Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A-Z Bookish Survey

I was delighted when Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe tagged me in her post on this A-Z Bookish Survey. I hadn't see the survey before, but it is just the sort of thing that appeals to me. As far as I can tell, it started with The Perpetual Page-Turner a few months back and, as you might imagine, traverses from A to Z with 26 book-related questions. I am very grateful to Johanna for providing me with an excuse to do it!

The tall fiction bookcase.

Author you have read the most books from: According to Goodreads, there are 6 authors for whom I have read at least 10 books. Not surprisingly, all of these authors are prolific writers (there are other less prolific authors who I would read more widely if only they would write more books). The 6 are, along with the number of books I've read by each:
  • Enid Blyton (13) - I have probably read fewer of Blyton's books than average because I never got into The Famous Five or Secret Seven series. I enjoyed The Enhanted Wood and The Magic Faraway Tree, and then The Malory Towers books.
  • Mary Grant Bruce (16) - Mary Grant Bruce is the author of the Australian 'Billabong' series. There are 15 books in that series and I have read them all multiple times. They are a bit old fashioned now but I adored, and still adore, the main characters.
  • Bill Bryson (11) - He is one of the few writers who can move me to laugh out loud.
  • John Marsden (16) - Another Australian author, this time of excellent teenage fiction. His books were on perpetual reserve in my high school library.
  • Alexander McCall Smith (24) - The most prolific at all! His fiction will make you smile, whichever of his many series you read.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (10) - I read the first Little House book as a 5-year-old. It was the first 'real' book I read on my own (by which I mean a novel, rather than a learning-to-read book) and it may well be responsible for instilling in me the love of reading. I have all but one of the series as 1953 hard back editions, which were my mother's before mine. 

You may notice that 4 of the above 6 are children's writers. Why do children's series have so many more books in them than adult ones? There is also a strong possibility that some books I have read are not in Goodreads (actually, let's call it a certainty). However, I think the authors that I have read lots of are entered quite consistently.

The small cookbook section, plus
Mr Bite's 'British Museum'.

Best sequel ever: I will give this to On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. It is not that it is the best sequel ever written, but rather that I loved the first book, My Side of the Mountain, and didn't know there was a sequel for many years. For those of you not familiar with either book, the first tells of 12-year-old Sam leaving his New York City family apartment to live in a tree in the Catskill mountains. I still think it would be really cool to live in a tree in some mountains and as a child, it was like reading a non-fairied fairy tale. Finding out there was a follow up was blissful.

Currently reading: Anathem by Neal Stephenson.
Drink of choice while reading: Tea. Herbal or black.

E-reader or physical book? Physical. 

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school: I probably would have actually dated none of them, because I wasn't a big dater in high school!

Glad you gave this book a chance: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. Mr Bite read it a few years back and suggested I try it, and I was initially skeptical of delving into science fiction. This is the book that taught me there are different types of science fiction, and Reynolds writes the type that I like (often referred to as space opera, as it sets big dramatic stories in space). I have now read more of Reynolds' books than Mr Bite has!

Hidden gem book: Ticket to Ride - Lost and Found in America by Sarah Darmody. I saw it at our annual local book charity sale and bought it for $5. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable travel books I've read, and has the benefit of being written by an Australian not so different in age to me. She won a green card to live and work in the US, and the book details her efforts to take the country in - mostly by Greyhound bus. It is extremely funny.

Travel and non-fiction.

Important moment in your reading life: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig. I read it in year 12 when I was struggling with physics and chemistry and the fear of not getting straight As. It opened my eyes to philosophy, and indeed (at the risk of sounding corny) the world.
Just finished: A Philippa Gregory binge.

Kinds of books you won’t read: Horror, and popular romance (the 'popular' added to try and distinguish this category from something like, say, Romeo and Juliet or Lady Chatterley's Lover, which I don't necessarily object to). A popular horror-romance twist would be the worst of the worst.

Longest book you have read: The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone) by Mervyn Peake. Technically, these are three separate books, but I received them in one big edition and so the experience was of one big book.

Major book hangover because of: There are probably a few, but David Malouf's Remembering Babylon comes to mind. I read it for year 12 English Literature and remember being so immersed in the magical realism style, deeper meanings and metaphors that it was hard to then read a normal sentence.

Number of bookcases you own: At home, four. I also have one at work with my work-related books. Plus, my childhood books are in a cupboard at home because we are out of bookshelf space, as well as out of space for more bookshelves!

The sad looking childhood book cupboard. It is also a
'lots of other things' cupboard.

One book you have read multiple times: Probably everything listed under my 'most read' authors list, with the exception of Alexander McCall Smith's books (he writes so many there is no time for re-reading!).

