Reading Survey

Found this reading survey here, and I thought this is not a bad idea to kill time and share some books that I’ve read.

  1. Favorite childhood book?
    Eeeerrrrrr, is manga included? Because my answer would probably be the Dragon Ball series. If no then I guess it would be Enid Blyton’s books.
  2. What are you reading right now?
    Country of Origin by E. du Perron. Borrowed the book from my office, which would mean the book belongs to my boss. I blame the title, the cover design, and the summary for making me curious to read this.
  3. What books do you have on request at the library?
    Eeerrrr, I’m not really a member of any public library right now, but a friend of mine generously sending me books from her office’s library (which is opened for public) and I’d request any books available from my reading list if there’s any. Last time, I requested a book by Lisa See, titled Peony in Love.
  4. Bad book habit?
    Hmmm, taking too much time to finish a book? Is that a bad habit? Or smelling the paper (unless the book is very dirty), or feeling the paper especially when it comes to new books? Eeerrrr, underlining words or sentences that I like (doesn’t apply if the books are borrowed) ? Reading before sleeping and then shove the book away somewhere on my bed?
  5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
    From my friend’s office’s library? Schindler’s List by Thomas Kennealy and Peony in Love by Lisa See. From my office’s library: Country of Origin by E. du Perron. From my other friends and families’ private library: A huge pile of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s works.
  6. Do you have an e-reader?
    Not specifically an e-reader, I suppose. E-books that I read would be from my Galaxy Tab II and my iPhone. But no, I’d prefer read books to ebooks.
  7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
    One book at a time. The idea of having a book unfinished would bother me a lot. I’d leave a book unfinished if I think it’s really, really boring or I found it too difficult to understand. If it’s the latter I’d usually get back to the book someday soon.
  8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
    Hmmm, not really.
  9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?
    Coelho’s By The River of Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. An utter disappointment.
  10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
    Eeerrr, wow, this is tricky. Maybe I’d pick the one I consider the most entertaining: Planet Word by J. P. Davidson. Quite a light reading, but not too light.
  11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
    My comfort zone being those genres I like? Hmmm, quite often, I guess. Books that I pick for myself (and buy) are usually those with genres I like, but I’d usually read anything any of my friends recommend me to read. That should explain why my reading list got expanded pretty fast.
  12. What is your reading comfort zone?
    Hmmmm, regarding the genres I like: anything related to philosophy (such as Gaarder’s work), historical fiction or non-fiction, debate between religion vs atheism, pantheism, agnosticism, and such, and life struggles. And maybe the works of those authors who are highly skilled to play with words (and I’d include Michel Faber here).
  13. Can you read on the bus?
    I can read everywhere, as long as I don’t have a headache or dizziness, and as long as I have enough light to read the printed words. This habit always irritates my mom.
  14. Favorite place to read?
    My room. Coffee shop. Cafés.
  15. What is your policy on book lending?
    Take good care of them. Do not fold any pages, not even the cover unless it’s already folded before borrowed. And do not lose them.
  16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
    NO. Especially with borrowed books. I used to do this in the past a few times whenever I’m lacking any bookmarks, though. But now I’d rather use anything that I could use as a bookmark when I don’t bring any rather than folding its pages.
  17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
    Nope. I know some friends who do, though.
  18. Not even with text books?
    Well, they are two different kinds of books. So yeah, I do that with textbooks sometimes.
  19. What is your favourite language to read in?
    Eeerrr, this is tough. I speak English and Bahasa Indonesia, and with authors such as Pramoedya or Ahmad Tohari (Bahasa Indonesia) and Faber, or Stieg Larsson, I can’t decide. I love reading in both languages if the authors narrate the words beautifully.
  20. What makes you love a book?
    Errrm, the language style (definitely Faber), the theme and genre (I’d probably refer to Gaarder most of the times, but Jonathan Franzen and Stieg Larsson also never ceases to amaze me).
  21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
    How infatuated I was with the book, or how inspired I was with the story (again–I hope you’re not bored yet, I never tire myself recommending Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, or Gaarder’s The Castle in the Pyrenees, as well as Vita Brevis, also Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy).
  22. Favorite genre?
    Oh well, I discussed the genre already in no. 12 (which means that no. 12 definitely didn’t refer to the genre–but I can’t think of anything regarding the reading comfort zone other than the genre).
  23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
    Eeerrrr, politics? Law? (These two are my grandad’s favorites.)
  24. Favourite biography?
    Wow, erm, I can’t think of anything. I don’t remember reading so much biography, really. I usually read information about someone famous via Wikipedia rather than through books.
  25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
    Does Personality Plus by Florence Littauer considered a self-help book?
  26. Favourite cookbook?
    Okay, why is this question included? Moi and the kitchen? Not compatible.
  27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
    Aaarrrggghh, this year? Inspiring? Hmmm, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley, I guess (and I answered this only after I retraced my steps through my reading list, again).
  28. Favorite reading snack?
    Aaawww, Amanda Scott’s Scottish historical romance!
  29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
    Eerrr, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho. As for me, I really think Coelho’s overrated.
  30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
    Not very often, really. But I sometimes check out reviews from the internet to get me another perspective of the book. In case I miss something, I guess.
  31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
    Quite bad, actually, especially if the book is a friend’s favorite. I’d usually argue with my friend if this happens.
  32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
    French. And Norway. It’d be super to be able to read Gaarder’s works in his native language.
  33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
    That I’ve ever read? Hmmm, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, and perhaps The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński.
  34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
    Dicken’s classics. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave. Read the introduction (which is actually a verse from the bible, geez!), and I thought to myself, “No. I’m not ready to read this. No way.”
  35. Favorite Poet?
    Hmmm, I’m not really into poet, to be frank. I do have the Selected Works of Henry Lawson in my room, though. Still trying to read it.
  36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
    From my friend’s office’s library? As much as my bag could hold. They told me that I could borrow as many books as I want (devil smirk). From my office’s library? 1. From families and friends’ libraries? As much as they allow me to, huahahaha.
  37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
    Almost never these days. This is why I usually prefer to borrow from libraries where they allow me to borrow books as long as I want to, because if not then I wouldn’t have enough time to finish the book. I used to do return books unread during my high school days, though, since they only allow me to borrow the books for a certain amount of period of time.
  38. Romola Garai portraying Sugar

