Blog Hop: Ancient Writings

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: What’s the oldest work (by publication date) you’ve read?

I took a Greco-Roman class in college where we read a number of ancient Greek and Roman works.  I can’t name most of them from memory, so let’s give it to Homer (8th to 7th century BC) with The Illiad and The Odyssey.

The Bible is an ancient text I read daily–I’m currently reading the Gospel of John, which dates to around 100 AD, one of the later books.

Setting religious texts into its own category, the oldest author on my shelf I read on a semi-regular basis is probably William Shakespeare (lived 1564 to 1616).  Hamlet (1602) and Much Ado About Nothing (1600) are my favorites.

After Shakespeare, I think it would be Jane Austen, who lived  slightly before Charlotte Bronte.  My favorite Austen is Northanger Abbey (1818), my favorite Bronte Jane Eyre (1847).  And once you’re into the second half of the 1800s, I’ve read lots of books from that time.

Hmm, there’s a big jump in time from Homer to Shakespeare–about 2,300 years!  Makes me feel that I’m actually ignoring most of human history.  Anyone got a recommendation for a good book from around 600? 🙂

Blog Hop: Chunksters

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you read books over 400 pages?

Yes…and that actually feels like a pretty normal length for a book.  I’d guess most books I read fall somewhere between 300 and 450 pages.  A YA book might be shorter, but I read less of those than I did in the past.

500 pages is a longish book which might give me a little pause, 600 pages is long and gives me a definite pause, and 1,000 pages is a LONG book that I need a compelling reason to pick up.  Reading very, very long books feels like a bigger commitment than shorter books–it has to be one I really want to live with for weeks, to the exclusion of others.  But I’ve read a number of books up there in the LONG range, and wouldn’t completely rule a book out because of its length.

Though I do seem to have a block about picking up the very long Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell that I can’t seem to get past…

Blog Hop: Parting Ways?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you continue with a book even though you aren’t liking it?

Mostly yes, but for a few different reasons.  I think I’ve mostly given up the idea that a book that isn’t good on page 100 might yet turn it around, but still I keep reading most of the times.  Sometimes it’s a commitment for some special reason–there were a lot of not great Newbery Medal winners, and I’ve finished some book club picks mostly so I could talk about them (and be decently informed if I wanted to argue why they were terrible).

Some books that go darker than I want to read I’ll finish anyway, because that actually gives them less power…it’s like I can close the book in my head that way.  That said, I have started dropping books occasionally if I can tell they’re heading a direction I don’t want to read.  I recently stopped one where a girl was being sexually exploited by her boyfriend, and while she hadn’t been badly hurt yet, I felt very, very sure it was coming, and so I stopped reading before we got there.

Some books I stop because they make me angry.  I’ve never got over the Abandon trilogy, so perhaps I should have finished that one and closed the book, as noted above!  It’s hard to get to that point of disgust with a book though, and most I stay with.

The biggest reason I’ve stopped books is when I realize I just don’t care–if there’s no compelling reason to keep going, like a challenge goal.  But barring that, if I realize 60 or 100 pages in that I’m not emotionally invested at all?  Not worth continuing.

But none of the reasons for quitting come up very often.  I probably don’t quit more than 1 or 2 books a year, so that’s something like 1% of the books I read.  Most are a lot better than that–or at least good enough to see through.

Blog Hop: A Few Questions, Please

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Which author would you most like to interview, and why?

Limiting myself to living authors…I’d like to interview Brene Brown, whose work on vulnerability has been amazing and life-changing…though I’m a little afraid I’d inadvertently try to turn it into a therapy session, wanting her insights on everything in my life!

I’d also like to interview Catherynne Valente, partially because I love her Fairyland series so much, and partially to see if I could somehow (discreetly, politely) puzzle out the question of why that series is SO DIFFERENT from the rest of her books.

I’d love to interview Geraldine McCaughrean, who wrote the wonderful White Darkness, and wrote me a wonderful letter back when I wrote to her about it.  So I think she’d be just lovely to meet.

Do you have an author you’d like to interview?  Purely because they’re awesome, or do you have questions you really want answered?

