Sunday, 20 October 2013

A-Z bookish survey

As soon as I read Nupur's A-Z bookish survey, I wanted to do it myself.  So here it is.  Written over a few weeks, it was lots of fun to do.

It also made me feel quite nostalgic for books I had read.  My life has been surrounded by books from when I was a child and my great uncle would send us boxes of books for Christmas; through school when I was the child in the corner curled up with a book that I would take to bed and read in the doorway in the light from the hall, through my university days where I studied literature; during my travels when I would never go anywhere without a book for company; right up to today when life doesn't allow much time for reading but I can't end the day without reading at least a few pages of a book.

After doing the survey, I took photos of some of my bookshelves and finding even more books I had forgotten and wished I had included.  I was strong and let it lie.  I mostly focused on fiction.  If you want to see more of my books you can read a bit about my cookbook shelves and my children's books.

Book Affair - one of my former favourite bookstores in Carlton - RIP
Author you’ve read the most books from: Enid Blyton, K M Peyton, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith.  I am sure there are more but I draw blank.

Best Sequel Ever: The Edge of the Cloud by K M PeytonThis is the one that comes to mind as a sequel that was better than the first book.  It is the second book in the Flambards trilogy.  The other books in the trilogy focus on riding the horses to the hounds.  I loved this one because it focuses on the second son, Will who is in love with airplanes in the early Twentieth Century.  He is a great character and the novel gives great insight into the challenges and courage of aviation history just before World War I.

Currently Reading: Lunch in Paris: a love story with recipes by Elizabeth Bard I have an Alexander McCall Smith novel on the back burner because the Lunch in Paris book is from the library and I want to make sure I read it before the due date.  I will then not want to return it because there are lots of recipes in the book I really want to make.

Drink of Choice While Reading: Herbal tea

E-reader or Physical Book? Physical

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: Patrick Pennington from K M Peyton's Pennington trilogy.  I absolutely loved K M Peyton's books as a teenager.  Favourite character of all was moody talented concert pianist Patrick Pennington.  (Oops the question says 'actually'.  Not sure.  I think I will stick to the fantasy!)

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: Women on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.  I wouldn't have read it but I agreed to swap favourite books with a friend while at university and I loved it.  It is the sort of science fiction I often avoid but find fascinating when I read it.  This book creates a fascinating utopian future that a woman in current day is visiting.

Hidden Gem Book: Sea Room by Adam Nicolson.  I picked it up off Readings bargain table.  It is an amazing book about the author's reflections on an island he has inherited off the coast of Scotland.  It gives great insight into Scottish history and as a bonus was written by the grandson of Vita Sackville-West.

Important Moment in your Reading Life: A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.  I read it in the first year of my arts degree and it made a huge impression on me.  Not just because it made me think about women's place in the literary canon, but also because it was non-fiction written in such an entertaining and creative way.  

Just Finished: It has been a few weeks since I finished a book.  Since then I have started three but not finished any.  I think the last one I finished was The Convent by Maureen McCarthy.  It is about three generations of women involved with the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne.  It took me a while before I really fell in love with the book.  Once it had its claws in me, I loved it.  By the way, this is well travelled book.  I took it overseas to read last year and left it with my sister in Ireland who returned it via my mother when she visited in June.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: Mills and Boon - though I did once by accident.  I was 16 and borrowed a book from the school library (it was a Catholic girl's school).  It was a nice story about a gentleman and the nanny of his children.  You might imagine how shocked I was at the end when there was suddenly a passionate romance between the two.  I also was given a ghost story to read by E recently and had to stop reading it because it was too scary.

Longest Book You’ve Read: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  It took me about 3 months.  If I remember rightly I wanted to read it before I saw the musical.  I booked my tickets about a year before I saw it, together in a double deal with tickets to Phantom of the Opera.  The story of Les Mis is an amazing tale of redemption.  My favourite scene is when the bishop gives Valjean the candlesticks.  If only more of us could be as generous and non-judgemental as the bishop, we might live in a kinder, happier world.

Major book hangover because of: Science fiction/fantasy books tend to leave me reeling when returning to the real world.  Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and The Lord of the Rings are examples of such books.

