The Ultimate Book Tag

I found this on Books with Bite, and the tag itself was created by Chapter Chicks. I really like switching up my book tags, I’ll do one that is all about choosing the books, and then I’ll do one in which I get to answer questions about myself, my reading habits and book loves. This tag is mostly the latter, so if you’re ready, I’m diving in!

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Question 1: Do you get sick while reading in the car?

I used to, but I trained myself not to be. I used to get so sick I couldn’t even read while I was riding a train backwards.  But then I had to do long stretches of daily work commute and you just can’t survive those on Spotify alone. I started doing short reading sessions on the bus for as long as I could manage before getting sick. That became longer and longer, until now I can read hella good on public transport. I tried it out last year on a two hour drive sitting in the back seat of a car: yes, I can now also do that without getting sick. Hurray!

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Question 2: Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

I think I could recognise a fair few authors based on a unique writing style. Agatha Christie for one, I have never read anything that throws me for a loop more completely than any one of hers do. But I also think Brandon Sanderson has his own way of writing, with a lot of fun, crafty wordbuilding and excellent plot twists. Sebastien de Castell too, who has a tendency to write high-action fantasy books in a way that is reminiscent almost of slapstick comedy. And lastly, I recently read The Night Circus, and that present tense writing also felt very unique to me.

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Question 3: Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer

You’re kidding, right? I’m sorry, I never jumped onto the Twilight-craze. When you grow up having Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a role model and seeing movies based on Anne Rice novels, you just don’t go near it. It sets teen behaviour back a few decades. While Harry Potter on the other hand, is a book series intended for children, and is expertly dealing with some very adult themes. I guess that is point 1 in my answer.

The second point is that Harry Potter is the first and (as far is I know) the only book series that has ever grown with the children who read these books. Each new book steadily grows in plot and theme complexity as well as maturing the writing style to fit the development level of its readers. The final book is definitely YA, while the first book is written for the 10-12 age. It makes Harry Potter unique in a way no other series has ever been.

The third point is that it has such better characterization. The teen angst is there for the sake of furthering the plot and development of the characters, not just to up the drama and throw in some unnecessary hurdles (do be advised I have no clue of the Twilight plot as a whole. I saw two of the movies).

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Question 4: Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (beside books)?

I carry a bag large enough to always take a book with me, yes. On a daily basis (a day I’m going to work), it would also include: laptop & charger, phone & powerbank, lunch and a pen.

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Question 5: Do you smell your books?

Well, yes and no. I have really bad dust allergies, and any old book will make me sneeze like crazy or even give me flu-like symptoms for a few days. I do love the smell of new books, though, when you can still smell the glue on the paper and the new pages. As you can imagine, I can’t bring myself to be nearly as fond of old book smell.

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Question 6: Books with or without little illustrations?

I’m going to have to say without. Even as a kid I wanted as much text as possible so I could read more. Pictures take up space, and it means you get cheated out of words. Or at least, so I used to think. I also like painting my own picture in my mind as the story progresses, and I dislike them not coinciding with illustrations. Having said that, I do like an Ars Arcanum with illustrations and other extra goodies. I also really like cover art and elaborate chapter heads.

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Question 7: What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

I think a few of the books that got me into the fantasy genre where of a lower quality than I had categorized them in in my mind. The Rhapsodie books by Elizabeth Haydon are filled with popular sayings which are painfully outdated now. The book series by Dutch author W.J. Maryson had some misfires when it came to framing things or working out certain issues. It doesn’t diminish my love for them, but after reading much more in the genre, you reread them with a much more critical eye.

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Question 8: Do you have a funny story involving books from your childhood? Please share!

I don’t know how funny it is, but when I was really little I was super busy, constantly demanding attention to be taught and shown things. Nowadays you would get classified as having ADHD, but back then they thought I might be gifted and unable to focus my energy because picking up things too quickly made me bored and rebellious. So, my mom had me tested, and it turned out while I may have been a bright kid, I was not especially gifted. The examiner told my mom to wait until I learned to read. As my mom tells the story, I apparently changed overnight as soon as I acquired the skill. I pushed all my energy into reading, doing it all day and night, becoming a contently quiet kid perfectly fine with my own company.

