Another one from the old blog.
“Literary Survey” – Jan. 31, 2007
I have a MySpace account and I find myself answering silly little surveys all the time. At first they were kind of fun, but recently they've become very repetitive because they all ask the same nonsensical questions over and over. But this - this is a real survey!
Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? In general, I prefer trade paperbacks because they are cheaper and more portable than hardbacks, but not as small and hard to keep open as mass markets. Sometimes, though, a nice, illustrated hardcover collectors or special edition of a classic or favorite book can be really nice. And a mass market can be good for travel since they’re so small, or for a book that I’m not sure about since they’re the cheapest.
Amazon or brick and mortar? Definitely brick and mortar. I like to feel the book, flip though it, smell it. Buying books is almost as much of an experience as reading them. However, Amazon (or Barnes & Noble.com) is good for hard-to-find or out-of-print books.
Barnes & Noble or Borders? Oh, Barnes and Noble, absolutely! I'm not saying that just because I've worked for them for close to five years - I think they have a better layout and customer service, and they just seem classier. Plus, they have Starbucks. :)
Bookmark or dogear? Bookmark! Don't you dare dogear my pages; do not bend the book all the way back; do not write in my books! Treat my books with respect!
Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? I like my books alphabetized by author within genres. (Although biographies are alphabetized by the person they’re about.) Wow, can you tell I've worked in a bookstore?
Keep, throw away, or sell? I definitely prefer to keep, but if there are books I have multiple copies of or just really didn’t like, I prefer to give them to someone else who likes to read or sell them at the local used bookstore. Never throw away a book!
Keep dustjacket or toss it? Usually I get rid of the bookjackets because they annoy me when I’m reading (they keep flipping off), and I like the more rugged look of the “naked” book. However, if the book doesn’t have the title on the spine, or it’s a special edition or something, I’ll keep the bookjacket.
Read with dustjacket or remove it? If I keep the bookjacket, I definitely remove it during reading. As I said, they just drive me crazy.
Short story or novel? Novels, usually. In my experience, it’s rare to find a short story that really has enough time to build a character and plot and then adequately resolve the plot. There are some exceptions, of course, but overall I prefer a novel.
Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? It depends on my mood. I like collections that have themes or common characters and such. It’s nice having the whole book go together. But some of the “Best of...” anthologies have been nice for quick reads.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Neither. I’ve attempted the first Harry Potter several times, but I can’t get very far. I don’t understand the hype – it’s written on such an elementary level. I know they’re meant for children, but the sentence structure doesn't go much beyond “See Spot run.” And adults go crazy over them? I don’t get it. The stories (plot) are not bad, I guess – I like the movies – but not enough for me to put up with the lousy writing. As for Lemony Snicket, I’ve just never been interested in reading them. Plus, the craze at the bookstore where I work kind of makes me sick of both of these series.
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? I try to go to chapter breaks, but if it’s really late and the chapter just keeps going, I might find a break within the chapter. I usually keep going, though. I stayed up until 5 the other morning because I just couldn’t stop reading.
“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? If a book actually started out with “It was a dark and stormy night,” I’d have trouble taking it seriously until it proved it deserved otherwise. Likewise, “Once upon a time,” should be limited to children’s fairy tales. On the other hand, every time Snoopy writes, “It was a dark and stormy night... ” it’s a literary masterpiece. :)
Buy or Borrow? I like to keep, so I like to buy. However, if there’s a book I’m not convinced I’d like, I might borrow it (though if I find myself really liking it, I go out and buy it - I like to have the option for a re-read). The best way to do it is to get gift cards so I’m buying, but not spending my own money. :)
New or used? I usually like new - I’m a germaphobe so the new, unused book appeals to me for sanitary reasons. That said, I do like antique books, but I don't really handle the antique books I buy. Every now and then, I do buy a modern used book, but it's rare. (The fact that I get a nice discount on new books at work is also a factor.)
Buying choice: based on book reviews, recommendations or browsing? Usually recommendation and browsing. I don’t personally know the professional book reviewers, so I don’t know if their opinions line up with mine. I like recommendations from people I know. Also, working in a bookstore, I find a lot of books that seem intersting just by doing my job. Sometimes these books are good; sometimes they aren’t.
Tidy ending or cliffhanger? I don’t need everything completely tied up with a pretty bow, but I don’t like when major issues aren’t resolved. I don’t like endings that seem like the author just rushed to finish or didn’t know how to finish, and I often don’t like endings that require you to buy the sequel. However, as usual, there are always exceptions. ;-) For the most part, let’s just say that I don’t like cliffhangers.
Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? Any time is a good time, but I do most of my reading at night and the least of my reading in the morning (unless you count nonstop reading from night into early morning). Having a job kind of dictates a reading schedule.
Standalone or series? I like both. Although it can sometimes be annoying to HAVE to buy the next book in a series, it’s also nice to know that there’s another book out there that can be counted on. And sometimes there’s a character so well-written that you just want to read about them again. Standalones are great, too – just read the book, finish, and get on to the next book in your stack – boom!, you’ve accomplished something.
Favorite series? The "O’Malley" and "Uncommon Heroes" series by Dee Henderson, "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery, and the "Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis, off the top of my head.
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? "Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin" by Marguerite Henry. It’s a children’s book, but it’s the first book I remember reading (though I’m sure I read books before that), and I used to read it with my father (we got along back then), so I’m sentimental about it.
Favorite books read last year? "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry and "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Favorite books of all time? Oh this is a hard one! It’s hard to pick, but I’ll say "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare and "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" by Jane Austen. But, to quote another blogger, “Ask me again tomorrow, and you’ll probably get a different list.”
"MySpace"? Wow, dated already! And Borders is closed now. And I no longer work at a bookstore. Good grief.