Seven Bookish Questions

Lovely Claire tagged me for these 7 bookish questions:

What propelled your love affair with books—any particular title or a moment?

I don’t remember the beginning since it must’ve been very very early. I only know that I always love to read, and that I could read and write before I entered kindergarten.

Which fictional character would you like to be friends with and why?

I’m clearly still in the Winnie the Pooh realm since I can only think of the characters from the 100-Acre-wood: Pooh and friends! :)

Do you write your name on your books or use bookplates?

I used to write my name on my books, sign and put the date that I bought them when I was a lot younger. But not anymore. I move around a lot and I avoid to be physically attached to any material things, including books. When I read a book, I feel that it is with me forever, and it  is enough. I don’t need to own the physical item, nor mark it as mine. It does not mean that I wouldn’t go out of my way to bring my books with me when I move, but I just try not to get too attached, in case I can’t.

What was your favourite book read this year?

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Completely, utterly, and hopelessly in love with it :)

If you could read in another language, which language would you choose?

I would really like to read in Japanese. I’ve learned Japanese intensively for a period of time, and still dream to be able to read books in the language someday.

Name a book that made you both laugh and cry.

This is a hard question actually. I have a few books that made me cry and a few that made me laugh, but both?! Very rare. On top of my head: Winnie the Pooh, and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (which Claire knows very well :)

Share with us your favourite poem?

I’m probably the wrong person to ask, as I don’t really “get” poems. But after my trip to Edinburgh, I would really like to read Robert Burns’s poems, and following John Green’s Crash Course series on English Literature, Emily Dickinson’s poems :)

Now it’s my turn to tag the next 7 people and come up with my own 7 questions, which I shall play along since the idea of this is to discover new blogs :). But feel free to answer or not, along with everybody else that read this.

My 7 questions are: (some taken from other people)

1. What propelled your love affair with books—any particular title or a moment?
2. Can you tell us what your guilty pleasure books are?
3. Name book(s) that made you both laugh and cry.
4. What was the last book you did not finish and why?
5. What is the most difficult or most challenging book that you have read so far?
6. Can you tell us your top 5 favorite authors and why? (do they all have the same quality or style?)
7. Can you tell us your top 5 favorite books of all time and why? (do they all have the same quality or style?)

I’m tagging ChinoiseriesSakura, Jo, Mel u, Melissa, Stu, and Jackie (I’m trying not to tag people who have played).


Author in the Flesh: Terry Pratchett and Audrey Niffenegger

I love living in London. I get to meet heaps of authors that I would never ever get to meet back home (or maybe I could, but only once in a blue moon, and only if that blue moon happens in my lifetime). Here they actually live around the corners and probably travel to the venues on foot. It’s fantastic.

Terry Pratchett

I saw Terry Pratchett in National History Museum night time event just last week, with a selection of panels (mostly British comedians) talking about what things they would like to steal from the museum if people had their own Museum of Natural Curiosity, and why. People chose things like trilobite fossil, space dust, fake stuffed Dodo bird (the original – the only one in the world – was burnt by Prince Albert because it was too big or some stupid reason like that), fake flies in rocks (which was very famous in its time before it was discovered that it was a fake). Sir Terry chose the statue of Darwin – which the panels concluded at the end that the reason must be because they look alike.

pratchett and darwin
which is who, can you guess?

The whole atmosphere of night at the museum thing was fantastic. There’s a huge T-rex skeleton stands imposingly in the middle of the hall, its tail just ends above my head. And I love the whole theme running through the Natural History museum treasures.

I’m not a big fan of Terry Pratchett to be honest. I’ve just read one of his books and didn’t think high of it, but I’m willing to give Discworld series another try. But since he’s getting very old, plus the coming Alzheimer, I just wanted to see him in person, before it’s too late. (And he did look very very old! – appearing in his high hat trademark.)

Audrey Niffenegger

The night with Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) was held at Prince Albert Cinema in London Chinatown on Halloween’s night. Unfortunately Erin was stuck in the US because of Sandy, so she attended as a giant cinema screen.