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Question 9: What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

I’m not exactly near my shelf, but I’m guessing Animal Farm by George Orwell.

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Question 10: What is the thickest book on your shelf?

This one I checked for an earlier book tag. It’s one of Stephen King’s postapocalyptic novels, either The Stand or Under the Dome. They are about the same length and were even bigger than Brandon Sanderson’s books, who is known to have to shave off text because otherwise there is no way it’ll fit into the binding.

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Question 11: Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?

I love to write. I would ever consider myself acceptable, although I do have to consciously try to be ever more concise. I tend to wander off with a vengeance. But I really write for my own amusement and relaxation, not because I have a need to see it out in the world. One or two of my finished stories I’ve sent to a publisher in the past, but I have had no trouble accepting the rejection. It confirmed for me I wasn’t done shaping myself yet. Now I’m working on a really big project and it would certainly make me feel accomplished if I got it published, but I don’t think I will ever be good enough to make a career out of it. I’d be very content with a one-off. I do consider myself a writer (note the difference with author), because I spend an enormous amount of time constantly writing. Even if I am my only audience.

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Question 12: When did you get into reading?

I literally can’t remember not reading. My mom read to us every single night from the moment I was born or at least old enough to sit still and listen to her voice, I think. We went to the library once a week, I had my own bookcase and a slew of fairytale books (Lecturama all the way, for all you Dutch readers recognising the book + cassette tape combo). I read through everything my school library had to offer as well, and the only time I ever lost my love of reading was when high school forced me to read from their literature list.

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Question 13: What is your favourite classic book?

Wuthering Heights, without a doubt. The high-running passion in that book gets me every time. Delicious vengeance, all the hurtful things Catherine and Heathcliff do to each other, and then still that happy ending. For me, Wuthering Heights has it all. I love that it is a book about essentially bad things and bad characters, and how they still get what they want. I firmly believe they loved every bit of misery they caused each other and themselves, and gloried in the fact they so ruled the lives of the people around them. There is not a goody-two-shoes sentence to be found, and I love how it is so unlike anything else.

To illustrate: the only part about Dangerous Liaisons I dislike is when Mme de Merteuil’s schemes are found out, punished and undone.

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Question 14: In school, was your best subject Language Arts / English?

No, it was computer science. Unfortunately, it was only taught for a single year. Computers were becoming prevalent in homes, but they weren’t really incorporated into society yet. I think that beyond that, English (as a second language) was probably my best subject because it came easily to me. I liked History far better, but it was also more difficult, and one of the few subjects I actually did the work for. I liked languages better than math, shop or gym, but I wasn’t outstanding in any of them. I never really got around to doing my homework, sailing by on cramming for tests and generally having a pleasant enough attitude that teachers seldom called me out on it.

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Question 15: If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?

I would thank them for the present, tell them I’d look forward to reading it and never let them know otherwise. It would be unthankful otherwise. Even if I didn’t know the book, there is always a chance I end up hating it. Sometimes I’ve ended up hating books I’ve asked for myself. Though, if they would ask me later what my opinion of the book was, I would be honest about that.

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Question 16: What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?

Those are two wildly different books, so I take this question to mean books that are original or unique in their genre with the potential to become real frontrunners. I really love Angelfall by Susan Ee. I am absolutely wild about The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken. And I will definitely go to bat for the Earth Girl series by Janet Edwards. All three deserve far more recognition and praise than they are getting. Ánd I’m adding Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series to that. It’s so amazing, I can’t believe it took me so long to find that trilogy.

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Question 17: What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while filming?

I have literally just started vlogging, and its for the bookstore account. I do my usual book recommendations on video as of 2017 instead of merely having them in writing on our website, to make our accounts more dynamic. And besides rambling, I have this need to do a perfect take. I can’t stand repeating myself a lot and sounding rehearsed, so I like doing them off the cuff. When I slip up or say something stupid or throw in a really long “uhh” I tend to give up and start the segment anew with less enthusiasm.

But I have started getting better in editing my videos, though, so now I am telling myself to just roll with it and do little cuts. I’m told by my far-more-in-the-know brother that those are even a prerequisite. And that I need to add a music track.

