Because I haven't done one of these in a LONG time, and because if it has the Terry Teachout stamp of approval, well, what more do you need?
1. What was your favorite book as a child? Curious George. I absolutely loved the series and carried around a stuffed Curious George wherever I went. I was a "follow the rules to a fault" kid for the most part, so maybe I admired the more adventurous George. Although I did once poke holes in my parents' speakers to "see what would happen" so . . .
2. What’s the last really good book you read? Atul Gatawande's Being Mortal, a personal, honest, and smart look at how we deal with aging and medical care in this country. This book made me cry a few times.
3. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why? Fiction, although not by a wide margin. I try and alternate so that I never read too many novels in a row without a good nonfiction book to cleanse the palate.
4. Do you finish every book that you start? If you don’t, how do you decide when to stop reading? Almost always. Every once and a while a book will prove denser than I enjoy and will bounce off. One day, Infinite Jest. One day.
5. List your ten favorite books in four minutes or less. Write it down because you’ll revisit it at the end.
The Known World, Edward P. Jones
It, Stephen King
Room, Ema Donoghue
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
The Corner, Ed Burns and David Simon
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
6. Do you reread books? Which ones? As a teen and young adult I reread Stephen King books a lot (I'm pretty sure I have read It four times). The only book I can remember rereading in the last ten to twenty years is Edward P. Jones' The Known World.
7. Do you read poetry? Why or why not? Pretty much never. Just not an art form I have ever really latched on to. I find formless, overly poetic novels to be a chore, never mind actual poetry.
8. Do you remember the first “grown-up” book you read? I know Firestarter was the first Stephen King book I read - that was probably it.
9. Are there any authors whose work you have read completely?
Stephen King, apart from the kinds of things that you were never published, or only published in VERY limited editions. I have read all of Rowling's books, I guess, and maybe some newer writers with smaller catalogs.
10. How often do you read books that are more than one hundred years old?
Almost never. I find the barrier of language as it was used then versus now to be hard to get past.
11. Is there a type (or types) of book you never read?
12. How do you choose what to read? I keep a list of things that spark interest when I read about them in magazines or blogs or even in podcasts. Goodreads has proven very handy here - makes keeping and managing that list easier.
13. What’s more important to you: the way a book is written, or what the book is about?
What it is about. Although once I hook into a writer I really love I will follow them most places.
14. What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?
Given my history with his output, probably Stephen King.
15. If you could hang out with a literary character for the day, who would it be? Maybe Eddie from It. I hope he is happy.
16. If you could be a literary character, who would it be? Is Spider-Man a literary character?
17. Have you ever written a fan letter to an author? Never.
18. Is there any book that, if I professed to love it, you would
be turned off? Is there any book that would impress you in particular? Not really. Taste is pretty inscrutable and personal. I mean, come on. Of all the MILLIONS of people who LOVE the Twilight books, they are all lacking somehow? Nonsense.
19. Is there a book you feel embarrassed about liking? Nope.
20. Are there books you feel proud of liking or having finished? If I ever finish Infinite Jest, maybe.
21. Have you ever lied about having read a book? Nope. I may have hinted that I had read books I only read part of, and there are many books I have "read" but have NO memory of - Brothers Karamazov in high school, for example.
22. Do you keep track of the books you read? I never used to, but this is another thing that Goodreads has made easy enough that I do now.
23. How do you form opinions about what you read? No concsious process. It just happens.
24. What authors do you think are overrated? Underrated? There are authors who I am assured are wonderful who I just do not care for (Delillo), but none that I would call underrated. None that I would call underrated either.
25. Do you ever read self-help books? No.
26. What’s a book that shocked you? I'm note sure about "shock," but there was a moment in Room that had me as terrified at what might happen next as I have ever been. And there is a moment in Stephen King's "Gerald's Game," that was incredibly hard to read that I really can't even think about.
27. If you could force every person you know to read one book, what would it be? The Known World.
28. What book would you recommend to me in particular? First let's chat.
29. What books/authors have you been meaning to read for years? Why haven’t you read them yet?
Twain. I know. I'm a philistine.
30. What kind of book do you consider “a guilty pleasure?” None really. There are books I enjoy that go down easier, and some that do not last as long in the memory, but none I'm guilty about.
31. Has a book ever changed your mind about something? Sister Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking really made me anti-death penalty in a way I wasn't before.
32. If you were terminally ill, what book or books would you read? I might reread some books, going for the known quantity rather than something that might prove disappointing.
33. Do you have any passages of poetry or prose committed to memory? Can you recite something to me? Nope. That's never been how my memory works.
34. If you could change anything about the way you read, what would it be? More time for it, certainly.
35. Was there any time in your life when you felt as if a book guided you in a profound way? Not really. There are books that have stayed with me in a very deep way, but not sure about "guided."
36. Return to the list you made at the beginning. What titles, if any, would you change after our conversation? None.