The book meme

I caught this over at Tales from the Reading Room and thought I’d pass it along. I’m not one to go crazy with the Internet Blog Memes, but this one stuck out. Because it’s about books. And I like them. So here we go.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

I’m always a sucker for the trade paperback format. Sure, mass-market paperbacks (the smaller ones that you find at airports, for the most part) are easier to carry. But they don’t look as nice.

Hardback is for very special occasions. Or when Barnes and Noble has a stack of them for five dollars because they didn’t sell well enough.

Amazon or brick and mortar?

Brick and mortar, in a landslide. Sure, Amazon is wonderful with its discounts and shipping and all of that, but it’s near impossible to browse. Give me the feeling of running my fingers over a book, opening it up to check the font, discovering similar titles in the general vicinity and experiencing the weight of a handful of new titles over the cold, button-clicking, mouse-dragging Amazon (or, in most cases, Powells) website.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Borders in a landslide, though probably because I’m not as familiar with the Borders franchise (we don’t have one in Sioux Falls) and so I find them so different and fun.

Bookmark or dog-ear?

Whoops. I’ve been known to dog-ear my fair share of novels, but I’ll admit to only doing that with library books or cheap mass-market novels from S & S Books.

For the most part, I’m all about bookmarks – preferably the great book darts that I received for Christmas a few years ago. They’re ridiculously useful and perfect for protecting against “sudden bookmark fall-out.” Of course, I have a habit of leaving them in the book when I’m finished, so soon I’ll run out. Which will result in a sudden reconnaissance mission through the bookshelves to find all of the unused book darts.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?

Random, but by categories: non-fiction, non-fiction semi-political, non-fiction political, ancient text (which includes poetry, because I have very little poetry and it only made sense to put it next to The Canterbury Tales and Beowulf), short story collections, science, travel, English history, book sets, and several shelves of fiction.

Keep, throw away, or sell?

Keep. Keep keep keep, until I forget why I’m keeping them, like a packrat with memory loss.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?

Duh. Keep. Why would you toss a dust jacket?

Read with dust jacket or remove it?

Remove. It gets in the way and gets torn. It’s there to protect the book from dust, not from fingers. So it stays on while on the shelf, comes off while in my hands.

Short story or novel?

Short stories are great, I’ll admit, but I feel like I don’t get enough time to consider the characters before rushing onto the next one. And I always rush on. I can’t help myself. So while I love short stories, I find more comfort and responsibility with novels.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?

Collections, by far. I enjoy anthologies, especially for the sometimes-random nature of the stories chosen, but I think I get a very strong and nearly complete view of an author after reading a series of short stories. The style and verbiage and themes come back again and again, and the short stories start to form into an awkwardly constructed novel.

With that being said, I still read a large number of anthologies – at least four a year, with the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern subscription – and I love them.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

I’ve never ready Lemony Snicket.

And we have all six of the Harry Potter books in hardback, lined along the shelf behind our bed.

So there you go.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?

Chapter breaks, but only because I’m anal and it seems cleaner – like the break was designed specifically to be used as a bedtime signifier. But I do that when I’m tired, so I guess it’s both – when I realize I’m tired, I forge ahead until the next chapter break.

Does that count?

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?

“To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.”

Buy or Borrow?

Both, depending on whether or not I am a fan of the author, if the book is well designed, if I have a gift card, if I’m unsure of the book or if I have money to throw around.

New or used?

New, mostly. But only because I can never find books at a used book store that I could justify purchasing.

Though, now that I think about it, most of my books are used, thanks to a history of used bookstore browsing and bazaar sales.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?

I’m currently plowing through all of the classics I missed by not taking literature classes in college, so my recommendations are coming from a long list of “required read” lists.

Other than that, I find that I pick up a lot of suggestions through book blogs and through authors I already enjoy. I rarely read book reviews all the way through because I find them to be too pretentious, overwritten and more intellectually slanted than is necessary. But that’s a different concern for a different day.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?

It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s good. Twists are fun, if they’re not maddening (I’m looking at you, Eggers) but a tidy ending is always welcome. Sometimes I wonder what the characters end up doing after the story ends, so I appreciate that insight.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading?

Nighttime. I can’t read in the mornings – that’s more of my Internet blog reading time. Afternoon reading is fun, especially on a cold winter weekend, but I find that 80% of my reading happens after I’ve gone to bed or after Kerrie’s gone to bed and I’m left alone in the basement.

Standalone or series?

Standalone. The only series that I currently read is Harry Potter. I’ll read sequels, if they’re available, but for the most part, it’s all standalone.

Favorite series?

I have a soft spot for the P. G. Wodehouse Wooster/Jeeves books, but I don’t read them often. Harry Potter, of course. I guess I’ve read the series-like A Star Called Henry/Oh Play that Thing pair by Roddy Doyle.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

Towards the End of the Morning – Michael Frayn? That’s as “unknown” as I get.

Favorite books read last year?

Everything by Jonathan Safran Foer, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, The Grapes of Wrath, David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, Lorrie Moore’s Like Life

Favorite books of all time?

Really? Yikes – A handful of Steinbeck books, Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island (for the dual purpose of being Bryson’s best travel diary and the book that sparked an idea that I could write for a living), the aforementioned Jonathan Safran Foer books, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a whole crap load of old books (The Canterbury Tales, Le Morte d’Arthur, Beowulf, The Odyssey), and at least a whole bunch that I’ve missed.

And that’s it! A welcomed “just add water” blog post!

Now it’s up to you. Everyone should go ahead and steal this.

And link back to me, otherwise I’ll never know you’ve stolen it.

And because I like the attention.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 6th, 2007