The Book Blogger “Test”

Posted: June 18, 2014 in Book Review
Tags: , ,

I wouldn’t so much call this a “test” as I would call it a “questionnaire”. A “survey”, if you will.  A charming list of questions that anyone who reads a lot can answer, and no two would be exactly alike. Yay sentence fragments!

I found this list through Matt Gerrard’s blog, and after looking at his links to other people who have filled it out as well it would seem this thing has been floating around the internet for a while until as if by magic it floated onto my radar. Without further ado, I give you, The Book Blogger Test. Be warned, it’s a doozie.

What are your top three book pet hates? (I think we’re looking for the phrase “pet peeves” because hate is such a strong word, but we’ll go with it.)

I hate characters that are too good to be true. You know. They’re gorgeous, and they’re talented, and they’re smart, and they never make a mistake ever, and everyone loves them, and there’s at least two other characters crushing on them because they’re just so perfect! I’m looking at you YA novels. Of course, they’re just as annoying if they aren’t “oh-so-popular-everyone-loves-them”. I’m looking at you, Drizzt Do’Urden. It’s the idea that the main character is something the reader can never hope to achieve. They never mess up? Ever? Impossible.

This one goes hand in hand with the first one, as it’s yet another YA trope. I don’t like the stories where you have a girl who isn’t necessarily perfect but she wants to be and then through magical, mystical means she becomes that absolutely perfect person. And then their life is better. Everything falls into place because they’re gorgeous now, because they have all the magical powers needed to be absolutely awesome for all eternity. Our culture already focuses too much on the idea of being young and beautiful for forever. As soon as you start looking older our culture is right there to offer you a de-aging cream to cover the wrinkles. The last thing I want in a book is for all a girl’s problems to be solved by becoming drop-dead-gorgeous and having the guy of her dreams fall for her. Screw that.

Third, and final…let’s go with something that rears its head in classic fiction. I don’t like it when a person has three different names and the author uses them interchangeably within a matter of three paragraphs. It made reading Pride and Prejudice really tough. As a more contemporary example, I just bought Soulless by Gail Carriger. It’s a supernatural steampunk novel. I was taken in by the concept as well as the first few pages of the book itself, which were quite entertaining. However, then I get all confused by the whole Mr. So-n-so only to later call them by their first name. Or Alexia’s mother who has a completely different last name than her daughter because she was remarried, but I missed that tidbit and suddenly thought, “They have neighbors over for breakfast? Who is Mrs. L-face?” The problem might be with me, and not with the writing style, but I have enough problems keeping characters straight without swapping out epitaphs and first names like musical chairs.

Describe your perfect reading spot.

I really enjoy cozying up on my porch swing in the summer. I can rock myself back and forth and enjoy the nice weather as I enjoy a good book.

Tell us three book confessions.

I’m ashamed to say I enjoyed the first three Twilight Books. Not in a “Oh My God Best Books Ever!” kind of way, but they were enjoyable reads. This didn’t change the fact that I found Edward to be lame and Bella to be rather spineless, but I didn’t think they were a bad way to spend my time. I almost didn’t finish the fourth one. I got halfway through, decided what was going on was complete crap, and set it down for several months. I finished it so that I could complain about it to my friend who loves the Twilight Books far more than myself.

I judge books more harshly when they’re being made into movies. I’m already a bit skeptical if they’ve spread like wildfire through middle school or high school students but that doubt doubles when they’re turned into movies. Suddenly I start to wonder if they’re really that good that they warrant a movie or if the movie industry is just hopping onto the next bandwagon because they need a bread winner to replace whatever franchise will be finished within a year. Like Divergent. I was curious when they started spreading through the High School where I work. I wondered if it would be more Hunger Games or Twilight. The movie came out, previews looked fantastic…but I didn’t go to see the film. I also have yet to pick up the book. It’s on my list, just not near the top. And when I read it I’ll probably be looking for the tropes that permeate YA fiction.

I read The Lord of the Rings in its entirety, plopped the behemoth on the table and said, “I finished that bad boy.” That was ten years ago. I have yet to feel like I need to revisit Middle Earth in written form. I really enjoyed the movies, but the book…it wasn’t all that. It is a dense tome that I don’t know if I will ever have the fortitude to take on a second time.

When was the last time you cried during a book?

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. That book was a Trojan Horse for tears. I’m reading along, minding my own business, thinking the characters just aren’t making an impact on me, that I have no emotional connection to them and the BAM! I’m crying like a baby for the last third of the book. Well played, Audrey.

That was over a year ago, and I have a sneaking suspicion I cried during a different book since then but clearly it didn’t leave an impression on me. If you would like to know the last time I had a hissy fit in response to a book look no further than George R. R. Martin’s Dance With Dragons. That man kills characters like it’s going out of style. I know this. I expect it by now. And then he lured me into a false sense of security only to strike like an assassin during the last three chapters of the book. The most frustrating…but that’s not what this is about. Nor is it a retelling of the last time I rolled my eyes at a book. (For the record, it was Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. I would like to say that she knows what she did…but I doubt it.)

