and inane conversations.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

I don’t really like adaptations but I do love the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Breakfast at Tiffany’s despite Mickey Rooney’s unfortunate attempt at playing a Japanese man.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The Lovely Bones. I had such a high hopes. There was always something just missing.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Never more than $100 and that has never happened!

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I rarely skim. My eyes always catch at some significant word.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If I’m utterly bored by it and it feels like a chore.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I have good intentions. I just need the room.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Definitely keep. I need to cull some books though but I’ve been putting it off.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
No, why would I? I’m a free woman!

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Plot wise, The Mill on the Floss. I was more sad and shocked than angry.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Steig Larsson.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Brontes Went to Woolworths

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
The Agathas, Tintin and Enid Blyton.

The Most Memorable Books in My Life (so far)

I’ve pinched this meme from Kimberly and was inspired to write my own post. I’m still young (quite) and hopefully still have long reading years ahead for me. I wonder at times if there should be an age limit for these sort of things. Would writing up a list like this be something akin to a 17 year-old celebrity writing her autobiography? Nonetheless, these are the ten (only an arbitary number or I could go on and on) books that have resonated with me so far. In no particular order:

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I adore this book. It’s so romantic, fierce, Gothic, dark, strong, melodramatic and sinister. I could go on with the adjectives. There are so many layers in the story. The crux of it, though, is the one that’s most inspirational which is, of course, the story and struggle of Jane Eyre. Plain, little, alone and poor, Jane makes her own way through the heavily patriarchal world and chooses what feels right for her. I think I have around four various copies of this book scattered around.
  2. Tintin by Herge. I grew up with these books and these definitely don’t read like comics. The expressive and wonderful illustrations along with the stories really captured my attention. The stories taught you about morals and what was wrong and right. They also took you to the most interesting places around the world from the Congo, Scotland and China. I still re-read them occasionally and they’re a treasured part of my collection.
  3. Matilda by Roald Dahl. The original and most inspiring bibliophile! I think it was reading this book that first made me realise how much I indeed did love books. The lovely illustrations by Quentin Blake also added its own enchantment.  Awhile ago, I copied down a list of books that Matilda had read. I have only read six out of the fourteen!
  4. The Tomorrow series by John Marsden. This was a significant read for me during my teenage years. It’s a very quintessential Australian series, largely set in the country but it also explored important social and political issues. It’s about a group of teenagers who goes camping for a long weekend and come home to realise that the country has been invaded by a foreign nation. The foreigners are never identified in the book. I remember the books being quite filled with action, with the teens initiating their own impressive guerrilla attacks against the invaders,  but it also had the typical teen issues like sex, relationships and friendship. I’d always thought if we were ever invaded, I’d want these books with me. Somewhat bizarrely, it also introduced me to Pride and Prejudice.
  5. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. This book was assigned reading for a second-year Anthropology subject and it truly opened my eyes and mind. Fadiman writes about an unusual case where they have been misinterpretations between both parties. There is the family who are Hmong refugees and who have only recently settled in America. Anybody familiar with Hmong traditions know that they differ vastly from the Western idea of ‘normality’ and ‘rationality’. The youngest Hmong child suffers from a severe form of epilepsy and because of the massive cultural barrier between the parents and the American doctors, and the belief of what causes epilepsy, there is a large division and mistrust between both parties which inevitably harms the child. This book really taught me to always question the concept of culture and it really broadened my mind. I didn’t even know who the Hmong people were until I read this.
  6. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Ah, my first Sensation read and it was marvelous and what fun! Wilkie Collins is particularly memorable because not only are you guaranteed a ripping read but his insight into legal loopholes and issues women face is fascinating too. It is nice to know that Collins can be considered an advocate for women’s rights especially in what was such a patriarchal society.
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This was a book that surprised me by how much I really did enjoy reading it. It was suspenseful, gripping story with memorable and excellent characters – Pip, Estella and of course, Miss Havisham – a woman wholly consumed by her failed nuptials and who has stayed in a her wedding dress ever since. It’s one of my favourite Dickens.
  8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which books begin to burn. The whole concept of the perceived dangers of a book, historically and presently, was foreign to me until I read this slim but powerful book, a cautionary tale of how oppression and narrow mindedness can breed. I’m still amazed at how threatened a society can feel by the mere presence of a book.
  9. The Outsider by Albert Camus. I read this when I was seventeen and I loved it immensely. I could, perhaps frighteningly, identify with Meursault and his perspective on life and freewill. While most in class was ready to cast Meursault as a villain, I viewed him as a sort of hero who had the courage to live his life without bowing to social conformity.
  10. The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre. If I had to pick a religion or faith, I think I would pick existentialism. Sartre really made me rethink the idea of freedom and, really, in the end we may think we are free but we are not. There are too many attachments in life holding us down that our concept of freedom have been misconstrued. I love books that make me think like this!

