The Book Lover’s Tag

Angela Noel at Birchbark Books

By Angela Noel

July, 13, 2017

The delightful Hayley from Just Another Blog (from a woman who’s entered her 40s) answered a series of questions about her book reading habits. She’d been nominated (or dared) to do so by another blogger, Gary at Fiction is Food. In turn, she nominated me and four others to do the same. It’s a blog chain letter, but without the bad reputation or the dire predictions for breaking the chain. It’s fun. And informative. Maybe even entertaining for others to read.

Bad things won’t happen to you if you stop reading now. Probably. But do you really want to take that chance?

Let’s start with question the first:

Do you have a specific place for reading?

Kinda. I read in one of three places: in bed, on the elliptical torture device, or on the super-fabulous leather club chairs. These chairs deserve a side-note.

Leather club chairs
This is the actual picture I sent to my husband when I pulled over to the side of the road to ask/inform him about buying the chairs.

One day, after Paul and I had signed the purchase agreement for our house, I was driving to work. My route took me through a rather nice neighborhood and there, on the driveway, looking like two thrones, sat these gorgeous chairs. I disobeyed a number of traffic laws and screeched to the side of the road. I’d made a deal with the owner within minutes, handing over a check for the bargain-priced duo and promising to return with a vehicle capable of hauling their bulky goodness away.

 

a baby and a man asleep in a leather chair
See, these chairs are so comfortable babies fall asleep in them during housewarming parties.

Whenever possible, my butt finds these chairs. My legs curl beneath me and my book invites me in to an hour or two of storytime.

Bookmark or random pieces of paper?

Random everything. Sometimes a binder clip. Occasionally a coin. Once or twice a sock of doubtful cleanliness. But, since the Kindle/iPad revolution, most often my electronic friend keeps the place for me.

Can you stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?

If I’m in bed I stop when I’m about to lose consciousness. When I’m on the elliptical, same thing. When I’m in my leather chair I read to a logical stopping point, unless interrupted by dog, child, or husband.

Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

Yes. Electronic readers have helped make eating while reading much less likely to stain. But I don’t eat anything messy while reading. A sandwich or pastry to nibble is acceptable.

Music or TV whilst reading?

Yes to music. No to TV. I’m pretty sure TV is the devil. (But I am still seduced by it quite a lot. Which proves the point.)

One book at a time or several?

I’m a Polylego. You can read more about the word I made up and why here.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?
Espresso Roma
Espresso Roma at the corner of College and Ashby in Berkeley, California. I read there and wrote much of my first attempt at a novel there in the late 90s. (Photo credit: Elmwoodshop.com)

One of my favorite activities as a twenty-something was to load up my backpack full of books and notepads and head to a coffee shop. I rented more than one apartment because either a) the light coming through a particular window seemed perfect for an afternoon coffee and a cozy read or b) its proximity to an appropriate coffee shop meant I could walk from apartment to coffee within minutes. (And by “appropriate” I mean not filled with people cooler than me, and pastries with crumbly toppings were for sale.)

But, as I’ve entered my fourth decade and chosen a house I love with people who leave me alone (mostly) when it’s time to read or write, there’s no place like home.

Read out loud or silently?

I read to myself when it’s for my own benefit. I read out loud when I’m hanging out with my kiddo. I’m looking forward to reading all about Harry Potter’s adventures with him soon. Though I suspect I am more excited about the recitation than he.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I do not read ahead. BUT, my father assigned Alaska, by James Michener as required reading for the Fun Facts About Alaska (FFAA) game–you can read about that here. That sucker is a million pages long and the first 200,000 are about rocks. So, yes, I skipped some pages. And I won’t apologize for that.

Break the spine or keep it like new?

I have never owned a book that I wanted to keep in like-new condition in the entirety of my life. Though I frown on wanton book-abuse. Which would include banning books one happens to disagree with and/or ripping pages, blacking out words, or spilling one’s red wine on the pages due to overconsumption.

However, books, in my opinion, are meant to be lived-in, dog-eared, shared, and referenced. The good ones are anyway. But since I admit to being a heretical e-book fan, I don’t often have to choose between breaking the spine or keeping it like new. Pixels are evergreen.

Do you write in your books?

Sometimes. But when I go back and read my notes they don’t always make a lot of sense. I think writing in books is like getting a tattoo when you’re in college– meaningful at the time, but subject to age.

I do use the highlight and note functions of my iPad or Kindle. This is helpful when I’m reading a book for book club, or when I want to refer back to a particular passage for a blog post. The handiness of having all my notes and highlighted passages available immediately may take some of the romance out of searching the pages manually, but it sure saves time (and frustration).

What books are you reading now?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. My friend and one of my writing mentors, Ashley Shelby just published her first novel, South Pole Station, to excellent reviews. I picked up a copy and had her sign it for me at the launch party this past week. I’m reading that now, too. (I couldn’t stop myself.)

Favorite childhood book?

I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series Little House on the Prairie.

