In which I, a reader, answer the Shelf Awareness questionaire.
Shelf Awareness is a daily newsletter for readers and writers that contains smart articles about the book industry, new releases, who’s appearing on TV, and other things that I usually need to know. (It’s free, and I encourage you to sign up for it. It’s always a good way to spend a couple minutes a day.)
There’s also a fun section where people answer questions about books.
And since I was thinking about what my answers would be, I thought I’d do it myself!
On your nightstand now:
“The Enchanted Wanderer” by Nikolai Leskov, one of the novellas that Melville House has ingenously printed in book form. It’s a quirky little tale of vignettes from of a man who is doomed never to die. I’m really enjoying it. Also, a shout out to Melville House for being a thoroughly modern publishing company — there’s a QR code in the book to access additional information, like more short stories by Leskov, and photographs.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Too many. I went through serious Ramona Quimby and Babysitters Club phases, but it really all does come back to Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” which is still every bit as great a read as I can remember. Oh, how I tried to make glasses of water float using only my mind. (Never happened.)
Your top five authors:
Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley, Christopher Moore, Roald Dahl, and Stephen King.
Book you’ve faked reading:
🙂 “Heart of Darkness” — in high school AP English. I tried, really I did, but I just didn’t care. And I resorted to Cliff’s Notes. And I did fine on the test. And I don’t remember a darn thing about any of it, except for watching “Apocalypse Now.”
Book you’re an evangelist for:
I believe if everyone in the world read Christopher Moore’s “A Dirty Job,” we’d all be happier people.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
“The Monsters of Templeton,” by Lauren Groff. And the book was actually great.
Book that changed your life:
“Jane Eyre” is my hands down favorite book of all time. From the moment I first read it, there’s never been another book like it. It did a lot to awaken me to how purely awesome a book could be — I’d been a hardcore reader all my life, but this was something else.
Favorite line from a book:
(From “Jane Eyre,” Chapter 27) —
Rochester: “If you were mad, do you think I should hate you?”
Jane: “I do indeed, sir.”
Rochester: “Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat — your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from you with disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer a ray of recognition for me.”
And that, dear reader, is why we love Edward Fairfax Rochester despite his numerous less-than-lovable traits.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Today? “The Poseidon Adventure.” Any other day, I’d say Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman.” To be able to take that adventure again with a totally open mind for the first time would be a gift.
If you could encourage any beginning writer, what would you say?
Don’t try to be like anyone else. Just be you. (And vampires don’t sparkle. Stop it.)