How many books are on your bedside table?

Right now there’s four books, one graphic novel, and one Kindle. The number of books available to me on my Kindle are numerous.

What is your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?

I don’t eat and read. I’ve never really thought about it much before but if I have a book in my hands it requires two hands to hold it properly. If I had a third arm coming out of my chest like that guy from The Twilight Zone maybe things would be different. I could read and snack at the same time without worries of getting my hands dirty or accidentally losing my page.

Name three books you would recommend to everyone.

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss- My friend, Rob, is probably the number one evangelist for this series (which is as of yet incomplete, one more book to go). What I like about this book is that it’s an epic fantasy that is ordinary in its epic-ness. Basically, a retired hero runs a bar and shares his life story with a Chronicler so he can set the record straight as to what exactly he has accomplished and what has been exaggerated. If you’re expecting a lot of epic battles and dragon slaying this is not the book you’re looking for. It’s the story of a man’s life and the extraordinary things he manages to accomplish along the way.

The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan is the story of an Odd Couple pair of adventurers on a mission to put back an item one of them has already stolen. Fantastically, this story is told more through character dialogue than descriptions. That’s right, a fantasy book that focuses not on the sweeping landscapes but on human interaction. Add in that Sullivan has written one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in a fantasy novel without resorting to handing her a sword just made the book that much better. It is not the plot, but the characters that make this a winner.

Now here comes the tough one. Do I recommend Sabriel by Garth Nix or do I do something out of left field and suggest The Ruins by Scott B. Smith? It’s tough, because they’re two different genres. For the sake of keeping the list consistent I’ll say Sabriel. I love it because it’s one of those books that can suck you completely into the world. There’s just enough detail to make it understood that the world is complex but not so much that you drown. The story follows a newly appointed Abhorsen, which basically means a bell-wielding-necromancer who doesn’t raise the dead but instead sends them back to the depths from which they came. Like I said before, when I think of this book I think of how detailed Nix created the world without adding too much bulk. It’s beautiful.

To validate my reasoning for The Ruins being on the list: it is by far the creepiest book I’ve ever read. We’re not talking serial killers or ghosts, we’re talking creepy-ass plants that bury under your skin and eat you alive. Seriously, I got jumpy walking home from the bus because the rustling leaves made me think of these plants. More than just the plants being creepy it focuses on the interactions of the characters as they figure out how they’re going to escape the ruins where they’re essentially being held hostage. If you watched the movie and thought it wasn’t that great I urge you to pick up the book. It was so much better.

I totally just recommended 4 books instead of 3. Well, darn it. Next question!

Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase.

Please see picture at beginning of post. I know, it’s totally not legit to lay books on their sides like that but space is at a premium and I can fit more on a shelf when I lay them that way. And, yes, it is two rows deep. This is my favorite shelf because it contains most of my favorites. I have a few smaller shelves that are more genre specific (like one of them is just wide enough to fit all the Harry Potter books) but this one is the catch all for my paperbacks, which is where most of my book money has been invested. Some other people answering this quiz have gone ahead and listed all the books on the shelf. I’m not. There’s too many for that nonsense.

Write how much books mean to you in just three words.

Escape.

What is your biggest reading secret?

Now that I own a Kindle I’m a habitual preview downloader. What this means is I see books that I think I’ll enjoy, I download a free preview…and then in a perfect world I read these previews and make decisions about what to read. I have read about 50% of all the previews on my Kindle. To be honest with myself I have bookmarked at least 50 more books that I wanted to download a preview for but stopped myself. Out of those 50% of previews that I have read most of them have been sitting in a folder on my Kindle that marks them as ones I would like to read. They then stay there until I decide to actually sort through what I’ve saved and read something. I feel I would do this successfully, except for the fact that my friend, Rob, always hands me even more books that he thinks I should read that I’ve never even heard of. In an effort to make sure I don’t keep his books for an eternity I read them first…which means I have a HUGE backlog of titles I wish to read but just haven’t made time for.

I don’t even want to talk about how many I’ve tagged on GoodReads.

That’s the kind of secret you’re looking for, right? Because the earlier list of confessions is definitely things that invoke feelings of shame while this is just something most people don’t know.

I’m proud to say this is the end. By all means, feel free to fill this out yourselves. I’d love to see what other people have to say in response to the questions.

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Comments
  1. Thanks for the pingback — and I’m glad I stayed to read! Sabriel and The Ruins sound like they’re completely different from most fantasy, which sounds perfect to me.

    • S. Toman says:

      The Ruins is definitely different as it’s more in the horror genre than fantasy (though man-eating plants definitely isn’t an everyday occurrence). In any case, it’s very different than what I normally pick up but springs to mind once in a while as, “Oh, yeah, I really liked that one.”

  2. […] came across this post by Susie on ‘There and Back Again: A Writer’s Tale‘ and thought it would make a […]

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