It’s a bookish meme

A book meme, via Laura, Pavlov’s Cat and Sterne. My post will be far less impressive and humorous than any of those but there you go.

What was the last book you bought?
The Gift of Speed by Steven Carroll. It was the day the Booker was announced and I had originally gone to the only-half-decent-bookshop-in-town to buy the winner but couldn’t bring myself to pay $35 for a paperback. Call me tight. All the books on the shortlist were a good $5-$10 more expensive than the average PB price. It was a rort. Anyway, I am happy with my investment so far.

Name a book you have read MORE than once
All my books are still packed in boxes AND LibraryThing is down so I don’t have the shelves to peruse to jog my memory. So, The Secret History, The Thin Man, The Children’s Bach, Monkey’s Mask, The Reader, Fredy Neptune, the Deidre Bair biog of Simone de Beauvoir…

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
I agree with Tim, it’s hard to point to a book changing one’s life immediately but there is a great feeling of things changing over time. Some things are whittled away, other things become more complex. It’s why I read books and why I can not live without them.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?

Usually a recommendation, or a review, or an award, or some controversy. In other words: I have no idea.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
It depends. I honestly tend to sway between the two. I usually will be reading a bit of both. As I get older, and realise how much time I spend in front of a screen, I am tending towards fiction. I don’t know how those two facts are related. I think I feel in need of a total escape from the laptop sometimes. I work on computers, I build websites, I critique websites, I write about them (sometimes). I still consider myself a book person at heart and fiction seems, to me,  to be the antithesis of my experience of the web.

What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Neither. I’ll read something and appreciate its writing and have often forced myself to read something because it is wonderfully written but will, like Laura, put up with crap writing if the story has sucked me in. The reason why a book works, or it doesn’t, isn’t as easy to isolate as ‘beautiful writing’ or ‘gripping plot’.

Most loved/memorable character?
I’ve always had a penchant for Ripley and as far as I am concerned he looks nothing like Matt Damon (he’s not blonde for a start).

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
The aforementioned Gift of Speed, Parklife by Nick Varley, and the incredibly-hard-to-get-hold-of Rosalie Gascoigne by Vici McDonald. I’m going to have to return it to the library soon. I am sure my mother must have renewed it more than once by now…

What was the last book you read?
Alice Garner’s The Student Chronicles. I was picking up my son from my parents’ place and saw it on the shelf so I grabbed it.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
Many, many times. As a young child I remember giving up on a book because it ‘depressed’ me. I can’t remember the name or the author but it was the first time I could not continue with a book. I was 10 and I have never forgotten that moment when I put it down and thought, I’m not going to read that.


  1. Interesting stuff. The last two books I bought were both written by friends—one is PoD and arrived yesterday, the other is from a proper publisher and will arrive after it’s actually published…

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