Personal, Reviews

Book Q & A

Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

This meme is brought to you today by Annabel. It’s completion is due to the extra time I have from taking a half day at work (dentist appointment) AND because I’m in a great mood. Tonight I am going to see Bob Dylan (and Wilco). I’ve already see Arlo Guthrie this summer (in lieu of Woody Guthrie, for obvious reasons), if I could somehow manage to see Leonard Cohen I would be able to cross off the musicians section of my life list. The latter is not happening this year. Now for the actual book portion of today’s post (sorry, my excitement over Bob Dylan is intense)…

Unsure about the favorite cover, there are too many:

teleportation device

What are you reading right now?

Needful Things by Stephen King
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
The Rathbones by Janice Clark

Basin and Range by John McPhee
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

*It doesn’t bother me to read multiple books, especially if they are all very different.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. The subject matter is intense. Disturbing books typically only disturb me when they focus on children.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I still haven’t read it.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It’s quite possible that I’ll always stick to the miniseries, but I have good intentions.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons (or Drood, for that matter). No excuses, I just haven’t.

Insert any book that I’ve said ‘I’ve been meaning to read that…’, there are a lot of them.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?

I typically have design magazines scattered around the house. I usually have the latest Colorado Homes and I typically hoard back issues of West Elm. You, lucky readers, will learn more about my home renovation soon. You know you want to know.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Yep, I read them both. I’m still astounded that they both have sequels (and more).

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. It won the Booker and lots of people I knew loved it but it didn’t work for me.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Yeah, yeah, everyone loved it. Except me. Anyone else not like it?

Also, while I thought the Harry Potter series was well-written and engrossing, it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

There isn’t one book. If someone ask me what they should read, I usually start by asking what other books they’ve enjoyed. That being said, I think Empire Falls by Richard Russo has universal appeal.

What are your three favourite poems?

Daddy by Sylvia Plath
Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Craigo Woods by Violet Jacob

Where do you usually get your books?

Mostly from the library or publishers. I frequent used books sales as well, which is hell on my book buying ban.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

No, just reading all the time.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

I don’t know, I am a night owl by nature so I am usually up late reading. If I am in bed by 1am, it is a good day.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Moby-Dick. I skimmed more than I care to admit.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

The Stranger by Albert Camus (the black and white cover, if not for that cover I would not feel the need to own any Camus)

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

The classic Nancy Drew books.

What book changed your life?

White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I can’t explain how important this novel is to me.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

From The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (I can’t believe I only mentioned Maugham once on this list, because The Razor’s Edge surely needs a mention too):

‘I had no illusions about you,’ he said. ‘I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It’s comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn’t ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you’d only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn’t care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they’re in love with someone and the love isn’t returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn’t like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn’t see any reason that you should. I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn’t afford to do that and I was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor.’

Who are your top five favourite authors?

John Irving
Richard Russo
Stephen King
Donald Ray Pollack
Joe Hill

And so many more.

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Green Shadows, White Whale by Ray Bradbury

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

I liked Annabel’s answer: ‘Depending on the audience, every book on this list.”

However, I have heavily pushed Jane Eyre, Empire Falls, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Bag of Bones, The Devil All the Time, and NOS4A2.

I’ve already shared this, but I used to be (and still am) a huge fan of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I made any guy interested in dating me read it. To this day, I’m still shocked anyone ever bothered.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

*I’m changing this to include first time novels.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman

Double Feature by Owen King

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

What is your favourite classic book?

Without a doubt, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Five other notable mentions?

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Wool by Hugh Howey

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

Love All by Callie Wright

Thanks to Annabel Smith for tagging me in this meme. I’m tagging Julie, Christine, Lianne, and Lori. No pressure (if you’ve got the time, I personally completed this while waiting in the dentist’s office), but I would like to see your answers.

And for everyone else: see below. I’m a curious person by nature, so I really want to know.

Your turn: You don’t have to be tagged to take part in the meme. You can respond in the comments or on your own blog – just share the link in the comments – I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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  • Annabel Smith

    Great post Rory. Can you explain to me the difference between your personal and professional reading?