    Favorite fictional character?
    Lisbeth Salander (from Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy), Sugar (the smart whore from Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White), and Flora Aemilia (from Gaarder’s Vita Brevis).

  39. Favourite fictional villain?
    Villain? Bad guys? Rigaud/Blandois from Dickens’ Little Dorrit. Played very brilliantly in the TV series by Andy Serkis.
  40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
    Hmmmm, I usually bring anything that I’m reading at that moment of the holiday period, so… no particular book.
  41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
    Okay, I really don’t remember this one.
  42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
    The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński, and I’d nominate C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series.
  43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
    My Macbook and my iPhone for sure, hahaha.
  44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
    Honestly, I never really like film adaption, unless I watch the movie first before I read the book, because if I read the book first I’d usually be disappointed. Hmmm, I guess my favorite though, would be…. The Millennium Trilogy and… The Lord of the Rings. And if I could nominate a TV series, I’d go with Little Dorrit (a 2008 BBC series).
  45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
    Definitely Harry Potter (sorry Potter fans, but to me, none of the movies really satisfied me. Watching the very last HP movie instead make me miss the book even more, but DIDN’T make me want to watch the movie again and again).
  46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
    150-190 thousand-something Rupiah. I know for sure I wouldn’t spend more than 200 thousand Rupiah for just a book, no matter how much I love the book–unless the book is really good, or something that I reaally, really, really want.
  47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
    Do it all the time before I start to read a book, or buy a book.
  48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
    If the plot’s too boring or too complicated for me to understand (at the moment of reading). If it’s the latter, I’d usually give it another try.
  49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
    Yes. I have a bookshelf in my room, and I always laminate my books (and often, my friends’ books as well), before I start reading them.
  50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
    Keep books. A friend of mine told me that I ought to sell those books one day, and I simply told her I’d give it a thought, but not now. I’m not ready to let go of my “babies.”
  51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    Yes. Goosebumps. I avoid anything horror. Including movies and TV series. Never watch The Ring, Ju-On, and Jelangkung.
  52. Name a book that made you angry.
    Because it turns out to be a complete disappointment and completely time-wasting? By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Coelho.
  53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. I wasn’t so much captured by her previous work Eat, Pray, Love, so I didn’t really expect to actually like this one. But it turned out I did. As well as Lamott’s Bird by Bird.
  54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Coelho. That’s why it’s such an utter disappointment.
  55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    Hahaha, romance, though I don’t read all kind of romance (and I usually read them only to criticize them later). Historical romance would definitely caught my eyes. And sometimes I read chick lit, too, although usually it would revolve around Meg Cabot’s or Sophie Kinsella’s works, hahaha.

