I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others, so I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.
Meet the Reader Series
Today’s Featured Reader:
Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?
Sadly, I come from a family of non-readers. That means that I did get some of those thin Disney books when I was very little because they were colourful and what my family knew from movies, but I never had access to what I call “real information” (meaning that there was nobody who could have introduced me to beloved classics). However, despite the lack of books at home, the bookshelves in the department store (back then they still existed even here in Germany) always called to me like sirens call to sailors. Whenever I’d vanished from my mother’s side, she’d know where to find me and, thankfully, my grandfather saw no fault in my passion so he often sponsored me by buying books even if it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas. That means I had to go with what the store had (again, making me miss out greatly) but at least I had books. Coming from a family of non-readers is a bit like being the only witch or wizard in a Muggle family like the Dursleys – people don’t get why I’m so passionate about some written words. That clash of views manifested itself when I was around 4 years old because I wanted bedtime stories but my mother hated reading (especially reading out loud) and was tired from work too. At some point, I was so exasperated with those adults and their pitiful attempts to skip chapters (as if I didn’t know the story by heart! the blasphemy!) that I started teaching myself how to read. Freedom!
As I mentioned before, I didn’t know any classics simply because I didn’t have anyone telling me about them, there was no internet around back then, and Germany has a very different library system (not to mention that it never occurred to my mother or grandparents to take me to the one we have in our town). Thus, the books I read back then were the afore-mentioned books with the Disney stories or I also had a book with 365 stories about forest animals, one for each day of the year.
Later, when I was about 9 years old, I saw a gloriously majestic book about ancient Egypt that my grandfather bought for me (sadly, I cannot remember the title and some other kids in school flushed it down the toilet so the janitor consequently threw it away). That marked the beginning of my obsession with Ancient Egypt and its mythology. But I also loved the stories of the black stallion by Walter Farley and now I’m reading up on all manner of classic stories like “Charlotte’s Web“, Roald Dahl’s books (“Matilda” for example), “The Wind in the Willows” etc. to make up for lost time.
What are some of your favorite books this year or last?
Phew, that is so insanely difficult, it’s not even funny anymore.
I’m usually very lucky with my choices (there is only a small number of books I don’t like). Also, for 2016 I can leave you with the link to my summary of the year – 2016 was the first time I had heard about Goodread’s option to review one’s reading year: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1859513710
For 2017 I’d have to name several to give every genre a chance:
The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews for UF.
In the Humor/Fantasy category, Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gentley series (yes, it took me this long to discover it, shame on me).
For sci-fi, The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers,
We Are Bob (a trilogy) by Dennis E. Taylor,
“Dune” by Frank Herbert (another classic I had missed out on so far),
and “Children of Time” by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
“Monstress” by Marjorie Liu for comics,
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld for satire/fantasy,
(Please click on Discworld above to see all Discworld installments)
“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman (him being a category of his own; it was a re-read, by the way, because of the TV show being available now).
But there was also Seanan McGuire in the novella category as well as a number of really engaging non-fiction books. *sighs* And that is only the year so far! I bet there will be more on this list at the end of December. As I said, I’m usually very lucky with my reading choices.
What are your favorite book genres?
It used to be historical fiction (mostly crime stories set in Ancient Egypt like Paul Doherty’s Amerotke series) but one of my goals for 2016 was to branch out and give every genre a chance and I’m so glad I did because it made my reading life so much richer! Thus, I now try to read books of any genre, every year.
There will always be genres I can’t get into as much (biographies) and some that almost always hold favourites (fantasy + scifi), but it’s more a case of liking the author/story than the genre.
What are some of your favorite authors?
This is much easier to answer (though there, too, is quite a number of them).
Neil Gaiman is always great – I discovered him very late, but now I read basically everything he publishes; Terry Pratchett was a master as well; Paul Doherty for his sense of history; J.K. Rowling, Seanan McGuire and Catherynne M. Valente for the magic; Philip Pullman; Ilona Andrews; George R.R. Martin; Jane Austen for giving us the perfect love stories that are about so much more than “just” love; Roald Dahl; Stephen King for the creepy explorations of human nature. And I have to name Cornelia Funke because she is a fantastic author AND German! But there are also a bunch of newer (often self-published) authors that are great like Jodi Taylor, Evan Currie, D.J. Molles and Sean Gibson (to name just a few).
How many books are on your TBR shelf?
849 on today’s count, but those are books I generally want to read, not books I already own and could start any moment. Also, I’m cheating a little because in addition to the TBR I have the “maybe” shelf. 😉
Goodreads has definitely been the wolf in sheep’s clothing regarding my TBR. While I read more books than ever before, I also get exposed to many more than before, what with everyone throwing their favourites at me and all of them sounding so interesting.
What’s an emotional book, or one you won’t forget that you’ve read this year or last?
I’m generally very emotional as I had to discover. I can start sobbing over a story more than anything, it’s ridiculous (and embarrassing). Reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels (see above) was insanely emotional this year. Originally, I had put off reading the series because of the author’s death and me being so emotional about it, but it’s a group-read and we’ve agreed to read the entire series in publication order, one book per month. Hence, “Mort” (August’s book) was especially emotional for me because it’s about Death (the character but also in general).
In general, it’s very easy to make me sit at the edge of my seat – once I’m invested in the characters of a story, I want them to survive and end up happy so reading goes from recreational to heart attack-inducing.
Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?
Oh yes. Like I said: biographies are just not for me. There can be exceptions (as happened this year as well), but I’m definitely not into the super whiney description of a movie star’s life. Thus, Anna Kendrick’s biography (at her age!) was simply torture.
But I had another 1-star review this year: “Control Point“, which is the 1st volume in the Shadow Ops series by Myke Cole. At first, I thought it was the audio version, but while going over what the story had been about I realized that there had been a lot of other factors as well.
