Booking Through Thursday – Cheating?

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

Do you cheat and peek at the ends of books? (Come on, be honest.)

When I read this question I had a feeling that I’d answered it before and checking back in the blog I came across my answer back in June 2007. It was my very first Booking Through Thursday post. Here is what I wrote then:

I’m always tempted to look at the end of books and sometimes I do if the book is getting boring to see if it picks up. If the book is one that I can’t put down then I try to resist looking ahead ‘“ not always successfully though and then I wish I hadn’t!

Do I still think the same? Yes and no.

Yes, because now I don’t think of it as cheating at all – life is too short to continue reading a book that seems to be going nowhere, so I’ll look ahead to see if it looks as though it will pick up.

And no – now I don’t peek at the end of crime or mystery novels – that does spoil the experience.

Something Old, Something New – Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question:

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 love reading brand new books, especially brand new library books. I like a new book to be perfect if I’m buying it and I’ll go through the copies in a bookshop to find the best one there, the one without any scuffed pages, creased covers, the one no-one else has thumbed through.  There was only one copy left of Les Miserables when I wanted to buy it. Its cover was worn and the whole book was shop-spoiled and when I pointed that out at the till, the shop reduced the price. I’d still have preferred a good copy, but I did buy it.

I buy quite a lot of used books too and then I’m not as fussy. I’ll buy a book in a really poor condition if it’s the only one I can find, or if the ones in better condition are much dearer. As much as I like reading a brand new book that no-one else has read I also like reading a second-hand book that has been well read and I like to see the notes someone else may have made in the book, something I rarely do myself.

Booking Through Thursday – Firsts (on Friday)

Although it’s now Friday I wanted to answer this Booking Through Thursday question:

Do you remember the first book you bought for yourself? Or the first book you checked out of the library? What was it and why did you choose it?

I can’t remember which was the first library book I borrowed. My mum took me to the library before I started school and I remember that whichever book it was I liked it so much I didn’t want to return it and was only consoled when mum said I could borrow another book.

I think The Gloriet Tower by Eileen Meyler is the first book I bought for myself. I still have this hardback book. The description on the book jacket describes it as a

… tale for older children set in Corfe Castle a few years before the beginning of the Hundred Years War. The family there who found themselves drawn into a strange and cruel plot had no existence except in the Author’s imagination. Nevertheless a thin thread of fact runs through the story. The death of Edward II and the power wielded by his widowed Queen and her favourite Mortimer belong to history. The plot to ensnare the King’s brother and the merry-making and the dancing on the walls are true enough and true also is the story of the capture of the Earl of Kent.  … the castle and the wild heath, lapped by the waters of the harbour, are true until this day. They are there for all to see for themselves.

As far as I remember I chose this book because of its historical setting in a castle – I loved castles (still do), and I liked the cover picture. And so began my love of historical fiction. Looking at it today I think I’d like to read it once more.

Many years later I visited Corfe Castle in Dorset, now owned by the National Trust. It was swarming with people and I wished I could have seen it in years gone by when it wasn’t a tourist attraction.

Resolutions – Booking Through Thursday

Today’s Booking Through Thursday’s question is:

Any New Year’s reading resolutions?

  • Read what I like when I like.
  • Enjoy browsing in bookshops and online book sites.
  • Take part in the Reading Challenges I’ve joined, but not to worry if I don’t read many books for them, or if I don’t finish them.
  • Read books from my TBR shelves.
  • Restrict how many books I borrow from the library, because I often take books back unread.
  • Re-read some old favourites.

That looks like enough! 🙂

Booking Through Thursday – Books that Change Your Life?

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

Which Book Changed Your Life?

I’ve seen this question before and wondered about it, so I can say with confidence that there is no one book that has changed my life. Books as a whole have influenced my life. Reading is a way of life for me. It began a long time ago when I was a little girl, listening to my Dad reading to me before I went to sleep. Books are a wonderful resource, whether you want entertainment or information. Books are part of me, I’ve always loved them. When I had to decide what to do when I left school it was my Dad who suggested that I might like to be a librarian, because he knew I loved books. So books steered me into going to Library School and working in libraries for a few years.  I’ve had a few different jobs since then, but books have always been central.

Without my love of books I would never have started to write a blog. It was whilst I was trying to find more information about a book that I stumbled into this world of book blogs and began my own – life changing!

Booking Through Thursday – Foreign

Today’s Booking Through Thursday’s question is:

Name a book (or books) that you love from a country other than your own (in my case the UK).

Where to start? There are so many! My choices are books that came to mind today – another day I could choose many other books and other countries.

I think the first one is a book from Switzerland – one  from my childhood. It’s Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I loved this book and the sequels, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children both written by Charles Tritten. It was first published in 1880. Johanna Spyri was born and lived in Switzterland. In the story Heidi goes to live in the Swiss Alps with her grandfather who lives on his own isolated from the other villagers. At first he doesn’t want Heidi there at all but she gradually softens his heart. I haven’t read it for years and would probably find it terribly dated and sentimental, but it lives in my mind as a beautiful book.

Next, a book from the USA – Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. This book won the Pullitzer Prize for fiction in 1972. It is the story of Lyman Ward, a wheelchair bound retired historian who is writing his grandparents’ life history and also gradually reveals his own story. It’s the story set in the wilderness of the American West – of Oliver Ward’s struggles with various mining and engineering construction jobs, contrasted with Susan Ward’s efforts to support him against great difficulties. This is made more difficult when she compares her life with that of her New York society friend, Augusta.

One of the reasons I chose this book is my fascination with the Wild West.

Margaret Atwood is favourite author who is Canadian. Which book to chose? I’ve decided to highlight the first one that I read – The Blind Assassin.

I think it may have been one of the first books I read that contains a story within a story and it’s about writers and readers as well as about the lives of two sisters, one of whom apparently committed suicide.

Another favourite author is the Australian Colleen McCullough. I’ve loved her books – the Rome series – The First Man in Rome and so on. I first came across her books many years ago with the TV series of The Thorn Birds and then read the book, but my favourite has to be Morgan’s Run. This is an historical novel based on the history of Botany Bay centred on the life of Richard Morgan who was transported from Britain to New South Wales. Again it’s my fascination for history that made me enjoy this book so much.

Finally, a book from China. I read A Loyal Character Dancer by Qiu Xiaolong last year and it’s another favourite. Qiu Xiaolong was born in Shanghai and was a member of the Chinese Writers’ Association, publishing poetry, translations and criticism in China. Since 1989 he has lived in the United States, his work being published in many literary magazines and anthologies. His first crime novel, Death of Red Heroine, won the AnthonyAward for Best First Crime Novel. A Loyal Character Dancer is his second book featuring Chief Inspector Chen Cao, of the Shanghai Police Bureau. Apart from the story which is crime fiction there is a lot about China in it – life, the country and the impact of the Cultural Revolution.

Disaster! – Booking Through Thursday

Today’s Booking Through Thursday’s question is:

You’ve dropped your favourite out-of-print book in the bath, ruining it completely … what do you do?

I have done this with a library book. My immediate reaction was to panic and fish the book out of the water, abandon the bath and try to dry the book. Of course, it was useless, the book had been completely submerged. I had to take it back to the library and confess what I’d done. This was not the only library book I had to take back ruined. The second was one our dog had chewed. In both cases I had to pay for replacement books.

So after the bath disaster I’ve never read in the bath again.

It’s so difficult to replace a favourite book because even if I could find a second-hand copy it wouldn’t have the same meaning for me. I lost my copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses that I had loved as a child. I have bought a replacement copy, but somehow it doesn’t have the same sentimental value for me, although it is better than not having it at all.