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Some Habits

Catching up with some writing prompts from Booking Through Thursday.

Do you read books recommended by friends? Or do you prefer to find your own books to read.
I’m reading Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish recommended by a friend. A recent winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, it’s so realistic of a book that makes me skip a breath. An illegal immigrant from China meets ex-American warrior ravaged by three tours in Iraq. As to friends’ recommendation, I would make a note of them. I’ll check the books out to see if they are up my alley. Book bloggers’ recommendations have played a crucial role in my reading life.

Do you carry a book around with you? Inside the house? Whenever you go out? Always, everywhere, it’s practically glued to your fingers?
I’m glued to my book wherever I go. Ever seen people glued to their phones, wiping the screens with their fingers, frantically texting, playing Candy Crush? While they’re riveted at the phones, I’m reading. Books make the perfect time filler, whether I’m taking a break or waiting for someone.

In an ideal world, what kind of book cases would you have? Built-ins? Barrister ones with glass doors? The cheapest you could find so you could have lots of them?
I would like floor-to-ceiling bookshelves made of cherry wood. They don’t have to be glass-in. In my condo I have built-in shelf lining one wall and I love it too. I prefer the bookshelves to be uniform in appearance.

Hardcovers or paperbacks?
Hands down paperbacks. Ever shove a hardback under your armpit? Trade paperbacks are much more handy. They don’t take up as much space on the shelf and in my bag.

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Weeding

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Do you ever weed out unwanted books from your library? And if so, what do you do with them?
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Weeding in progress. I have to weed more often as the pile of unwanted books stagger more quickly than my acquisition pile does. The rule is I would nix any book of which I don’t have much impression. I line up paper shopping bags from the grocery and start putting books in. Don’t look back.

Kane and Abel, Encore

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

If you could change the ending of any book you’ve read, which would it be and how would you change it?

As per the review I posted yesterday, I would like to prolong the lives of the two titular characters in Kane and Abel, who have died with some regrets. The book spans over 60 years in the 20th century with many ups and downs, hinging on a vendetta held by the hotelier on the banker because of a loan refused by the bank during the crash of 1929, made worse by inaccurate assumptions and misunderstandings. The ending is a boot but I just wish the two old men would live longer. I learned that Jeffrey Archer actually rewrote the book for its 30th anniversary edition, which was the version I read, to make the plot tighter and with dangling carrot in every chapter.

Scary

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

I actually wrote a post about scary and creepy books that stay with me over the years. They are not ones with monsters and ghosts lurking on the pages but more atmospheric, full of creepy suggestion. Books that make my hair stand include The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, And Then Then Were None by Agatha Christie and most surprisingly, the one that never advertised horror, but surprise is in store at every turn of a chapter, Under the Skin by Michael Faber.

For the sake of contributing to this week’s BTT, I would add Stephen King’s The Shining. The evil is encroaching, and it could be that Danny’s shining has empowered it. The book does end with an explosive climax, pun intended, that sends me over the edge. It’s almost like fighting against unknown, unseen evil. The characters understand the hotel is evil; that it sought Danny, his power, and that it would do anything it could to get him. This book is a big spooker, atmospherically speaking, and haunts me tremendously.

For a Friend

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

If someone you know has just published a book, do you feel obliged to buy a copy? Even if it’s not the kind of book you’d normally read?

It really depends on the depth of the relationship. If I just “know” the person but hardly keep in touch, I would browse for it at the bookstore and see what it’s about. If it’s someone who keeps regular contact, most definitely I would purchase a copy to show my support, even if the book is out of my range of preference. But there’s always exception. I have met self-published authors on this blog for whom I meet and arrange reading event.

Obscure

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

What’s your favorite genre that other people might not read? I mean, mysteries, romances, real-crime … these are all fairly widespread categories. But real readers don’t usually limit themselves to just the “big” genres … so what’s your favorite little-known type of book? Books on dogs? Knitting books? Stories about the space race? Mathematical theory?

I like to read aviation books, especially anything pertaining to commercial jetliners. When I was a little boy, noise of jetliners was part of daily life as jumbo planes descended into the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport at a precarious angle. I was always fascinated by planes and the very first time flying was love at first sight. I was obsessed with everything air-travel. Now that I travel extensively for work and leisure, airports and airplanes become a second home. I read up on airport passenger terminal design, aircraft configuration, engines, and aerodynamics. A bit of a morbid fetish is the television program ACI: Air Crash Investigation, documentaries and re-enactment of crashes based on true stories.

Shakespeare

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Okay, show of hands … who has read Shakespeare OUTSIDE of school required reading? Do you watch the plays? How about movies? Do you love him? Think he’s overrated?

1garden

I only read Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet in high school, and I read under time’s constraint. I always thought Romeo & Juliet was very clichéd and I never cared for it. Hamlet was read as an exercise of in-depth character study in 11th grade. Taming of the Shrew was the first book I read outside of school—and it was years after high school that I picked it up.

The Taming of the Shrew has a powerful appeal for the Elizabethan audience at the time it opened because the struggle for mastery in a marriage remained a fact of existence and hot topics for writers. A true-to-life domestic scene opens the play and instantly grasps attention: Signor Baptista forbids all suitors to court his younger daughter Bianca until he finds a husband for the ill-tempered, difficult, and waspish elder daughter Katherina. It’s one of Shakespeare’s more rhetorical work.

I was concerned that A Midsummer Night’s Dream might be a reprise of Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare nudges the story to a direction in which the style does not involve the audience too snuggly in the lovers’ emotions. The love entanglement engenders enough body and reference to larger concepts to be viewed as image of some universal human experience: one so true-to-life that it inevitably and in no time provokes sympathy.

Twelfth Night has a whimsical plot. It addresses a subtler and yet precarious issue in the situation of identical twins teetering on the risk of being mistaken. Identical twins are automatically ripped off their uniqueness, the unmistakable self. The broad appeal of Twelfth Night as a good-humored play is sharpened by its comedy of mistaken identity between the long-lost twins Sabastian and Viola. Although they are of different sexes, other characters in the play cannot distinguish them from one another when Viola disguises as a young man.