Several of my friends on Twitter – Dr Magoo, ZombieMechanics, and Ang Writes, to name a few – posted a book meme a while back. It’s an A – Z challenge that really dissects how a person soaks up the written word, and it’s wonderfully thorough.
I never do these any more (hardly), but this one was so good I couldn’t resist the urge to join in.
Like most bibliophiles, I could have answered several questions in multiple different ways – it is nearly impossible to say how one book had the most impact on my life, or whether my life was defined by one big turning point in my reading. So I just narrowed it down as best I could and stuck with my initial gut response.
Here, then, is a glimpse into my reading brain. If you’re intrigued, feel free to copy the questions and answer them on your own blog.
Author(s) You’ve Read The Most Books From:
C. S. Lewis. David McCullough. Lemony Snicket. Charles Dickens. When I was younger, I slurped up as many Lillian Jackson Braun (“The Cat Who…” series) as I could find. I honestly don’t know why, because they certainly don’t appeal to me now. I also made a point of chasing down all fourteen of Frank L Baum’s original OZ books and devouring those while I was in middle school.
Best Sequel Ever: Isn’t that like trying to pick favorites among your children? Ugh. But if I must pick one sequel that carried me away completely, it was A Far Off Place, by Laurens Van der Post, sequel to his tale A Story Like the Wind. (PS: Don’t bother with the Disneyized version of the movie, just so you know. Completely different story.)
The Aeneid by Virgil; Hood by Stephen Lawhead; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan.
Drink of Choice While Reading:
Water or hot tea.
E-reader or Physical Book?
Depends. I must read poetry, my Bible, and Jane Austen from hard copies. My brain cannot embrace them fully otherwise. At the same time, my Kindle has been invaluable for keeping me apace of my required reading while on the road. I was able to read both the Iliad and the Odyssey this summer at the gym, with the Kindle propped up over the ugly mini-TV screen (which I never watch).
Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:
If you had asked the high school Angela, she would have told you either Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables) or Theodore Lawrence (Little Women). Looking back now, I realize that I likely would have dated, in no particular order: Neville Longbottom (HP), Connor (Wren to the Rescue), Mr Rochester (Jane Eyre), or Edmund Pevensie (Narnia).
Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart. Also in the “I took a gamble and won” category would be: Silverlock, by John Myers Myers; Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.
Hidden Gem Book(s): I confess to a deep and abiding love of the Wren books, by Sherwood Smith. (Wren to the Rescue, Wren’s Quest, Wren’s War, Wren Journeymage.) No, they are not fine literature. They are geared toward MG/early YA. The fourth book was self-published by the author as an e-book because the publisher didn’t want any more Wren books, even though the fans did. But I must point to this series as the moment when I stopped and really thought through the role that magic played in the stories I wanted to read, and the stories I choose to write. I could do a whole series of blog posts on this one series, and how it has impacted me as a writer. As for how it affected my take on magic in fantasy novels, I will only say this: if you read through them – pay attention to Wren’s quirks, and especially to Connor. He’s my man.
Important Moment In Your Reading Life:
Freaking out my babysitter when I was five, by offering to help her with her homework. She handed me her history book and I never looked back.
Gateway to Reality by Becca J Campbell
Kind of Books You Won’t Read: Erotica. Horror. Psychological Thrillers. Harlequin Romance or similar. Depressing “true to life” stories that only underscore warm fuzzies or the universal pointlessness of [insert soapbox here]. Fantasy tomes with jawcracking names and galumphing backstories.
Longest Book You’ve Read: Nicholas Nickleby, by Charles Dickens. Yes, I read it on purpose. No, it was not for school. Yes, I have been told that I am insane.
Major Book Hangover Because Of: Christy, by Catherine Marshall.
Number Of Bookcases You Own: Two, both nicely double stacked. If you want to see the books that actually touch the back of the shelf, I will need some warning so I can lovingly relocate the outer row to a safe corner…
One Many Book(s) You Have Read Multiple Times: I read through all four Wren books once a year, without fail. (See my “Hidden Gem” comments.)
Preferred Place To Read:
Anywhere the words sit still long enough for me to read, and people will leave me alone.
Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From A Book You’ve Read:
“If I had cared to live, I would have died.” — opening line to Silverlock. For me, that is the most perfect opening line in all of fiction. Period.
Avoiding Jane Austen like the plague until my late thirties.
Series You Started And Need To Finish: Actually, I’m looking for a good series to start….? Although now I’ve read the first book in both the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan) and the Gone With the Respiration series (Lia Habel), I’m inclined to read at least the second book in both.
Three Of Your All-time Favorite Books (not mentioned above):
Sagas of the Icelanders
Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
Unapologetic Fangirl For: Connor, from the WrenBooks. Huck Finn. Dr Neill McNeill (Christy).
Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
Orison, by Daniel Swensen. I have had the privilege of beta-reading an early draft of this and was utterly blown away by his story, and his craft. It’s currently with the editor and I can’t wait to read the polished version. Can. Not. Wait.
Worst Bookish Habit: Getting interrupted and not going back to a book for a very long time, then realizing that I’ve lost some of the finer points and must start over again.
X Marks The Spot: Start At The Top Left Of Your Shelf & Pick the 27th Book
Not counting the double stacks? Hmkay. ::counts:: That would be….Voyages and Discoveries, by Richard Hakylut. (Hellloooooo, history teacher!!)
Your Latest Book Purchase:
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I am about to begin tutoring a sixth grade boy who has FINALLY found his first “real” chapter book that he’s really into; and who am I to argue with genuine enthusiasm? Looking forward to experiencing the book, both as a reader and through the eyes of an 11 year old boy.
ZZZ-Snatcher Book: Last Book That Kept You Up Way Too Late:
Almost every book mentioned by name here (excepting, perhaps, Richard Hakylut).
This category definitely includes the forthcoming Orison in its beta-reading stage. Block off your reading time now. You will not want to be interrupted once you start it. Planning to call in sick to work the next day is a good idea too, since you will stay up all night reading it.