Monday, June 08, 2009

A book quiz!

Haven't done a quiz in a while, so here's one I grabbed from Steph. It's about books, so longtime readers probably won't see any surprising answers here.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Probably Guy Gavriel Kay; I own everything he's published.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

I don't actually tend to acquire lots of copies of individual books. I do own two copies of Lord of the Rings, and I have two copies of most of GGK's books. (I currently own only one Tigana, because at the time I was buying up new ones on eBay, I couldn't find a Tigana I wanted, and there's only been one version of Beyond This Dark House.) I own three Bibles -- a KJV I bought years ago, a newer KJV that I picked up because it has better reference materials in it, and a TNIV study Bible I bought because its reference materials are really good. (Although it wasn't like I could do a whole lot of camparing, since Bibles are often shrink-wrapped, for reasons I've never been able to fathom. I hate that practice.)

I do own four "Complete Shakepeare" tomes, so that's probably my answer here. I'm a sucker for complete Shakespeares, when I see a neat one somewhere, available cheaply. My problem with each is that they are all too big to carry around on a regular basis. I pine for someone to put out a Complete Shakespeare that is printed similarly to a Bible; surely we can get all of the Bard into a more portable package than the massive volumes I have sitting around here!

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

It does now. Yeesh! I do appreciate good grammar, but ending sentences with prepositions doesn't tend to strike me as the most egregious of grammatical sins. Neither do split infinitives.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Literary crushes? Can there be such a thing? Probably Jehane from The Lions of Al-Rassan.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

Wow. I'm not sure. In the running would be GGK's Fionavar Tapestry, The Lord of the Rings, John Bellairs's "Lewis Barnavelt" books, and Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

Hmmmm, ten. Ten, ten...that was 1981. Probably Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?

Man, there is no contest at all here: Twilight, which was just embarrassingly awful. I couldn't believe its sheer badness (here's my review), and as I realized just how awful the book was, I was increasingly befuddled by its popularity. How can something this terrible be this beloved by so many obsessives out there? I'm at a complete loss, really. The best explanation I have is that Twilight is basically the single most successful "Mary Sue Story" in the history of English letters. It interests me that every single person I know who loves this book and its sequels is a woman, but even that throws me off a bit; one of them told me that I hated it because "it's not a guy thing", but come on! I'm a guy who loves Titanic, Sleepless in Seattle, Love Actually; I'm a guy who bawls like a little girl during that last scene of An Affair to Remember every time I watch it; I'm a guy who gets excited when Nicholas Sparks has a new book out. Believe me, it's not a guy thing. If ever a book should have been "in my wheelhouse", as it were, Twilight should have been it: I love a good teen romance, I love a good vampire tale, and I love stuff set in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Instead, I had one of the two or three most viscerally negative reactions to a book that I've ever had in my life. The only books I remember loathing more were Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead...and those, at least, made me think a bit. Twilight just made me want to scream to the literary gods, "Why? Why? WHY??!!"

So yeah, I hated Twilight.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?

I won't say much about it, because I haven't blogged it yet, but The Terror by Dan Simmons is some seriously brilliant writing.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

Wow, I'm not sure. Not everyone would respond the same way I would, right? I'd force everyone to read, oh, Four Centuries of Great Love Poems, an anthology that Borders put out a while back. It's a really good collection, and everybody should read more poetry.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?

Heavens, I don't know. I wouldn't mind seeing it go to a genre writer, though, so I'll pick Neil Gaiman. Or Gene Wolfe.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

Hmmmm...they could make a wildly entertaining flick out of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, couldn't they? In fact, Quentin Tarantino could direct it. A medieval fantasy, directed by Tarantino...that idea just occurred to me, and now I love it. I wonder if someone could send Tarantino a copy? It would be right up his alley -- lots of blood, unlikeable characters, and foul language to the max.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

The notion of the "unfilmable" book has come under some assault of late, but for sheer unfilmability, Bryan Talbot's stunning Alice in Sunderland can only exist as a graphic novel.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Well, maybe this sounds like I'm ducking the issue, but I honestly don't remember dreaming about writers, books, or literary characters.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?

What does "lowbrow" mean, anyway? I don't believe in "highbrow" and "lowbrow" books -- just "good" and "bad" books. I read a bunch of "Extended Universe" Star Wars books back in the day, if that suffices for this question. But some of them are pretty good (Timothy Zahn's, for instance.)

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?

Probably a philosophy text from college -- possibly something from my "Existentialism" class -- or maybe The Brothers Karamazov, which I've failed to finish three times.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?

I've never seen a Shakespeare play. Because I suck.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

Well, since we're talking lit here...I finished, and loved, The Three Musketeers, while I've failed to finished Brothers K. Advantage, French. (But in music, this battle would come down to Berlioz versus Rachmaninov...aieee! I suspect a very very very tiny edge here would go to the French as well.)

18) Roth or Updike?

Haven't read either.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Eggers, but neither is really my cup of tea.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Shakespeare, but it's not as if I'm terribly familiar with those other two fellows. (One of my favorite literary quotes is from CS Lewis, and goes something like, "If one has a choice between reading a new book about Chaucer and simply re-reading Chaucer, one should re-read Chaucer." This question made me think of that.)

21) Austen or Eliot?

Austen, I suppose. Which Eliot, though? Comparing Jane Austen to TS Eliot seems odd.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

I have tons of gaps in my reading. Tons. In SF? I've yet to read Dune or much Heinlein or Niven or Mieville. In fantasy, I've not yet read Brust. "Regular" lit? You name the author, I haven't read enough of him or her (Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Byron, et al). I constantly feel as though I am behind on my reading.

23) What is your favorite novel?

The Lions of Al-Rassan by GGK.

24) Play?


25) Poem?

List time, here: "Annabel Lee", by Poe. "Green Grow the Rashes", by Burns. Any of Shakespeare's sonnets. Various works by Li Po. And so on.

26) Essay?

I don't recall the title, but it's the selection in Leonard Bernstein's The Joy of Music about why Beethoven is great.

27) Short story?

See? I need to read more short fiction. One that always stands out in my mind is "The Secret Shih-Tan" by Graham Masterton. Also "The Body" by Stephen King.

28) Work of non-fiction?

Cosmos, Carl Sagan; On Writing, Stephen King; The Joy of Music and The Infinite Variety of Music, Leonard Bernstein; The Lives of the Great Composers, Harold Schonberg; Little Chapel on the River, Gwendolyn Bounds; anything by Bill Bryson.

29) Who is your favorite writer?

Pressed to limit myself to just one, the obvious: Guy Gavriel Kay.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Stephenie Meyer. Seriously, she is terrible.

31) What is your desert island book?

Boat Construction and Celestial Navigation for Dummies, right? Or, keeping with the spirit of the question, I suppose I'd want a complete Shakespeare.

32) And ... what are you reading right now?

The Sagas of the Icelanders (I'm not going to read the entire volume, but two or three selections within); In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson; The Demon by Jack Kirby.

And there we have it! Hooray!


Bill said...

Dude, there is great free Shakespeare all summer in WNY. Get thee thither!

Thee Earl of Obvious said...

I remember you mentioning that you also have not heard much live music lately.

Is Buffalo lacking in affordable cultural venues?