Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book tagged

(update and bump, 8-21-07 - great add-on questions by CalTechGirl, written in green and answered at the bottom of the post... tip to Mr. Summers)

...by the book lass herself, Sheila O'Malley.

(Before I start, I want to say one thing - somehow, it's reassuring to vanish for ten days, get married and go on a honeymoon, and then, upon my return, see that Sheila is still obsessing about Dean Stockwell. In an ever-changing world, some things are timeless!)

What are you reading right now?
I am finally beginning a book recommended by Tracey many moons ago: "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I also have "The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song," which I browsed at the bookstore while everyone else was waiting for the Harry Potter. I regaled my extremely patient wife (then fiancee) and our friends with select passages. Hilarious and full of information. I'm looking forward to it.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?
Right now, we have no subscriptions, having just moved and not bringing anything with. In the meantime, I have a collection of small featurettes from ESPN the Magazine that I've just finished tearing through, called the Answer Guy.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
I kind of snoozed my way through most of a Toni Morrison book in college, so I can't say "forced to read." I didn't miss much considering how well I did on the paper having read nearly nothing. But I usually put "Moo" by Jane Smiley at the front of this list. It wasn't poorly written but it was deadly dull, full of nobody I would ever care about and would dread meeting in real life. It's hard to get into a book with no character at all to identify with. In those cases I at least try to get into the story as a character myself, and sort of fill in between chapters and episodes by interacting with the characters; in this case my avatar wound up in jail for slapping a bunch of people. The last 200 pages were thus torture. (And this wasn't a class assignment at all! Why did I do this to myself?)

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Oddly, I don't make too many book recommendations, unless someone mentions a book first. Then, if I've read and enjoyed it, I will say so. The most recent book in this category would be Chesterton's "Everlasting Man."

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?
Maybe during the great Computer Gap of a few years ago, when I was pestering them for Internet time, but I've moved since. I also usually buy books.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?
This happens more often with movies, since I have a taste for oddball stuff like "UHF" and MST3K. But in books, this happens most often with the Bible. People know I read it (though not as much as I ought), but usually have reasons why they don't:
1. they start from Genesis, bog down in the "begats" and "thou shalts", and never get past the Battle of Jericho.
2. they think they know it already - but won't reread it even if they say they liked it.
3. they think it boils down to Jesus simpering around telling kids to be nice to each other.
4. they think it boils down to God smiting this, condemning that, and generally being a cosmic hard-ass.
Funny thing is that I don't pry about it - I'm not into launching conversations about Christ out of the blue - but if it comes up, people launch into the explanation as if they owed it to me, when I really try to avoid that impression. (Maybe it's my looks. The other day a woman in the supermarket apologized to me when her daughter and her friends nearly ran into me; I smiled and reassured her there was no harm done, and she felt compelled to volunteer that "They're not all my kids, thank God." Huh?!?)

Do you read books while you eat? All the time, at least while alone.
While you bathe? And risk getting them WET? (Though, see above - gravy and beer are somehow an exception! I'm stoopit.)
While you watch movies or TV? If the show is that bad, I'll turn it off entirely in favor of the book.
While you listen to music? Yes.
While you’re on the computer? Depends. If I need to look stuff up, yes.
While you’re having sex? My wife deserves better than that, wouldn't you say?
While you’re driving? No. I try not to risk imminent death for myself and others while driving.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?
Yes, a lot. If it was just books I don't think they would have minded, but I would read anything I could lay hands on - food labels, newspapers, the Pennysaver, circulars and fliers, instruction booklets... plus I played chess.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Hm. The pedant in me says, "Define good." The book lover in me answers, "Good as in 'I stayed up half the night because I had to know what happened next.' So there."
I stayed up half the night reading "The Deathly Hallows," and it was good as well as compelling, as in "I need to find out so I can actually follow half the conversations on the Web this week" and "Next week there will be no time because of the wedding so I have to finish NOW." Before that it was a book about the 1975 baseball season called "The Long Ball." (Recommended for any baseball fan, by the way, especially Red Sox Nation. Lots of Freddie Lynn and Spaceman Lee.)

What book have you stayed up all night NOT reading (because it disturbed you in some way)? Has a book ever entered your dreams?
Plenty of books have entered my dreams, but even the most disturbing ones haven't ever kept me up at night after I put them down. I loves me my sleep too much.

What book/ series would you like to write an ending too? Or rewrite? I'm not strictly talking about fanfic, just this: given the opportunity, which stories would you like to work on?
Another one in my wheelhouse. I tinker with EVERYTHING mentally. If I can't understand something or if it frustrated me, I will actually start typing. I wrote a couple dozen pages of Episodes 1-3 from the point of view of an entirely new character in order to untwist some of the cockamamity. I've written Sherlock Holmes into stories. I'm working on a Cowboy Bebop sequel. Sort of makes you wonder how I actually got married, don't it?

Best book to movie transition?
Haven't finished the book yet but the Green Mile has been doing well for me. Jaws is up there, but would have been higher if Spielberg had just killed off Richard Dreyfuss. (Robert Shaw's monologue about spending four days in the Pacific with sharks picking off the survivors is worth the whole price of admission plus three tubs of popcorn.) Willy Wonka in some ways bettered the book, though Roald Dahl hated it and would never watch it afterward.

Personally, I want to be in charge of two book-to-film projects: "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Walter Miller Jr, and "Pudd'nhead Wilson" by Mark Twain.

And as a corollary, what books should NEVER be a movie?
In general, books that work through the wonder and imagination of the reader suffer most in the translation. If I can already see it in my head, I don't want to see what you see with my eyes. It probably won't be half as good. I am not loving the Harry Potter films as a result, to say nothing of the metric tons of material they have to cut each time.

Do you prefer one-off novels or character-driven series books? What's your favorite book series?
I don't really have a favorite, though I was raised on series like Tom Swift, Danny Dunn, and Narnia. Lord of the Rings is the best of them, I think. I also loved the Hitchhiker books - see below - but then see below that.

Which book character do you see yourself as most like? How about when you were a kid?
I always identified with the kindly, put-upon sorts, like Arthur Dent; or else rogues with good hearts, like Han Solo. Only later, as an acquired taste, did I begin to identify with the heroes of the story - but again, not usually the main character. I could never be Gandalf or Aragorn; I would have loved to be Faramir, however. (And not the movie one, but the real one in the book.)

Ever NOT want to finish a book because you were desperately afraid that the author was going to take it somewhere you didn't like? Ever fling a book at the wall because that happened?
Not exactly - but the last Hitchhiker book was, indeed, flung at the wall. Douglas Adams was a fine writer, but he should have just left it with his heroes staring at God's Final Message to Creation. There was no use whatsoever in his deciding, hell with it - I'm going to tack on a fifth book and destroy all these characters everyone loved in a nihilistic hissy fit. Pretty much it was a huge middle finger over the shoulder as he went out the door.

This book NEVER HAPPENED. That's the official ruling.

No tags. But I know there are book lovers out there who will want to participate! Comments are yours - or you can just link back, I want to see your answers!

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