I found this list of bookish questions via StuckinaBook’s post and thought I’d give it a whirl since it sounded like fun! Here are my replies to these 10 questions.
- The last book I gave up on
I don’t give up on books easily, but sometimes a book will annoy me no end and I won’t be able to finish it. The last book I didn’t finish reading was called “Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan” by Ruth Gillian. There were two main problems with this book that made me give up on it. First, the inordinate use of jargon and slang that made understanding what the characters were trying to say very difficult. I was just starting to get used to that (although I wasn’t happy about it), except I couldn’t get over the influx of Jewish inaccuracies – which is one of my pet peeves. At first, I noticed a few mistakes that irked me early on in the book, but I was willing to forgive them since they were obscure Judaic points that general audiences would never catch. However, then she described a strictly observant Jewish household having lamb with a side dish of potatoes. Sounds fine, right? Except then she said that the potatoes would be “dripping with butter” at that meal! No, absolutely not. No one who goes to the amount of trouble she described in this book to get their house Kosher and ready for Passover, would ever in their right mind put butter (a milk product) on potatoes for a meal where the main dish is meat. This would have been a violation of one of the most basic of all the Jewish dietary laws, and that was a bridge too far. Maybe these are some of the reasons why this book is relatively unknown.
By the way, this was similar to the same problem I had with the far more famous book, “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly. Aside from the fact that it felt like Ms. Kelly was purposefully and totally ignoring the fact that Jews were the prime target of the Nazis, there was one scene that stopped me in my tracks. This was when one character remembers visiting the Jewish Ghetto where they ate a “Hanukkah delicacy.” Unfortunately, the author didn’t do her research properly, and the character said she remembered eating a type of doughnut that the Jewish bakers made for the holiday. Ahem… Excuse me but, the only doughnuts made for Hanukkah are known as “sufganiot,” and although they are a Hanukkah delicacy today across the Jewish world, they were never part of any Eastern European Hanukkah celebration at the time of WWII. In fact, sufganiot come from Jews of North Africa and Arab countries. The word, sufganiot, actually comes from the Arabic and Hebrew words that mean “sponge.” While Jews in Poland did make something slightly similar, their popularity as a particularly Hanukkah delicacy among Easter European Jews only coincided after Ashkenazi and Mizrahi/Sephardic Jews came together in Israel (i.e., post-1948). For Jews of Eastern Europe, their most popular Hanukkah delicacy was, and always will be LATKES – those delicious, deep-fried potato pancakes!
- The last book I re-read
I almost never re-read books because I’m such a slow reader due to my mild dyslexia. However the one book I’ve re-read several times is “Catch-22.”
- The last book I bought
I very last book I bought was the eBook copy of “The Blue” by Nancy Bilyeau which was on sale on Amazon. As for print books, the last time we were in the UK we picked up “Uncommon Type: Some Stories” by Tom Hanks, and “The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth” by William Boyd (also short stories).
- The last book I said I read but actually didn’t
Huh? Why would I lie about reading a book? Maybe I might have fibbed about reading something when I was young. If so, I probably did it to try to impress someone or not feel left out of some group discussion, but who can remember that far back? No, if I’ve never read (or finished) a book, I’m not likely to say that I did, at least not since I’ve been an adult.
- The last book I wrote in the margins of
I don’t do this, at all, well… not anymore, anyway. Back when I was in High School (which was a very LONG time ago), I took theater classes, and well… I decided I would like to do a monologue for one class from “The Little Prince.” My small paperback copy of that book still has my penciled in scribbles and cuts for that monologue.
- The last book I had signed
I’ve actually never had a book that I owned signed by the author by my own request. I did receive a few books as gifts or ARCs that the authors signed for me. For example, Heather Webb signed the ARC of “Rodin’s Lover” that she sent me. By chance, when we were in London last year, we bought a copy of the short story collection “The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth” by William Boyd, which we discovered was a signed copy only after we got it home. I’ve never gotten the chance to get any books signed by an author, probably because I live in Israel, and the authors I generally read never do book tours here.
- The last book I lost
Some time ago I lent my copy of “The Princess Bride” to someone (maybe my father-in-law), and now it’s lost, because I’ve not seen it in a very long while and I can’t find it in his apartment. That’s very upsetting because my copy was a special anniversary edition. Further to that, my son lost my copy of “Catcher in the Rye” and he’s still not bought me a replacement copy.
- The last book I had to replace
A few years ago I decided I to replace my copy of “Catch-22” because it was falling apart from reading it so many times. More recently, I bought a print copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, but I’m not sure if I ever owned a copy to begin with (I probably borrowed it from the library).
- The last book I argued over
Argued? I’m not sure I ever have. Sure, I’ve disagreed with people about some books, and I can get quite passionate about books I either love or dislike, but I wouldn’t call them arguments. Oh, wait! Yes, I have argued about one book. Remember that business about Jewish inaccuracies above? Well, I did argue with Daisy Waugh regarding these same issues I found in her book “Melting the Snow on Hester Street.” See, what happened was, after I published my review of her book that pointed out the grave mistakes, she wrote to me, and was very upset that I was “panning” her book. We carried out an email conversation that started out quite heated, but eventually she realized that my arguments were sound. The end result was that she asked her publishers to fix most of the mistakes I pointed out in my reviews for the paperback version.
- The last book you couldn’t find
I don’t think that I’ve had any problems finding books lately. Yes, it used to be the case that you couldn’t find certain books, particularly ones out of print. But today, with the advent of sites like Alibris and most particularly, Better World Books, not to mention Project Guttenberg, I can’t believe that there is any book that you can’t get your hands onto if you just click around the internet long enough.
Want to give this a try? If so, please put a link to your answers in my comments!