Stealing this meme from a bunch of people because I really like the questions–they’re just too hard to resist. Feel free to do the same and let me know. I love reading these.
1. What book is on your nightstand now?
Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson
– Space is big and scary. NdT makes it less so. He makes me think about all the possibilities and how they really are possible.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
– Permanent nightstand staple. I will reread this book until it’s no longer fun*.
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman
– I can’t seem to finish this book. Don’t know why. It’s not even a difficult book. It’s just really slow, like unbelievably so.
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
– Yet this 800+ page hardcover doorstop that heavily features a host of uncomfortable things is… a breeze. Go figure.
* which is never
2. What was the last truly great book that you read?
Ah… too many to choose from, so I’ll just stick to this year. So far the short list looks like this:
– The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
– Way Station by Clifford Simak
– The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
– The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
but I’m sure there’ll be more. I’m getting pretty good at choosing stellar reads. The trick is to really, really know what you like and choose according to your current mood.
3. If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?
Octavia Butler. Everything. I would want to know everything about her, starting with where she got her ideas. There isn’t much written about her, and she rarely gave interviews. So much of her life and career is still a mystery, and now we’ll never know.
4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
5 different editions of Pride & Prejudice. I don’t think it’s that surprising to people who know me, but casual friends and acquaintances are always taken aback. It’s probably because they’ve only seen me read genre.
5. How do you organize your personal library?
It used to be by favorite books, but now it’s by priority. Must-reads get quality shelf space–front and center, so that I can actually see them–while everything else gets whatever space I can squeeze them into.
6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?
– The rest of Octavia Butler’s backlist: Kindred, Fledgling, the Patternmaster series, the Earthseed duology, her short story collections. It’s only a matter of time before I get to them all. For now, I’m saving them for when I’m emotionally ready because there’s so much packed into her writing that I can’t just read her books, then move onto to other things. I absorb them and they stay with me forever, and anything I read after pales in comparison.
– I’m kind of embarrassed I haven’t read more China Mieville than just Un Lun Dun or more Guy Gavriel Kay than just Tigana. Will have to try harder this year since I own most of their backlists.
7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didnt? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
– It’s a tie between The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Both seemed tailored to my taste at first glance, yet neither turned out the way I’d hoped.
– Does reading a sample chapter and deciding not to buy count as not finishing a book? Because I do that a lot, and I don’t really remember the last book I sampled and passed on. It was probably Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.
8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?
– Things I’m drawn to always have elements of sci-fi and/or fantasy, and really, that’s all it takes to get my attention. Another thing I’m drawn to, when I’m in the mood, is a gripping vengeful revenge story that’s got bite and a tight plot (and SF/F).
– I stay clear of contemporary fiction (“literature”) that feature family drama or political drama or just basically drama. The worst would have to be contemporary fiction that wins all the awards but is really about nothing but pretty prose and first world problems. Those are the worst.
9. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
Oh wow, where to begin. I seem to have a theme going here, so I’m gonna say anything by Octavia Butler. Any one of her books would do because they’re all relevant and necessary, and I would love it if someone in the position of president reads her work. Not for show or to gain polling points or “to appeal to a diverse demographic” or what have you, but really read it.
10. What do you plan to read next?
Might be too ambitious of me to say, but I’d like to finish Jacqueline Carey’s whole Kushiel series. I didn’t think I’d like Kushiel’s Dart, I could barely stand it at first, but I reached a turning point in the story today and now I’m kind of hooked. It went from the Splendors of Versailles to Vikings (that show on the History channel) in a blink of an eye, and I’m hooked. It’s hard to explain… I’m not sure why I’m so into this story. It’s… uncomfortable, extremely so. And so sad. The main character has such a sad, lonely life. What makes it even sadder is her convincing us, the reader, that it’s not all that bad, but it is. She was born into prostitution, raised to be an exemplary prostitute, and to play political intrigue games and be another tool in the court. There’s artistry and beauty to it, so she says, but all I can see is someone who’s stuck in a life she cannot escape and she’s convinced herself it’s what she wants. Yet I want to read on, to follow her story to the end.