Reading Questions – from Twitter to Blog

I saw this fun Reading 20 Questions on Twitter. I doubt that 20 people would like it but I really want to do it, so I’m answering it for myself here on my blog. So there!


1. Everyone knows that I LOVE reading crime fiction best of all. I discovered it in my early 20s, when my brain was frazzled from doing 5 jobs at once, but I got to think of it as much more than a mere distraction. It is the most accommodating of genres – some of the greatest works of literature are crime novels (Crime and Punishment, Rebecca, The Great Gatsby).

2. Elmet by Fiona Mozeley and it is every bit as wonderful as people said. I would die to be able to write such beautiful sentences and be so observant of nature!

3. Probably the collection of Romanian fairy tales by Petre Ispirescu – Basme. My parents read them to me as a child. My poor father was exhausted and try to skip some pages, but I was wide-awake, knew them by heart and was very keen to correct him.

4. I wish they would hurry up and adapt all of the Narnia series (although I am not 100% happy with what they have done so far), since The Silver Chair and The Horse and His Boy are my favourites.

5. So many! But old loves are the best loves, aren’t they? I will stick to my beloved Pippi Longstocking, who refused to conform to gender or bourgeois expectations.

6. Count Fosco in The Woman in White is rather wonderfully menacing – and deliberately presented as an anti-villain (corpulent yet light-footed, jolly-looking yet sinister). Although perhaps Wilkie Collins is a little too fond of underlining his Italian ways…

7. I write mainly poetry and crime novels. But I have written a small number of stories. You can read the first story I ever wrote here. (with the usual apologies and disclaimers)

8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Milos Forman captures all the craziness and menace of the original book by Ken Kesey and then some!

9. I’ve read 50 books so far in 2018 and at least 10 of those have been outstanding. One that really haunted me was Love by Hanne Ørstavik, translated by Martin Aitken, which I received as part of the Asymptote Book Club subscription.

10. I will read anything by Tove Jansson and Shirley Jackson. There you go, you get two for the price of one!

11. I used to think that fantasy or YA were my least favourite genres – and they are certainly not my go-to genres of choice. But the ones that I never pick up nowadays are romance novels. Although I did go through a period of adoring Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt, if they count as romance.

12. Other than my favourite authors, you mean? My real-life friends seldom take my advice, but one author who has never disappointed when they did take it was Dorothy Parker (her short stories).

13. More film adaptations? OK, perhaps The English Patient. I read the book after sobbing my way through the film though. Besides, I was in love with Ralph Fiennes.

14. I used to read all of Jane Austen’s novels every year for about 10-12 years, and I still reread my favourite occasionally: Persuasion. But, much more frequently than that, with my children, The Gruffalo and Where the Wild Things Are. Every night for months, times two. I make that at least 180 times each.

15. Javier Marias: A Heart So Whitesimply because I’d heard that he was a long-winded writer who seems to change course in the middle of a sentence – an infuriating style. Instead, it really resonated with me.

16. Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Completely insane, funny, sharply satirical and delectable.

17. Probably the Diaries of Virginia Woolf and the Letters Home of Sylvia Plath. They both showed me that you can be both a woman and a writer, suffer from depression and yet still be incredibly creative.

18. Hmm, I have the feeling it’s best not to meet your favourite writers, for fear of being disappointed. I think I might be somewhat tongue-tied but glowing in the presence of Simone de Beauvoir. Alternatively, I might be tempted to fatten up Franz Kafka and earn his disapproval forever.

19. Japanese writer Dazai Osamu – although be warned, he is not for the faint-hearted. He was drunk, depressive, treated women appallingly and tried to commit suicide several times (he succeeded at last, in a double love suicide in 1948). And yet nobody surpasses him in the description of the end of an era in Japan in his short stories and few novels such as No Longer Human and Setting Sun.

20. I return to crime with my favourite series of all time being Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck series. Well thought out from the beginning – 10 years, 10 books, a critique of society and a method of policing that is much more about painstaking work than fast-paced chasing or technological wizardry. It changed the art of crime writing forever.


16 thoughts on “Reading Questions – from Twitter to Blog”

  1. These are great questions, Marina Sofia, and I love your answers to them. I don’t go much for romance novels, myself, so I understand you completely on that score. And as far as Pippi Longstocking goes? OK, promise not to tell anyone? When I was a child, I had the role of Pippi in our class production of a play about her. Quite a moment for me!

    1. That is AMAZING! What a childhood memory! I would have loved that role. Instead, I got to play the Robber Hotzenplotz, which sparked my love for acting.

  2. Thanks fir sharing this I liked reading it very much. Not sure I’m up for the Japanese writer you mention right now but I’ll keep him in mind.

