1. What book is currently on your nightstand? Right now, there's The Heart of the Antarctic (Ernest Shackleton), the Bible, my Nook, and my tablet.
|From my 2014 Powell's trip. On the left is Albanov's In the Land of White Death, |
an excellent polar (north) memoir which I haven't reviewed but highly recommend.
Heart is turning out to be a lovely read so far - more informal and relaxed in tone than South. Maybe it's the pre-War zeitgeist, or Shackleton's personal optimism at this earlier point in his experience. His excitement over the ponies is rather sobering...considering he didn't bring them on the Endurance, I can only imagine how badly things will go on the Nimrod. (But, I digress.)
2. What was the last truly great book that you read? An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'd recommend it to nearly anyone; it was that great. The Japan he wrote about may be somewhat fanciful, but it's his poignant portrayal of humans and their relationships that is really timeless. It's also a masterful example of how social attitudes (e.g. classism, patriarchy, and political correctness) can change in just one generation.
3. If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? And what would you want to know? Well, of course, I'd like to meet T. E. Lawrence. I wouldn't have any questions planned, just hopefully have an organic conversation about books, music, maybe politics (maybe not).
4. What books might someone be surprised to find on your shelves? I have an antique, one-volume William Shakespeare: Complete Works. I don't love Shakespeare, but a relative gifted it to me and I treasure it as a beautiful edition of Hamlet and other stories I might enjoy if I tried more of them. ;)
5. How do you organize your personal library? I got a new bookshelf recently, smaller than the old one, and everything fits nicely. Top-left corner is "to read" books. Then, from left to right and on to the second shelf, my fiction is roughly sorted by era, with some non-fic history books at the very end. I used to sort by author, but there is something aesthetically delightful about Bronte next to Pushkin, Verne next to Doyle, and T. E. Lawrence next to Fitzgerald. Most of these are paperbacks, since I prefer soft to hardcover.
On the lower shelves, I have a number of other books that don't fit in the classic paperbacks category - some Mass Media, Trixie Beldens, large hardcovers (complete Sherlock Holmes !!!), notebooks, and mega textbooks that I'll probably never open again. I also keep my scraps of writing on my bookshelf, which includes most of the handwritten draft of an adventure-romance novel that needs some TLC at some point...
6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read? I've been meaning to read The Scarlet Letter for ages - I love Hawthorne, have read most of his other works, but still haven't got to this one. There's several I'm a little embarrassed never to have read (yet)...The Odyssey, 1984, Shakespeare in general... But these days I'm very selective about what I spend time on reading, so I prioritize books that sound the most promising.
7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn't? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing? The last book I abandoned to the "to-finish" list was On the Nature of Things by Lucretius. I hadn't expected to like it, though, based on reviews. The last book I expected to like was The Republic by Plato. That one got sent to the "not-finishing" list...an exaggeration, since I'll no doubt attempt a different translation. But the beginning at least wasn't the work of genius I was expecting.
8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of? I'm drawn to stories of stamina, psychology, philosophy, and human behavior - especially where these things intersect. I have a soft spot for stories about loners, people alone in their perspective or beliefs compared to the majority surrounding them. The characters that really get to me are the ones who have personal issues and are struggling to find healing or closure. I fall for books that are about people doing something extraordinary, something out of the norm, something bigger than themselves (or is it? that is always the question...). Most of my favorite books, fic and non-fic, remind me of the Christian life in some way.
I stay clear of the inverse of the above. ;)
9. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? I honestly don't know. Currently, I recommend The Metamorphosis (Kafka) and Magellania (Verne) to anyone who's interested.
10. What do you plan to read next? Probably Peter-Pan (Barrie), or The Secret Agent (Conrad), and thus finishing out the Read London challenge.