When I decide to give this kind of rating, it’s not that I want an author to fail (biographies are different because there we’re talking about the people themselves and with some you just cannot get along), but I need to realistically and honestly review the story, even if I’m sad for the author (or not because having had to go through such a bad book made me aggressive and the review is my outlet *lol*).
What are you reading now?
Today I’ll finish another nonfiction book called “Nicht jeder kann ein Kätzchen sein” (translation: “Not everybody can be a kitten”) which is from a German biologist from the town where I work about animals that might be deemed ugly but still have one hell of a technique when it comes to survival.
I’m also reading (but not finishing today) “Stephen Fry in America” of which I’ve seen and loved the mini-series.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but just how important is the book cover to you?
Another tough one. I try not to judge. Just look at poor Ilona Andrews (see link above) and the covers their publisher slaps onto those UF titles. All my IA-reading friends on Goodreads always say how awful these covers are and it’s true! We also know that such covers can make people pick up other books instead so we’re actually sad for the authors. Therfore, I usually try not to look at the cover but just read the blurp. That is not always easy though. And it works the other way around as well: some books have gorgeous or interesting covers but reading even only the opening sentence is torture.
The good thing is that I get most of my buying impulses online (Goodreads mostly) so when I check on certain websites, I can check what kind of covers are available and choose the one I like best or fits with the rest of the series (that is very important to me, I hate it when publishers suddenly change the cover design or book size mid-series). So yeah, I shouldn’t, but it is important to me that my books have pretty covers as they deserve.
Do you have a blog? If so, what is the name? If not, have you ever thought about starting one?
No, I don’t. I don’t think I’m a blogger, to be honest. First of all, I probably wouldn’t have the time due to work, sports, reading etc. I started posting irregular science updates on Goodreads a while back and can’t even always keep up with those! Also, I don’t think I’d have much to say. I can discuss topics, answer questions in a conversation (digital and in real life), no problem, but in a separate blog? Just not for me, I guess.
Have you written anything? If not, have you ever thought about writing your own book?
I’ve written two short stories back when I was in school. Just stuff that popped into my head back then. Funnily enough, my teacher (whom I had asked to read the two stories) said they were good but he got concerned there was something in my private life, something dark, that I needed to talk about. *lol* Which I didn’t, honestly!
What I see online is that everyone tries to be a writer. I don’t know if it is a new phenomenon like I perceive it or if I’m exposed to it only now. Either people want to make a ton of money and nothing else, or they style themselves the new Shakespeare despite them not having enough talent for a groceries list.
Of course, there are also those that really have wonderful stories to tell and now, thankfully, have the possibility to self-publish for which I’m also grateful as a reader because otherwise, I would have missed out on some great stories.
I really don’t need to add to the noise, however. I’m really more a reader and, thankfully, many ideas that swirled around in my head at some point or another usually get addressed in one book or another by authors I know (maybe I make them write them? wouldn’t that be a cool superpower? :P).
Which do you enjoy more, e-books or physical books? How about audio books?
Along with my resolution to try any genre, I also promised myself to try different formats. It started in 2015 when I found some BBC dramatisations of Terry Pratchett’s & Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens” as well as Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”. The BBC is simply brilliant.
Also, I have a very close friend on Goodreads who reads almost exclusively in audio form and kept nagging me about it.
Originally, I was against audiobooks. I had the “Harry Potter” audiobooks narrated by Stephen Fry but had always fallen asleep after about 30 minutes (not because they are bad, on the contrary: they are brilliant). No idea why I had such problems.
Then the BBC stuff got me curious and a series I discovered thanks to a Kindle freebie was adapted by Audible too so I gave it a chance – and loved it. It’s very hit-or-miss with me and completely depends on whether or not I can connect with the narrator but I read a lot in audio format now because it means being able to cook simultaneously and not having to stop reading while doing chores.
Other than that, I’ve had a Kindle ever since the first version of the device was available. It was just easier than transporting a doorstopper on my daily commutes. In the meantime, I often use my iPad instead (also because I’m now getting books via Netgalley and some of them are comics/graphic novels that don’t get displayed well on the Kindle I have).
However, nothing will EVER substitute a “real” book for me. If I have an e-book or audiobook and really love it, I buy the paper version (sometimes even hardcover, it depends on how much I’ve loved it). I could also not live in a house without physical books around me, it’s just not the same. Not to mention that I’m a book-sniffer. *lol*
Where do the majority of your books come from? (Library, bookstore)
The problem is that I live in Germany.
While we still have some libraries, most have never been the way British or American ones are. Also, they are getting more and more rare, old, and often only stock old copies of Shakespeare and art books – basically they are waiting for someone to let them die. The bigger cities still have more up-to-date ones but take Karlsruhe, for example: It’s the seat of Germany’s Supreme Court and therefore has a fairly big library – and yet the library only has one Stephen King book and only one copy of that (it’s not even a well-known one). It’s really sad.
The stores do get better (years ago it was a nightmare for me trying to buy a copy of a book that way) since they have to keep up with certain well-known websites. However, I need to almost always order my books – either because of my afore-mentioned pickiness when it comes to the cover design or because they just don’t stock many books in English (I read books in their original language because too much gets lost in translation). Since I’d have to order them anyway, I have to admit that Amazon is usually cheapest and fastest. And it has books I sometimes cannot even get through the bookstore. But don’t pity the stores, they are big chain stores so they are doing just fine (there are almost no independent little bookstores left here). Therefore, I don’t feel bad when ordering on Amazon, I’m just sad that I miss out on the experience of shopping in a store.
My audiobooks come from Audible (also belonging to Amazon).
One could say that I basically have my own library in the meantime (last count, and I have neglected my list for several months, was over 1300 physical copies).