1. Favorite childhood book?
Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle of the Ninth
Thea Beckman, Kruistocht in spijkerbroek
2. What are you reading right now?
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea.
3.What books do you have on request at the library?
None. If I want a new book, I'll buy it. Books, like footwear, are my must-haves.
4. Bad book habit?
Putting it down page downwards if I have to get up for any reason. This tends to damage or weaken the spine, I'm told, and I shouldn't be doing it...but I do.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Thomas More, Utopia. It's currently 32 years and 5 months overdue.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
Nope. I don't want one, either, for several reasons: 1) pocket-sized paperbacks are easy to stuff into any bag, or indeed, pocket and can be bumped to no detrimental effect; 2) you can't read in the sun from a backlit LCD screen, or in the falling dusk from an eInk screen; 3) you can't read from it if there's any kind of technical glitch or you've forgotten to charge it. By and large, books are simply handier (I think).
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Never more than two, unless it's for research purposes.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No, I don't think they have.
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
So far, I've only read one book this year. Yes, I know, I'm behind on my reading. I plead failing eyesight as the reason (it's been 5,5 weeks since I lost a contact. I'm still waiting for my replacement pair).
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
See my previous answer. As to my favourite book from last year's reading: probably Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, closely followed by The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson. Oh, and I really enjoyed Louis de Bernière's The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman as well.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Considering my comfort zone is pretty wide, I would say: not often.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Fiction: the classics, historical fiction, philosophical fiction, contemporary literature, anything that appeals from having scanned the blurb on the back cover
Non-fiction: art, architecture, architectural history, archaeology, palaeontology, palaeoanthropology, history, art history, philosophy, theology and comparative religion, cookery books, horticulture, city planning, travel books, museum catalogues
13. Can you read on the bus?
I can read anywhere. I block out everything around me when I'm reading.
14. Favorite place to read?
Anywhere, I'm not fussy.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
People are welcome to borrow my books, provided they look after them and return them when they're done.
16.Do you ever dog-ear books?
No. I just memorise the page I'm on.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Very, very rarely; if ever. I was taught to respect books.
18. Not even with text books?
Not even with text books. If I need to write down a thought, or do an exercise, I'll insert a note. Also, I refuse to use marker pens.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
Strangely, English. And I say 'strangely' because obviously it should be Dutch, which is my mother tongue after all. But most of the books I own are in English, at the ratio of 7 to 10 (with the remainder equally divided over Dutch, French and German) so...My least favourite language, incidentally, is German, because of the multitude of capitals on every page.
20. What makes you love a book?
The plot, the subject matter, the language in which it is couched...the flight of imagination it takes me on.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
The pleasure it has given me reading it.
22. Favorite genre?
Philosophical fiction, I suppose, what is commonly referred to as novels of ideas, in which a significant proportion of the work is devoted to a discussion of the sort of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Poetry. I do read the odd anthology, but I don't think I've ever read a complete novel-length epic since leaving school.
24. Favorite biography?
I've read a few, but I can't say I've got any favourites.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No, I haven't. The genre doesn't appeal to me.
Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef, I suppose.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Inspirational? Probably Karen Armstrong's The Case for God, in which she responds to the recent atheistic publications of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et all. Among the themes of the book are apophatic theology and intellectualism versus practice. Armstrong asserts that the fundamental reality, later called God, Brahman, nirvana or Tao, transcends human concepts and thoughts, and can only be known through devoted religious practice.
28. Favorite reading snack?
I have no particular preference.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I can recall no such case. I read what I like, what I think I might like, and what I feel like; and so it really doesn't matter to me whether a book is a bestseller that everyone raves about, because I tend not to pay any attention to that.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Since I don't normally read book reviews, I have no way of knowing.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
To be honest, I can rarely be bothered to give any kind of review at all. But if someone asks, and I didn't like a book, I will say so.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Well, I can and do read in several foreign languages, some with more ease than others. English is easiest, simply because I've been practising it daily for longer than I care to remember and I'm about as proficient in it as I am in my mother tongue; but I can also cope with German, French, Spanish and Italian. I do struggle with Greek and Latin these days, though (I've been too long out of school).
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. It completely went over my head the first time I read it (in the early 80s it must have been), and it's been sitting on the shelf daring me to open it again ever since.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
That would be the same.
35. Favorite Poet?
I like John Donne, and Shakespeare; and there's quite a few Dutch poets that you'll not have heard of - but really, I'm not much of a poetry reader and therefore am not up to speed with regards to recent developments in the genre (and by recent, I mean anything written post-1970).
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
I'm not a member of a library. I used to be, when I was in school/university, but I fell out of the habit of visiting libraries after I graduated.
37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?
38. Favorite fictional character?
Oh, I don't know...King Arthur? Merlin? Odysseus? Pooh Bear?
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Shere Khan - I love that tiger, but he is a baddun.
40. Books you're most likely to bring on vacation?
I always just bring the book I happen to be reading at the time, and simply buy another when I finish it. There's bookshops all over the world.
41. The longest you've gone without reading.
The first 5 years of my life, when I hadn't yet been taught my ABC. Since then, I've been reading pretty much continuously.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about (this was just before it got pulled from the shops, so sometime in the late 80s, I think), but I just couldn't get into it.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Nothing does. I'm in a world of my own when I read, and I don't notice anything else. Although, I think, I might look up if there's an explosion or something...
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Peter Jackson's LotR-trilogy. It's simply sublime.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I'm sure there must be many, but the one that springs to mind at the moment is American Psycho. I loved the book, even if I was disgusted by the graphic descriptions of violence and murder in some of its paragraphs, but the movie left me decidedly unimpressed...despite the casting of Christian Bale in the lead.
46. The most money you’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
About ƒ 450,= which was a huge amount in those -my student- days.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
A badly edited one, full of mistakes and misprints. For instance, I once started reading a novel by an Australian author that dealt with the subject of an historic shipwreck somewhere on the northern coast. The ship was a Dutch vessel, the people on it were Dutch, but their names and the occasional supposedly Dutch words and phrases were so mangled as to be unrecognisable that it kept throwing me out of the story from sheer annoyance. They couldn't have had someone with a knowledge of Dutch proofread the manuscript before sending it to print?
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Only in the sense that I keep my fiction in the bookcases in the bedroom, and my non-fiction is kept in the study. And the books in the bookcases in the study are grouped by subject matter, so I'll know exactly where to grope for a book on theology, astronomy, art, architecture, history, philosophy, archaeology or palaeoanthropology in the dark.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I can never part from my books.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
52. Name a book that made you angry.
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. What a load of codswallop.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Kluun, Komt een vrouw bij de dokter. At one point, everyone was reading it, and then my sister, whose taste in books I don't usually share, recommended it. Actually, she put in in my hands and told me to read it. So I did. I don't rate it very highly, but I didn't hate it. There's an English translation out, too, entitled Love Life.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Will Self, The Book of Dave. I liked the premise, but the narrative bored me half to death.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Sophie Kinsella, the Shopaholic-series.