BTT: In Public

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Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world? And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

I used to take a book or books with me everywhere, especially because I’d catch a train to work and liked reading during my lunch breaks (it would help keep the temptation to go shopping at bay), but I grew out of that habit when I became housebound in 2005.

I’m not as housebound as I once was, but I still don’t travel anywhere by myself and I can’t read while travelling by car because I get car sick, so I really only take a book with me when I have a doctor’s appointment. You know, because doctor’s usually take ages to get around to you… I need a book just to keep me sane!

I’ve started taking my eReader with me a few times when going shopping with someone else in the hopes I’ll be able to read at least a few lines, more so now because I am reading for authors, but that hasn’t really worked out very well. I do take a book with me in every room of the house though so I guess you could say the habit hasn’t completely disappeared! Continue reading

BTT: Something Old, Something New

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All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical speciman, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

I used to, but not anymore. I’ve had quite a shift and now I even like rescuing older books, especially if they’re falling apart. Someone needs to love them!

I’m not crazy when it comes to books…

I used to prefer them pristine, but I actually started out with second hand books. They were mostly second hand Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Andrew Neiderman books that began my collection. Eventually I became pretty fastidious when it comes to creases, marks, and usage, and I still like a book to be in excellent condition if I buy it brand new. Continue reading

BTT: Real Life

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I am paraphrasing from a friend’s Facebook wall her question: “How would a teen-age boy who is going to work with his hands ever use Literature of England in his work?” The age-old “How am I going to use this in real life?” question. How would you answer it?

I’m taking that to mean English/British Literature and if someone ever asked me point blank how they would ever use something from literature and therefore fiction, if we get really basic about it, in real life I’d have to say that I use it all the time. Take out the fact that I’m a writer of course and just address it as a reader, there is so much you can learn from books, both non fiction and fiction, that I think sometimes people don’t realise how much they actually take away from fiction itself (even fiction in all media).

There’s the more obvious structural learning from it; learning proper grammar, sentence structure, and all that fun stuff. Then there’s learning about different ways of addressing people and even learning manners. I think people can take it very narrowly with what they can learn from something. It’s like having blinders on and not seeing the bigger picture or using the imagination and that’s another thing that I think someone can take away from literature and reading; being more creative and thinking further a field. If someone works in manual labour or with their hands, doesn’t it help to be able to think in broader terms or to feed an imagination that can lead to greater creativity and abstract thinking in their field? Abstract thinking that could help further a career perhaps?

Then there is the more personal and mental aspects of it, such as seeing something from a different perspective, or considering another person’s point of view. I find that fiction and books helps me to do that more than I’m sure I would have without books or generally stories in my life.

And if you learn about the stories behind the stories, the creators behind the stories, there’s so much you can learn and pick up from their lives and what they’ve been through. Writing takes discipline, perseverance, and getting to know your short falls and what you can achieve if you strive for it. Plus, because literature and fiction are set in all sorts of different times, you can learn so much about history. Maybe that doesn’t make a difference to someone in manual labour, but I can’t see why not, I don’t see why that should make a difference. It all comes down to perspective. If something is written in a certain time you can learn about it and with a bit more research or reading between the lines you can also learn about points of view from that time and how it has changed. There’s so much to learn from it.

I’m probably going way overboard on this one aren’t I? I know I have and I’ve completely gone off the actual question, but I can’t help myself. When someone asks me what they can learn from something or even give me an inkling that they can’t see anything else except what’s right in front of them, then I have this voice in my head that wants to scream at them. It wants to grab them and shake them and ask them how they can’t see all the paths that lead from even the simplest littlest thing. How they can’t learn from something that seems trivial or common place or not fitting in with their lifestyle because there is so much going on with what they take at face value. Usually I don’t voice it because this is what it sounds like when I do….

Now if this was my nephew, I’m sure he would have switched off after the first sentence and gone on about video games instead so maybe a one sentence answer – you might learn something about yourself that would enrich your life.

BTT: Heaviest

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What’s the largest, thickest, heaviest book you ever read? Was it because you had to? For pleasure? For school?

Generally speaking that’s a hard one to answer because I’ve read a lot of heavy and large books. I don’t usually read based on size, but on story, so I’ll go with what I’ve read in the last year instead and I think that would be The Old Kingdom Chronicles by Garth Nix (the omnibus version) which comes to a total of 1364 pages.

I’m not sure it was the heaviest though because I have read books smaller than that which are heavier. I have a copy of The Memory Cathedral by Jack Dann that is much smaller and is pretty heavy considering its size. I also have an ARC of The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell that weighs a tonne and I have put off reading because of it.

I’m digressing though… I can’t figure out what is the heaviest, but that was the largest and I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a really large and heavy book for anything but pleasure, unless you count encyclopaedias and dictionaries. Even then, even though it was for knowledge, I enjoyed reading those immensely too.

BTT: Life Changing

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Which Book Changed Your Life?

I’ve seen this question around and even asked it a few times myself, but when I contemplate it I have a hard time considering an answer because I think saying a book is life changing is a huge claim. It must be one intense book to have such an impact on someone and sure I’ve read a lot of books, but I don’t think I consider one book only to be life changing.

What I think is every book in some way, shape, or form has the power to influence and inspire. To me all books, whether you find them enjoyable or disagreeable, can help alter or influence your perception, you can learn something from all books and even graphic novels. This is why I can never answer the question of which book has changed my life, because all books hold the power of change.

What would be your answer to this question? Is it possible a book can change your life? Link me up if you answer it on your blog or just answer in the comments.

BTT: Crappy

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Do you ever crave reading crappy books?

I think that really depends on what ‘crappy’ is in this case and what the reader considers to be crappy. I don’t really like the term crappy in application to books.

If it’s crappy as in badly written, as in bad sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation, then no. I don’t ever crave reading books like that because they piss me off. It’s habitual for me to pay attention to all of that while reading, on top of the plot (I blame that on my writer gene), and it distracts me from the story. I don’t like being distracted from stories, I like my reading experience to go smoothly thanks to both writing and story working well together.

If it’s crappy as in plot? Hmm… Not really. I do crave something a bit more… lighter and more fun, less complicated, and maybe a little… I don’t know what word to use, because to me it might be trashy, but in the fiction world it isn’t. I don’t crave a crappy plot, I don’t crave a badly executed idea, but I do crave what I consider to be reading for pure unadulterated enjoyment. To me that’s paranormal romance and some urban fantasy. Not that they’re badly written, or crappy, some of them are written beautifully, but for me it’s different reading. It’s guilty pleasure reading.

When I’ve read for guilty pleasure and have unfortunately come across a crappy book, it’s still pissed me off, and thinking of one series in particular makes me realise I really do not crave crappy or appreciate crappy books. Like I said though, a lot of it depends on personal taste.

That was a long answer! What about you? Let me know if you’re taking part so I can check out your answer, or just answer in the comments if you want to.

BTT: First

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How about First Editions? Are they something special? Or “just another book” to you?

All books are special to me, even the older ones that aren’t even first editions, but there’s always something extra special about a first edition. I was given one as a present several years ago of The Queen of The Damned by Anne Rice and since then I have started a little mini collection.

I have a lot of first editions, but I treat them the same as most of my other books, it’s a select few that have a special place. They’re usually ones by certain authors or of a particular subject or if they have an unusual cover.

However I’m not going to go out of my way to buy a first edition for a ridiculous amount of money or venerate one in a display case more so because it is a first edition. If I came across a book in a display case that was old, it wouldn’t matter to me if it was a first edition or not, because I think all books are beautiful in some way and I don’t care how corny that sounds.