Two of my favorite things: books & surveys


Katie Noah Gibson’s blog always makes me smile.  It also makes me wish I could read faster, more, more more.  She writes thoughtful book reviews and inspiring posts about her town (which is also my town!).  I loved this “bookish survey” which combines two of my great loves – books and lists of random minutiae – and I wanted to participate.  I’d love to hear your answers, too.

Author you’ve read the most books from (the grammar nerd in me has to say: from whom you have read the most books): J.K. Rowling, Adrienne Rich, or Anne Sexton.

Best Sequel Ever: Catching Fire comes to mind, though I’m not sure I have a comprehensive list of sequels in my head.

Currently Reading: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

Drink of Choice While Reading: Water or Diet Coke.

E-reader or Physical Book? Physical books. Always.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: This was the hardest question for me.  I probably would have pined for Phineas from John Knowles’ A Separate Peace (the ultimate cool guy) but would have dated Nick Carraway from Gatsby (a quintessential outsider).

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  For some reason I was resistant to it, and now it is firmly ensconced in the pantheon of my Most Beloved Books Ever.

Hidden Gem Book: The Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler

Important Moment in your Reading Life: When I discovered poetry, in college.  I wrote on to write my thesis on poetry, and it has been an incredibly important part of my life ever since.

Just Finished: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.  L.O.V.E.D.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: I have never liked historical fiction (which makes my passionate adoration of the book above even more remarkable!)

Longest Book You’ve Read: Not sure between Our Mutual Friend (Dickens), Vanity Fair (Dickens), Anna Karenina (Tolstoy),The Fountainhead (Rand).

Major book hangover because of: The Hunger Games.  When I finished that trilogy I was bereft.  I still can’t stop thinking about them.

Number of Bookcases You Own: Two big ones and a wall of built-ins.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: The Harry Potter series.  I read them by (and for) myself when they came out (I read 3 and 4 on our honeymoon) and then again with Grace (we are on #7) and now with Whit (we are on #4).  I discover something new every single time and I’m pretty sure I’ll read the series a fourth time.  I have also read Crossing to Safety three times. 

Preferred Place To Read: In my bed.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: “She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient (it is literally impossible for me to choose one; this merely came to mind first)

Reading Regret: I wish I had read Joyce’s Ulysses and Dante’s The Divine Comedy in college. 

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series): None.  Waiting on Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje.  Light Years, James Salter.  The Collected Poems, Mary Oliver.

Unapologetic Fangirl For: Harry Potter.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: Anne Lamott’s new book, Stitches.

Worst Bookish Habit: Saying no to plans so that I can stay home and read. 

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: Selected Stories, Andre Dubus.

Your latest book purchase: The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): A book of Wendell Berry poetry (I know: can you handle the cool?)

37 thoughts on “Two of my favorite things: books & surveys”

  1. I can’t resist a survey, especially about books! This was time consuming, but fun.

    Author from whom you’ve read the most books: According to Goodreads: Janet Evanovich. But I have definitely outgrown her (I couldn’t finish book 16 in 2010). Tied for second are Jane Porter, May Kay Andrews and Pattie Callahan Henry – with the Jennifer’s (Weiner & Lancaster) nipping at their heels.

    Best Sequel Ever: Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter, in the Seattle Series.

    Currently Reading: (Read/listen to multiple books at a time.) Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Gold Berg (for a class I’m taking), Christmas Bliss (reviewing) by Mary Kay Andrews, Quantum Wellness (rereading, for a recharge) by Kathy Freston, On Grief & Grieving (my form of therapy) by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

    Drink of Choice When Reading: Depends on when and where!

    E-Reader or Physical Book: Physical book. HATE e-readers. But some of the books I review, unfortunately, are sent to me in electronic format.

    Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School: I didn’t date in High School. But if I was honest, I’d have probably gone for Daniel Cleaver from Bridget Jones’s Diary. I know! Took me years to get over the bad boys.

    Glad You Gave this Book A Chance: I did NOT want to read The Other Boleyn Girl, but so glad I did. At the time, it set me off on a mini historical fiction binge. The book is one of my favorites. I’m afraid to read The Fault in Our Stars.

    Hidden Gem Book: Not quite sure I get the question?

    Important Moment in your Reading Life: Two. After my children’s autism diagnosis, I realized that reading (which I always loved and rarely found time for), offered some sweet escape for the rough early days – and I became voracious about it. Second, I was reading a book (won’t reveal which one) and I realized that I could write a much better book – it was a light bulb moment. Of course, I’m still not published, so what do I know?

    Just Finished: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Love. Beautiful!

