Things are heating up around here. No, not the weather. It’s the American northeast, so we’re finally getting some cooler weather, which is an absolute delight to me.
So what is heating up? My grading pen, for one thing. Papers having been swarming in at an alarming rate and I curse the person who assigned all this homework.
Oh yeah. That was me. I’m a fool, aren’t I?
I’ve also been doing my own homework for my second course in my paralegal program. I wrote my first brief for my Litigation class and this coming week, I have to “file” a complaint for a lawsuit that I’ve invented. I’m going with negligence for moldy carpets or false imprisonment due to mistaken identity. Which would you choose?
Writing, however, has been slow. Oh, the ideas swirl and essays even get outlined and researched, but nothing has been completed. I’m working on it, though. I’m slow, but I’m stubborn.
In the meantime, I’m going to borrow an idea. I was reading through my blog list last week and came to a post by Robert on 101 Books called 20 Questions: Round 2. He asks his readers 20 questions, mostly regarding books, but also about some miscellaneous things. He’s done this before but this time, he first answered his own questions and then invites readers to give their own answers in comments.
For some reason, I always enjoy these sorts of games. I always end up learning something about myself – something small but still unexpected. As I was writing my comment, I realized it was getting quite…well, unwieldy.
And so, I decided to answer the questions on my own blog, where it’s my party and I can be unwieldy if I want to!
Without further ado, I present the Q&A.
1. Will Dicaprio’s performance as Gatsby be better than Redford’s? I have no idea. I love Redford, but I concede that Dicaprio may be a superior actor.
2. Narnia or Middle Earth? Middle Earth, totally. I enjoyed The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I think I did start to read the subsequent books, but I never really got involved in them. I was, however, completely entranced by J.R.R.Tolken’s famous Lord of the Rings. I read The Hobbit as a child and was hooked for life. Maybe it was the Elvish?
3. Hemingway or Joyce? Hemingway, no question. I haven’t seen a comparison yet that would make me choose another author over Hemingway. I gots it bad.
4. Favorite font? I don’t like sans serif fonts. It’s actually one of the reasons I stay with this WordPress theme. I just looked over fonts in Word and my favorites are Book Antiqua, Bookman Oldstyle, Palatino Linotype, Garamond, and Georgia (which is my default for now, but will probably change to Book Antiqua or Palatino after this!)
5. What’s your ideal book length for reading? 350-ish. Depends. Sometimes I like to sink into a book and live there for a while, so I’ll go for a good 600-ish page book.
6. You have to go a year without a book (all forms) or a week without food. Which one do you choose and why?Probably food. A year without any sort of book reading seems like an eternity. And hey, I’m always on a diet anyway. It’ll help me get rid of last Thanksgiving’s extra five pounds. I hear the hunger pains stop after a couple of days anyway.
7. Best concert you’ve ever been to? Hmm. It’s hard to choose just one because I’ve been to a wide range of concerts. Rush is one my favorite bands, so it was exciting to see them twice in the 90s. I also saw some great jazz concerts: Dave Brubeck and his sons when I was in college, and Modern Jazz Quartet in Pittsburgh. But the most memorable and thrilling concert experience was seeing Luciano Pavarotti in Central Park in 1993. I still get chills.
8. Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars. I am a big Trek fan as well, but Star Wars had my heart first.
9. Best compliment you ever received from a teacher/professor? Hmm. Tricky. This may sound odd, but the best compliment I’ve received was in the form of anger. When I took Sociolinguistics in grad school, we had to do a presentation about language conflict. I chose to write about the 1976 Soweto Uprising and got some research together. The day of the presentation, I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked, but I had gotten through much of my schooling by winging it, so I thought it would work for me once again.
It didn’t. I tanked.
My professor not only yelled at me during class, but she called me into her office later that day. She wanted to know why I could accept such a mediocre performance from myself when I was capable of so much more. It was a total shock to me. I’d had vague memories of teachers giving me the “live up to your potential” speech, but I never believed it was more than just standard educational platitudes. This felt different. For the first time, I felt that someone finally meant those words, that she saw potential in me, and she cared enough to be angry at me for not seeing it myself.
