Hello! Ok, so the Top Ten today is one that I just feel…blech…about. I truly don’t care. Sure, I could ask J.K. Rowling some questions or Shakespeare or Ruta Sepetys, but like…I’m more interested in the books. I like the magic contained in the pages and sometimes I fear the answers I’ll hear from the authors. It might ruin something.
So INSTEAD, I thought we could talk through some of the Frequently Asked Questions we get as voracious readers. (I’m sure you’ve heard many of these questions before, you lovely person you!) And I’m going to start with the most dreaded question.
Top Ten Questions I Get Asked as a Reader
1. “What’s your favorite book?”
Uuuuuggggggghhhhhhhhh. Can we just agree to ban this question? For one thing, it’s impossible to choose! For another, my answer is constantly changing! When I went back to school two weeks ago, my students kept asking me what my favorite book was and you’d think I’d have a stock answer, but no. I motion to change this question to, “What have you read lately that was really good?” or “What have you read lately that made an impression on you?” Now, both of those will get FAR better answers out of me.
2. “Ok, then what’s your favorite series?”
I swear, this is usually the follow up. Like, if you don’t name off something they’re familiar with, then you didn’t answer the question. If I said ACOTAR for this answer (which may not even be my official answer), I’d get a glazed look. Then I’d sigh and say, “Harry Potter. It’s Harry Potter.” At least then we’d be able to move past this question.
3. “Haven’t you read the whole library already?”
Why, no, Donna, I haven’t. But that’s my goal! Fortunately for me, more books are published ALL THE TIME so I should never truly run out.
4. “Why would you reread a book you’ve already read?”
Ok, so this is, I feel, the first legitimate question I’ve posted here. No sarcasm. I understand there is a very real debate here. I personally love rereading books. For me, it’s not about already knowing how it’s going to end–it’s that I connected with the characters and the emotions of what they go through. They feel like old friends (looking at you, Greasers) or they remind me of something in my life. Maybe the moment I went through something similar or a moment that happened at the same time I was reading this. Emotion is what brings me back over and over.
5. “What’s so special about Young Adult?”
Honestly, I wish I got asked this question more often because I think everyone immediately thinks every book is like Twilight and dismiss it. (Speaking of, let’s all be honest–if we lived through the Twilight craze, we all now want to read Midnight Sun.) But that’s not at all the genre! YA deals in everything, from the action thriller to the romance to the political movement to social issues–and that’s only the realistic fiction. YA is nuanced in the best ways. I love how the characters usually struggle with an internal conflict at the same time they deal with the external. And they’re usually good people trying to do the best they can. I can’t always say that for characters in adult fiction.
6. “Is the movie better than the book?”
As a general rule, no. But I’m not going to make a definitive decision on that because I think there are times when the movie is better (or at least more iconic). The Princess Bride is an example of this. I’d also like to throw Wicked into this, even though there isn’t a movie yet. I detested the book but I love the musical.
7. “But Miss ——–, why can’t we just watch the movie?”
I frequently get this question from my students. Sigh. As we all know, movie versions are very rarely tied closely to the text enough to be a substitute. There’s something lost in translation between the two art forms, especially when you factor in the time element. Besides, it’s just not the same.
8. “Uh, Miss ———, why are we reading about serial killers?”
To get my students’ attention, I begin the year with short stories, particularly a focus on the macabre. So we read “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. (If you are unfamiliar with any of them, I highly recommend you Google those. They’re fantastic.) So, Johnny, the reason we’re reading about serial killers is because it’s fun for me to see your faces when you realize this guy cut up his roommate and hid the parts under the floorboards.
Admittedly, I have a weird sense of humor. But oh my God, is it fun to show these kids they aren’t in Kansas anymore.
9. “Where do you get all your books?”
I have a large collection of books I’ve accrued through various means: gifts, used book sales, ThriftBooks, and buying them new. When I was younger, I usually asked for specific books as gifts because, as you often are at 12 or 13, I was broke. (Many of those books I still have.) As I got older, I started switching to used books when I realized I didn’t care so long as they were in good shape. My library sells their discarded books for a quarter. Half-Priced Books was a big for me for a time, though their prices when you sell to them are stupidly low and that turned me away. ThriftBooks has recently been my go-to because they are so cheap and I can get a variety of things.
10. “What do you want for Christmas/your birthday?”
Gift cards. I have reached the age where I would rather you just give me a gift card to a bookish place and I will take care of the rest. Most of the time, it’s because I don’t even know what I want yet. If I want to read a book that badly, I’m going to get it from the library rather than wait and see if I got it for a gift. Also, please never ever surprise me by picking out books for me. The odds are high that I’ve either A) read it before or B) decided I don’t have any interest in it. (One of my friends once bought me a couple Terry Pratchett books and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was not at all interested.)
I’m super curious — what questions do you frequently get asked by nonreaders? Are you as annoyed by some of them as I am?