Long time no tag! I was tagged in this one by my friend Hadeer (whose answers are great) so let’s get started.
Find a book on your shelves with a
blue pink cover. What made you pick up the book in the first place?
Is there a reason this was changed from blue to pink? Anyway, pink it is. I’ll go with The Idiot by Elif Batuman. I actually don’t own a physical copy of this book, but every time I see it in a bookstore I think about buying it because I adore this cover so much. But anyway, I only chose to read this because it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and I ended up reading the entire shortlist this year. I was actually on the fence about picking this one up – even though I love literary fiction and campus novels, the premise felt a bit ‘been there done that’ right down to what I thought was the rather cliche choice to set the story at Harvard rather than a number of other prestigious or even adequate universities. But I actually found this story to be anything but stale – to me it was refreshing and honest, and I found myself reflected in the main character in a way I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I just love this book.
Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?
I just realized I should have used The Idiot for this question. Oh well, I’ll go with something else. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It’s not that I expected to dislike it – just that my expectations were rather low as the only McEwan I’d ever read was Atonement a decade ago and I didn’t like it very much. I only read On Chesil Beach so I could see the film adaptation because I love Saoirse Ronan (in predictable me fashion, I did not get around to seeing the film adaptation before it left theatres), but luckily I came away from it with a book I really love!
Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack. I haven’t read this yet, but it was one of the only titles that jumped out at me from last year’s Man Booker longlist so I couldn’t resist buying a copy. It’s an Irish literary novel told entirely in one sentence, so, I could hardly resist that premise. This has actually reminded me that I should make a point of reading this one sometime soon. Has anyone else read it?
Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?
One of my best friends Abby recommended that I read her favorite book, East of Eden, and I absolutely adored it. I was somewhat hesitant because I’d really disliked The Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl (even though I had liked Of Mice and Men, but I considered that one to be the fluke), but East of Eden is in another league entirely. If you think you hate Steinbeck but you haven’t read this, I implore you to give him one more chance – this book is a masterpiece.
Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?
Ali Smith is one of those authors who seems to have a godlike status in the literary community, so I was both excited and nervous about reading one of her novels for the first time. Thankfully How to be both did live up to the hype; I don’t think this is a flawless book, but it is honestly one of the most innovative and thought-provoking things I’ve ever read and I cannot wait to dive further into Smith’s works.
Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?
Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. I think I first heard this mentioned on booktube, and I was immediately drawn to the premise. It’s a memoir by a woman whose entire family (her parents, her husband, her two children) were all killed in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka while on vacation. Admittedly I’m a bit of a morbid individual who’ll read just about anything that focuses on death or grief or mourning or anything like that, and experiencing loss on this scale is just unimaginable to me, so I was really interested in hearing this woman’s story. So I bought a used copy at my local bookstore and read it last week, and I found it just as harrowing and moving as you would expect.
What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I don’t talk about this book enough for how much I adore it. I first saw the BBC miniseries a few years ago and fell in love with the story and the characters enough to read the book right after, and I loved the book even more. It’s not a perfect novel by any stretch of the imagination – the pace is off, the length is excessive, anachronisms abound when it comes to the characters’ eating habits – but these imperfections didn’t particularly bother me since it’s just a damn good story.
Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?
Just choosing three of many. The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. The Secret History had always been on my radar because it’s one of the few books set in Vermont (where I’m from) so I finally bit the bullet and read it about three years ago and I adored it. Never Let Me Go I read when I was 14 because my mom loved it so she gave me the copy she read and I immediately fell in love. The Heart’s Invisible Furies was obviously a book that was getting a lot of buzz last year, and being a sweeping epic set in Ireland I knew this book was going to be right up my alley.