Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Tag

A week ago I saw a Book Tag at two blogs I read, NancyElin and Brona's Books. I am not usually successful at answering these types of questions, but I gave it a shot this time. I started with the ten questions that Nancy and Brona had used.

I added one last question that was from the longer lists at On Bookes and Howling Frog Books.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
I am guessing that would be one of my Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout. I have had copies of some of those since I was in college (or before?) although I am sure I originally read them in library editions. 
2. What is your current read, last read and the book you plan to read next?
Current Read: Black Ice by Michael Connelly 
Last Read: Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr 
Next Read: I don't usually decide in advance but this month I have been cycling between lighter mysteries and the more gritty, violent mysteries. So I might opt for one of the vintage mysteries in my list of 20 Books for Summer.

3. What book do you tell yourself you’ll read, but probably won't?
Two books by Connie Willis:  Black Out and All Clear. From what I read at, they are essentially "one book, conveniently bound in two volumes." Together, in the editions my husband owns, the books total 1100 pages. Quite a commitment. But look at the covers, aren't they gorgeous?

4. What book are you saving for retirement?
My husband has a lot of non-fiction books that I would love to read but just don't have the time or the patience now. In a few years, I may actually read Austerity Britain by David Kynaston (692 pages).
5. Which book character would you switch places with?
This may show a lack of imagination, but I really don't want to trade places with anyone. 
But, I would love to visit the Nero Wolfe / Archie Goodwin household for a while, so maybe I would do a temporary swap with Lily Rowan (although I don't know that she ever visits the brownstone) or maybe Lon Cohen (a journalist working for the fictional New York Gazette) when he is invited over for dinner. Or try being Theodore for a week or so and take care of the orchids.

6. What book reminds you a specific place/time/person?
Any of the books in the Nameless Detective series by Bill Pronzini remind me of when I suggested this author to my husband. He bought several of the books and he did enjoy his writing. He now has copies of all of the books in the Nameless series. 
It was decades ago in a used book store in Santa Barbara, now long out of business. I cannot remember if we were visiting Santa Barbara before we moved here, or if it was early in our marriage. Whichever, it is a very fond memory. The bookstore and the owner were both very nice.

7. Which book has been with you most places?
Same answer as for #1. I started reading the Nero Wolfe series when I was in my teens. I remember when I bought my first hardback book by Rex Stout when I had my first job. (That dates me.)   
I have reread them over and over through the years. I have multiple copies (paperback of course) of many of the books in the series.
8. Which book have you reread the most?
Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout. Do you see a theme here? 

9. What book outside your comfort zone did you end up loving?
Under the Dome by Stephen King. I have not read a book by Stephen King in 30 years, probably longer. Most of his writing is too horrific for me. For some reason I got interested in Under the Dome but was dismayed to see that it was over 1000 pages. But I read it and enjoyed it a lot. Very dark in the end though.

10. Three bookish confessions?
I will buy books only for the covers and sometimes not even read them. 
I have over 1000 books in my TBR piles, shelves, boxes, etc. (physical hard copy books, not including those on the Kindle).
And I keep buying books anyway. 

11. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
This was a hard one to answer. Mostly, the answer is no. Often the book and the movie differ but still both have wonderful qualities. But I did come up with two. In both cases I had seen the movie before reading the book, which might have made a difference.
Vertigo, which was based on a book originally published in France in 1954 as D'entre les morts, by Boileau-Narcejac. The book was very, very good, but the film has been a favorite for a long time. The film is set in San Francisco, the book is set in France, but the stories are very similar. (My post is here.)
The Ice Harvest: The book, written by Scott Phillips, is the most noir story I have every read. It is unrelentingly bleak and grim. It is very good but I can't say I enjoyed reading it. The film follows the same story for the most part, but it is not quite so bleak, and I loved all the actors. John Cusack plays Charlie Arglist, Billy Bob Thornton is his partner in crime; Connie Nielsen plays the gorgeous femme fatale. Oliver Platt plays a friend who is now married to Charlie's ex-wife. (My post is here.)


