In a change from the health and politics related posts of late, I’m going to try and answer all of these book related questions! I know you’re supposed to do them one a day, but all at once suits me better.
1. Best book you read last year (as it’s December, I’m going to do the best book I read in 2019)
I really enjoyed reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – I wasn’t sure if I would from the title but I could barely put it down.
2. A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
This year I’ve been trying not to reread books but there are a few I return to fairly often, mostly books that remind me of my childhood and reading all the time. Discounting things I’ve read for research (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, I’m looking at you), the two books I’ve probably read most are Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Northern Lights.
3. Your favourite series
The Wayfarer Series by Becky Chambers – for those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, it’s feminist science fiction, beautifully written and imagined.
4. Your favourite book of your favourite series
A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which is the first in the series. The others are also brilliant but as an introduction to the world and its characters, it’s definitely my favourite.
5. A book that makes you happy
Any of the Moomin books! They’re lovely, and the illustrations are beautiful – sweet without ever being saccharine, I genuinely find it impossible to read them without smiling.
6. A book that makes you sad
I haven’t read it in about a decade but I’m going to say Jude the Obscure, for *that* scene. Alternatively, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
7. A book that makes you laugh
Anything by Terry Pratchett – I only recently started getting into him after a long time of people recommending I read Discworld and I’m so glad I did!
8. Most overrated book
Recently, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Almost everyone else I know who has read it really liked it, but I really didn’t. I found very little to like about it and all that stayed in my memory was a bitter feeling – it wasn’t all that long ago that I read it, but I barely remember anything about it.
9. A book you thought that you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
I’ve already mentioned An American Marriage but I think that fits the bill!
10. A book that reminds you of home
There’s a scene in the most recent Jonathan Coe which perfectly describes the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham. Although that’s technically not ‘home’ (although it might as well be with the amount of time I spend there!) it’s so beautifully and accurately described that it’s the first thing that comes to my mind.
11. A book you hated
Death in Holy Orders by PD James. There are many, many reasons I hated it and I’m sure if you’ve also read it you’ll understand. If you haven’t read it, don’t.
12. A book you love but hate at the same time
As I explain below, (I’m answering these questions in a weird order) probably Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
13. Your favourite writer
Sarah Waters. You can’t go far wrong with queer historical fiction.
14. Book turned movie and completely desecrated
One Day. The book, by David Nicholls, is near perfect. It should have made a really good film but instead is completely ruined by Anne Hathaway’s awful attempt at a Yorkshire accent.
15/16. Favourite male/female characters
Favourite male character – I can think of lots I despise (Angel Clare probably wins that one. I still haven’t forgiven Eddie Redmayne for playing him in a BBC adaptation) but favourite is a lot harder. Perhaps Snufkin from the Moomins books? Favourite female character is Matilda (or at least, that’s what I’m saying today – ask me another day and I might have a very different answer!)
17. Favourite quote from your favourite book
Spoiler for question 30, and I can’t find the exact quote but there’s a part in Tipping the Velvet where Nan gets her hair cut short and it’s just beautiful.
18. A book that disappointed you
Most recently, The Secret Commonwealth. I loved the previous ones so my hopes were very high, and it didn’t live up to them.
19. Favourite book turned into a movie
It’s actually another David Nicholls book for this – Starter for Ten, which if you haven’t seen definitely deserves a watch. It’s a good book but a fantastic movie, which is perfectly cast, and provides one of my favourite lines of all time.
20. Favourite romance book
I don’t think I really have one – there are romances in literature I really like but I’m not sure there’s a favourite.
21. The first novel you remember reading
Either The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or the Hobbit, I think.
22. A book that makes you cry
Goodbye Mog, sorry not sorry
23. A book you’ve wanted to read for a long time but haven’t
There’s lots of things I haven’t read yet, mostly because I don’t own them or because I keep reading other things instead. Embarrassing for an early medievalist, I’ve never actually read any version of Beowulf!
24. A book that you wish more people read
Everyone should read The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader – it’s a beautiful book and one that instantly became one of my favourites.
25. A character you relate to most
I’m not sure about most, but as a child and teenager I definitely over identified with Hermione, her good parts and her bad ones.
26. A book that changed your opinions about something
There’s quite a few! I wouldn’t say it necessarily changed my opinions, but Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses was one of the most influential books on my younger self.
27. The most surprising plot twist or ending
I’m not sure I can actually think of one off the top of my head – generally I find plot twists are either obvious or a symptom of bad writing, but I’m sure there are lots of good examples, just none I can think of right now!
28. Favourite book title
The best book title I have ever come across is Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism. Sadly the book itself wasn’t as good as that title but it’s a difficult one to live up to!
29. A book everyone hated but you love
Thomas Hardy seems to attract a lot of hate, but despite how much I hate Sergeant Troy, probably Far From the Madding Crowd. I find it incredibly frustrating (mostly in the WHY IS THIS MAN SO AWFUL way) but I do like it.
30. Favourite book of all time
Trust this to end on the hardest one! It depends on my mood, on the situation, on what I’m feeling like. But the answer is probably Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. (Or Fingersmith)