By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho

Just a little intermezzo before I continued with another Bird by Bird Journal, this is a little confession that I’m about to reveal: I never actually read Paulo Coelho’s blog despite the fact that I put the link on my blogroll on my sidebar.

I kept telling myself that I would read it soon, only to open the blog and then glanced it quickly before finally closing the window.

Yep, I’m a procrastinator. Again.

But anyway, I just read it today, and I stumbled across this post, where it contains an excerpt from one of his novel By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. The second line of the excerpt captured me right away:

“We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.

Oh, so true.

So I continued reading, and as usual, I let myself to be amazed by each lines which were arranged beautifully, sentence by sentence.

Then I go to the link below the article, which lead to Amazon.com where I found out that I could just buy a used paperback version of this book for only less than US$ 1.00

One problem, though: I don’t own any credit card, and I have only one buck in my PayPal account, which I never use.

Sorry, credit card is not a very common thing in my country. As well as insurance.

Anyway, as I’d usually read everything that I see, I read the book description. The plot summary strikes me as the plot resembles Gaarder’s The Castle in the Pyrenees so much. Well, at least that’s the impression I get from reading the book description. Pyrenees. Two lovers. And there would definitely be a lot of ponderings, and thought about religion and belief.

Interesting. Very interesting.

No. Wait a minute. It’s not the complete title.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: A Novel of Forgiveness

Awww, shoot. Really?

I suddenly feel like I’m not gonna like this book at all.

Well, of course, that’s a stupid hunch. And not that I hate forgiveness. Really. That’s not the problem. In fact, I believe that forgiveness is the most beautiful thing that could ever happened to anyone (other than love, if you believe in one). But ‘A Novel of Forgiveness’ could also mean a tearjerker.

Uh-oh. I hate tearjerker.

Another thing is when I read the review, I found that it might not be that similar to Gaarder’s The Castle in The Pyrenees.

Just in case you haven’t read The Castle In The Pyrenees, let me tell you this: I LOVE that book.

It’s a philosophical novel (just like Gaarder’s other works) about two ex-lover who bumped into each other after 30 years. Each of them have married someone else and have a family of their own, but they decided the reunion to be a rare and valuable opportunity, so they agreed on exchanging emails.

Through these emails, Gaarder presented a massive debate about life, God, and beliefs.

The guy, Steinn, is an intellectual who at the same time is an atheist, while Solrun, is the opposite: superstitious and religious. Those two different characters alone already make the story interesting.

Another thing that makes me really in awe with Jostein Gaarder is how he started this debate: Was their reunion a coincidence, or a fate? Of course Solrun said that it’s a fate while Steinn told her otherwise.

It’s definitely a thought-provoking book for me, not to mention (and babble) why I love Gaarder’s works so bad, and it ended rather unexpectedly as well. As usual, Gaarder never really disappoint me.

But I don’t wanna get sidetracked here. I didn’t write this to talk about The Castle in The Pyrenees.

Of course there’s no two novels that are exactly the same, but still, from what I read in the book description, this book seems to ponder over the same theme. Similar, at least. And yes, I’m very interested to read it. Soon. Someday. Arrrgghh, I don’t know when, but I will save it in my list for later.

The thing is that, the last part of the title kinda makes me reluctant to actually read it. Other than the fact that it’s a tearjerker, it seems like it’s gonna be a very religious book.

What I really like about Gaarder is that he could be religious by putting some Christian values and beliefs here and there, but in the end, he never actually stated which one is right and which one is wrong. He didn’t strike me as an author who’d try to Christianize his readers.

Good thing.

Well, I believe Coelho’s not trying to Christianize anyone here, but still, a book of forgiveness… man, it’s seems so heavy to me.

