Friday, 17 April 2009

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Shamelessly pinched this idea from the always-excellent Pretending Life Is Like A Song, who in turn pinched it from Rol at Sunset Over Slawit, about whom I know next to nothing but who in turn got it from some guy called Chev who, judging by question 9, probably got it from somewhere like Facebook. Which I won't link to. If you don't already know where that is, you never will. Anyway, here goes.
  1. Which author do you own the most books by?
    Easy. Stephen King. Then probably Arthur C. Clarke (mostly untouched since teenage years).
  2. Which book do you own the most copies of?
    I have two copies of The Fermata by Nicholson Baker, one hardback, one paperback. Other than that, one is usually enough.
  3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
    Not until you, dear questioner, pointed it out.
  4. Which fictional character are you secretly in love with?
    Amélie, of course.
  5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?
    Watership Down by Richard Adams. At the last count, I think I'd read this fourteen times.
  6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
    God, I don't know, that's a long time ago. Probably something like Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert O'Brien, or Spaceship Medic by Harry Harrison.
  7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
    I haven't read any bad ones in the past year. Lucky me.
  8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
    Probably The Outcast by TMC Sadie Jones, a great book but also undoubtedly helped by the circumstances in which, and the person with whom, I read it.
  9. If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
    Look, if I wanted to tag people I'd be doing this on Bacefook.
  10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
    In fantasy land, me! In reality, as many others have already said, why not Stephen King? You don't sell millions of books and maintain a fan base for over thirty years unless you're doing something right.
  11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
    Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. I imagine it being shot like Peep Show, literally through the eyes of the narrator.
  12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
  13. There have been some great Stephen King movies adaptations (I’m thinking The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, The Shining, The Dead Zone, hey, even The Green Mile) but there have also been some rotten ones (stand up The Dark Half, It). I'm scared to watch The Mist in case they've ruined what is one of my favourite King (long) short stories. And for the same reason, I'd hate to see The Long Walk (written as Richard Bachman) turned into a movie... though I've just read that Frank Darabont has secured the rights to that too.
  14. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
    I not making the contents of my dreams public, sorry!
  15. What is the most low-brow book you’ve read as an adult?
    The Savage Stars by god knows who - awful, derivative science fiction that deserves to be pulped. In my defence, I was just barely an adult at the time.
  16. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
    Literally, probably A Hero of our Time by Mikhail Lermontov. Emotionally, Whatever Love Means by David Baddiel - whilst thoroughly excellent, it gets progressively more depressing.
  17. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
    Live performance, I've only seen Julius Caesar, Henry V, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, none of which I'd call obscure, would you?
  18. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
    I haven’t read a lot of either. But I have read some Solzhenitsyn and Lermontov, so I'll go with them.
  19. Roth or Updike?
    Since I have only read Updike...
  20. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
    Since I have only read Sedaris...
  21. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
    Since I have only read Shakespeare...
  22. Austen or Eliot?
    Since I have read neither...
  23. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
    I'm not embarrassed by it but I can't help feeling like I have a huge Dickens-shaped gap in my reading life.
  24. What is your favorite novel?
    Can anyone honestly give a "top one" answer to this kind of question?  For the purposes of this exercise, and to be awkward, I'll go for Watership Down (that's why I've read it so many times, obviously) and High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, which speaks to me as a bloke (and a record collector). Those two would be near the top of any list I might ever compile.
  25. Play?
    Another ridiculous "top one" question. I enjoyed The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams tremendously when I saw it last year.
  26. Poem?
    It's a trite, clichéd answer, but I do like Stop All The Clocks by W.H. Auden.
  27. Essay?
    Who has a favourite essay?
  28. Short story?
    Right now, am finding that Angela Carter (especially The Bloody Chamber) and Raymond Carver can always be relied on for excellent short stories. And of course there's Mr King... The Mist, The Long Walk and Strawberry Spring are three of my favourites.
  29. Work of non-fiction?
    Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks, Join Me by Danny Wallace, Are you Dave Gorman? by Dave Gorman. I see a pattern here - blokey fun books (though Dave has some dark moments in his). So to spoil the theme, I'll throw in the excellent A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - brilliant.
  30. Who is your favorite writer?
    King, I suppose. Why would I buy, and immediately devour, everything he writes otherwise?
  31. Who is the most over-rated writer alive today?
    I don't know, but it is depressing to see ghost-written trash attributed to people like Katie Price flying off the shelves...
  32. What is your desert island book?
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding, to remind me to stay a man.
  33. And… what are you reading right now?
    Four Stories by Alan Bennett and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.
Footnote: the title of this post? A quote from Groucho Marx, of course...


  1. Amelie - good answer! As to The Mist, it's not as bad as many King adaptations - the end is spectacularly bleak (very unHollywood), though the SFX are a bit ropey early on.

    1. Thanks - maybe I'll check The Mist out then, I do like an unHollywood ending, so am glad that's been preserved...