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A Reading Meme

I’m still sorting through my books and reshelving them onto the new glass-in bookcases. Not much going on in my mind today, so I pinch this reading meme from Danielle.

1. Do you remember learning to read? How old were you?
I learned to read before I started K1, when I was attending half-day nursery school. I didn’t remember much about the school, except that we had play time, snack time and nap time! My parents actually taught me how to read at home. I must be 3 years old. They bought a stack (see this bookishness is in my blood) of learn-a-character pictorial books and sat reading with me. My aunt was a school teacher and she would teach me the order of strokes in writing Chinese. I learned my alphabets in K1.

2. What do you find most challenging to read?
Poetry. I have been very inept at discerning the meaning, the implication, and the figurative speech that poetry has to offer. I believe this must have had underlying correlation to my equal ineptitude in appreciating arts. I remembered reading Dreams of the Red Chambers and was frustrated at the prolific couplets and poems that weave together passages. Maybe bloggers can come to my rescue in giving me some guidance and recommendations.

3. What are your library habits?
Sporadic. I can be on a roll of library scouring, obsessively dropping by the library everyday to check the new book shelves and peek into the queuing line for paged books. I usually don’t check out more than 3 books at a time, and I have never been late to return books. The librarians also know me by my name so they keep me savvy of what new books are coming out. The Outmoded Author Challenge has definitely sent me to the library more frequently, as many of the books are either out-of-print or so eclectic that library would be the best bet to find them.

4. Have your library habits changed since you were younger?
I remembered browsing the card catalogue, which has been phased out. The electronic catalogue and internet, document sharing, online version of documents and electronic journals have reshaped the information management and library experience.

5. How has blogging changed your reading life?
Getting to know and staying connected with people whom otherwise I would never have met, owing to distance and social circumstances. The interaction with book blogging community. The book blogs have united readers and book lovers from practically all over the world. This is like a 24/7 book discussion forum with different threads on books and authors. My reading list now primarily draws from what the fellow bloggers have been reading. A few of you have introduced me to new writers like Joanne Harris, Sarah Waters, and Anita Brookner. Instead of browsing the bookstore for hours, rummaging through the shelves and flipping through many books, which I still enjoy doing, I can bring with me a list of books I find from the bloggers, who have heavily influenced what I’m reading and thus expanded the range of books, genres, and authors that I read.

6. How often do you read a book and not review it on your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about a book?
I review all the books I read. The making of the blog is to publicize, and to make people aware of books and reading at the first place. Moleskine Book Reviews contain all the books read after I launched the blog, plus 5 or 6 Moleskine journals full of non-published reviews. The only reason for not blogging about a book is that I’m too busy to review and post it.

7. What percentage of your books do you get from new book stores, second hand books stores, the library, online exchange sites, online retailers, other?
I no longer buy anything online because it simply takes too long to ship. I prefer to browse, to look, to linger around the aisles, to pick up a book and start reading. For the same reason I’m not too keen on electronic books. I go to new bookstores and used bookstores a lot, almost everyday, as I have this ongoing book list that I check off. So the sales amount to about 75% of all my purchases and the rest will be library books.

8. What are your pet peeves about the way people treat books?
(a) People who don’t read books.
(b) People fold up the pages in lieu of a bookmark.
(c) People who don’t take care of the books in general.

9. Do you ever read for pleasure or for work?
It’s always fun whether I read for work or for pleasure. Usually I TA or mark paper for an upper division class in my department. So the readings required for these classes would fall into my usual range–Russian literature, Eastern European literature, and historical fiction.

10. When you give people books as gifts, how do you decide what to give them?
Giving books is quite difficult. I come across so many used books that are dedicated at the used bookstores. I bet many of the recipients don’t even get through the first chapter before sending the books back to used bookstores. Unless I know the person is a reader, I don’t give books as gifts. I give recommendations. The one title that I have given as gift the most, of course, as you may have guessed, is The Master and Margarita. I have also given a magazine subscription, photography books, and cookbooks as gifts.

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8 Responses

  1. With the time difference it’s already the 18th at my end of the universe. So, just want to drop you a Happy Birthday — in case I don’t find an internet connection in Vietnam.

    Hope you have a great day, with big celebration plans!

  2. Happy Birthday! Enjoy your big day!!!

    It took me months to read Dream of the Red Chamber, in Chinese, but it was well worth the time.

  3. I wish you a Happy Birthday! xoxo

  4. Joyeux anniversaire mon ami! Best wishes!

  5. I am adding Master & Margarita to my list for the Reading Dangerously Challenge!

  6. Dark Orpheus:
    You must be well and safe in Hanoi now. Have a great time! 🙂

    Weizhu:
    I’m not surprised you would have zipped through Red Chamber.

    John:
    Thank you! 🙂

    Disundi:
    Merci monsieur! I’ll see you in Hong Kong. 🙂

    Iliana:
    It’s dangerously fun reading! I’m joining it but I haven’t come up with a list.

  7. I am with you on poetry. I tend to feel lost when I am reading it. There seem to be so many references that I feel like I don’t get (at least with earlier poetry). At what point did you learn english? Also in school when you were younger?

  8. I learned English in K1, when they taught the alphabets and a few words that begin with each of the alphabets. I can recall these recitals:

    A for Apple
    B for Boy
    C for Cat
    D for Dog
    E for Ear

    These are my first English words!

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