Shelf-Awareness Reading Questionnaire

Hooray for pointless navel-gazing!

On your nightstand now:

This must be divided into categories, actually. There are too many.

Current & upcoming for school: Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf; Ulysses, by James Joyce; Edward II, by Christopher Marlowe; Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih.

Purchased today: Jpod, by Douglas Coupland; The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks, by Robertson Davies; Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett; England, England, by Julian Barnes; Jeeves in the Offing, by P G Wodehouse; Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte; Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K Jerome; Indescretions of Archie, by P G Wodehouse; Too Busy Not to Pray, by Bill Hybels; The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly; The Bromeliad, by Terry Pratchett.

Upcoming for Review: Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick; The Map Thief, by Heather Terrell; Stalin’s Children, by Owen Matthews; Game Widow, by Wendy Kays; To Catch the Lightning, by Alan Cheuse; probably several more that I’ve forgotten about.

Book you’ve “faked” reading:

I’ve never read Paradise Lost, despite being required to do so for a course in second year. And despite successfully writing about it at great length on an exam, come to think of it.

I was able to get away with this because our prof was very old and quite lovely to talk to, but his preferred method of lecture was to read his favourite passages aloud and then explain the rest of the book to us. I skipped reading The Faerie Queene for the same reason (and also because it’s dead boring).

Book you’ve bought for the cover:

Most of them, actually. Why? How do you choose books?

Favourite book when you were a child:

Lots of them. See here for details. A stand-out still-favourite is Suzanne Martel’s The King’s Daughter.

Book that changed your life:

In terms of non-fiction, I would list the Bible, first and foremost — also Canada: A Protrait in Letters by Charlotte Gray, and various things by Pierre Berton. Did you know that Canadian history is cool and interesting? I sure didn’t . . . until I read the aforementioned texts.

Top five favourite authors:

Oh dear. This is probably the hardest question on this whole list — how can anyone limit themselves to just five? I don’t know. But with the caveat that this list is alway subject to change, I’ll pick five for this moment: Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, C. S. Lewis, Margaret Laurence, and Joseph Heller.

Books you recommend as regeneration when people say, “I’m bored by almost all contemporary American writers”:

Easy! Start reading Canadian authors! I mean, duh.

Book you can’t believe that everyone has not read and loved:

Occasionally I run into people who have read Pride and Prejudice and haven’t loved it. And it always makes me go “Whuuuuaaa?” because that is one of my favouritest favourite books ever. Same goes for Lord of the Rings, and Ulysses. Frankly, I think that people just get intimidated by books over a certain size — which is a great pity, because there are some huge and fantastic books out there.

Book you are an “evangelist” for:

Yellowknife, by Steve Zipp, is a pretty strong contender for the best book I’ve read this year. I do encourage everyone to at least check it out (you can read the first chapter online). It is an excellent book. Plus, Steve is really nice.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Your mom! Ooh!! Burn!!!

Actually, I can’t think of any. I like reading books the second time — I notice a lot more of the little details that can just slip by when I’m focussed on the plot.

8 thoughts on “Shelf-Awareness Reading Questionnaire

  1. How do you like Julian Barnes? I read “A Short History of the World in 12 1/2 chapters” last summer, and liked it enough to pick up “England, England” on a recent shopping expedition. Haven't had time to start it yet.BTW I am moderately shocked that you only just purchased “The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks”.


  2. I read the same, back in first year, and enjoyed it very much. England, England was particularly recommended to me by someone at work, so I snagged it ($3!).And this could well be my fourth or fifth copy of Marchbanks. As far as you know. Ba ha.


  3. Lol – all through school I thought 'omg we live in the most boring country' but it was only because the curriculum was so incredibly boring. I'm so happy my kids are learning more about Canada, especially through the wonderful CBC series Canada: A People's History.Yellowknife was amazing! Steve Zipp was awesome to send me a copy for the Canadian Book Challenge and I devoured it.


  4. In grade eight, we studied Confederation for an entire year (!!). It was dismal. But I agree — the Canada: A People's History videos are great. I'd love to get my hands on some of them…


  5. I love your answer to the american writers quesiton! Also the canadian history book I put on my TBR list. I don't like history, find it boring, but feel I should know my own countries history so i'll check out that book (some day anyway, my tbr list is LONG)I must say though, we disagree on the book Yellowknife. I only gave it 3 stars.


  6. Glum — it is. But I got paid $25 for moving boxes from them, and then I bought $30 worth of books, so it's like I only spent $5 for all of those. Right? Right.


  7. That is so funny – Paradise Lost was the only book in college I faked that I read. I tried and tried and then my husband (boyfriend at the time) bought me the cliff notes and said enough was enough.


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