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15 February 2010

Book Survey II: Influences

What book has most influenced your outlook on life?
I like Charles de Lint’s stories because they espouse a similar world view to my own. He writes urban fantasy, so you have your pieces of mystery and other worlds, but he is also a very strong advocate, so there are always threads through his books – we need to let our lights shine – do a little good and if enough people go out with kindness in their hearts it will make the world a better place – even if you only make one person smile, it’s a good thing. He is also an advocate against child abuse, child labour, and a lot of other unsavoury forms of violence and abuse. His “bad guys” are normally so horrible, but utterly believable because they are made up of the worse pieces that humanity has to offer. And his heroes are ordinary people – people you pass in the street every day and think nothing about – and yet they can triumph over that darkness – in themselves, and the monsters after them. So yes, lots of spirits running around a very urbanised landscape, but there are also a lot of admirable ideas involved. Plus, he has an interest in goth, punk, beats, hippie, arty cultures. I started reading Charles de Lint when I was 16/17, so I was at a point that I was developing my world views and identity. Reading his books made me embrace my uniqueness (my gothic/hippie/boho leanings) and art, and reinforced my world views. His stories are full of myth and folklore, things I have a great passion for. I wrote to him one day when I was 19 or so, and he wrote back to me. He was fascinated that I was studying archaeology, and a shared fascination for mythology and folklore. He also loved Buffy (I shared a short story he wrote about a vamp with Linda in year 12, and she drew Lilith as Drusilla – or visa versa) and that Linda and I identified with the crow girls… On another note, we are getting crow girl tattoos this year… if we can draw a design we like LOL

What books are pure fun?
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Nora Roberts books. You don't read them for intellectual reasons, but they are entertaining. Its all I read anymore. I think it is an unconscious rebellion about being serious and working too hard. My non-working hours are taken up with activities that require no effort on my part.

What was the hardest book to get thru?
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. I started it when I was 15 and threw it aside in disgust. I picked it up again about 6 months ago and am working my way through it. It’s the sort of book I need to be paying attention to, and I keep getting other books come through my door and I get distracted. I will finish it though!

If you could only read one genre of books what would it be?
Fantasy. That covers all the genres, including epic, dark and urban fantasy as well as paranormal romance.

Most inspirational book?
Someplace to be Flying - Charles de Lint
The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

What book seems simple, but isn't?
There are quite a few. I tend to read ones like Charles de Lint, Frank Herbert, etc that whilst being entertaining, there are background motifs that have a lot of import. However, if you read Paranormal Romance, and it seems simple, its because it is LOL

Do you carry any books with you?
Always. I've started storing some at work as well, just in case I finish one during lunch. I hate train rides without my trusty sidekick!

Which writer's has the most fun with words?
Charles de Lint, Terry Pratchett, Piers Antony, Jane Austen.

What book do you like (or think you like) but shamefully have not finished?
Children of Húrin. It’s the one I slowly slog my way through. JRR Tolkien’s books are great, but when its more like an oral history written down to preserve the tales of a hero, I find it hard to read in one go. This book, and Unfinished Tales remind me of some of the Anglo Saxon texts like Beowulf, Battle of Maldon, or the Welsh traditions of the Mabinogion or the Irish Ulster Cycle. I've read them all, and I love mythology, but because there are so many tales wrapped up in one volume, it is hard to just sit down and read it straight through.

What novel have you read the most times?
??? I think I will need to make a list!
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Madeline Brent’s Merlin’s Keep
Raymond E Fiest’s Magician
JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
David Gemmell’s Waylander and Iron Hand’s Daughter
Charles de Lint’s Ivory and the Horn, Mulengro, Someplace to be Flying, Yarrow.

What books do you remember from being a kid?
Enid Blyton, Tamora Pierce, Roald Dahl, Libby Hathorn, Gary Crew, David McRobbie, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Ann Martin, L.M. Montgomery, Jackie French, Paul Jennings, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Isobelle Carmody, John Marsden, May Gibbs, Victor Kellher, Gillian Rubenstien, Sonya Harnett, Catherine Jinks, Francine Pascal, Christopher Pike, Garth Nix… god there are too many for me to write down! I was a voracious reader from the age of 7! And it only got worse when I got sick at age 11!!! O_o

What is the best autobiography?
I don't really read autobiographies. One of the only ones I can remember off the top of my head is I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just a Little Unwell by Leigh Hatcher. It details his learning to live with ME/CFS. I also read some out of Africa types, but they were a long time ago. I also read one by an archaeologist, but I can’t remember which one. I prefer fiction, ethnographies and mythology over autobiographies.

Who is a good read although you disagree with nearly every word?
I can’t think of any. I tend to read books that I like, not because it is good literature, or popular. I can usually tell from the blurb and/or the first chapter if I will like it.

Who do you mostly agree with, but still makes you cringe a bit?
Any authors who are bigoted. Either to do with race, gender issues or disabilities. Those are all issues that piss me off when I have to listen to someone spouting hate and/or ignorance.
{Edit: I didn't read this question right. These are the books that make me cringe, and with whom I have no or a limited level of agreeance with the author.}

What was the best book you've read about a subject you don't really care about?
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. It’s filled with a lot of topics and motifs that I find abhorrent (incest, rape, bigotry etc), but it is well written (although unconventional), and I do love certain passages. An example is narrated by Quentin in the second part of the book – it always stuck with me.

“When the shadow of the sash appeared in the curtains it was between seven and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciatingly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it.
The bit in italics is the bit that I cleave to.

Who have you read the most books by?
Probably Nora Roberts because she is such a prolific author, and it is easy to get my hands on her books. I own over 100 of her novels now, and that’s less than half of what she has written. My other authors are not as prolific, but I have read 100% of their books. So I guess the answer relies on if we are talking actual numbers or percentages!

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