I would really like to add them for my blog as well, but I think I’m going to need a bit more courage for that. Then it would be all me and there is no bookstore to hide behind.

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Question 18: What is your favourite word?

I always seem to enjoy weird words, such as “caveat” or “lieu”. Because I need to educate myself both on how to pronounce them and what they mean. They add something special to a story because I’m not only enjoying the book, I am also learning more vocabulary. I’m a bit odd in that sense.

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Question 19: Are you a nerd, dork or dweeb? Or all of them?

Definitely a nerd, with my obsessional love for SF, fantasy, dinosaurs and Star Trek – to just name a few. I’m sure everyone in my Masters programme thinks so, considering they always do their assignments based on very acceptable high-brow literature, and I always put in the fun by centering them around the aforementioned genres, or YA.

I might also be a bit of a dork, but just hiding it well under a thin veneer of social bluff?

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Question 20: Vampires or fairies?

Fairies. I feel vampires are being over-done by now, and I like the faerie trend better. Especially considering the fact that they always tell the truth but are essentially always lying or twisting it around to their advantage and your disadvantage. I like all the possibilities still out there with faeries and faerie lore.

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Question 21: Shapeshifters or angels?

Angels. Just because they are perfect and unfeeling in a way that already reads as enormously oppressive, and I am a big postapocalyps/dystopian fan. It’s the route most books take these days, so they are right up my alley. I haven’t really read much featuring shapeshifters, but I am already thinking about all the descriptional and logistical difficulties with having to write for a shapeshifter persona.

Although I am the first to mention I am a huge fan of Lysandra (from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas). Especially after the events of Empire of Storms, I am so dying to know what’s going to happen with her and the others.

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Question 22: Spirits or werewolves?

Spirits. I am not a big werewolf-fan, I have never been and what I’ve read about it hasn’t changed my mind. It’s just a personal preference. I can’t emote to the way they are portrayed, both agressive and animalistic. I just like brains more than brawn, which means I’ll always go for an elaborate mindgame than a straight-up physical fight. And I really don’t care for pack mentality, it’s a personal issue with mandatory group socialization I’ve had ever since I was a small child. In addition, I am really very fond of Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season and subsequent books.

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Question 23: Zombies or vampires?

Vampires, in this case. Again it’s the brains over brawn thing. I have this amazing book of short stories, Zombies vs Unicorns, in which authors choose a team and write a story with that team’s creature at the forefront. The reader gets to decide which story and thus which creature they find more awesome (team Unicorn all the way). I did love The Girl With All The Gifts, but I don’t like series such as The Walking Dead. Zombies need to have an original angle for me to enjoy them more than I would a vampire story. Just having them chase humans in search for brains is not my idea of fun.

Disclaimer: who else watches iZombie? That show is EPIC.

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Question 24: Love triangle or forbidden love?

Please spare me love triangles. There are a few instances in which they work, I will admit as much. When old lovers are confronted with new onces, for instance (as happens in both series by Sarah J Maas). Or when they actually appear equal and you don’t know which one is going to turn out bad and which good because they are both complex characters (Gemina). Or when it’s clear who the one in the middle loves but the other one still can’t let go (Kiss of Deception). But I am a true sucker for forbidden love. Give me two people who are not supposed to fall in love and I will root for them every time. I know it’s as bad a trope as the love triangle, but I really get into them.

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Question 25: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Action-packed. I think this is where my classical fantasy-reading kicks in. I will always prefer a good solid story framing the book, having the romance as an added bonus. It’s why the second book of The Remnant Chronicles was so much better than the first , although I really did enjoy Kiss of Deception too, but that was mostly based on its unique storytelling. I gravitate towards action-packed books without romance more easily than I would purely romance-novels, if I had to choose (as evidenced by my love for Sebastien de Castell’s books and the Locke Lamora series by Scott Lynch). That’s why I find the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas so amazing. She has a great way of balancing the two, which means you get your fix either way.

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Phew, what a long list!

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But once again, it was a lot of fun to do. If you want to do this tag and you found it here, consider yourself tagged. I would really like to hear about it in the comments, and see what answers you gave if you want to send me the link.

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