Thursday, July 17, 2008

Books, Books, Books

I don't usually fill out memes (usually because I'm lazy), but Julianne has a good one over at Writing the Renaissance about reading.

*Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
My Mom's an avid reader--she even found my name in a novel!--so books were always around our house. She first started taking me to the library when I was about three. About the same age, I had a bunch of read-along-storybooks-on-tape and apparently taught myself to read partly from following along to the tape in the books.

*What are some of the books you read as a child?
A storybook called "Big Dog, Little Dog" is one I remember from when I was very little. In elementary school, I liked the Little House books, the Nancy Drew series, easy-reader biographies of famous historical people (I wonder if Julianne and I read the same Molly Pitcher book!), and the Narnia books best. And books on Greek mythology! In high school, I was very into Agatha Christie as well as historical fiction authors like Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy. Elizabeth Peters and Phyllis Whitney are two other authors whose books I liked in high school. I was very into fantasy for a while and liked Tolkien and David Eddings.

*What is your favorite genre?
Historical fiction, although I tend to be very particular about what I read. There has to be a solid grounding in real history. I also like some mysteries, but I'm picky there too. I'll read some contemporary fiction, especially if it's set in Europe. :-) Basically whatever strikes my fancy is my favorite genre!

*Do you have a favorite novel?
Of all time, I'd say my top five (in no particular order) are Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre, Little Women, Wuthering Heights, and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

*Where do you usually read?
Wherever! My novel-reading tends to be at night before bed on the sofa. I used to read in bed until I learned that might contribute to my insomnia.

*Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at the same time?
Only one novel at a time. But I have nonfiction going simultaneously, because I need to be reading for lecture preparation, for my scholarship, and for novel research. I could be in ancient Greece before lunch and 19th century Paris after!

*Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
Reading fiction is for relaxation, so it's a nighttime activity. I'm digging into nonfiction books all day for other things, and most times I don't read nonfiction books beginning to end. I read and take notes on the parts that are most useful for what I'm doing. Although there are exceptions, of course.

* Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out from the library?
With nonfiction, whether I buy or check-out depends on how expensive the book is and how much I plan to use it. I have about 80 or so books checked out from the university library, some of which I've literally had on my shelf since 2001 (nobody else wants them...). But I buy voraciously in nonfiction too; I've been actively acquiring for my personal research library for 20 years and have a nice art history collection, especially in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, the medieval period, and van Gogh. I'm running out of room in my office and apartment! I used to get fiction from the library, but nowadays I buy. I seldom borrow books from people, unless it's my mom or my sister, because I don't like to lend out my own books and don't want to be a hypocrite. I'm one of those people who keeps their books near-mint: no dog-earing, no writing in the book, no highlighting, I don't even EAT around the book. It's the one thing I'm really fastidious about.

*Do you keep most of the books you buy?
Yes, because I see my books as an active and growing collection.

*If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them?
I have no children, but I have a nephew, and I've already bought him "D'Aulaire's Illustrated Book of Greek Myths," which was a childhood favorite of mine. Three other books I've bought him that he already loves (he's too little for the myths yet) are "Vincent's Colors," "Museum ABC," and "Museum 123," all published by the Met. Those books didn't exist when I was little or I would have had them too!

*What are you reading now?
I'm nearly finished with Sandra Gulland's "Mistress of the Sun" as my current fiction reading. In nonfiction, I'm updating my lectures for Roman Art class this fall, and so am reading actively in that area, and I've been reading a lot this summer about the painter Manet too.

*Do you keep a TBR (to be read) list?
Not really, unless a research bibliography counts. The physical stack of books is the list!

*What's next?
Elizabeth Robards' "With Violets" (my editor kindly sent me an ARC for this one, which is coming out in paperback with Avon this fall). I have Michelle Moran's "Nefertiti" and about five others in the TBR fiction stack too.

*What books would you like to reread?
I don't really reread books any more. I did when I was younger. Gone With the Wind, especially! It'd be fun to go back and reread some of my favorites from years past to see how differently I identify with them, but I'd rather read new things right now.

*Who are your favorite authors?
Since I listed my favorite novels 'of all time' up above, here are some authors whose work I've been reading consistently more recently: Elizabeth Peters (I've been reading her for over twenty years!), Susan Vreeland, Tracy Chevalier, and Joanne Harris. Among mystery authors, I like Cara Black, Donna Leon, and Steven Saylor's Roma sub Rosa series the best. Some of the newer authors I like are Elizabeth Hickey, Catherine Delors, Karen Essex, and Barbara Quick. Among the 'classics,' I like the Brontes and E.M. Forster. And many many's so hard to pick favorites!


Catherine Delors said...

Thank you, Sheramy!

I am honored to have made the list, and to find myself in the company of writers I admire so much.

Sheramy said...

You're welcome, Catherine. It's both meant and deserved!