Number of Bookcases You Own: Six.  One that I have had since I was a teenager.  Two large bookcases that we had made when we first got to Melbourne.  One small case that we bought to fill a space.  One large Ikea bookcase that we bought last year for Sylvia's books - it also houses some of our books, lots of craft stuff and some blogging props. One bookcase is built into our loungeroom wall.  We still struggle for space for our books and have stacks around the house.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.  I first read it at university when I was studying it.  Since then I read it every now and again.  It is just so beautiful and I am fascinated by the outside and loner, aunt, Sylvie.  I love how her housekeeping consists of stacking up old newspapers.  (Hmmm maybe this is where I learnt to keep house!)  Strangely enough, it took me some time after naming my own little girl to make the connection with this book.

A paper bag from a local bookstore.
Preferred Place To Read: In bed

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: This is a hard one.  I don't remember quotes.  I once had a book where I wrote such things but it is lost.  So I looked online and found one that seemed right “Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all” from His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman,

Reading Regret: As a child I refused to read The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.  The cover gave me nightmares.  I recently saw the film of the book and it was a really interesting story.

Series You Started And Need To Finish:  The 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall, if only to read a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Scones.  I am halfway through the second book of this series.  I have read quite a lot of his Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries and would also like to finish that.  I have too many crime series (such as Ian Rankin, PD James, Stephen Booth) that I have started and lose track of which ones I have read.) 

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: Carpentaria by Alexis Wright, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Unapologetic Fangirl For: Harry Potter.  If reading the whole series counts as being a fan girl.  I haven't dressed up as Hermoine or queue up all night for latest releases.  I haven't read any of the books 20 times like my niece has.  I did lie in bed most of the day once reading a Harry Potter book.

Very Excited For This Release: The Naughtiest Reindeer by my very talented friend, Nicki Greenberg.  (Her Monkey Red, Monkey Blue was one of Sylvia's favourite books but now she thinks she is too old for such books!)

Worst Bookish Habit: I am cheating here and giving you E's worst bookish habit - though it does impact on my bookshelves.  He stacks books on the edges of shelves when he can't find a space for them in the shelves.  Now most of my shelves have books stacked so badly that I can't find the books behind them!  (To be fair, he would probably say I am no good at using proper bookmarks.  I just use whatever piece of paper is about rather than one of his nice bookmarks.)

X Marks The Spot: Anne Sexton: a biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook.  I love reading about writers almost as much as reading their writing.  Sometimes more.

Your latest book purchase: We went to a bookstore lately in search of a better version of the Sleeping Beauty.  I foolishly agreed to buy a Disney version of the story and every time I read it, it upsets me that Princess Aurora is taken away from her parents for the first 16 years of her life and they don't seem to care.  Children being taken from their parents is wrong and sad and not to be taken lightly.  That book has been binned.  I wont even give it away.  So we bought The Orchard Book of Grimms Fairy Tales and Sylvia chose a book by Maurice Sendak called Outside Over There.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  Such beautiful writing, such fascinating characters, such depth of love and so so so sad.

I am sending this meme to a few bloggers I think might enjoy it (if they can find the time).

Bridie
Choclette
Elizabeth
Emma 
Hannah
Janet 
Kari
Shaheen
Veganopoulous 
Wendy

And, please, if you enjoy this sort of thing, join in and leave the url of your post in the comments.

29 comments:

  1. Oooh fantastic, thank you! I will have a closer read and reply to this once I'm back from my little jaunt to the mainland. As it is now I should switch my laptop off and get ready for a flight! :D

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth - hope you had a good trip and enjoy reading

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  2. This was such a fun read Johanna! Quite a few parallels with me I think- The Enid Blyton books have a very special place in my heart as I read every one I could get my hands on as a child; Alexander McCall Smith, especially the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, reminds me of family beach holidays when we'd circulate them amongst ourselves; I found Virginia Woolf's writing very thought-provoking (I'd like to read more of her work); and of course I'm a fan of Harry Potter! One of my favourite weekend activities is browsing bookshops or the library, I was doing so yesterday evening in fact :)
    I'd be interested to check out Housekeeping, thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. Thanks Emma - we read heaps of enid blyton books as kids and they are so much fun to read to Sylvia as an adult. I love browsing bookshops too - we tend to do so on holidays but I always want to buy half the store. Hope you enjoy Housekeeping

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  3. What fun, Johanna, I really enjoyed reading your answers to the survey! And ended up putting quite a few of the books you mentioned on my to-read list.