Preferred place to read: On the bed. Not necessarily in, but on - and preferably propped up with lots of cushions and that cup of tea next to me.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you have read: Outside of English Literature studying (now many years behind me), I don't tend to remember quotes. I do recall loving the use of words in Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

Reading regret: Never reading The Hobbit . I tried it as a child and just couldn't like it. I have never gone back to try again, despite now seeing part one of the film.

Series you started and need to finish: The Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) series, by George R. R. Martin. I have read books one to three, and need to progress before watching the next TV series.
Three of your all-time favourite books: I'm grateful this question allows for three, but even with three, I can not pick! I never understand how people can have a single favourite book. I have a whole stack of them. Three of my many favourites that come to mind:

Unapologetic fan girl for: All of the authors under my 'most read' list. (Except, if I'm honest, Enid Blyton. Sorry, Enid!)

Very excited for this release: I am rarely up to date with approaching book releases. I am looking forward to the upcoming cookbook from Angela of Oh She Glows.

Worst bookish habit: Turning books face down whilst open, usually while I go to replenish my cup of tea. Of late, also stacking books on top of each other on bookshelves. I hate this, but have run out of space!

The small fiction bookshelf, with
squeezed in stacked books.

X marks the spot: The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.

Your latest book purchase: The White Queen (The Cousins' War) by Philippa Gregory. It was my last book club book and I bought it in New York to read on the plane home. It is also what prompted my return to Gregory's writing and historical fiction. 

Most of the time, though, I buy very few new books - perhaps only one or two each year. I get given a stack for my birthday and Christmas, have a librarian and book lover for a mother, an incredibly voracious reader for a mother-in-law, and excellent local libraries. I also tend to buy up big at the annual charity book sale held locally. New books are not needed!

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up late): Almost any book can do this, if I let it!

If you would like to share in this survey, please feel free to pick it up and complete it - I would love to know your answers.

If the whole survey is a bit daunting, pick any question and let me know your thoughts!


  1. I am so pleased you did this post - I had thought it would appeal and was curious about your answers. There is so much to respond to here - I noticed too that kids books were so much easier to read lots of books by one person whereas in adulthood there seems so many more that I am open to - I was a great enid blyton fan and already have ready quite a few to Sylvia (sometimes I wonder if this is an old fashioned thing to do). I was really happy to see you mention this side of the mountain - I read it in high school and was fascinated by it but had totally forgotten it. If time allows I will check out the sequel. I read the hobbit in my 20s and really loved it. I wish I had read zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance when I was young. Lots of books here I am interested in reading, if only I had more time for it.

    1. It absolutely appealed - thanks again :-) I definitely recommend tracking down This Side of The Mountain; it wasn't as good as the first but the joy of returning to that story / setting makes up for it. And I think it's lovely that you're putting Enid Blyton aside for Sylvia already! You can make her a book worm too and I'm sure she'll have a better life for it.

  2. I like physical books best too. I have also stacked books on top of each other as I have no more space.

    1. Ah, space. Never enough when you need it!

  3. Oh I hate the books going on the side as well, but there simply isn't any more space here either and I can't possibly get ride of any...oh the horror!

    1. Absolute, horrible, horror. But still better than getting rid of books!

  4. I love reading good old fashion books!

    1. They provide such a break from modern day life / stressors, don't they?

  5. Wow, I was expecting a run-of-the-mill 'blog' survey (where there are only about five questions :P). This is incredible! So detailed, and covering so much territory. Only a true bookie could do it ;)

    I absolutely loved all Enid Blyton's books when I was a kid. I think I read them millions of times over and over, and owned every title in the Secret Seven and Famous Five hahaha

    I've always wanted to read 'Zen and The Art ...' but have been a little daunted by the philosophical nature. It sounds like something I'd be interested in, but I'm scared it'll all go straight over my head!

    1. You will have to do this survey I think :-) And definitely go ahead and read Zen...! It went over my head in parts, but in a good way - the kind that makes you stop and think. It's very accessible and not written in such a way that you are left behind if you're not a philosopher.

  6. I was an avid Enid Blyton fan. I read all the series but especially loved the Mallory Towers series and was so upset there weren't more books in the series. I think if you're taught to read at a young age, you'll continue to be an interested reader for the rest of your life xx

    1. I agree absolutely :-) Although in saying that, my brother and sister had the same book loving parenting but neither read much at the moment (my brother due to PhD woes, but my sister for no compelling reason other than her social life!).

  7. As an avid reader I am loving this survey and post! I absolutely love Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and am currently reading it for a third time! I am going to have to check out some of the author's you've mentioned for sure. Also, I too loved My Side of the Mountain and was excited for the sequel. Which as you pointed out isn't as good, but allows one to reunite with a great story.

    1. I will have to check out the Outlander series - thanks for the recommendation :-) I'm glad you liked the post too!

  8. You put me to shame with your book worming. I wish I got into it as much as you. I always think of going back to reading as a way of relaxing. Ah, so peaceful :)

    1. Well, the nice thing about reading is that it's always there to go back to :-)


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