A Time for Tea and Books

and other sheltered nooks

First Lines
Now, instead of working...to continue with the first-line memes, here are some classic first-lines. I've tried to avoid ones which 'give it away' - so no, there is no Pride and Prejudice here! As a hint, these are all books I read while growing up (though they aren't all child's lit) and all of them can be found on Gutenberg (so if you haven't read them, why not?)
  1. No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.
  2. "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
  3. He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher - the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum.
  4. On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the market town of Meung, in which the author of ROMANCE OF THE ROSE was born, appeared to be in as perfect a state of revolution as if the Huguenots had just made a second La Rochelle of it.
  5. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
  6. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.  We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
  7. I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.
  8. The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home.
  9. It was the evening on which MM.  Debienne and Poligny, the managers of the Opera, were giving a last gala performance to mark their retirement.
  10. "The Signora had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"
It is a truth universally acknowledged that one should skip P&P to make a first-line meme more difficult.Collapse )
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Booking Through Thursday: Let's Review
duck, wimsey
Oh look, it's Thursday! It hasn't been Thursday on my LJ for a very long time...

How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

I don't actively seek out professional/non-personal reviews before looking at a book, so it's more of a "hmm, book" and then look at reviews.  So I'm not someone who uses reviews as suggestions.  There are of course some exceptions, if I encounter something interesting by chance.  I do use a book's blurbs (a review of sorts I suppose) to buy books admittedly, such as Mary Doria Russell's recommendation of The Jane Austen Book Club pretty much sold it to me right then and there (though I did end up liking it perfectly well myself).  But, I don't think I've had a good review make me consider giving a book a second chance. 

If I've a topic in mind and haven't quite settled on a particular book I do look on LibraryThing and Amazon to see what the reviews are - particularly when I'm not familiar with the subject or plain old don't have an opinion. I can usually figure out if someone's got an axe to grind about a particular topic, and sort through otherwise.  Most of the time, however, I'm depending on a personal recommendation or an author I'm otherwise familiar to increase my to-be-read stack.

LT Meme (sheep)
These are the top 200 193 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book. (and for me, ! are books on my to be read list.  Books in both italic and bold are books which I've read all of the chapters, but not in the right order)
Books (and more books)Collapse )
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Booking Through Thursday: Goldilocks
Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?
I'm definitely a dipper - I can read everywhere except on the road, pretty much.  I still even try that, but more recently I get sick to my stomach easily.  I've been known to read in crowded rooms and ignore conversations.  In fact, there's nothing quite like a book (electronic or otherwise) to calm your nerves if you think you're going to miss your connection while waiting in the ever-so-long immigration line.  And, I assume it'll help convince the nice security officer, that yes, I do speak English*

* No, really. I hate Philly airport immigration.  I came back from France on a class trip sophomore year in high school, and even after being held up and scrutinized at immigration (I'd swear they'd never seen a green card before, and I did end up with this strange form I really wasn't supposed to get), the officer after the baggage claim while I was passing through customs asked "Do you speak English?"  I suppose my immensely flat and rather annoyed "Yes" was convincing - good thing I didn't do the normal thing which happens to many people after being abroad and respond in another language. 

Booking Through Thursday: Stats
There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit?

I have to say that among my friends and family that all of them have finished at least one book last year.  Even the very busiest person I know definitely put time aside to read.  My sister usually spends her vacations with a book (I'm trying to get her to read Lord Peter - she has a a great fondness for Mary Russell already, so I'm hoping for some luck).  Certainly my dad reads - he's the other great reader in my family.  The one person who may be questionable is my mother... she'll be the closest to the one-book-a-year mark. But I think that Mom reads Christian books (or questionably Christian ones as elwe regards Joel Olsteen) - and certainly when doing a Bible study.  So even then, she's probably over a book-a-year.

Boooking Through Thursday: Monogamy
duck, wimsey
One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?
It depends. I've usually one non-fiction on the side, because I can't read non-fiction all the way through in one fell swoop.  Fiction books, however, are usually read in quick succession, so I'm not reading more than one at a time since I try to finish them at one seating.
(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

Booking Through Thursday: Multiples
duck, wimsey
Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?
I have 3 copies of Master and Commander - 2 original paperbacks and one in the omnibus set.  With elwe 's additional 1 or 2 (or so)... That said, the one paperback set (including xallanthia's gifts of the next two books) is my loner set, the box set   I also have bought 3 copies of Sabriel... and only have one now, also in a box-set.  That said, because my copy of Lireal didn't go missing, I do have a second copy of that at the moment. 
I've also two copies of Gaudy Night for the same reason - a paperback, and later a box set.  There's also two complete sets of The Lord of the Rings but one's with Sister (my good one of slipcovered 50th anniversary paperbacks) adverse to the one I have, with pull out maps. 

