New York Times’ By the Book Tag created by Marie Berg

51Pd1TfIeIL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The New York Times runs a weekly feature called By the Book which documents authors and other notables discussing their lives as readers.  In November 2015, these weekly features were compiled into book form.

BookTuber, Marie Berg, recently created a tag based upon the the New York Times feature. I saw Kamil respond to the tag this morning and decided it would be a fun tag for me to participate in.

  •  What book is on your nightstand now? Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This book has been on my TBR for quite some time and I am unsure why I have not picked it up by now. I think Jane Eyre, along with To Kill a Mockingbird, are two of the most loved books in the world. I was supposed to have read it last month in a buddy read with Jo Lisa Way but I sadly did not get to it.  This month, it will be savored!
  • What was the last truly great book that you read?  In 2015, I read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout which was published by Random House in 2008 and it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009.  This was truly a cover buy for me as I discovered it one day while perusing the shelves in Barnes and Noble.  Having the book named after the protagonist, along with blurbs on the back extolling her virtues as, “…..a compelling life force, a red-blooded original….when she’s not onstage, we look forward to her return…the book is a page-turner because of her,” I went into the collection of short stories anticipating a loveable character. This is furthest from the truth, for in the first story of the collection I deeply despised Olive Kitteridge. I found her to be loud, unloving, unloveable, crass, foul-mouthed, insensitive, mean, rude, and someone devoid of the ability to sensor one’s own thoughts, words, and actions. Olive’s only endearing quality came from a scene where she was cooking a stew of apples on the stove in order to make make homemade applesauce.By the time I reached the second story, however, I realized that I was totally in love with her character. Yes, she was as I previously described her, but she was also extremely endearing. Whether she was the major protagonist in the story or just a passing secondary character, Olive commanded my attention and drew me into her world of Crosby, Maine. Olive Kitteridge is composed of thirteen short stories which examine life in which we learn that life is composed of many different moments. Often, these moments are unclean and violent, but they are moments to be experienced as part of our whole existence. These interconnected stories of the people who populate Crosby, Maine, deal with depression, dissatisfaction, marital woes, suicide, drug abuse, mental health issues, loneliness, insanity, loss, unrealized potential, parenting, aging, and death. Whereas, these descriptors may sound as if the book is a depressing read, Olive Kitteridge is filled with lovable people with whom we can easily identify.
  • If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know? Because of my great love and admiration for the Dune sextet, I would have to meet Frank Herbert, who created the series.  In meeting him, I would love to talk about some of the stories he planned on adding to the Dune Universe but was unable to because of his premature death.
  • What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?  I am not a fan of “chicklit,” but you might be surprised to find The Blossom Street books by Debbie Macomber on my bookshelves.  This series of four books deal with a community knitting shop and the customers which frequent it.  Every few years, I get a strong urging to knit and it is during these time I turn to “KnitLit.”
  • How do you organize your personal library?  My bookshelves reside in my home office; there the books are arranged alphabetically by author’s surname.
  • What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet?  Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?  My reading history is very light in the area of classics.  Some of the classics which I mean to read in the very near future include the following:
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    • The Tenant of Wildfowl Hall by Ann Bronte
    • The Moonstone and The Lady in White by Wilkie Collins
    • The entire bibliography of Charles Dickens
    • Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
    • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?    This would most definitely be The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai.  This book was recommended to me because it was about books and reading.  Even though I finished the book, it was devoid of plot and character development and is the most disappointing book that I have ever read.  Avoid it at all costs!
  • What kinds of stories are you drawn to?  Any you stay clear of?  There are two kind of stories which I am drawn to – strong character development and an interesting plot which pulls you into the story being told.
  • If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?  As a strong Constitutionalist, I would require the president to read The Making of America:  The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution by W. Cleon Skousen.
  • What do you plan to read next?  Waiting in the wings as my next read is The Book of Abraham by Marek Halter.


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