Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm not an either/or kind of guy...

btt button

Which do you prefer?

Actually, I prefer not answering either/or questions. Complexity and nuance is the name of my game so I hate questions like this but I'll try to be a good sport.

  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?
Generally seriouser than frivolouser, though I have been known to read a Harry Potter
  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?
I answered that one here and here in the kind of depth to which I am accustomed. It depends on the book.
  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction?
Fiction, hands down.
  • Poetry? Or Prose?
I read more prose because there is more of it and a diet of pure verse would drive me mad, but I love poetry. Reading each is a different activity, it's not truly an either/or question, the activity of reading poetry and reading prose should simply be assigned different verbs and then there wouldn't be all this confusion.
  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies?
I think there are probably way more well written biographies than autobiographies, but when an autobiography hits the mark, nothing touches it.
  • History? Or Historical Fic tion?
If I am reading to learn something about a time, then I would prefer my history neat, thanks. If it's a good story I am in the mood for I will read fiction, but seriously, if it is good fiction then why isn't it just called fiction? What's with the sub-genre,? I've never understood that.
  • Series? Or Stand-alones?
Stand-alones, series make me feel a sense of obligation.
  • Classics? Or best-sellers?
Classics, I'm a snob, but not all the time. I resisted reading The Time Traveler's Wife for the longest time because everyone was reading it but, when it was finally recommended by a reading friend I trust, I read it and loved it.
  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?
I drink my coffee black no sugar, my tea black no sugar, my scotch is single malt and I prefer wine to mixed drinks...what do you think?
  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
Generally plots, but it depends on the writer and you can have both, you know.
  • Long books? Or Short?
It depends on what else is going on in my life. I love a good long read if that many words were really required to tell the story.
  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?
Doesn't matter.
  • Borrowed? Or Owned?
I love to own the books I really enjoyed reading and I love buying books, but I don't end up loving everything I read by a long shot, so I make use of the library too.
  • New? Or Used?
I love going to used bookstores and buy used, particularly when price is an issue or when I want a beautiful old edition of something (like Eugene O'Neill's plays). I also buy used because I love reading other people's book inscriptions. In terms of cleanliness, I prefer my books new. I hate wondering what that stain is on a page. Also, I like reading so much, I feel it only right that authors earn something from me for what they do, so I buy new too.


jlshall said...

"Series make me feel a sense of obligation" - interesting. I've never had that thought, but I do prefer not to jump into a series in midstream, if possible - from the beginning is much more satisfying. And I agree with you about answering either/or kinds of questions. I found it difficult to stick to that quick answer rule, too.

Unknown said...

I love the idea of a verb just for reading poetry. Someone should write a poem about that idea. Lots of potenial there, maybe we could slip a note to Billy Collins. It would be just his sort of thing.

Amy said...

Great responses! I did the same thing with The Time Traveler's Wife. Finally, a friend convinced me to read it, and I loved it!

gautami tripathy said...

As I write poetry, I like to read lots of it.

Booking through preferences

Amat Libris said...

I love checking out inscriptions in used books, too. They always make me wonder about who they were written by and for, and how a gift with that much thought put into it ended up in the UBS or charity store.

Susan said...

Great answers! The name of my blog is "Well-Mannered Frivolity" - can you guess what my answer to number 1 was? It was hard to choose between some of the answers this week though...

Anonymous said...

I tend to read more serious books, and mostly fiction. I'm fond of memoirs, too. I also read poetry and I believe it has influenced the type of prose that I read: luminous, spare, precise, yet also Emily Dickinson's word, slant.

Most of my books are less than 300 pages (many less than 200). I usually buy trade paperbacks, although I will buy the hardback if I simply can't abide waiting.

Historical fiction is fine as long as I believe it is true to the spirit of the times and of the real people involved. That's not always easy to know, of course, but I have learned to trust certain authors.

I'm always surprised if a book I've read makes the best-seller list -- delighted for the success of a favorite author, of course -- but, alas, it doesn't seem to happen often.

I've written too much, but I don't have my own blog, as most people seem to . . . I liked your questions, though, and wanted to respond. I hope it's all right.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to capture my reading behavior in multiple choices!

I prefer a plot-driven novel that slowly unfolds in fruity and lush prose, with multiple layers and allusion that indulge my mind long after I turn the last page like the lingering aftertaste of a good glass of wine.

The labels are created to satisfy literary snobs like me. :)

JoAnn said...

This seems so straight forward, but it's actually one of the hardest BTT questions in a while! I could write a paragraph or two for each question.