Laura Ingalls Wilder boxed set
This is my original boxed set complete with a label on the top that reads, “Angie’s.” A flower-shaped button fell out of one of the books when I pulled the books from their storage space to reminisce for this post. Perhaps my twelve-year-old self had been using it for a bookmark.

I read every book again and again. Some examples of what I remember after more than thirty years: An orange as a Christmas treat. A one-room schoolhouse for learning. Twisting hay to keep warm during the long winter. Pa singing his sunflower song. Cutting the corn off the cob just right where it falls in creamy slabs onto a clean cloth.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing wasn’t filled with flowery descriptions or overwrought with meaning. She told her story like she lived her life, crisp, clear, and strong.

All-time favorite book?

I’m a sucker for Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is my go-to book. (I’m even re-reading it now, but it doesn’t count because I practically have it memorized.)

Loving Jane Austen has its challenges. Specifically, she’s had some undue influence on my writing style. My sentences tend to be long. And an early reader of one of my novels mentioned the language in the query letter (essentially a marketing piece sent to literary agents to spark interest in the book) seemed old-fashioned. I blame Jane, and a habit of reading the anthology of her works until the book literally fell apart, for that.

But, I credit Jane for showing me that an author need not see all of the world to see into the world. Confined to society befitting her station as a clergyman’s daughter, Jane didn’t have the benefit of internet or extensive travel. Instead, she dug deeply into the complexities of character and society as she knew it. Proving forever that good stories don’t come only from complicated plots and high drama. They come from within.

The Nominations:

Part of the fun of playing book lover’s tag is to request other bloggers provide their answers. Here’s the folks I’d like to tag in a no-obligation-I-just-think-you’re-awesome kind of way.

Susie Lindau of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride: Wild Child extraordinaire. Writer, reader, and bionic boob recipient.

Gabe Burkhardt of (Almost) Unsalvageable: Digital artist, hiker, funny-guy, househusband, writer, all-kinds of awesome.

Erin Burton of Unbound Roots: Lover of learning, mom, teacher, outdoor-enthusiast, writer, gardener.

Shannon Schottler-Hasty of To Know Her: Foster mom, blogger, coach. Shannon’s are the hands that do the good in the world.

Katie Pitts of Fatty McCupcakes: Hilarious rambler and ranter of first-world problems and of course, cupcakes.

If you choose to participate just link back to this post, and tell us all what rings your book-lover bell. That is all.

Your turn: Whether you’re a blogger or not, I’d love to hear what you love about books. Please answer any of the questions above in the comments! 

Author: Angela Noel

Seeker and promoter of awesome people and ideas.

40 thoughts on “The Book Lover’s Tag”

  1. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder too! I was thinking about it earlier this week, how she managed to chronicle in detail the construction of a house and make it really interesting to read! And Pride and Prejudice is a top quality favourite book – all in all, I think you have very good literary taste 🙂

    1. That’s a high compliment from a wonderful writer! Thanks, Claire. So many people on Instagram or in person have told me they loved the Little House books, too.
      Laura never felt sorry for herself–or at least very rarely. Nowadays schools talk a lot about the importance of grit–Ms. Wilder had plenty of it! A role model for a generation of women, and men, too.

    1. Hi Jenn! I hope the girls love it, even if they don’t love it as much as we do. I’ll take just enough interest so we can go to Hogsmeade in Florida and I can buy a wand (for the kid, I swear).

  2. I never got into Wilder, but enjoyed reading them to my daughter. I love the Polylego term. 🙂
    Thank you so much! Danny and I cracked up over my blurb. Love it! I may have to change all my profiles. Ha!
    This will be a lot of fun.

    1. I’m glad you liked the post and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. One of the things I love about books is how they are both multigenerational and personal. For example, I didn’t love Roald Dahl books the same way my son does, but I sure love that he loves them. Thanks for reading and accepting the “tag.”

  3. Thanks for the nomination Angela. I’m so far behind with my little blog now I don’t think I’ll be able to contribute, but I’m honored by the nod.

    And I LOVED the Goldfinch (almost as much as my reading/bloggin chair)

    1. I’m glad to hear you liked The Goldfinch! I’m only a few chapters in, so good to know it’s a favorite of yours. I hope you find the time at some point to share your book loving side–but I totally understand. I’ll just imagine you enjoying War and Peace, whilst sitting in your favorite chair, and eating kumquats and golden raisins by the handful. 🙂

      1. hehehe everybody knows WaP is a winter read best enjoyed with whiskey and Doritos.

        Summer, on the other hand, is primed for the hilarious “The Sellout” while drinking warm beer in the park 😉

        1. Ha! I wonder how Tolstoy would feel about the whiskey? I’ll confess–I’ve only read half of WaP. After the three thousandth battle, I just couldn’t remember who I liked and who I didn’t!

