Thursday, October 31, 2013

A to Z Blogger Book Survey.

This is a chain letter sort of thing that's doing the rounds. I think it's the cut above the usual and worth doing, not least because it's sent me scuttling off to do a bit of re-reading. 

I stole it from Steve over here, who has some interesting answers, though I will have to get that Neville Shute... 

Author you've read the most books from:

I was actually quite torn about this and checked my catalogue to try and work it out. I own more books by Patrick O'Brian than any other author and I re-read them fairly regularly. Conan Doyle seemed a likely candidate, but he hasn't written as many though I've read practically everything he has written.

The answer came from Mrs Kinch who pointed out that Sir Terry Pratchet is the most likely candidate as he has written over sixty books and I've read almost all of them.  Don't own any of 'em though.
Best sequel ever:

I'm wracking my brain over that one. Mrs. Kinch makes a powerful argument for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."  

Currently reading:

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (very funny)

The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov  (heavier than O'Brien, suffers from the target of its satire no longer being with us)

The Wargamers Annual

His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (for the umpteenth time)

Scratching through the American Civil War collection to knock a scenario together.

The Screwtape Letters (very funny)

Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill (shooty-death-boom in spaaace by one of my favourite Scotsmen)

Drink of choice whilst reading:

Coffee. NATO standard. Milk.  Two sugar.

E-reader or physical book:

I used to think that I would never use an e-reader, but sheer practicality means that I can't carry a physical book  with me all the time. The Kindle app on my phone gets a bit of a workout these days - but given the chance, physical book ten times out of ten.

Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:

That seems awfully unlikely. I suppose that a rather sordid liaison with Ida from Brighton Rock isn't a possibility? That would be fun.  I always had a soft spot for that girl.  

Glad you gave this book a chance:

Probably James Ellroy, who I read when I was a teenager and didn't like. He is a superb prose stylist and his dialogue is fantastic. Also the Harry Potter series, which I read in 2004 when my marriage was breaking up. I love the Harry Potter books, they are well written, entertaining and good books all in one. I was tired of life and tired of reading at the time and they brought me back to the fold.  

Hidden book gem:

Hmm. I'd forgotten this one. H. Rider Haggard is not read often enough, if you ask me.

Important moment in your book life:

There are so many.  I suppose the best would be reading Biggle Pioneer Air Fighter at the age of seven.  I have been able to read for a couple of years, but had no inclination to read for pleasure. During a holiday to Bulgaria in 1987, Mum managed to jolly me into reading Biggles and I got the bug.

Reading Allan Mallinson for the first time was a real adventure and Mathew Hervey's habit of reading the Psalms encouraged me to do so myself. It led me on an entirely different, but very rewarding adventure.
Just finished:

I love Dan Abnett. He is a story teller in the old style and I really enjoy is deftness and lightness of touch.  Unfortunately, his excursions outside of 40K have not been as good, but I'm sure he'll find his way.  A real craftsman who I have never read without pleasure.

Kind of book you won't read:
Um. There are certainly books that I would rather not read, but I can't really think of anything I won't read. Any book is better than no book at all.  

Longest book you've read:

I read some ridiculous Fantasy Door Stops when I was a teenager, but none of them are sticking particularly in my head. I also read some very bad L. Ron. Hubbard, which I recall being very big. I read War & Peace recently, which was big, but not particularly difficult. Ulysses was big.

Probably the Aubrey-Maturiad, which was one novel that happened to be published in 20 volumes.

Major book hangover because of  disappointing endings:
Nothing is springing to mind here.
Number of bookcases you own:
Six or seven, depending on how you count 'em. Plus a couple of hundred books in boxes.

One book you've read multiple times:

Some people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading. An American said that and I'm not sure he was wrong.  As Steve said, books are like old friends, why wouldn't you visit them again?

Books I've re-read recently.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - A fantastic adventure book.

The Dune series by Frank Herbert - This was a masterful achievement and was the first book that ever managed to communicate the idea of the vast stretch of time to me.

Preferred place to read:

In bed. On the couch. In my armchair. Christmas is a time in my family where we exchange books, so lying on the couch while full of Christmas pudding poring through the latest loot is a definite favourite.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read:

"Women are never to be entirely trusted -- not the best of them." - Sherlock Holmes

Words to live by and a phrase that transports me to Baker Street immediately.

Reading regret:
I can't think of any book that I've regretted reading. There are certainly books I haven't finished or books that I didn't think were any good, but there was always something there.

Series you started and need to finish:
I should really finish reading those Erast Fandorin books that I haven't caught up on.

Three of your all-time favorite books:

The Sherlock Holmes Canon - I read them and re-read them and re-read them.  I can always find something in them.

Lord Jim - It was a toss up between Kim and Lord Jim. Kim is probably the best book ever written (though Beavis by Richard Jeffries is a close second) about being a boy. Lord Jim is one of the finest books ever written about the often tricky business of being a man. I also realised that I hadn't mentioned Conrad yet.

The Book of Common Prayer - There is always something there for me.

Unapologetic fanboy for:

Far, far too many.

Sherlock Holmes -
Aubrey & Maturin
G.K. Chesterton (particularly the Father Brown stories)
Mathew Hervey

Very excited for this release:
Allan Mallinson - get weaving squire.  The history books are very nice, but I would like some more stories please?

Worst bookish habit:
Starting and not finishing books, which results in me reading five or six at a time and never finishing them.

X marks the spot - Start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:

Hussars of the Napoleonic Wars by  Kenneth Ulyat - a book for children that I bought because I liked the pictures.


  1. I'm ashamed. I didn't mention 'Ulysses' or even Joyce at all!

    I think I'd probably change a bit if I could be bothered to edit the post.


    1. Chin up old man. I reckon my own list would have been different six months ago and will no doubt, be different six months hence.

  2. I tried The Third Policeman when I was in my late teens and while it made sense I just couldn't find the humour in it. I should probably go back to it at some stage.

    1. I'm really quite enjoying it - but it's a book I'm lingering over. A book to be sipped rather than gulped.

  3. The Hervey books by Mallinson are superb. Very much in the rollicking action vein of Sharpe but Hervey's actions and decisions make more sense. They're also not as formulaic plot/character-wise as the Sharpe books..

    1. You can't beat Hervey. He's a far more nuanced and complex character than Sharpe. It's been fascinating watching him develop as a man.

  4. Dear Joy,
    Kenneth Roberts, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Doyle, DuMaurier.

    1. Kenneth Roberts is new to me. I must look him up.

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  6. An excellent post... you have by far the most eclectic tastes in literature I've ever seen... well done for reminding me that I'd forgotten O'Brien (for shame!!), and also well done for reminding me about Beavis by Richard Jeffries - what a joy of a book, I must see if I can find a copy... in return I raise you "Colonel Sheperton's Clock" by Philip Turner ...

    1. Jeffries is wonderful. Have you read "After London"?

      Eclectic - unfussy, I think.

      I'll look Phillip Turner.