I wonder if this list will change dramatically if I do it again in a few years time. What books have been most memorable in your life?

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Booking Through Thursday

This week’s BTT:

In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?

More importantly, have you read them?

How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?

This sounds pretty bad but I can’t really recall ever being taught grammar. I’m sure I was taught in primary school but it wasn’t exactly emphasised. Apparently, as I discovered not so long ago, that my generation was the victim of a new style of teaching that kind of left grammar out of the curriculum. So – grammar isn’t my strong point which is pretty embarrassing especially since I did my honours in English and plan to do a doctorate in English in the near future.

I should do one of those little day courses that goes over the grammar but it seems that the more I’m told about it, the more confusing it becomes and the worse my grammar gets! I skimmed through Lynne Truss’ Eat, Shoots and Leaves but that was more about punctuation. I’m pretty lax towards grammar but I do get a laugh when somebody writes ‘grammer’ and not ‘grammar’.

Literary Crush

Elena, at With Extra Pulp, has started up a new meme which debuted yesterday (Sunday). I’ve decided to join in a day late but it’s better late than never, right?

The rules are pretty simple: Must be a character that appears in a book, comic or graphic novel (because, let’s face it, superheroes are hawt).

One of my long lasting literary crushes has to be Laurie from Little Women. I was devastated, still am actually, when Jo continued to reject Laurie and he ended up marrying Amy. Despite everything turning out well for both Jo and Laurie and their respective partners, you can’t deny the chemistry that was there oozing through the pages and across endless times and oceans. Maybe a slight exaggeration there but you get the idea. 🙂

Here’s a clip of Laurie proposing to Jo with Winona Ryder as Jo and a very young and delicious Christian Bale as Laurie.

“We’d kill each other!”

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s BTT:

The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now… So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch … what kind of reading do you want to do?

Well, it’s actually in the middle of summer right now where I am but when it is winter (even though our winters are quite mild), I like nothing more than to tackle the thick and classics tomes  -Dickens and the russians are particularly good. I also like cozy mysteries like Agatha Christie. She’s a total comfort read for me while snuggled under my blankets and hearing the rain outside.

Musing Monday

This week’s MM.

When is it inappropriate to read in front of others? Is it ever appropriate?

To be honest, this is something I’d never even thought of. I usually read whenever I’m waiting for something or somebody or when I’m on transport. If there’s too much noise, I stick in my iPod. I used to be able to block out other sounds when reading but I’m more easily distracted these days. Obviously, if I’m waiting or travelling on transport with a friend, I don’t read since I have somebody to amuse me. 🙂 I also used to do a lot of reading in the lounge room while the rest of the family watched T.V. Of course, I can’t do that anymore since the noise distracts me but that habit really made me feel more like Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

I don’t really think there’s a time when it’s inappropriate to read unless you pull out a book in the middle of a conversation with a friend! I remember one time, a long, long time ago when I was…15, a friend remarked what a large book I was carrying around with me at the shopping centre and I slipped out it was in case I got bored. Ooops! :-p I’d meant while I was waiting for the bus.

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s BTT.

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

I don’t actually find blurbs, either on the back cover or on inside flaps, useful and rarely place a lot of emphasis on them but I do find myself re-reading it while progressing through the book. I find that many blurbs are really poorly written but it is a difficult job. My biggest pet peeve is when there’s no blurb at all and only quotes of people or critics (many of whom I know nothing nor care about) praising the book to high heavens. Now really – does that really help ordinary customers picking out books?