    Love having someone in my corner on The Sense of an Ending.

    But seriously, The Book Thief…still?!

    • Rory

      I know, I know. The shame.

      The difference between my personal and professional reading is what I read for fun on my own time (personal) and what I have to read and evaluate for work (professional). I am a botany librarian, but I am also responsible for implementing and building a botanically related fiction collection (thus how I manage to sneak in State of Wonder). While I would probably read State of Wonder for fun, it’s not as likely that I would read a book like Basin and Range for fun. Basin and Range focuses on ancient terrains and vanished landscapes of the western half of the US. Interesting, but dry reading.

      • annabelsmith

        I never knew you were a specialist librarian. You little sneak, getting State of Wonder into your professional reading! Are you enjoying it? I liked it a lot, although not as much as some of Patchett’s others. Do you know of the book Growth of the Soil, by Knut Hamsun – it was recommended here ( – sounds like it might be relevant to your collection.

        I might skip Basin & Range! It would be a good name for a shop selling kitchen and bathroom hardware though…

        • Rory

          I’ll check that one out. I’ve also managed to work in The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The best part is that I’m paid to read and evaluate their potential. It’s one of the highlights of my job.

          Basin and Range would be a great store name. The title is referring the physiography of landscape. Essentially a basin and range topography is characterized by steep, abrupt mountains (range) that border on long, flat landscapes (the basins). Fascinating, no? (It is and it isn’t…)

  • DrFrood

    North and South – just watch the tv series and pretend you’ve read it. BBC series obviously.

    Enjoy Bobby D, I hear he’s sort of a big deal. Like Ron Burgundy.

    • Rory

      Ron Burgundy has never heard that song.

      I don’t why I can’t read North and South. It’s on both my shelf and my iPad, but I’m lacking the discipline to get it done (which probably answers why I won’t read it, as I generally try to enjoy reading).

      BD was, of course, excellent. Wilco was even better. My night (I hesitate to use the term date) leading up to the show was so laughably bad that the whole experience will forever live on in infamy in my head. It was a good night.

      PS – The girl beside me was scrolling through her Facebook feed while Dylan was playing Tangled Up in Blue. I didn’t really think anyone actually did that.

      • DrFrood

        I was surprised too, but it happens apparently.

        #if youdon’tshareititdidn’thappen

        Was it a bad date in the sense that your date was so nervous and inept that everything went wrong which was itself quite endearing or the other kind of bad date?

        Put another way: is there a sequel on the cards?

        • Rory

          Ha! Probably, maybe, though there was no endearing nervousness going on (I’ve known him long enough not to be nervous (mostly), I’m assuming that that’s reciprocal).

          I was yelled at, stabbed with a fork, and referred to as ‘one of those Bob Dylan people’ despite not engaging in any behavior that would qualify me as such. He then tried to inconspicuously check his email, which I commented on, to which he replied he wanted to see if anything interesting was going on. And then I died.

          But I got to see Bob Dylan, so all worth it.

          • DrFrood

            Ouch…Probably he didn’t mean it like it came across.

            Unless he’s a follower of The Game-type ‘how to pick up women’ codes. You know – the ones that focus on undermining a woman’s self-esteem until she hates herself enough to contemplate sleeping with you.

          • Rory

            I really do think he was bored and even I can begrudgingly admit not everyone loves BD.

            Though one should never mock the person whose picture hangs on the wall opposite of the bed he hopes to get in. I should add that I very much doubt that was the intention/end goal of the evening.

            I really need to read The Game (for fun). I want to penetrate the secret society of pickup artists (the person who thought up that tagline needs a raise or a demotion, I’m not sure which).

  • christinasr

    I disliked Gone Girl too. I love the quote from The Painted Veil – now I want to read that book!!

    • Rory

      I’m glad someone else didn’t love Gone Girl, I’m so tired of hearing about it!

      The Painted Veil is one of my favorite books of all time. The film version with Ed Norton is excellent as well.

      • annabelsmith

        Sigh. I heart Edward Norton.