  4. Brilliant. I loved this and those chairs do look so comfy. Thanks for your answers Angela. I LOVE that Jane Austen has influenced your writing! X

    1. Thank you for the nomination! This was very fun to write. Reflecting on what I really love to read and why gave me such pleasure. It’s like when I look up at my husband and suddenly realize I sure like him a lot. I know I love him, but I don’t always think about why. Same thing with my book loves. You’re wonderful for giving me a great chance to rediscover one of my first loves.

    1. I just went and checked out your answers from May. The image I get in my mind of you with a horror book and a glass of red wine nearby makes me smile. Sounds like a great evening any time. (Though horror scares me.) What are you reading now? Favorite childhood book? I’d love to know!

      1. That’s my perfect 👌 evening! I’ve just finished an anthology called Behold, published by Crystal Lake Publishing, it as awesome! Weird and wonderful stories, kind of like a carnival freakshow! I’m moving on to The Other side of the Wall by Andrea Mara next!
        My favourite childhood book was Anne of Green Gables, I just adore it!

        1. You know, I really need to read Anne of Green Gables. I can’t believe I missed it in my youth. So many great writers love it and I feel like I’m missing out! I know my friend from my writing group–who also loves the weird and wonderful–would enjoy Behold. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

  5. Those club chairs are fab! I would have done just the same thing to get them 😀 And it’s nice to know more about your reading habits – I usually have more than one book on the go as well. Although when I’m writing I find I can’t read as much, which is a bit weird, I guess…

  6. I adore all of your answers! Sometimes when I read these types of posts I am disappointed by the quick answers, but yours are so thoughtful and complete. I hope you are enjoying The Goldfinch – it is one of my favorite recently-read books.

    1. Thank you for reading! I’m glad you liked my answers–it was so fun to write! So many people have mentioned they really liked The Goldfinch–I’m excited to get more into the story.

  7. Great answers and thank you for the shout out too; as if I’d dare Hayley to do this tag…I mean…seriously… me… although maybe… a bit!

    Fab way of finding out more about bloggers to this and a good set of nominations too 🙂

      1. I think that’s why I like the FB group. you get so many different bloggers all in one place. These tags are excellent for finding out about them too. You are spot on about the fun aspect as well 🙂

  8. I love this post. It makes me feel like I know you a bit better. 😀

    I am an Austen fan too. A while ago I used project Gutenberg to downloads loooads of old classics (for free!) I read the complete works of Austen all of Sherlock Holmes, Dickens and War and Peace all close together…then my husband said I’d started to use some quite old fashioned phrases, so I had to join a book club to read some more modern authors!!

    1. Ha! I’m so glad you liked the post. I’m also glad to hear I’m not the only one that picks up the cadence of speech and turns of phrase from what we read! I think you found the recipe for success–indulge in the good, old stuff but stay fresh with the new! I also did the Sherlock Holmes thing and some Dickens. War and Peace has defeated me numerous times. 🙂

      1. Lol I actually really liked it. I mean the war parts were sort of hilarious (they are all so rubbish at being soldiers) and the gossip-like society sections were fun to read. BUT in the end it defeated me too. I made it to the final chapter…and then it goes into rants about history. It kept repeating the same things so I didn’t bother reading to the end(!)

  9. I do love Jane Austen, aside from Mansfield Park which is entirely too dark for my liking 🙁 (Northanger Abbey is where it’s at!!) I try to stop at the end of a chapter but sometimes it’s not possible. As you say, ereaders have their own bookmarks and highlighting and notes that make it so much easier to keep track of everything in one place! And nope, books should be loved, not placed on a pedestal ☺

    1. I’m with you on that. I find it REALLY hard to stop at the end of a chapter. I just keep reading “just a little more” until I realise it somehow became night time!

    2. Thanks for reading and adding your book lover thoughts!
      I’m so glad you’re a Jane lover, too. I used to really dislike Mansfield Park. I thought Fanny was a real wimp. But the more I read it, the more I thought she had her own kind of courage. Standing up to that uncle! But it’s definitely a darker one. I love Northanger, too. Austen’s heroines all seem to have a streak of bad-assness that makes me love them.

  10. What a delightful essay, Angela. I, too, love Jane Austin but have not read Laura Wilder’s series, but upon your recommendation I believe I must do so! Love the leather chair story. We have two leather chairs that are comforting to sit in to read and paid full price for them, so I know you got a real bargain.

    1. Thanks, Molly! I think the Wilder series are worth the read, if only for the glimpse into prairie life in the late 19th century. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  11. Great to read your answers! I’ve just finished a fantastic book The man called Ove and can highly recommend it if you like quirky characters. I laughed, I cried and I loved it!!

  12. I’m not a blogger but I sure loved your post and all of the comments. Guess I should put down Michael Connelly and read Goldfinch.

  13. Thanks so much for the tag, Angela! I just posted my version of The Book Lover’s Tag about an hour ago. I have to say, I enjoyed answering your questions about reading and books. Reminiscing about favorite books had me smiling. Those Little House books are a must-read for everyone. We just started the series with our kiddos here, and I’m enjoying them just as much as I did when I was little. Thanks again!

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