Monday, February 4, 2008

A kind reader sends along a Proust questionnaire

This version of the Proust questionnaire, which I may have changed a bit, was written by A Striped Armchair, and passed my way by the Incurable Logophile.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Irrational! Cringe!

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Don Quixote, Faust (Goethe's), Don Juan (Moliére's). Dim sum lunch at Little Three Happiness in Chicago's Chinatown. Faust pays.

You are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

Dr. Johnson: "Why, Sir, if you were to read Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment."

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

Invalid premise. See Pierre Bayard's How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read. No, just see this review of it.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?

I'm suspicious of every children's edition of the classics I ever read. "Robinson Crusoe", "The Three Musketeers", "Great Expectations" - I now know that they all were massively edited. In some cases, to their advantage.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why?

VIPs only read non-fiction. I recently recommended Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn to a VIP. True story!

A mischievous fairy, say Puck, comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

The Collected Shakespeare.

I know that the book blogging community and its various challenges have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

Book blog world is nice world. It could use a little more acid. But not from me! This doesn't really answer the question.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it.

The British Museum Reading Room.


  1. I'm game.
    1) Catch-22.
    2) Cudberth Mangum (a Michael Malone character), Prince Hal, Stephen Dedalus. We'd go to the Topeka Steakhouse. I'm serious.
    3) wow -- me too. Pamela.
    4) The Associated Press stylebook.
    5) Tristram Shandy. I apparently had not read it. I have corrected the oversight.
    6) Herodotus: The Histories.
    7)The Peloponnesian Wars.
    8) That with the exception of Amateur Reader and Incurable Logophile, most book bloggers seem not to actually read books.
    9) The Library of Babel, of course, contained in the Radcliffe Camera of the Bodleian.

  2. I gotta read me some Michael Malone.

  3. The Collected Shakespeare - my pick for a desert island. Wonderful!