I came across this questionnaire on Curiosity Killed The Bookworm; it looked fun, and it’s been a while since I did something like it, so here are my answers…

1. Which book has been on your shelf the longest?

Oh, I don’t know — I bought books fifteen years ago that I still haven’t read. Can I name one that’s been there a long time and I keep meaning to read? The Viriconium omnibus by M. John Harrison.

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?

Current read is Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harsted, whcih I’ll be reviewing for We Love This Book. My last read was Joe Dunthorne’s Submarine, and the next one will probably be How to Forget by Marius Brill (though there’s always the possibility that I’ll change my mind).

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?

‘Hate’ is too strong a word, but I remember feeling lukewarm towards The Book Thief when pretty much everyone else in my reading group loved it. (I could also mention here The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which made it on to the World Book Night list, but which I didn’t much rate.)

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison (600-page high fantasy from 1922, written in an Elizabethan/Jacobean style). It’s a book I mean to read out of historical interest in fantasy literature, but I can’t actually envisage a time when I’ll be in the mood to stick with it.

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”

That’s too far away for me to think about, and I don’t think I would save particular books in the way anyhow. Perhaps that’ll be when I finally read The Worm Ouroboros

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?

Eh? I wouldn’t even contemplate looking at the end of a book before I start. The last page is the last for a reason.

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?

I don’t always read them, but certainly wouldn’t consider them a waste. What- or whomever an author wishes to acknowledge is up to them, and fine by me.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

On the proviso that I woudn’t be limited by the plotlines of the books in question, I will say Thursday Next; being able to travel into any book would be pretty cool.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?

Oh, plenty: reading Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile during my A Levels; the second summer vacation at university when I raed Mary Gentle’s Ash and China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, amongst many other books; working my way through the Discworld novels as a teenager…

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.

I studied A Level English Language, and chose for coursework project to do a comparative analysis of the humour in books by Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, and Robert Rankin. I was on holiday in Herefordshire that summer, and popped into a second-hand book sale in Ledbury, to see what there was. Amongst several (knowing me, a large ‘several’!) other books, I found a copy of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (which had not long bee n published), being sold cheaply because it had apparently been damaged in transit (though it was a perfectly good reading copy). I bought it in case it would help with my project — and it was so much fun to browse, and I learnt so much from it, that it has become one of my most treasured books.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

I’ve given plenty of books away, but can’t think of a specific instance where there was a special reason.

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?

I don’t think there is one’; I’m a fairly fast reader.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later? 

I never got along with A Kestrel for a Knave when I studied it in high school, but appreciated it more when I re-read it a few years ago. I wrote a blog post on this very subject back in January.

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?

I’m sure I must have found an item in a book at some point, but nothing that I can recall.

15. Used or brand new?

My preference would be new, but I’ve no problem with used books, as long as they’re in decent condition.

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?

To be honest, I haven’t read much by him; I tried a couple of his books earlier this year — the first time I’d read King in ages — but they didn’t grab me.

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?

I liked the Lord of the Rings movies better than the book (though it’s a long time since I’ve seen and read them, so I don’t know whether I’d feel the same now).

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?

‘Never’ is another strong word. I don’t think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has ever had the film adaptation it deserves (certainly not the Tim Burton version). And I’m not sure that The Chronicles of Narnia really work as Hollywood blockbusters.

19. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?

Hmm… no, I don’t think I have.

20. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

‘Always’ is yet another strong word, but I’ve picked up plenty of recommendations from The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, and from one of its editors, John Grant (who wrote excellent reviews for Infinity Plus back in the day. These days, if Niall Harrison, Adam Roberts, Scott Pack, or Abigail Nussbaum (to name four) say something’s good, I’ll most likely take a look.