Blog Hop: Love for the Classics

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you have a favorite classic? When did you read it? High school or as an adult?

I guess all of L. M. Montgomery’s books qualify for the Classics section?  At least, Anne of Green Gables does.  I possibly ought to pick something of hers, but they somehow don’t feel like proper, capital C Classics to me, which I guess implies a higher degree of difficulty in reading, or a more archaic style…or something?  I don’t know.  And I fully realize this attitude towards Montgomery’s books probably has more to do with my familiarity with them than anything intrinsic to them.

Anyway.  Let’s still set Montgomery aside (though The Blue Castle is my favorite of hers, one of my top five favorite ever books).  Even though J. M. Barrie and Montgomery were contemporaries, his Little White Bird (1902 publication) feels more like a proper Classic, and that’s also a great favorite of mine.  I believe I read both these books during high school, though neither was assigned, and I’ve reread them multiple times since then.

Charlotte Bronte feels even more like a proper Classics author though, which means giving the nod to Jane Eyre, another particularly beloved book.  So let’s call that my favorite Classic.  I read both Brontes some time after college, when I realized I’d never been assigned either (and I was an English major!) If you come down on the side of Wuthering Heights in the great Bronte debate, let’s not discuss it and remain friends…

Blog Hop: Stealing Like a Writer

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Which book do you wish you’d written?

Hmm.  The first to come to mind is Bloody Jack, probably because in college I wrote a story that flirted with some of the same ideas, a girl disguised as a boy who ran away to sea.  The series’ quality grew uneven and I kind of wish I’d written some of the later ones so I could have sent things in a different direction…

I wish I could write like Catherynne Valente in her Fairyland series, because the things she does with archetypes and fairy tales and magic are amazing and very much the things I want to do, but she has an exquisite, lyrical, witty writing style that I am in awe of.

I don’t actually wish that I’d written Susan Kay’s amazing Phantom, because even though it is, as aforesaid, amazing, and even though it’s an important inspiration for my own trilogy, and even though it’s up there as one of my very, very favorite books…I want to write my own Phantom story, you know?  Though I would like it to have a similar reception!

I guess I mostly don’t wish I’d written someone else’s book–because those are their stories, and I want to write my own.

Blog Hop: Enthusiasm…?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: At the end of a hard day, how do you get yourself psyched about writing a book review?

I guess…I kind of don’t?  At least, on some level, I don’t.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever read about trying to get yourself to do something is (paraphrased) that you don’t actually have to be excited to do it, you just have to do it.  Taking the pressure off to feel positive about it makes it easier to just buckle down and do it, because you’re not putting willpower into trying to modify your emotions too.

How do I get myself to write a blog post though?  Well, having a schedule is everything for me.  I’ve had a set schedule of when I post since the first day of this blog–it’s shifted a little as my time allows, and I have missed posts occasionally (although I didn’t for years).  It’s much, much easier for me to say, I need to write Friday’s post because it’s Friday and I post on Friday, rather than, hmm, I haven’t posted in a while, I should post…which could easily be put off until tomorrow, indefinitely.

It’s actually the same attitude I have towards writing.  I write every day.  Period, full stop.  I’ve kept that up for…five years?  Six years?  I don’t know, I’ve lost track.  But the key thing is, the question becomes not, do I have a good enough reason to write today?  The question is, do I have a good enough reason to NOT write today?  So far, I haven’t had a good enough reason to break the streak.  Including my wedding day.  Including my honeymoon.  Including international travel and various illnesses.  I won’t say that there haven’t been days when I edited one paragraph, or reread one page that I was revising, or wrote two sentences…but every day, something happened.  Because the question wasn’t will I, it was will I not? [/end divergence]

So along with knowing when I need to write a blog post, inverting the question of whether to do it, I also remind myself that it usually goes faster than I imagine it will, it’s usually easier than it looks once I start, and I do in fact usually enjoy writing it.  Or I probably wouldn’t be doing it to begin with!

For bloggers, how do you get yourself to post?  Non-bloggers, do you have tricks you use for other tasks that you might find challenging to start?