2 Feb 2009

A self-confessed bookworm...

I don't just spend a lot of my free time watching movies (or TV), I'm also a major bookworm! Have been since as far back as I can remember! Lots of people say they read before going to bed because it helps them sleep. Not me. Well, not me as in it doesn't help me sleep, but I do enjoy reading most nights at bedtime. It's just that picking up a book in bed can be hazardous to my health... because if I get too caught up in the story I am likely to stay awake reading until a rather indecent hour. On more than one occasion I've kept on until finishing the book around say... 6am? :p I rarely leave the house without a book or a magazine in my bag, particularly if I'm going to be travelling on public transportation or have a doctor's appointment (I hate waiting with nothing to do). I actually read less now than a couple of years ago because of more time in the car and less in buses and trains. Sigh!

Some months I read more, others less. It's not so much a question of available time as available material. It kind of depends on what books catch my eye, what I can get my hands on. Like movies I prefer everything to be in the original language it was written (but while thanks to subtitles I can afford to be that picky with movies, when it comes to litterature anything not written in English, French or Spanish I'm stuck with translations). I tend to prefer history (both fact and fictionalised versions, as well as biographies of interesting historical figures), some crime/detective novels (from time to time, usually based on someone's reccomendation), fantasy (which I've loved since I discovered fairy tales!) and some science fiction (I have a tendency to prefer it on the screen) as well as some all-out science (usually related to biology, the environment, the seas or the Antarctic) and some I wouldn't quite know how to categorize.

I'm a sucker for certain themes/series. I'll read just about anything revolving around Robin Hood or King Arthur (I've lost track of the number of different versions I've read on those old tales, starting with the original material). I've gotten absorbed into the Star Wars "extended universe" since I picked up Timothy Zahn's Heir of the Empire trilogy in the early '90s and as I read Han Solo just seemed to jump out of the page and I could hear Harrison Ford's voice and see his reactions in my mind's eye. There have been some damn good stories in that (never-ending) series, and some really lousy ones (with even worse writing) as well. Quality has been up since we switched milleniums, but I seem to be in an over-dose phase, there are just too many coming out! Might play catch-up in a few years...

I like stories that are well plotted and have compelling characters, but I have been known to let myself get dragged along in a compelling story just to find out what happens next, even while admitting that the writing in itself is crap (i.e. Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code and to some extent Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth). I try to avoid series, because I tend to get so caught up in them it feels like I'm devouring them, and the end result can be expensive! (I've avoided the Discworld novels for that reason...) If I like something I've just read from a previously undiscovered (by me) author I'm also likely to go out and get anything else they've written (you should see my Isabel Allende or Arturo Perez Reverte shelves!). I really enjoy 19th century and turn of the 20th century English, American and French authors. I haven't read much from the middle of the 20th century, I have a tendancy to stick to really old (i.e. >100yrs) or rather recent (within the last couple of decades). I'm also criminally lacking in a decent education of Spanish classics and haven't stuck my head too far into non-western litterary works (have read some from African authors writing in French).

I frequently re-read many of my favourites from childhood and adolescence. It's kind of like "emotional comfort food". Whenever I want some light, easy reading to help me get to sleep, to relax in a bath with, when things are very stressful or I've been doing a lot of brain-draining work, then I'll scan my bookshelves and re-read the Anne of Green Gables novels, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women and its successors, The Dark is Rising sequence, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, an Agatha Christie novel (my favourites are those with Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, not a big Poirot fan).

Favourite authors include: Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, Isabel Allende, J.K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Mark Twain, Emile Zola, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Arturo Perez Reverte, Louis L'Amour, Zane Grey, Tara K Harper, Frances Hogdon Burnett, Louisa May Alcott. I've recently discovered and enjoyed P.D. James, Patricia Cornwell, Stephanie Meyer and Witi Ihimaera.

I think I've waxed on long enough for one night. So I'm going to leave it at that for now, and pop in here from time to time and comment on my latest "liste de lecture". I'd appreciate any reading suggestions, at times I feel like my reading is a bit limited precisely because I'm so faithful to favourite authors and I have a hard time picking out a book just based on its cover or summary. I usually need someone to (enthusiastically) reccomend it to me.

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Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)