An A to Z of books

Okay, I was tagged in this a while ago (thanks Jess) but I’ve just found my scribbled notes and thought I’d post them (at last). Any excuse to go on about books…

Author you’ve read the most books by

That’d be Stephen King, I should think. Or perhaps Ed McBain – he has a fair few, and they’re pretty slim, quick reads.

Best sequel ever

Well I remember loving Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron as a kid. That was a terrific, much darker, follow up to The Book of Three. I loved all of those Chronicles of Prydain books, though. As an adult, I don’t think I’ve read much by way of sequels. Wizard and Glass, part of King’s Dark Tower series, was pretty terrific.

Currently reading

Authority (Jeff Vandermeer), The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (Stephen King), Tales of Ordinary Madness (Charles Bukowski) Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Jeff Gunn)

Drink of choice while reading

Nothing in particular. Coffee is most likely, maybe red wine if I’m in the bath or perhaps a Jack Daniels with ice if I’m feeling really indulgent.

E-reader or physical book

Physical, for all the usual reasons, though I have come around to the idea of e-versions thanks to an app on my phone. I have a few titles on that which is great for when I’m caught without a book.

Fictional character you would have dated in high school

I remember having quite a thing for Tess of the D’Urbervilles at college. A bit older and I was in lust/love with Anita Blake of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Vampire Hunter series (until the books got a bit silly). Nowadays I’m more of a Clarice Starling kind of guy.

Glad you gave this book a chance

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, was a bit longer than I could comfortably commit to at the time but I’m bloody glad I did because it’s brilliant – reading that was time well spent indeed. And Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy, which was recommended to me so enthusiastically by one of the kids I used to teach as part of an evening class in Creative Writing. I don’t tend to read YA stuff but thoroughly enjoyed this (and several others in the series).

Hidden gem of a book

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. I came to this completely cold, having heard nothing about it, and it remains one of the best books I’ve read. Partly due to the physical experience of it (you have to see the book to understand) but also I found some of it genuinely unsettling.

Important moment in your reading life

Realising books don’t carry age certificates, that I could read something adult and be treated seriously by the writer. The realisation came with The Shining when I was about eleven. Too young to fully appreciate it, of course, but the right age to recognise the power of words.

Another defining moment was giving up Richard Layman. Realising I didn’t have to keep reading them just because I’d read so many already. Again, I was young, but I soon noticed how formulaic (and rapey) these novels were and I was beginning to see that the horror genre had better to offer elsewhere.

Just finished

The Tooth Fairy, by Graham Joyce. And wonderful it was, too.

Kind of books you won’t read

There aren’t many. I’m not a big fan of comedy as a genre to itself – I prefer it as one of many aspects in a book rather than the defining feature – but that’s probably about it. Autobiographies and misery memoirs aren’t big favourites but I’ve read one or two.

Longest book you’ve read

Probably Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, or Stephen King’s It (I’d have to compare page counts). Unless The Lord of the Rings counts as one?

Major book hangover

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It broke me. I’ve read it several times now and feel bereft every time it’s over.

Number of bookcases you own

Not enough. I’ve just moved and so a lot of my books are still in boxes, but I’ll be buying some more cases soon…

One book you’ve read multiple times

There are several, due to teaching, and I’ve mentioned a few in the answers above, but I’ve read Ray Bradbury’s work more than once (I know, it says one book, but I figure one writer is an acceptable compromise).

Preferred place to read

Anywhere comfortable, and preferably quiet. Bed, bath, lazing on the sofa. Maybe lounging by a pool or on a beach somewhere…

Quote from a book you’ve read that inspires you

“So it goes.” From Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.

Reading regret

Finishing too many bad books just because I didn’t like to quit. Nowadays I give them a fair chance and then stop if it’s not for me – there are too many good books out there to be wasting time on bad ones.

Series you started and need to finish

There are a few I haven’t finished but that’s because I lost interest. The two that spring to mind both involved a recurring character who just became too powerful for me to be all that concerned any more (plus there are only so many huge adventures one person can get involved in before it becomes silly). A series I haven’t started but would like to is Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

Three of your all-time favourite books

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Unapologetic fan-boy for

Used to be Stephen King, but I’m a bit more wary these days. Ray Bradbury, definitely. Ernest Hemingway.

Very excited about this release

The Fisherman, by John Langan

Worst bookish habit

Resisting books because I’m trying to convince myself I have enough to read for now. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often.

X marks the spot: start on the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book

Michael Marshal Smith, Spares

Your latest purchase

The Fisherman, by John Langan

Zzz-snatcher book (last book that kept you up far too late)

Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer. Absolutely brilliant.


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1 Response to An A to Z of books

  1. Writers: the best insurance for the survival of print, book sales, and bookcase makers….

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