Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A-Z book survey

There's a book survey floating around the blogosphere, and it's kinda fun, so thought I'd have a play with it. I saw it on At the Edge of Ordinary and then followed links to the blogs that writer follows - quite fascinating seeing how others answer the questions.
So, here goes:

Author you've read the most books from: Tricky - I'm basing this on the fact that this author has the biggest series I've read (and re-read) - Elsie J. Oxenham. It's not that she's my favourite author of all time, she's just written more books than most authors I read!

Best sequel ever: The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. My Name is Asher Lev documents Asher's childhood and growing up as an artist and observant Jew. The sequel is a powerful story where for any number of reasons he could have walked away from Judaism, but doesn't...continuing his struggle to live as both people, and dealing with what both ask of him.

Currently reading: Noel Streatfield by Angela Bull - marvelous biography of this amazing children's author. It always makes me crave her adult fiction, none of which I've ever been able to find, let alone read!

Drink of choice while reading: Tea, usually. Wine, occasionally if it's late in the day!

E-reader or physical book: Book, always. Have never read a digital version of a book and don't intend to.

Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school: Gilbert Blythe from L.M. Montgomery's Anne books! The gorgeous Gilbert - who won Anne in the end...

Glad you gave this book a chance: This is tricky. Probably April Fool's Day by Bryce Courtenay. I don't like his books, generally. I admired his success, but I didn't enjoy what felt to me like books written to a formula. April Fool's Day is the book he promised his son Damon, who died of medically acquired AIDS, he would write. It's a very different beast to all his other books in its utter raw honesty. I kept this one - I don't own any of his others.

Hidden gem book: The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden. The story of a half gypsy child left orphaned after the death of her grandmother, and her subsequent adoption by a single woman in a small English village. This is one of Godden's books that sits across the adult/children's literature divide. An exquisite little gem that I first came across in condensed form in a Readers Digest anthology, and much later acquired in its full length version.

Important moment in your reading life: Reading Anne Frank's diary, aged 8, and realising that not all books were stories - some of them were real people!

Just finished: A Vicarage Family and Beyond the Vicarage by Noel Streatfield - the first and third of her ficionalised autobiographical trilogy. The second is called Away from the Vicarage and I'm still hunting a copy. Interesting to be going on with Angela Bull's actual biography and making the comparisons of real events and those fictionalised for this series.

Kinds of books you won't read: Vampires! DB loves the Anne Rice books, and gave me one to read, telling me how awesome it was. I did try, truly I did. But, it left me cold - and I couldn't even finish it! Graphic novels don't do it for me either.

Longest book you've read: Shogun by James Clavell, I think... I'm not really one for huge door stoppers. I'd rather read a long series than one humungous book - don't know why that is!

Major book hangover because of: A book hangover - for those who don't know - is finishing a book but not being able to get out of the world it created for you....from a comment on another blog where the blogger asked what on earth a book hangover was - which was also my question. Maybe I'm permanently in a state of book hangover! I certainly seem to have characters from books hanging around for ages after I've finished a book. Perhaps my biggest one was when I was reading for an undergraduate paper about Dora Carrington - partner of Lytton Strachey, who was one of the Bloomsbury group. I read biogs of ALL the Bloomsburys, and I had them all hovering for nearly a semester!

How many bookcases do you own: Currently, four. Bought when I moved in with DB after selling off my motley collection of pine bookcases acquired over many years as the collection grew. However, I'm looking at purchasing maybe three more...possible enable me to get the rest of my books out of storage now we have room for more!!

One book you have read multiple times: Oh Lordy....ALL my books!! The ones I re-read the most... everything I own by Chaim Potok, L.M. Montgomery, Elsie J. Oxenham, Rumer Godden, John Wyndham, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer - and that's only the tip of the iceberg!

Preferred place to read: Curled up someplace quiet and comfortable. In our old apartment, that was my nest of pillows on the couch. Here, I've not yet worked out the best spot. I have a room of my own - perhaps when I have that properly set up, that will be the place...

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feel from a book you read: This is from The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, and comes towards the end when David is asked by Sophie if he loves Rosalind. There is a specific context in the novel, but beyond that, this quote embodies everything about love for a partner for me:
A word again... When the minds have learnt to mingle, when no thought is wholly one's own, and each has taken too much of the other ever to be entirely himself alone; when one has reached the beginning of seeing with a single eye, loving with a single heart. enjoying with a single joy; when there can be moments of identity and nothing is separate save bodies that long for one another... When there is that, where is the word? There is only the inadequacy of the word that exists.
Reading regret:  That a lifetime won't be long enough to read everything I want to read!

Series you started and need to finish (all books are out in the series): The Abbey Books by Elsie J. Oxenham. I have lots of them, but all the ones I don't have are long out of print and incredibly rare. Both the Girls Gone By publishers and the British Abbey Girls Society have rights to re-publish many of the scarce titles, but it will be a long time before they get them all out.

Three of your all-time favourite books: Oy...only three?! The Asher Lev books (yes, I know, that's two, but you can't read one without the other so I'm counting them as one!), The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, and....ooooh....A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Greene. That leaves SO many out...seriously!!

Unapologetic fangirl for: 'Fangirl' ACK!! Horrible term... Buuuut - lots of vintage children's literature - favourite authors: Elsie J. Oxenham, Dorita Fairlie Bruce, L.M. Montgomery, Hesba Brinsmead, Ruth M. Arthur, Honor Arundel, K.M. Peyton, and oodles more (the bookshelves are downstairs, and I'd have to go down to make a list...).

Very excited about this release more than all others: The second in Maggie Anton's new trilogy, Rav Hisda's Daughter. Her Rashi's Daughters trilogy is magnificent, and the Rav Hisda's Daughter trilogy, based on having read the first of them, looks likely to be as good. Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Worst bookish habit: Buying books and more books... I'm hopeless with libraries - I borrow, and then forget to take them back, so I get fined... So, I buy them instead. I'm getting WAY more selective now, so I have a much smaller pile that will go on to their second homes via second hand bookstores!

Your latest book purchase: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (interesting interview with the author in the weekend before last's papers that got me intrigued) and The Full Ridiculous by Mark Lamprell (recommended by a friend the same weekend), both purchased this Monday.

ZZZ-snatcher book (the last book that kept you up WAY late):'s been a while since I did this. Can't remember. I used to do this all the time when I lived alone. I don't do it so much these days because I'm exhausted by the end of the day. More what happens is that I'm up in the wee smalls due to pain, and I'm reading at 3 or 4 in the morning having been asleep for a while.

Well, THAT was fun. One thing it didn't ask was HOW you read - I tend to go on a bit of jag reading everything I have of a single author until I've got through all of them. That's one of my re-reading patterns. My purchasing patterns are a bit more eclectic. Anything here match up with your reading habits? Let me know in a comment!


  1. Ooooohhhh! I wanna make a post like this one! Looks really fun! (And I'm already imagining the minutes I would be spending just thinking of answers to some of the questions, like the R and S!

    1. I saw your post before I found this comment - it IS fun to do, nu?