Booking Through Thursday – Illustrious

Booking Through Thursday asks: How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?

It depends on the book. I think non-fiction lends itself better to illustrations and pictures than most fiction. For example, I love photos and illustrations in cookbooks so I can see what the end result should look like or an illustration of a technique. In biographies, I like to see photos of places, people, etc. to put names with faces since the people are real. I have this book called A Fish Caught In Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg. It contains photos of the fish underwater and specimens caught by fisherman. It benefits greatly from the photos. How else could you picture the fish in such detail otherwise.

In fiction, I don’t mind illustrations but I prefer to picture the characters and places for myself. I think it’s part of the experience of reading for me. Recently I read Isis: A Tale of the Supernatural by Douglas Clegg and it did contain black and white sketches throughout the book that I found to be a nice touch. They didn’t give too much away and provided just enough drama in certain places to move the story forward. In fantasy, I think a map is useful but I tend only to glance at it to get my bearings and then move on.

Any thoughts on illustrations that you’d like to share?


Booking Through Thursday – Grammar

Booking Through Thursday asks: In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books? More importantly, have you read them? How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?

I have a copy of The Elements of Style and I do use it. I can’t say that I’ve read the book cover to cover but I do flip through it a lot.

I think grammar is important but I don’t profess to be an expert. I have vague memories of high school English classes where grammar was a topic but that’s it. Sometimes I do think it can be fussy but it does help ensure we all understand each other in the end.

Any thoughts about grammar you’d like to share?

Booking Through Thursday – Why I Read

Booking Through Thursday asks: I’ve seen this quotation in several places lately. It’s from Sven Birkerts’ ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age’: “To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.” To what extent does this describe you?

This doesn’t describe me at all. I don’t read because my life is insufficient in any way. I read for many different reasons, none of which have to do with being unhappy with my life that is so lacking in stimulation and so boring that I need a place to escape to.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to fall into a good book and escape into another world. That’s part of why I read, and my love of fantasy in particular, but I don’t do it because everything around me is so bad that I can’t take it. I also don’t think that reading is a vote in anyway to show that I’m trying to escape — OK, maybe on the metro but that’s another post.

I read because it’s entertaining. It’s educational. It’s enlightening. It’s emotional.

I read because it’s fun. Have you watched any TV lately? It’s all reality crap I can’t stand and refuse to watch so I pick up a book instead. So, maybe I am casting a vote with my reading — against bad TV.

I like to learn new things and I like to discover new interests. I like when a story or a character tugs at my heart and leaves me wondering even after I finish the book.

For some reason, this question annoyed me this morning and I’m not going to go on ranting about it, although I could. I’m just going to say, it’s not a good description of my reading habit and leave it at that.

Booking Through Thursday – Winter Reading

Booking Through Thursday asks — The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now… So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch … what kind of reading do you want to do?

Considering the weather reports are calling for a huge, monstrous, gargantuan, record breaking storm (the local weather person has broken out the thesaurus) this weekend, this is a very timely question. 🙂

I don’t really favor one particular genre, though I am partial to fantasy, I’m going to answer this question by talking about the books I have lined up for this weekend. Some are a few library books I have to finish from my last loot, and a few have been sitting around the house just waiting to be picked up.

The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming is first. I read some amazing reviews of this book and to be honest, I’d describe it here but it seems hard to pin down even after reading the publisher’s description so let’s go with fiction/fantasy/time travel. Now really, what more can you want when it’s 20 degrees and snowing outside.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. So I don’t get left out in the cold (please don’t shun me for the bad pun, I write these posts early in the morning), The Hunger Games. I’ve had this book on my TBR for months. I noticed my library had it and, after a long wait on the hold list and a few inter-library things taking place, I finally have it in my hands. I hope it lives up to its expectations.

The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m participating in the Lord of the Rings Read-Along (more here if you’re interested) and February is The Fellowship of the Rings. I adore these books and it’s been so long since I’ve read them all. I’m looking forward to opening this old classic. Could there be a better escape than Middle Earth? The answer is no. Who knows, I might even break out the movie.

The Kingdom of Ohio

The Hunger Games

The Fellowship of the Rings

What about you? What kind of reading do you like to do?

Booking Through Thursday – Twists & Turns

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks — Jackie says, “I love books with complicated plots and unexpected endings. What is your favourite book with a fantastic twist at the end?”

So, today’s question is in two parts.

1.Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?