        • Rory

          So. Do. I. More than is healthy, I’m sure…

      • christinasr

        I was so disappointed with Gone Girl. Not at all for me.
        I actually looked for The Painted Veil yesterday in a bookstore but no luck. Ended up buying Tess of the d’Ubervilles instead then.

        • Rory

          I like Thomas Hardy. My favorite is Return of the Native. I always loved the name Thomasin for a girl post reading that one…and apparently I’m still stuck on the baby name kick post royal baby. Why? I don’t know…

          All I’ve heard about for the past two weeks is Gone Girl the movie. I’ve had to work in my politeness when I say I just don’t care (as long as they don’t cast Natalie Portman, because that would be SO wrong).

          • christinasr

            I’ve never read Thomas Hardy so I’m excited about this one.
            I already have two kids – one named after a book – and I don’t think I’m having more so the baby name kick only pops up once in a while. We’re expecting two new babies in the first part if 2014 so I’m curious about their name though!
            I hope Natalie Portman will refuse if she’s asked. She should know better!

  • Heather

    I love, love, love WHITE OLEANDER. Love. (Did I make myself clear? I’m not sure. Haha!) I’m glad it is so important to you.

    • Rory

      I didn’t quite catch that… Could you be a bit less vague?

      I read it when it was a teenager and it changed the direction of my life. I related to Astrid in many, many ways. At that time, it also renewed my love of reading. I’m ambivalent about the film version…

      • Heather

        I haven’t watched the film–I’m too afraid that it’s awful.

        • Rory

          It’s not awful, exactly. Michelle Pfeiffer’s good. The rest of it’s…perfunctory, maybe? Nothing special…

  • picturemereading

    I love Sylvia Plath! 🙂 That cover is gorgeous!

    • Rory

      The cover is probably the best thing about that book, which I found to be a bit strange (it’s like the author threw ‘all the ideas’ in one book).

      Of course, I think Sylvia Plath is great. Have you ever seen the Gwyneth Paltrow movie about her? I’ve refused on principle, but would reconsider if another Plath fan told me it was worth it….

  • Sarah Says Read

    Oh I’m so doing this today! If you don’t mind 🙂

    White Oleander was my FAVORITE first “grown up” novel, I think I read it around the time I was 14. I’ve read it several times since then, and still really like it. So fantastically written. I need to check out a ton of other books that you mentioned. Like Empire Falls – I’ve heard of it so many times, still haven’t gotten around to taking a peek at it.

    I envy your night-owl ways. I’m more of a morning person… with a nap in the middle of the day… Lol. Sadly, the times I feel like staying up late are always the times I have to get up at 12:30 AM for work :-/

    • Rory

      Please do!

      White Oleander was also my first favorite grown up novel read sometime during my teens (maybe 16?). Empire Falls I read while in college – so began my love affair with all things Richard Russo (which is kind of odd because he’s so optimistic and I’m so…not).

      I am, by nature, a night owl, but for many years I had a job where I worked 6am to 2pm. It was hell on my internal system. Now I’m lucky, I don’t have to be to work until 10am (though now my work weeks runs Sat-Wed, which sucks in its own way).

      • Sarah Says Read

        I envy the 6 to 2 schedule! I actually work 2 am to 2 pm, three to four days a week (but always weekends). It was great at first and I get a lot of reading done… but I think I’m getting to old for such crazy hours :-/

        I clearly need to explore Richard Russo!

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  • Lianne @

    Thanks for tagging me Rory, I enjoyed reading all of your answers! 🙂

    <3 the cover for The Teleportation Accident, I actually read it this week and enjoyed it! Still trying to put my thoughts together into a coherent review post though, lol

    I don’t think I’m ready to read We Need to Talk About Kevin anytime soon, lol. I like like many of the books and authors I mentioned a few weeks ago in one of the TTT posts, I think I need to mentally prepare myself before tackling that novel…

    I’m also hesitant to check out Gone Girl, if only because everyone’s talking about it lately. But there’s a movie being made now so I dunno, I feel like I should check it out sometime soon…lol, oh to be a book lover and having an aversion to reading some of the really popular/most talked about books right now…xP

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