I knew I had done good work when she said, “That’s more like it.”
10. What’s your one piece of writing advice? (don’t be shy!) Don’t show off. Don’t use complicated constructions or obscure vocabulary just because you can. Use the words and the grammar that are the best match to what you want to say. Doing otherwise will at best annoy and at worst confuse and alienate. And really, if you’re alienating your readers, what’s the point?
11. Mountain reading or beach reading? To be honest, I don’t know what the difference is.
12. What’s one novel you think is awesome that everyone else thinks is bad? That one is hard. I’ll go by my latest experience at my book club. We had chosen to read Siddhartha for this past month. Most of the group didn’t like it at all. They thought it was boring. I enjoyed it. In fact, I’d read it years ago and enjoyed it, and I got a lot more out of it this second time around.
13. Conversely, what’s one novel you think is bad that everyone else thinks is awesome? The Help. Hated it. Oooooh, I hated it.
14. Amazon: Good or bad? I can see how it’s bad for smaller businesses, and given my love of used book stores, you’d think I would say Amazon is mostly bad. But I kinda sorta love me some Amazon.
15. Most famous author you’ve ever met? I saw a Q&A with Dave Barry a few months ago after a showing of This is Spinal Tap, and we all got signed copies of his latest book, but I didn’t actually talk to him, so I don’t know if that counts. Other than that, in grad school, I had the absolute pleasure to not only meet but to have dinner with Dr. William Stokoe, the “father” of sign language linguistics. He was kind, gracious, fascinating, and supportive. At the end of the evening, I nervously asked him to sign my copy of a book of essays in his honor. He smiled, took the book, and wrote “Lovely to know you, and don’t let the linguists wear you down. Bill Stokoe.” The book remains one of my most treasured possessions.
16. What percentage of books on your bookshelf have you actually read (estimate)? Okay, I have a lot of books on my shelves. Part of the issue is my access to free books. A friend of mine takes overflow donations to the local library and redistributes them to various charities so that they don’t go to waste. Every month, I get 10-15 bags of books to bring to the college to put on a free book cart my friend had established when she still worked with me. Every month, I go through the bags to see if there’s anything I’m interested in. Two new bookshelves later, I’d say I’ve read about 40% of all the books in my collection.
17. Favorite reading beverage? Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, wine or scotch in the evening, and herbal tea for bedtime reading.
18. A hypothetical: Print and digital books are no more and audio books are the only form of literature remaining. One catch: All the audio books are read by Gilbert Gottfried (who has indeed recorded an audio version of 50 Shades of Grey). Are you done with literature? That’s a strange one. While I do think Gilbert Gottfried is entertaining, I can only take him in small doses. So maybe I’d listen to a funny book once in a while. But I also generally dislike audio books, so the idea of having only audio books, regardless of whose voice is featured, is really quite depressing to me.
19. One novel every teenager must read? Oh gee, how should I know? I’d probably choose a classic, but then there would be complaints about how it’s not relevant to today’s youth, or it’s too difficult for today’s lowered standards, or yadda yadda, it sucked. I don’t feel that literature has to be current to be relevant. In fact, I think the better the literature, the better it transcends time. So, I’m going to opt out of this question in terms of naming a specific book, but I really believe that everyone, no matter what age, should keep reading until they find the book that truly speaks to them, that helps them find their truth in life. Then go live that truth.
20. Who inspired you to become an avid reader? I honestly don’t know. My mother always encouraged reading, but I don’t know if this was the reason I am a reader or if it was in reaction to my desire to read. I can’t remember a time when I could not read. My mother tells me that she never taught me – I wanted her to read to me and then after a while, I just read on my own.
Now, I’d love to hear your own answers in comments! (No need to be as long-winded as I was!)