The 20 Questions Book Tag

I’m so behind on tags!  So I’m going to nonsensically start with one that I was tagged in today, by Bentley.  Everyone, go check out Bentley’s blog if you don’t already follow him, and his bookstagram is excellent as well!

I actually thought I’d done this tag before, but I just realized I’d started it many months ago and never finished it, whoops.  I think I only made it 2 questions in, anyway.

1. How many books is too many in a series?

2??  I mean, just kidding, but I’m not really a big series reader.  I’m a hundred times more likely to pick up a SFF book if it’s a standalone.  So, the shorter the series the better for me… but when I think ‘too many’ I guess I’d say… 6?

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

I like them, but your book should be strong without them.  If you’re relying on a cliffhanger as a gimmick to make your book stand out, there’s probably not much there to begin with.  But when done well and when they actually suit the narrative, they can be fun.

3. Hardback or Paperback?

Paperback since they’re more portable.

4. Favorite book?

24284In all honesty I don’t think I have one, but I usually say Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  It’s the most beautiful, immersive, and epic story about love, justice, mercy, compassion, and faith.  I know it’s cliche to call a book timeless, but this one really is.  Also, I know the length is intimidating, but it’s so rewarding.  If you’re looking for a cosmic sign to finally pick up Les Mis, this is it.

5. Least Favorite book?

I can’t even fully articulate why I hate this book so much, but Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides always stands out to me when I get this question.

6. Love Triangles, yes or no?

I don’t read a lot of YA so this is not something I encounter often enough to really have an opinion.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

We’re going to have to go back to 2012 for this, but I think it was Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  I wish I liked Neil Gaiman and I have tried very hard, but I just don’t.  Granted, I probably would have finished this book under normal circumstances, but I remember my life being quite stressful at the time and I went through a period of DNFing several books in quick succession, more by accident than anything, since I put them down and then several months later realized I never finished them.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (loving it!), The Pisces by Melissa Broder (also loving it!), and When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy (not far at all but I’m probably going to end up loving it!)

9. The last book you recommended to someone?

Steph was texting me from a Barnes & Noble the other day and I recommended getting Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, which is one of those books that I don’t think I’ll personally recommend to many people as it can be quite triggering… but since Steph read, survived, and loved A Little Life I thought it was a safe bet (whether or not she bought it remains to be seen).  I also recommended The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to her the other week, which she immediately purchased and ended up loving, so… I guess this is a public apology to Steph’s bank account.

10. The oldest book you’ve read?

I believe that would be The Iliad, composed around the 8th century BCE.

11. Newest book you’ve read?

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton – US publication date is June 5, 2018.  Full review here.  (I actually feel like I’ve read an ARC with a publication date that’s further away but if I have I can’t think of it right now.)

12. Favorite Author?

I hate this question.

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

Both!  I buy a lot of books, but I’m appreciative when my friends lend me books they think I’ll like but won’t necessarily love enough to want to own them forever.

14. A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?

The Child Finder by Rene Denfield.  This is probably the most insufferably trite book I’ve ever read in my life.  I’m sorry, but how am I supposed to read this shit with a straight face???  “This is something I know: no matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found.”  Ugh.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

Bookmarks.  I don’t have a fun bookmark collection or anything, I just use the free ones from Book Depository, of which I have hundreds since I stole them from work for years.

16. A book you can always re-read?

Harry Potter is really the only answer to this question.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

This is one of the biggest tragedies of my life, but no, I can’t read with any background noise.  I mean, I guess I technically can, but I end up reading so slowly it’s almost not even worth it.

18. One POV or multiple POVs? (POV = point of view)

It depends on the book.  The Idiot by Elif Batuman would be terrible with multiple narrators, and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie wouldn’t have worked with a single POV.  Whatever suits the story.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Since I read a lot of lengthy, dense stuff, it’s always multiple days.  I can probably count on one hand the number of books I’ve read in one sitting.

20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?

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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell.  I didn’t even end up reading the version with this gorgeous cover as it’s the UK edition and I read an advanced copy of the US edition, but it’s what initially drew me to the book.

Tagging anyone who wants to do this!  Pingback to me so I can read your answers.

book review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

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SOCIAL CREATURE by Tara Isabella Burton
★★★★☆
Doubleday, June 5, 2018

Social Creature is like The Secret History‘s beach-read cousin. It follows the story of Louise, a down on her luck aspiring writer in New York City who meets the rich and glamorous Lavinia, and the two form a sort of dysfunctional, obsessive friendship which is barreling toward tragedy, as we’re told from the onset that Lavinia is going to end up dead.

I don’t think I’ve ever described a book as ‘intoxicating’ before (and in fact I tend to roll my eyes at that descriptor), but that’s the word I keep coming back to with Social Creature. This book is intoxicating. Just like Louise, the reader is pulled into the glitz and glamour of Lavinia’s carefree socialite lifestyle, ignoring the glaring warning signs about the unhealthy and obsessive road she’s going down. With all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, this is a story that ends terribly for absolutely everyone involved. But it’s addicting and utterly impossible to look away.

Social Creature doesn’t have the same flawless prose or pervasive intellectualism as The Secret History, so maybe its vaguely pretentious tone is unearned, but it does have all the unlikable characters, and the same cautionary tale against indulging too heavily in the fairytale of living an impossibly elite lifestyle.

On the surface Social Creature is a fun thriller and a rather addictive beachy read, but underneath it’s rather bleak and sad and tragic. I think what haunts me the most about this book is how much I related to Louise at the beginning of it, and how harrowing it was to watch everything spiral out of control for her. This book is like a train wreck that you can’t look away from, but for whatever reason, that’s my favorite kind of story.

Thank you to Doubleday, First to Read, and Tara Isabella Burton for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.