1. What book (a classic?) do you hate? Gulp. I hesitate to say, because so many, many, many of my friends loved it. But I did not love Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. It was too dark and I didn’t see the point. I read it to the end, but I just wanted it to be over. I really didn’t like Antigone either.
2. To what extent do you judge people by what they read? Not as much as people assume I do. But I’ll be honest: I make judgments. When a friend recently told me she plans to read what I call 50 Shades of Grime, I inwardly grimaced. But if my friend apologizes because she only likes to read mysteries or light reading, I truly don’t think any differently about her and don’t need apologies. On the other hand, when I sat across the table from a man who told me that life is too short to read fiction—implying that fiction is unimportant—it was all I could do not to glower.
3. What television series would you recommend as the literariest? Masterpiece Theater. My non-bookish husband grew to love Dickens, Trollope, Eliot and others through watching Martin Chuzzlewit, Bleak House, Barsetshire Chronicles, and Daniel Deronda.
4. Describe your ideal home library. Three walls of floor-to-(cathedral)-ceiling books, with the sliding ladder; a fireplace somewhere on one of the walls; a wall of windows to let in the light; overstuffed chairs; a foot rest; a yellow lab who doesn’t emit bad odors at my feet; a pot of tea on the table, a string quartet playing in the corner. I’ve been in this room once (sans dog and strings) at my friend’s house; I wanted to move in. I’m in the midst of a year-long bookshelf crisis, with stacks and boxes of books in our garage after we dissembled our book wall in the bedroom. But a trip to IKEA is on the docket and I hope to install floor-to-ceiling shelves in our living room soon.
5. Books or sex? One after the other, but I won’t say in what order.
6. How do you decide what to read next? Sometimes I stand in front of a bookcase in my home and think, “There is enough great reading here to keep me occupied for two years.” And I earnestly make a plan. Then I go into a different room in the house and have the same conversation in front of a different bookcase. I vacillate between reading books in order to release them—to make space on the shelves—and reading the best, most glorious books, which I, of course, plan to keep. This spring I re-discovered inter-library loans and read a dozen books that have been on my wish list for years. Movie release dates push me into certain books: I’m currently listening to Rob Inglis’ masterful reading of The Hobbit and reading Les Miserables.
7. How much do you talk about books in real life (outside of the blogging community)? All the time. If I have read a great book, my joy is not complete until other people have read it and loved it like I do. People know if they talk to me they will hear, I read a book about that… My favorite dinner table question is Tell me what you are reading, and going around the table to hear responses. That question doesn’t come out unless I’m confident it would not put people on the spot. It is a gift to have reading friends. It is a gift to have patient friends who act interested when I go on and on. I love being the resident reader to whom people go for a book recommendation.
Mental Multivitamin said it best:
In a perfect world, it is what I do all day long: Read.
Talk about what I’m reading, what others are reading.
Read about what I’m reading, what others are reading.
Write, often about reading.
Read some more.