I was tagged for this meme on WordPress by Sarah Jane. And while I will also post this as a note to Facebook, I thought I might as well post it here as well.
“You have received this note because someone thinks you are a literary geek. Copy the questions into your own note, answer the questions, and tag any friends who would appreciate the quiz, including the person who sent you this.”
Questions and answers after the jump.
1) What author do you own the most books by?
I haven’t actually counted, but it’ll be one of: Terry Pratchett, Gerald Durrell, Georgette Heyer or Patrick O’Brian. Someone prolific. I also quite a lot of Graham Greene, Colette, Oliver Sacks, Richard Dawkins, Evelyn Waugh, Wodehouse… representing a mix of older and newer enthusiasms.
2) What book do you own the most copies of?
I’ve got four versions of Beowulf — three scholarly/student editions and the Heaney translation.
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
No! And don’t get me started on how wrong-headed I think those kinds of linguistic shibboleths are.
4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I had a bit of a thing about Colette heroines when I was younger.
4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?
Does anyone make it back alive and healthy from The Lost World? Pterosaurs: that’s proper birdwatching.
4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?
Honestly I can’t think.
5) What book have you read the most times in your life?
Probably something by Terry Pratchett.
6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
I can’t really remember what I read when, but that was probably when I was well into my Gerald Durrell phase. So My Family and Other Animals, maybe?
7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
The one I just finished, Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa, was pretty annoying. Though actually when I was looking for free books to download and read on my iPhone I found a witch/vampire romance novel, and I read that. That was truly dreadful.
8) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Tricky. The Read The World challenge has really paid off with some good books; if I had to pick just one, um, The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov. Or maybe the Haldor Laxness? dunno. Just outside the one year mark, The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson were both superb novels.
9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Well, I’m not really inclined to force people to read things… but just because I think it deserves a wider readership, let’s say Rivers of Babylon by Peter Pišťanek: newly translated into English and published by a small press just for the love of it, as far as I can tell. And very entertaining.
10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Nothing is springing to mind. I think that whether a book makes a good film depends far more on the talent of the film-maker than the source material, anyway.
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
As long as I don’t have to go and see it, I don’t care. The sky didn’t fall when they cast Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother, and I don’t see how they can travesty any book more than they did with that one.
13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Can’t think of one. I have loads of birdwatching dreams, not so many book dreams.
14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Well, there’s the witch/vampire romance I mentioned earlier, just for starters.
15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Um, I guess Ulysses has a reputation for difficulty. It’s as good an answer as any.
16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
I don’t think offhand that I’ve seen any of the less obvious ones. I’ve booked a ticket for Troilus and Cressida at the Globe this summer, though.
17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The French, I guess.
18) Roth or Updike?
Haven’t read any Updike; not that excited by the Roth I’ve read either, though.
19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Haven’t read either. Sedaris is quite amusing on This American Life.
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
21) Austen or Eliot?
George or Tom? I assume it means George Eliot. I know I have read some Jane Austen, but for the life of me I can never remember which ones. So Eliot almost by default.
22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
On my guilt list at the moment: Pushkin, John Updike.
23) What is your favorite novel?
I might be able to give you a list of 25; just one is impossible. Books that have been particular enthusiasms over the years (not what I necessarily think are the best books) include Wuthering Heights, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Catch 22, the Gormenghast trilogy, Tristram Shandy, Crome Yellow. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Glass Bead Game. There’s a surprisingly blokey pattern emerging here.
Another gap in my reading: drama. But let’s say King Lear. Though the most enjoyable night I remember at the theatre was Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.
Marvell’s The Mower to the Glo-worms. Maybe.
Don’t think I have one.
27) Short story?
Almost certainly something by Colette, one of the few short-story writers I have any patience with.
28) Work of non-fiction?
I think I can have one autobiography and one science book: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer.
29) Who is your favorite writer?
There are just too many.
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Well the most overrated novel I’ve read in the past few years was Cloud Atlas…
31) What is your desert island book?
I suppose a big fat poetry anthology would be as good a solution as any.
32) And … what are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, I seem to be a bit stuck in The Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey, and I haven’t decided what to read next.