  1. Great stuff, Tracy! I enjoy reading literary trivia. Your answers are entertaining and informative, and some of them could well be mine. I think I'll give it a shot.

    1. Thanks, Prashant. I bet you would have some great answers to these questions and I do hope you give it a shot.

  2. I really liked your answers to these questions, Tracy! I especially enjoyed your story about the Santa Barbara bookshop where your husband bought the Pronzini books. It sounds like a terrific shop - the kind you can get lost in, if I can put it that way.

    1. Thank you, Margot. We were just talking about how we would like to time travel back to that shop.

  3. I loved the two Connie Willis books, well worth reading.

    1. Good to hear that, Janet. My husband plans to read them someday, too.

  4. Thanks for taking part in the Book Tag!
    You've been reading CF since college days?
    I think we are from the same 'vintage year'
    I know how long ago that was!
    You were reading Nero Wolfe and I was reading....The Godfather (1969) :)

    1. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Nancy.

      I read the Perry Mason mysteries by Erle Stanley Gardner when I was preteen and early teens. I know that because there was discussion of the suitability of the books at my age, but I don't remember any of my reading being monitored. Probably because I read what I could get from the library and my mother trusted that they wouldn't let a twelve-year-old check out something totally unsuitable.

      I still haven't read The Godfather and I have been meaning to for years. I look every year at the book sale with no luck. Guess I am going to have to check bookstores or online.

  5. Tracy - great questions and answers. Thanks for the reminder to get back to Nameless and also to give Stout a try!

    1. I need to get back to Nameless also, Col. There are just too many new authors to try and too many good series to keep up with. But that is a good thing.

  6. Seriously? You have Blackout/All Clear on your shelves and you haven't started it yet? I just finished my second reading; I had to buy my own copies this time, so I could keep them and reread them yet again whenever I want to.

    Don't let the page count intimidate you. It's the kind of book you get started on and just can't stop. And I can pretty much guarantee when you get to the end of vol one, you will look around in a panic and say, "Where's All Clear? I need it NOW!"

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Susan. I really do want to read the two books, I will have to fight my aversion to long books.

      I am curious. Have you read Doomsday Book by Willis? Is it better to read that first?

    2. If you have Doomsday Book, it's better to read it first, because 2 of the pivotal characters in BO/AC are in it, and some of DB's outcome is mentioned. But it's not crucial to the understanding of BO/AC.

      I found all of Connie Willis's Oxford Time Travel books totalling compelling, so you might as well read To Say Nothing of the Dog, while you're at it. If you're of a fan of Time Travellers in History stories.

    3. I don't have a copy of Doomsday Book, Susan, but I think I will find one. I will start from the beginning. It will take me a while to get through them all, I am sure. My husband does have a copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog. Thanks for all that information.

  7. I also started reading Nero Wolfe books in my teens after I read a few Sherlock Holmes. My father read both and steered me to them, I'm sure. And I got them from the library.

    We didn't budget for new books in our family, but we used the library constantly.

    If I had to say what were better movies than books, that's a tough question. For a contemporary story, I'd say, "The Girl on the Train." I found it an annoying book, but a better movie, largely due to Emily Blunt.

    And older movies, I'd say, perhaps, "The Maltese Falcon." It's not that the book wasn't good, but the movie is just so superb with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet.

    1. Yes, Kathy, I used the library exclusively (almost) until I was in my twenties. Only in recent years have I bought a lot of books to own.

      I have not read The Girl on the Train or seen the movie, but I might watch the movie some day. I have heard it is better.

      I like the book and the movie of The Maltese Falcon equally well, they are both wonderful.

  8. Vertigo, which was based on a book originally published in France in 1954 as D'entre les morts, by Boileau-Narcejac. The book was very, very good, but the film has been a favorite for a long time.

    I liked the book a great deal but I agree that the film was better.