    Kinds of Books I won’t read: Used to say sad books, but have read many in the last few months. But I will never read horror or science fiction. And if there violence, I close the book.

    Longest Book You’ve Read: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

    Major Book hangover because of: The Help. I couldn’t read another book, for about a week. I could not stop thinking about all the characters, missing them, and wondering what they were doing.

    Number of Bookcases You Own: Six and one huge built-in! I need to purchase or build a new one, because I have three very tall piles of books in my office. My name is Allie, and I have a problem.

    One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston. Love this book. If I’m feeling unwell, or out of balance, I read it again.

    Perfect Place to Read: The beach, but beggars can’t be choosers, so my back porch.

    Quote that Inspires You: Like Lindsey, I can’t pick one, but this one came to me: “Read a lot, write a lot is the great commandment.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

    Reading Regret: So many books, too little time.

    Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books: This kills me, it’s so hard to choose. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (sorry four).

    Unapologetic Fangirl For: Well written, funny Chick Lit. Yes, it does exist!

    Worst Bookish Habbit: Ignoring family or friends when I just can’t put the book down!

    X Marks the Spot: Angels by Marion Keyes.

    Your Latest Book Purchase: Still Writing by Dani Shapiro & Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

    ZZZ-Snatcher: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

  2. I love this list. Sadly, I’ve been a negligent reader this year and have been in the middle of Allende’s “The House of the Spirit” for a month. (2013 has been a doozy for us and I’m hoping that 2014 is quieter.)

    I also loved The Fault in Our Stars and only gave it a chance because I was given a copy as a gift. And I am interested in the Liz Gilbert title you mentioned and will have to give it a try. Lastly, I noticed that two of my favorite (and LONG) books weren’t mentioned in your “longest” list: Gone with the Wind, and East of Eden. If you haven’t read them, you should. Both are wonderful.

  3. My sister Gale steered me over here today; it’s been awhile since I’ve been by! Really enjoyed this; it’s always fun to see what a writer reads. I share a mutual of Harry Potter, Anne Lamott, and Anna Karenina is one of my all time favorites. Was also a little forced into reading The Fault in our Stars…was resistant despite my love of YA, and was glad I read it. Can’t wait for Ann Patchett’s new book, which comes out soon. It’s a memoir–bet you might like it. Oh, and my husband and I listened to HP Book 7 while driving the Oregon coast on our honeymoon. (Though I’d of course read it already). A great memory:) Thanks for the little glimpse into your bookshelf!

  4. As to your last answer, I think this survey makes you uber cool. And I just used the word uber, so I obviously know that of which I speak.
    I’m glad we share a love of children/young adult books such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. Oh, and TFIOS. I follow John Green on Facebook and all of the pictures he shares gets me excited about the release of the upcoming movie.
    I always think, no matter how long I live, I will never be bored because of ALL THE BOOKS.

  5. Thank you for doing this! I love it! I can tell you from experience that both of your recent purchases are wonderful: I loved them both. And I was a bit afraid of The Fault In Our Stars too, yet I ADORED it. Honestly: LOVED. xox

  6. I have not read either of those long books! I must check them out … am right now eyeing Donna Tartt’s newest (and long) The Goldfinch. xox

  7. Hi! So glad you came by. I didn’t know Ann had a new book out, nor that it was a memoir. My favorite of all her books is Truth & Beauty, which is of course also a memoir. I can’t wait to read it! xox

  8. Exactly. I will never be bored, but I will also always feel a slight pang of anxiety about not ever having time to read All The Books. My daughter read TFIOS on my recommendation and she asks me about the movie every day! xo

  9. I was pleasantly surprised and substantially moved by The Fault in Our Stars as well! Every day I wish for more quiet opportunities to read – if only I could fine more..

  10. Hi Lindsey, I have not read Alice Munro (GASP). A male friend and I want to read one together — what would you recommend? After a first glance at Amazon, I’m thinking Runaway, but would love your thoughts!

  11. Two of my favorites too! I love this!! I agree, The Book of Qualities is such a little treasure. This C.S Lewis quote comes to my mind, “We read to know we are not alone.” I think this explains my affinity for the memoir. I always find strength and inspiration in the revelation of the struggles and triumphs of another. I will have to give this some more thought and complete it all.

  12. I love these questions and am now thinking about my answers. Read Dante’s Divine Comedy now! All three volumes are incredible works, and are my favorite literature of all time. My senior year high school English teacher did 100 days of Dante with us, and then I read them all again in college, and still think about it all the time. Definitely worth the read.