Between elwe and I though, we do have a bit of a major problem overall.  However, that still doesn't help with the fact that I also have more versions of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes than I can count....
If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read?
I really do like M&C that much. But the major point is that I want copies available for loaning.  In particular, you really need to read HMS Surprise to avoid stopping after Post Captain.

I also like full editions and box sets and 'upgrade' to a box set once I decide I like the series enough.  I hate having mismatched books - though I know it's silly. Hence why I don't have any of the Russell Crowe branded M&Cs myself. 
If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish?

Booking Through Thursday: Just Wild About Harry
1. Okay, love him or loathe him, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on Saturday… Are you going to read it?
In short, yes - eventually :)
2. If so, right away? Or just, you know, eventually, when you get around to it? Are you attending any of the midnight parties?
When, it depends. I'm still not positive I'm actually buying a copy, even though I'm going to a midnight party.  See, I'm waiting to buy the box set now that the 7th book is out (Costco is my friend!) but my sister only has books 1-4 and 6 (because I bought it for her the last time) but I need to ask her if she wants one this round.
3. If you’re not going to read it, why not?
Errr... next question?
4. And, for the record… what do you think? Will Harry survive the series? What are you most looking forward to?
Harry's going to make it, I'm pretty sure.  I'm looking forward to the resolution of the Snape conflict - not that I like the slimey old bugger, but that I'm curious.  Oh, and of course, more Lupin love.

Booking Through Thursday: Celluoid
duck, wimsey
1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie? (or mini-series)
Master and Commander is the best translation of a book - or a series, as it were, since as a book-to-movie translation it's impossibly inaccurate, but I really do think it's a fitting trailer for the entire series.  I do excuse the casting inaccuracies here (Bonden would have wanted his pigtail, really!), but I suppose that actually casting a furiously obese captain and a hideously ugly doctor really wouldn't have worked for movie goers.

I also have to put in a word for my old favorite Gettysburg, which is probably still in my top five movies of all time.  With the exception of making Lee appear too weak too early, it otherwise does a fantastic job at capturing the emotions which make The Killer Angels a great book. 

2. The worst?
Hands down, the TV-version of Gaudy Night.  There's no other way to put it, but they murdered the poor book.  Not only do they give away the [not actually important] mystery in the first scene, they also ignore much of the romantic tension between Harriet and Peter by leaving out 'Mr. Jones of Jesus' and the adorable Lord St. George.  What makes the book wonderful is the fact that it's good literature, rather than simply being a good mystery.  AND, they leave out the ducks.

Now an odd one is Series of Unfortunate Events movie.  Taking elements from the first three books, they managed to weave them together reasonably well.  It did have a bit of a Jim Carey on crack feel, but though I know some people didn't like that as much, Count Olaf really is that crazy.  But, it had a happy ending.  Frankly, I do think the ending is cute and adorable and cuddly.  But it doesn't in any way or form fit the books themselves.  After all, Lemony Snicket says "If you are interested in stories with happy endings you would be better off reading some other book."
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)
I tried waiting to read The Far Side of the World  before watching the movie, but I ran out of patience while waiting for the book to be returned (in fact it was worse: I had to skip over it completely as the person had lost the book, and didn't read it until two months later).  Of course I had read everything up to that point, and I knew vaguely about the discrepancies before hand - but hadn't realized how many there would be!  In a straight book vs. movie comparison, I think I prefer the movie (and the movie's version of Hollum and what is connected to him).  It's hard to say though - as of course the entire Aubrey-Maturin series trumps pretty much anything else, and it's hard to disconnect one book from the series. 

With Gettysburg and The Killer Angels, I hadn't read the book yet.  I read it almost immediately afterwards - though why my parents had bought me that Civil War novel set otherwise I can't quite guess.  I think having seen the movie did help me understand and appreciate the book more in this case.  Reading the book however made it a lot easier for me to keep track of the characters during my next viewing (and explain them to whomever I'm watching with).  I still love both, though.

At the point I rented the video, I had probably read Gaudy Night at least three times (maybe more).  I can still say that even if I hadn't read the book first but had read the other Peter-Harriet novels anyway I still wouldn't have liked it. 

For A Series of Unfortunate Events I actually hadn't read the book yet.  I think I was then a little surprised how dark they were, and in turn they changed my thoughts about the movie. 

Booking through Thursday: One Last Thing
m&c, cooking
Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.
If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why? Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Laurie Colwin? Kurt Vonnegut?

I'd really love to read the completed version of 21, the last Aubrey-Maturin book. It's just got some very tempting snippets of his plans, and honestly seemed promising. That said, this really only is an issue because I know the book exists - otherwise I would have been quite content with Blue at the Mizzen as it ended the saga so nicely.


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