Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Tag: "Ultimate" Book Tag

This is one I found here:, and I think it could also be called a Book Preference survey.  As always, feel free to use the questions for your own writing!

1. Do you get sick reading in a car?

I've written about this before. I used to be able to read in any moving vehicle, but in my twenties I lost that ability. Sigh. Of all the things I miss about being young, that's gotta be in the top three. (Along with "Having Lots of Energy" and "Not Having to Pay Bills.")

2. What author’s writing style is completely unique (to you) and why?
There are many possible answers, but I'm going with Ursula le Guin. She manages to combine great story-telling, imaginative world-building, and a strong intellectual probing.

3. HP or Twilight?  Give 3 reasons.
Harry Potter

Why? 1. It doesn't suck. 2. It's good. 3. --okay I'm taking potshots. Let's try again.

1. There's a huge range of characters that are fully realized and seem to have a life off the pages. Twilight was just Bella, Edward, Jacob, and a bunch of other vampires and werewolves. HP brings us not only the three friends, but Hagrid, Mad-Eye Moody, the professors, the twins, the Dursleys, Seamus and Malfoy and Peeves and Dobby, Lupine and get the idea.
2. Sense of humor. BAM!
3. Many types of love, not just romance. There's love of family, love of friends, love of places, love of learning, love of justice, love of animals, love that demands sacrifice, love that is freely given, etc.

4. Do you carry a bookbag?  What’s in it?
I'm not sure what this means. Sometimes I put books in a bag. Those bags are likely to also contain old receipts, sunscreen, snacks, my wallet, or whatever else I need for wherever I'm going.

5. Do you smell your books?
Nope. I know it's a thing, but it's not my thing.

6. Illustrations or no?
It depends. I can read anything from a picture book to a graphic novel to an illustrated book to one with little doo-dads at the beginning of each chapter to a solid one thousand pages of little tiny type.

7. What’s a book you loved while reading but later discovered it wasn’t quality writing?
The Nancy Drew series.

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood?  Share!
In fourth grade, I had to get patted down when entering the classroom to be sure I wasn't smuggling in books to read in my lap during class. Swear to God.

9. Thinnest book on your shelf?
A slim paperback called Trees to Know in Oregon, published by the OSU Extension Service. It's a 1959 reprint of a 1949 booklet. I'm not entirely sure if this came from my parents' house or my in-law's house. The 60th anniversary edition is more of a real book, and includes color photos, but our copy is folded, not bound, and features line drawings.

10. Thickest?
Well, this is a coincidence! My thickest book is Lewis A. McArthur's Oregon Geographic Names, autographed by the author's son and current editor of this handy reference guide. My sisters are in it, because they named the lake on top of the South Sister. According to, it weighs 3.1 pounds.

11. Do you write as well as read?  Do you see yourself becoming an author in the future?
Clearly I write. I've never been good at fiction, though, despite my love of reading it. If I ever publish anything, it will probably be either something about teaching, or some sort of memoir about my days in Eastern Europe.

12. When did you get into reading?
According to family legend, I taught myself to read at three. I don't remember a time before reading.

13. What’s your favorite classic?
Another one with many possible answers. I'm going to go with A Tale of Two Cities. I first read it the summer after ninth grade, and we had learned about the French Revolution that year, so it was amazing for me to see how Dickens portrayed an event that was history even way back in his day. Plus, it's so romantic. "'Tis a far, far better thing..." Sigh.

14. Was English your favorite school subject?
Yes, tied with History. When I started college, I was deciding which one to major in. For an English diploma, you had to do oral boards. For a history diploma, you had to write a thesis. I decided I'd rather write 100 pages than be interviewed by a committee, so I have a BA in European History. But I also did a minor in creative writing, and I found that by being (often) the only non-English major in the room, I was freed up to get discussions started with the "obvious" answer, since I wasn't as concerned with impressing the professors. Which in turn made the professors happy, since all teachers hate the "Beuller?....Beuller?..." effect.

15. If you got a book as a present that you’d already read and disliked, what would you do?
I probably wouldn't say anything negative to the gift giver, but I would try to return the book. If I couldn't, I would either give it away, add it to my classroom library (if appropriate), sell it or donate it.  

16. What’s a lesser known series you know of similar to Harry Potter/Hunger Games?
Well, other than being imaginative series not written specifically for adults, these two aren't all that similar. 

Cynthia Voigt's Tales of the Kingdom, starting with Jackaroo, are a rollicking fantasy adventure, more like Harry Potter. Plucky young women and scampish young rogues must rise above their humble beginnings to confront powerful forces.  There's humor and some romance, but these are not fluff, and the lessons the young people learn apply to all of us. Completely appropriate for middle grade readers.

Neal Shusterman's Unwound series is more like Hunger Games, in that it's futuristic sci fi aimed at older teens. It's the near future, though, and for every horrible element, the author gives us actual, current news reports that show how that is or could be happening. Like Hunger Games, the more you think about it, the more parallels you see to reality. Also, not all questions have easy answers, and while the bad guys are pretty terrible, the good guys are mostly shades of grey. Good stuff, but definitely for mature readers--the core issue is that the conservatives and liberals have hammered out a "compromise" in which abortion is illegal--but at the age of sixteen, unruly children are harvested for their organs, a process known as "unwinding." I know this series is already pretty well known, but not as well known as it should be, dammit!

17. Favorite word?
In fifth grade it was "serendipity." Now I couldn't begin to choose. There are words that sound pretty, like alabaster and Persephone. There are words that bring pretty images to mind, like meadow and willow. There are words that represent important concepts, like family and equality. There are words that are fun to say, like onomatopoeia* and excelente.

18. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb, or all of the above?
Um, I'm an English teacher. You decide.

19. Vampires or fairies?

20. Shapeshifters or angels?

21. Spirits or werewolves?

22. Zombies or vampires?
Vampires, specifically Spike.

23. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Forbidden love.

24. Full on romance books, or action books with some romantic scenes?
The latter.

Caveat: for questions 19-24, it really depends on the book, the storyline, the author. There are no make-it-or-break-it elements, just authors who do or don't handle these elements well.

That being said, I'm kind of a sucker for Mounties.

*I just want to point out that after four years of teaching middle school language arts, I spelled onomatopoeia right on the first try. Of course, I still had to run spell check to see if I was right, but c'mon, I can still be proud, right?


  1. I've been wanting to pick up the Unwound series! I really like the cover.

  2. Okay, your story about getting patted down in the 4th grade is just hilarious! LOVE it!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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