    1. Yes, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you like to start with Hashire Merosu (translated as Run, Melos – perhaps?), a collection of short stories, in which one in the voice of Judas Iscariot totally captivated me and prompted my first translation attempt.

  3. I really enjoyed this Marina Sofia, its fun to hear book bloggers answer these broad fun questions! I’ve also liked on twitter so hopefully not too many more likes to go (not that it matters, you rebel!)

  4. You have inspired me to read more of the Martin Beck series. I read the first book in the series, but have not read more, even though I purchased quite a few of them.

    I just read Persuasion for the first time last year and loved it. The Austen books are very rereadable.

    1. I wish I had more time for rereading – it really encourages careful observation of nuances and I seem to get something new from the book every time I read it.

  5. I was going to try to reply on some of my own answers, but it’s a daunting task. Like your replies and I’m going to add a few titles to my TBR list, including Dorothy Parker.
    One of my favorite stories about her was by Lillian Hellman. Hellman went to Parker’s husband’s funeral. She asked Parker what she could get for her. Parker replied, “My husband.”
    When Hellman said she couldn’t do that and asked what else she could get her, Parker quickly replied, “A ham and cheese on rye.” Witty even then.
    This post is bringing up so many reading memories I’ll have to do my own replies.

    1. Oh please do play along – I love hearing about reading passions past and present. Dorothy Parker was witty and sardonic and all that, but her short stories are also quite sad and dark – very underrated.

  6. I’ll have to think hard. You’re reminding me to get out my Martin Beck book from my TBR piles and just read it.
    I remember loving Nancy Drew books at age 12, would go to a friend’s, even when she wasn’t home, and sit in her room and read them.
    I remember my first adult book was Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. It was interesting. I didn’t eat meat for a few months. Then I read more adult books. The one I really liked then was The Grapes of Wrath.
    So many books have made impressions on me, but Toni Morrison’s Beloved is an important one in my reading history, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.
    I have not reread books, but want to reread White Teeth and Poisonwood Bible.
    I wish Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series would be turned into TV episodes, and also Elly Griffiths’ series with Ruth Galloway and Denise Mina’s Alex Morrow’s books. Maybe The Ghosts of Ordebec by Fred Vargas turned into a movie. Also, Americanah, by Chimamanda Adichi and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.
    I don’t write stories. I write news about women, health care, immigrant rights, social issues.
    I like crime, including legal mysteries, and literary fiction. Sometimes, memoirs and humor. Have liked mysteries since my father introduced me to the Great Detective Holmes when I was 15 and then to Nero Wolfe and Perry Mason. Do not like science fiction, dystopian fiction, fantasy. Am fact-based.
    A movie better than the book: The Girl on the Train, due to Emily Blunt. Book was meh.
    Favorite authors: Donna Leon, Sara Paretsky, Fred Vargas, Elly Griffiths, Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, Zadie Smith, many others.
    Best books this year: Americanah, An American Marriage, American by Day..
    I have recommended all three to friends and also Go, Went, Gone. And I recommended Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime, last year.
    Favorite classic: Maybe The Grapes of Wrath. Have not read many older books.
    Can’t think of books into movies. Will have to ponder this.
    I can’t think of any I didn’t expect to like, maybe Connelly’s Harry Bosch books. But I like them.
    Meeting authors; So many: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Oscar Wilde, Elly Griffiths, Fred Vargas, Zadie Smith, Denise Mina, Barbara Kingsolver, Donna Leon, Eva Dolan, Malla Nunn. I’ve met the wonderful Sarah Ward.
    Favorite series: Those by Donna Leon, Sara Paretsky, Elly Griffiths, Denise Mina, Fred Vargas, Malla Nunn, Eva Dolan, Kati Hiekkapelto, Sarah Ward, Margot Kinberg.
    More people should know about Sarah Ward, Margot Kinberg, Malla Nunn, Eva Dolan. I think my other favorites are known about.

    Well, I’ve done my lesson for the evening. That was work. The memory bank is getting a wee bit dusty. I’m back in my teenage room with a window, the sun and a big tree branch hitting the window, with my radio on, eating snacks and reading. My father would say that it’s a beautiful day and I should go outside. But, nope, I was reading a good book.

    1. Thank you for playing along. So many favourites, so hard to choose, isn’t it? Yes to VI Warshawski being turned into a proper TV series. There was only ever a film, right, with Kathleen Turner?
      You’ve reminded me of so many others I want to revisit or start… not sure these book conversations are good for my budget!

  7. Why not use the library for a lot of your reading? You must have access to some good ones.
    I’m still reading Go, Went, Gone, but have had to catch up on my New York Times reading, a movie and am reading another book, too. I want everyone I know to read this book. I may buy it to lend to friends. It’s such an emotional read.

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