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    1. Thanks Nupur - hope you enjoy my recommendations

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  4. Your reading habits sound very similar to mine. Nothing like a good book curled up in bed and I adored Enid Blyton growing up.
    I've not heard of Lunch in Paris, will have to look it up.
    I love Ken Follett, they just draw you in

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    1. Thanks Katie - curled up in bed is one of my luxuries - haven't read ken follett - but will look out for his books - and am finding Lunch in Paris very moreish

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  5. Oh Johanna, thank you!! This was such fun to read and I will have a wonderful time completing it myself. I have read Lunch in Paris and thought it wonderful, and am half way through Alexander McCall Smith's Scottish series myself (both of them; he is so prolific and having two Scottish series going at once does get confusing!). And The Dark is Rising was also ignored by me as a child and I haven't ever got to it as an adult, despite my brother loving it when we were young and Mr Bite telling me I should read it now :-)

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    1. Thanks Kari - I thought it would be up your alley as I love hearing about your recent reads on your blog - I really enjoy Alexander McCall Smith and E loves the 44 Scotland Street series which he thinks are just so Edinburgh. As for the Dark is Rising - maybe I will read it one day if only to recommend it to Sylvia when she is older

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  6. Great read! Thanks for nominating me, I have a bad memory for quotes from books. I can remember stupid movie lines but books are difficult :)

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    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - I have trouble remembering something someone said during the day so trying to remember quotes from a novel I read years ago is tough

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  7. Really enjoyed your answers Joanna, I've seen lots of book bloggers get involved with the A-Z survey but it's lovely to see others (whose reading habits I know less about!) take part. :)

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    1. Thanks Alex - I sometimes think it would be great to write up books I read but I get more focused on food in my writing - try and slip in the occasional comment on a book but enjoyed writing a bit more about books in this survey - and I do love foodie events that focus on books too.

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  8. Wow, you are a voracious bookworm! I haven't read fiction in the longest time, actually, although of all your books, I have read The Time Traveller's Wife. One of my latest (as in last year) reads was The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. A collection of short essays about Chinese food/culture and America. A very good read. Thanks for the tag, Johanna.

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    1. Thanks Janet - I love books that manage to combine food and culture - The Fortune Cookie Chronicles sounds like a great read and if you don't read often am really glad you read the Time Traveller's Wife

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  9. Oh great post Johanna, really enjoyed reading this. Not surprisingly, we have quite a few books in common. I found Marge Piercy a few years ago and read everything I could find, I thought she was wonderful. Would love to do this, it's right up my street and although it may take me rather a long time, I am determined to do so.

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    1. Thanks Choclette - I have read quite a few marge piercy books and love her style - have you read her memoir - sleeping with cats - really interesting - thought you might enjoy it so hope you might find the time

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  10. hahaha that is a realllllllllllllllllly cool survey!

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  11. Great list Johanna. My publisher actually sent me Lunch in Paris when it came to writing my book as she thought that I'd like the writer's style :)

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I can see why they might have sent you that book (I had never heard of it but just happened to find it in the library and was quite a bit of the way through before I discovered it was a large print copy - I did notice the print was large but thought it was just the book)

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  12. I still love physical books over online.

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  13. Loved reading (ha!) this! It's the kind of meme I would enjoy doing but I fear I don't have the time at present — as you ma have noticed from the fact that my blogging has slowed to only about twice a week at present! Perhaps one day :)

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    1. Thanks Hannah - it took me a little white until I did it - maybe its moment will come for you but I understand that you can't always find time for such stuff - glad you enjoyed reading it

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  14. It was so exciting to see some of my favorites in here - Virginia Woolf, Harper Lee, Harry Potter. :)

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I was actually glad, after mentioning Virginia Woolf, to notice quite a few female authors among my favourites - you too :-)

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  15. A little late...but I did it too! :-)
    http://lentilinstitution.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/books-and-lists-2-of-my-favourite-things/

    There were lots of my favourites that I couldn't find a spot for: Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, Anne Enright, Margaret Drabble, Miles Franklin. (Maybe I need to make ANOTHER list!)

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    1. Thanks Linda - I loved reading your list - I too had many authors that missed out - margaret drabble was definitely one - the leftovers list would be very long

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