The Time Traveler’s Wife was one of the first English novels I read and I completely loved it, so I was so glad to be able to see Audrey in person. She exudes this gothic-y, gloomy, dark-y feel. Her humor was dry, she didn’t smile a lot (or smiled in that half-smile Mona Lisa way), and looked mysterious in her red hair and red shoes.

audrey and erin
it’s red theme for the night

Erin talked about how she started The Night Circus during Nanowrimo (though really finished it 5 years later) and about how it’s not fair that only all the British children go to Narnia, so she wanted to make her own magical world. Audrey talked about how she used to think that England is like a magical land in story books, continued with her experience of arriving in London the first time (I can totally relate with that). She now shares her time between here and the US. She especially has particular fascination with Highgate Cemetery and that’s where her second book Her Fearful Symmetry stemmed from. To this day she still volunteers her time to be the cemetery guide once in a while! (I have planned to visit Highgate Cemetery sometime soon. How wonderful it’d be if I were to see her as my guide!)

There are more authors, so stay tune for the second part of Author in the Flesh!

Introducing The Willoughby Book Club

Just recently I received a lovely package from Adam & Chloe (AKA The Willoughby Book Worms) as a sample of their new business venture to provide book subscription service: new hand-selected book beautifully wrapped and delivered to your door once a month.

willoughby book club
all this comes inside a box

I think it’s a great gift for that book-lover someone in your life (mother and grandmother immediately comes to mind). You can give 3, 6, or 12 months subscription, there’s fiction set (classic or contemporary), non-fiction, children, etc. You’ll be given a set of questions so Adam and Chloe know about your recipient’s reading taste and preferences and the books will be handpicked by them. For me I didn’t answer questions because they could browse around my blog, and this is what I got:

willoughby book club - Boxer, Bettle
Boxer, Bettle by Ned Beauman

I have taken interest in the book since it was out (weird? Kafkaesque? seems like my kind of book), and check out that personalized card on the side too, with Alice in Wonderland theme! (you know how much I love Alice)

The only thing I’m not sure would work well is the possibility that the recipient already owns the book. I guess the subscription probably wouldn’t suit book-blogger type that gets dozens or hundreds of books a year. But for the rest of the normal world (aka more casual readers), it seems just perfect. It’s almost like having that bookish friend who sends you book that they recommend especially for you every month. And here’s that bookish friends:

adam and chloe, the Willoughby Book Worms
they make such a cute couple, don’t you think? :)

I wish Adam and Chloe the best of luck with their lovely venture!

Please check out their site The Willoughby Book Club.

Neither here Nor there by Bill Bryson

neither here nor therebill bryson

Neither here Nor there is funniest book I’ve read in a long time! I want to read ALL Bill Bryson books now. If they’re all as funny as this one I can see a very funny future indeed. His humor is neither crude nor mocking, like a lot of comedians are, but more like giant cuddly bear funny.

The book unfortunately does not make me want to go to Nordic countries more than my state of ambivalence right now with the words “cold” and “expensive” always come to mind. Bryson also does not think high of Switzerland and I’m in the same opinion, at least for the cities. He does make me want to explore Italy more and Eastern Europe. The blatant omission for me is Spain and Greece – which he skipped entirely. He started with the Nordic countries, Paris, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, the whole stretch of Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and ended the trip in Istanbul.

Bryson took the solitude travel in the 90s for the purpose of writing the book, and we also get flashes from the 70s when he traveled Europe as a young man with his best friend, so there are some things that have gotten a bit out of date, like the horribleness of the trains in Italy and fall of the communist in Eastern Europe. Though for the places that I haven’t been to I wonder if anything has changed in 20 years.

If you’re interested in traveling in Europe, Neither Here Nor There gives you the snapshot of how Europe is like 20 and 40 years ago (can you believe we are already in the 2010s?). Surprisingly (or expectedly?) Europe does not change by much compared to the rest of the world. And that’s probably why I am so completely and hopelessly in love with it.

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