Thursday, October 16, 2008

What was the last book you bought? Two Kerouac books from eBay. A 1976 First Edition Paperback VISIONS OF GERARD and a 1966 First Edition Paperback SATORI IN PARIS.

Name a book you have read MORE than once. On the Road, Moby Dick and Gilead. Three of my favorite novels. I hope I keep having the motivation to reread them year after year. They're my bibles.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it? On the Road changed my life. Kerouac was from Lowell, MA, only a half hour from where I grew up and to read a novel like that and know that someone that I could have grown up with (or my grandparents could have) could write the way he did, made me look at literature differently. Literature wasn't only for 19th Century Russians anymore.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?I used to read Beat Generation writers. Then I found out who influenced them and I began reading Thomas Wolfe, Dostoevsky and Spengler. Now I search the blogs and take recommendations from bloggers and writers whose opinions I respect. But a good cover design always makes me pick up the book and at least consider it.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction? Fiction, but non-fiction has always had an important place for me. I find the stories of non-fiction more fascinating than anything someone could create. But it's in fiction where language shines and the truths not told in history emerge. Shelby Foote, David McCullough and Bruce Catton make history come alive and read like brilliant novels. They have the gift of genius.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot? No matter what I'm reading, the writing is most important. The writing keeps me reading, a good plot only makes it better.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book). Most lovable character? John Ames from Gilead. And then I'd say Myshkin from The Idiot.And actually, anything with E.B. White in his own essays.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment? A Gentle Madness by Nicholas Basbanes, Raymond Chandler's letters and non-fiction and One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson.

What was the last book you read, and when was it? Just finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 5 days ago. Almost finished with Ross MacDonald's The Name is Archer.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in? Of course. I can't remember the last one I stopped reading, but the day I realized that no one was grading my reading habits, I began to enjoy reading even more than I had before. If I don't like a book, I quit. No questions asked.

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