2.What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

Yes, I do like books that have unexpected endings and keep me guessing or try to anyway. As I said here before, when a book pulls me in, I sometimes read ahead when I want to know what’s going on. I like to get concerned about the characters, wonder and worry about what’s going to happen, and then, when it’s all over, be satisfied and still want more.

Revolutionary Road

One of my favorite books is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I wasn’t fully expecting the ending, or at least I kept hoping it wouldn’t end that way, and it was heart-wrenching. If you haven’t read it, it’s an absolutely fantastic book and I highly recommend it.  If you’re interested, you can read my review here.

Know a book with an unexpected or great ending?

Booking Through Thursday – The Favorites Game

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks — Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Hmm, this is a tough one and the author I’m going to pick is not a complete unknown. I’m going to go with Michelle Moran (Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra’s Daughter). I know, a lot of book bloggers talk about her but I found that people who don’t spend their time with noses buried in books (not a criticism, I always have my nose in a book too ;-)) don’t know about her. I introduced her to two of my co-workers who absolutely loved The Heretic Queen.

She creates great characters and her first three books were all set in Egypt or at least had Egypt as a central theme and it was a fantastic setting. Her descriptions are subtle but it’s obvious she knows her subjects and easily transports you back in time. Anytime anyone asks me about a book or an author that I like that’s a good, entertaining read, I recommend her.

Got any favorites of your own to share?

Booking Through Thursday – The Back Flap Issue

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks — Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

Yes, I do — but after I finish to see if it matches up to what I thought of the book. I know, why bother at that point. I guess I like to read first and then see if the publisher got it right. As if I might know better! 🙂

I will admit though to being one of those people who reads the last page first (the horror!) and sometimes when a story is taking an odd turn that seems out of whack or things are not going well for the characters that I’m liking, I will read ahead. Why do this and not read the inside flap? I know it seems like the two things don’t match up. Here’s why I do one and not the other — I don’t like surprises. Yes, reading the inside flap would give me the information I want since most flaps these days seem to be bent on spoiling the reading experience by telling you everything but the flaps don’t tell you exactly how it all happens. I like to know what is said and thought and when I find what I’m looking for, I go back to regularly scheduled reading time.

Crazy, I know, but we all have our reading quirks.  And, no, I don’t do this with all books.  Sometimes I’m content to read through with no unscheduled interruptions but if a book grabs or annoys me then, yes, I’m reading ahead. I never found that reading ahead has spoiled anything for me. If I’m going to be bothered by something a character does, I’d rather know all about it. I might find out all the intervening reasons along the way but I still like to know.

So, do you? Read the inside flap that is.

Booking Through Thursday – My Best Reads of 2009

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks — It’s the last day of the year, and you know what that means … nostalgia and looking back. What were your favorite books of the year? (Books that were new to you in 2009, if not necessarily published this year.).

BBT just so happened to be my post for today so this was an easy one this morning. 🙂

I took a look back at my list of books that I read this year and here are the best of the bunch. Some are old and some are new. I decided not to separate out any particular genre, so in the end, it’s just my list of what I read and liked this year in no particular order.

What I liked

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell – It was funny, slightly educational, and entertaining.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – This book sat on my shelf for years before I picked it up. It made me mad, made me cry, and made me laugh. I’m sorry I waited so long to read it.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates – This was a phenomenal book. You should read it.

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell – This year was the year of Cornwell for me…I read a lot of his books this year. Agincourt was probably my favorite.

Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by SG Browne – OK, I know, zombies…but it was really funny, like laugh out loud funny.

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji – I read, no devoured, this book in one sitting. It was just wonderful.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Again, another book I don’t know why I waited so long to read. It took me forever to finish because I kept going back to re-read passages.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger – I think this was a love it or hate it book. I didn’t love it as much as The Time Traveler’s Wife but I still loved it.

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran – She has become one of my new favorite authors. I can’t wait for her next book.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon – What can I say, I have a soft spot in my heart for this series.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – Jackson is just a wonderful writer. She pulls you in and you can’t put her books down until you’ve finished the last word.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – This is the first book of her’s that I’ve read but I will be looking for more in 2010.

What I didn’t Finish

Memnoc the Devil by Anne Rice – I don’t know what it is but I can never finish an Anne Rice novel.

Drood by Dan Simmons – I liked The Terror but for some reason, couldn’t get into this one.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – I tried, I really did. I plan to pick this one up again in 2010.

Powers by John B. Olson – I didn’t like any of the characters. What can I say, it happens sometimes.

Well, that’s it for 2009. I’m starting my list anew for 2010 and wish you all the best for another year of great reading.

Happy New Year!