  13. Just stopped in from a box-break to read. Can’t complete whole survey but as you know, I’ll reference your words next time I’m at the library!! (Currently reading While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller (may be a recommendation from you??) and I am smitten.


  14. What fun! Will be ‘borrowing’ this for a post later in the week if you don’t mind and will of course source both you and Katie. I do though have a quick question after reading your comments to the comments.

    How did Grace do with A Fault in Our Stars? I have not given Caroline any of the sad, heavy stuff that I have loved like this you and See You at Harry’s because I’m just not sure she is ready for it. Having reading how much Grace has loved it though I’m wondering…

  15. I can’t wait to hear your answers! Grace loved The Fault in our Stars. LOVED. Asks me daily about the movie. Of course it opens up with pot smoking and there is the sex scene, but she didn’t seem to dwell on either of those. She loved it and we had some very interesting conversations on illness and health and what makes a well-lived life. She then recommended WONDER to me which I also loved, and thought had some heavy topics in it. xoxo

  16. Isn’t the Book of Qualities marvelous? I love it. And that quote is perfect – I should have used that one! xox

  17. Oh I love this… I see a new post here….
    I am currently reading Signature of All Things. Like you, I don’t normally like historical fiction, because the history teacher in me wants to check out every historical reference and figure out which parts are true and which parts are invention.
    I am in the second one in the Divergent series, based on your recommendation. Definitely liking those.
    Thanks for sharing your love of books and reading with us!

  18. I am on maternity leave right now and have some long alone stretches with the baby. These book recommendations are going to be great company for the next 8 weeks! Thank you!

  19. Fun survey! Though, I almost didn’t want to read it for fear of adding to my ever growing list of “to read”. Naturally, my fears were well-founded! I’ve been meaning to read some Ian McEwan, and the new E. Gilbert is on many folks’ lists it seems. Funny, I read this list after just bailing on a book (a category noticeably absent from the survey), but life’s too short for books that we don’t like, no? I’m a survey lover too–remember when I was young doing grocery store surveys about what products we buy just for the fun of it. 🙂

  20. I love your answers to this survey and am loving reading everyone’s comments. I’ve been wanting to read some of Anne Sexton’s work but not sure where to start. Any suggestions?

  21. Oh wow – you are so right. Book we’ve bailed on would be a good category. It’s only in recent years that I have LET myself bail when I’m not loving something. So freeing … xoxo

  22. OK…been waiting to have some time to do this. Here we go!

    Author you’ve read the most books from: Probably a tie between Chris Bohjalian and Elizabeth Berg – early works from each.

    Currently Reading: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Drink of Choice While Reading: Water or Tea.

    E-reader or Physical Book? I have a kindle, thinking it would help me keep my possessions down, but really my most treasured objects are my books, so I’m back to real pages.

    Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: This is hard – can’t think of many male teenage characters. School-age character I most identify with? Auggie from Wonder.

    Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: I know I have at least one, and am scouring the shelves, but can’t figure out which one(s).

    Hidden Gem Book: Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith

    Important Moment in your Reading Life: I grew up next door to Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook. Their basement was a huge library of books both collected and donated (hoping he would include them in his treasuries). Whenever we needed a book, we let ourselves in to their house and helped ourselves. Having access to books, and adults who supported and encouraged reading, was wonderful.

    Just Finished: The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley. L.O.V.E.D.

    Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: SciFi/Fantasy. Stories need to be realistic for me to latch on.

    Longest Book You’ve Read: Probably Pillars of the Earth. Worth every page.

    Major book hangover because of: I have many, but my latest is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I recommend it to everyone.

    Number of Bookcases You Own: One double-wide and one single-wide, but there are books in every room of my house.

    One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: None. I always have intentions to re-read, but the new stuff just piles up.

    Preferred Place To Read: In my bed or on the porch.

    Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: I’m not good with quotes. Love reading them, never remember them.

    Reading Regret: I wish I had been an English major, at least to have made me read more classic literature.

    Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series): None. I’m not big on sequels.

    Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: Talk Before Sleep, Eliz Berg, Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenedes, Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

    Unapologetic Fangirl For: Emily Giffin/Jen Weiner

    Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: new Wally Lamb and Donna Tartt both come out next Tuesday!

    Worst Bookish Habit: Saying no to plans so that I can stay home and read. (ditto)

    X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: The Round House, Louise Erlich

    Your latest book purchase: pre-orders of Tartt and Lamb

    ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): Promise of Stardust was a great page-turner.

    Thanks, Lindsey…this was fun!

  23. Your love of books is inspiring to me! I have been making an effort to read more, and I just finished The Light Between Oceans, which was wrenching and gorgeous! I will keep your list handy.

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