    Most of Hitchcock's movies were better than the books they were based on. I think Suspicion is superior to Francis Iles' overrated Before the Fact. Hitchcock's The Birds is vastly superior to Daphne du Maurier's rather poor short story. Rebecca is better than du Maurier's novel (although in this case the novel is very good).

    And even though I regard John Buchan's The 39 Steps as a masterpiece I think I'd have to admit that Hitchcock's movie version is even better.

    The one exception is Secret Agent, quite a good movie but not as good as Somerset Maugham's superb novel.

    1. I had not thought of other Hitchcock movies, dfordoom. I have read Rebecca but it was long ago; I plan to reread that and watch the film again. I have not re-watched The 39 Steps since I read the book but I think I agree with you on that one.

      I will have to look into Secret Agent. We have watched but a long time ago, and I have not read the book.

    2. If we're sticking to golden age detective fiction I think the adaptations in the 1970s Lord Peter Wimsey TV series are on the whole better than Sayers' novels. And I prefer the 1980s Campion TV series to Margery Allingham's novels. But then I'm not a fan of either Sayers or Allingham. The movie of Green for Danger is better than Christianna Brand's novel.

      The Kennel Murder Case (the 1933 one with William Powell) is possibly better than Van Dine's novel (and I am a fan of Van Dine's novels).

      On the other hand none of the movie or TV adaptations of Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books have been totally satisfactory. The books are way better.

    3. That is interesting about the Peter Wimsey series and the adaptations. I liked the books very much when I first read them, but on rereads they are not that good. Changing tastes I suppose. But I still fondly remember the TV adaptations and want to rewatch those.

      I haven't had the opportunity to watch a lot of the Campion series but I liked the two I have seen, and I have recently purchased the volume two of that series. But I do like Allingham's books a lot.

      I have not read many books in the Perry Mason series recently but I do plan to read more. Read a lot of them when I was a teenager. I do like the Perry Mason show, but of the one book I have read that was adapted, they have to cut a ton of stuff so as a mystery it is not as good.

    4. I have not read many books in the Perry Mason series recently but I do plan to read more.

      I've been concentrating on the Perry Mason books from the 1930s and they're great.

    5. I have only read The Case of the Restless Redhead recently, published in 1954. I do have copies of many of the books from the 30s, and it would be interesting to see the differences.

    6. I do have copies of many of the books from the 30s, and it would be interesting to see the differences.

      I've been told that Perry Mason is more ethically flexible in the early books. I've only read 1930s Perry Mason books so I can't say for sure how true this is. But in the 30s books he's very ethically flexible indeed!

  9. I did not read the book on which "The Lady Vanishes," is based, but I don't think any book could top that wonderful movie.

    1. I look forward to reading the book on which it is based, Kathy, and then we will watch the movie again.

    2. I did not read the book on which "The Lady Vanishes," is based,

      I haven't read anything by Ethel Lina White. I guess I should check out some of her books. She also wrote the story on which the excellent suspense film The Spiral Staircase is based.

    3. dfordoom, I have read one short story by Ethel Lina White, I have two books that I will read, then maybe get some more.

    4. dfordoom, I have read one short story by Ethel Lina White, I have two books that I will read, then maybe get some more.

      I ended up ordering the (ridiculously cheap) Wordsworth edition that includes the stories on which both The Lady Vanishes and The Spiral Staircase were based.

    5. That is a very affordable copy, maybe I will do that too. I have The Lady Vanishes as an eBook and I don't like reading in that format so much.

    6. I have The Lady Vanishes as an eBook and I don't like reading in that format so much.

      I don't do the ebook thing at all. I know there are interesting titles available but the ebook idea doesn't appeal to me at all.

  10. What a lovely blogpost, Tracy, I so enjoyed reading that, and felt I got to know you better. I have a Connie Willis book on my Kindle (unread) which I think you might be responsible for - To Say Nothing of the Dog.

  11. Thanks, Moira, I enjoyed working on the answers. I hope I do actually get to reading books by Willis, even though they tend to be very long. She has written some of the best short stories I have read.