Then I read a review which gives me a clearer description of the story, then I thought, “Man, this is gonna be way heavier than Gaarder’s The Castle In The Pyrenees.” How so? The review clearly put it as ‘poetic,’ ‘artistic and almost dreamlike.’ It’s definitely not something that you could read lightly while you’re idling at work. Not to mention the number of distraction that might occur. And the characters in the book includes ‘The Other’, which is described as “the part of each of our psyches that manifests itself as fear, regret, and other counterproductive emotional responses that prevents us from achieving our full potential as human beings.” What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? Even the description of this “The Other” already struck me as complicated. This is definitely a book to be read when you actually have enough leisure time to be with yourself and maybe with a cup of coffee or two.

Well, but again, it might be me being terrified and freaked out by the description alone. Maybe I’m just freaking out too much. Maybe when I actually read the book, it’s not as complicated as I thought it was.

Has anyone read this book already? Would you guys care to share your thoughts and opinion about this book? No spoiler, though, please (although I wouldn’t mind a little teaser on the plot). I would really appreciate any thought or opinion you share.

Writer Questions: Fill It Out!

So I stumbled across this post and inspired to do the same thing. Questions are taken from the same blog (which was also taken from other site as you could read yourself), so the only different things here is only my answers. It’s indeed fun, and you could also try this out to kill some time ;) Reblog this!

The Questions

  1. What is your favorite word in the English language?
    ‘Really’ and ‘indeed,’ I suppose, for I’ve been using those two words quite frequently. Don’t know why but those two words keep appearing every time I try to write a conversation.
  2. Do you prefer writing poems or stories?
    Stories. Definitely stories. I enjoy poem but I definitely enjoy stories better.
  3. Where do you get your inspiration?
    Erm, well… games, movies, other novels I read, and definitely reality.
  4. What is you least favorite word?
    Hmmm, can’t think of any right now, but I don’t think there’s any at all. I will update this later if I could think of any, though.
  5. When and where do you like to write?
    Ideally, I’d picture myself writing in a coffee shop (while drinking cups of coffees), but I think I shouldn’t wait to be in that place to be able to write something. When I got the idea for a story (mostly short–really short–stories these days), I would look for anything: cell phone, pencil, pen, papers, notes that would allow me to write the ideas before I lost them.
  6. What do you think makes a good writer?
    The great concept they have. I don’t know whether this is the appropriate answer, but I always adore those writers who have these concept of the world of their story, the characters as well as the traits of each characters and such–their concept as a whole. I always miss this and got chunks of concepts instead of a whole complete nice concept. (Did I make myself clear?)
  7. Do you, according to the criteria you just described, think of yourself as a good writer?
    Nah. Not yet, but I wish I would be someday.
  8. What is one thing you hate about writing?
    To have the incomplete concept. To fill in the gaps and such. Most of the time I have these ideas how I should start and how I should end the story, as well as how the conflicts, climax and anticlimax would be, but I’m always confused what to write to fill in the gaps. Damn. Any suggestion, writer fellas?
  9. Why do you write?
    Because I love writing. I love putting and arranging words nicely, and to be able to express myself in a way that I’m unable to do in reality. Some people are better with words, you know. (Or is it just me?)
  10. Who do you write for?
    Myself. And perhaps some other close friends out there, who share the same passion and interests.
  11.  What is the best book you have ever read?
    Wow, this is tough. I would have to choose between Jostein Gaarder’s The Castle In The Pyrenees and Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, but in terms of concept, I think I have to say that I’m in awe with the latter.

  12. Who do you look up to?
    In terms of authors, I would definitely say Jostein Gaarder. I love all his novels. (All that I’ve read, of course.)

    Jostein Gaarder

  13. What do you think makes you able to write?
    These ideas and conversations and scenes that won’t stop playing in my head; and I know that I just have to write them down before I lose them.
  14. Do you ever get writer’s block?
    Whoa. Often. Especially when I’m running out of ideas of what to write to fill in the gaps. Or when I reread my writings and think it’s not good enough. I had scrapped plenty of my writings already :( And perhaps when I’m afraid to write. Damn.
  15. What is the next thing you are going to write?
    Hmmm, I got this story already, I’m thinking a story of a mother and a daughter, who got something like a… broken relationships, and I plan to make it an open-ending, perhaps. And the story, sadly, would be most likely written in Indonesian, but like I said, I’m still figuring out how to fill in the gaps between the climax, anti-climax, and ending. Urrghh, I feel like I’m a bad writer already.

via Writer Questions: Fill It Out!.