Geeky Book Chat Club 2: Chat Harder

So, it’s the slightly awful Tuesday back after four days of eating chocolate and watching episode after episode of Game of Thrones (that’s how our weekend went, anyway) so I thought I’d attempt to make my day less dreary by trying out another Geeky Book Chat. Just like last week, I’ll pop up a handful of questions and you, fabulous people, can drop in answers to some or all of them in the comments. Lovely!

Let’s talk about books and ignore the fact that it’s still bloody freezing despite the arrival of APRIL and everything. Huff. Here are the questions:

What was your favourite childhood book?

How important is a book cover to you?

Is there a genre you consider a “no go” area? Is there a section of the bookshop you won’t bother browsing?

Who is your favourite fictional baddie?

What is your “comfort read”?

37 thoughts on “Geeky Book Chat Club 2: Chat Harder

  1. Oo, good questions this time! Let’s see…

    What was your favourite childhood book? – Hrrrrrrmmmmm… Either Peter Pan, or Treasure Island. I loved them both growing up, and I still do! I’m all about the adventures. 😀

    How important is a book cover to you? – Oo, very. I can’t stand badly done cover art. Even if the book I’m reading is on my Kindle, I still like to have a nice cover pic to look at before I start to read… First impressions, and all that.

    Is there a genre you consider a “no go” area? Is there a section of the bookshop you won’t bother browsing? – ‘Chick lit’. Even just saying it (or in this case typing it) makes me want to twitch. GET THEE BEHIND ME, CHICK LIT!!

    Who is your favourite fictional baddie? – Oooo, another good one. Hrm… Can’t think of one off the top of my head that doesn’t seem blatantly obvious. I shall have to think about that one…

    What is your “comfort read”? – Any one of the Harry Dresden books, by Jim Butcher. I’ve read and reread all of them by now, so every time I go back to them it’s like visiting an old friend. I loves ’em, I does. 😀

    • It’s funny really – now that I have a kindle it’s not like I’m stuck continually looking at the cover art, but even so I prefer to have an edition with a decent cover. We ebook lovers still have standards 😉 And I would probably agree with you about Chick Lit too, sadly. I’m sure there are some brilliant chick lit novels out there (I really enjoyed Bridget Jones, back in the day) but I’m not sure I can bring myself to negotiate the reams of covers with pink shoes and cupcakes to find them.

      • Yeeaah… oddly, the usual choices of covers for ‘those books’ is probably a huge part of what puts me off … just not keen, thankyouverymuch. Give me the hooded guys with swords on rooftops any day! 😉

        • Oh exactly, can’t go wrong with an ominous hood and some sort of weaponry. After a number of years working in the General Fiction section I get quite twitchy over certain types of covers. Anything involving: shoes, cakes, children dangling their feet over a jetty, piles of hat boxes, etc. Argh.

  2. Of course I know the answer to question 4! Forgive the frazzled brain. My favourite fictional baddie is Nicodemus Archleone, again from the Dresden Files. One of the most powerful of the Denarians (recurring bad guys, always an epic threat), if not THE most powerful. Nicodemus is insanely, wonderfully creepy, and his scenes with Harry are always edge-of-your-seat good. If you don’t know who I mean … well, read the books and find out! And shame on you*.

    *Not really. But yes really, read them! 😀

  3. 1. Probably Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It seemed so fantastical and magical. Although even at age 8, I was irritated with the way Lewis wrote out Susan.

    2. Embarrassingly important. I have been known to track down and pay more for versions of books which have covers I like. I especially dislike cheesy covers (muscly oily looking men or women with ridiculous boobs), or art which shows what the characters look like because it doesn’t ever match up to what I imagine. Bit unreasonable of me, but there we are.

    3. I do actually own some chick lit…but I tend not to bother browsing the pink section of Waterstones. I like a bit of romance but more as a sub plot to something to do with monsters or aliens. I usually find it too boring and predictable.

    4. Can I say Vetinari from the Discworld? He’s technically a tyrant. But actually he’s just morally a bit grey, and fiercely intelligent.

    5. Pretty much any of the Discworld books again. They’re light and funny and everything turns out ok in the end.

  4. Trying to think who my favourite book baddie would be. I was always quite fond of the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, partly because he’s so utterly, cheerfully selfish and partly because he doesn’t really understand that he’s absolutely screwing everyone else over.

  5. 1. What do you class as childhood? If early teens are in then my favorite book(s) were anything with Conan in the title. Thanks to Marvel’s The Savage Sword Of Conan, I was introduced to the mighty Cimmerian and have never looked back. Before that there were no books, only comics.

    2. Buying mostly for my Kindle covers don’t really bother me now, they used to, and I’m sad to say I did tend to judge books by their covers. Looking back this was a daft thing to do, especially when you look at the covers for the first editions of the first 3 A Song Of Ice And Fire books. The covers were dire, cartoony almost. I like covers to tell you something of the story, some hint or scene.

    3. Romantic fiction is a definite no-go, alongside it anything involving sparkly vampires.

    4. Randall Flagg.

    5. I go back to my childhood and pick up a Conan story. Because of the way they are written you can dip in and out, read in any order if you like. Reading Conan is like meeting up with an old friend, a friend you can have a drink with, hear some great stories, maybe some mild butchery.

    • Aw yeah, Randall Flagg. I always remember how amazed I was, as a kid, when I realised that it was the same guy turning up in Stephen King’s books, over and over again. I had no idea you were allowed to do something like that. And then once I’d made that connection, I started to see all the others too, which is one of the many reasons I love the Dark Tower books.

    • OOO – can I change my answer? Randall Flagg is definately a “good” badddie. And I’m with you Jen, love the way he keeps popping up. My favorite was The Eyes of the Dragon.

  6. What was your favourite childhood book?
    Not sure this was a favorite but it was the first one that got me interested in reading fantasy type stuff “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. The Nancy Drew books were good too.

    How important is a book cover to you?
    VERY! I absolutely twitch when I see a romance novel with an over pretty, over exposed couple on the front with his tongue down her throat. We get it, we don’t need to shout it to everyone around us though that it’s what we are reading at the moment.

    Is there a genre you consider a “no go” area? Is there a section of the bookshop you won’t bother browsing?
    No, not really. My taste in books is much like my taste in music: as long as it’s good.

    Who is your favourite fictional baddie?
    First one that pops to mind is Hannibal Lecter. And yes I knew him before there was a movie.

    What is your “comfort read”?
    Probably cop/lawyer or historical novels as that is mostly what my dad poked my direction when I lived at home. Well, along with the occasional James Mitchner we can rib mom about not finishing. When dad hands you Chesapeake at age 14 and you make it through, a reader has definitely been born.

    • True fact: I have had several very vivid dreams about Hannibal Lector. None of them were very reassuring, as you can imagine. I’ve no idea why; I probably spend more time than is reasonable researching serial killers on wikipedia (shhh, book research) but I’ve never been especially attached to Hannibal. Oddness.

  7. Good questions.

    My favourite childhood book…maybe the Amtrak Wars or something Discworldy. Or the Dragonlance series (have a feeling I’ve mentioned that before 😉 )

    Book covers don’t matter much unless they’re amazing. I barely noticed the original TSOIAF covers (though they were horrible!) Things like the cover of Night Circus really catch my eye though and make me read where I may otherwise have not gone.

    Don’t really have a no go area. I wouldn’t pursue chick lit but if somebody I trusted recommended a particular book I’d take it regardless.

    I rather liked Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars. He was one of the first baddies with a brain I came across.

    I find comics and graphic novels are the place I go when I want comfort.

  8. What was your favourite childhood book?

    Hard to choose! I grew up spending all my pocket money on techno thrillers from the library’s Withdrawn table. Ten books for a pound! You can’t go wrong. If pressed, I’d probably say The Hunt for Red October or Eagle in the Sky. One of the turning points for me was reading a copy of The Dark Half. I got a pile of washing thrown at me for not listening to my parents, I was reading so hard.

    How important is a book cover to you?

    More than I’d have thought. I really cherish a good cover. There’s a SF bookshop in Stockholm that stocks mostly US paperbacks for all their fantasy and it makes my eyes bleed. All of them have the standard “four dude on horseback” covers that have been around since FOREVER. On the flip side, I once gravitated towards a copy of Lankhmar based on the gorgeous edition from 2008. If it had been the 2001 Masterworks cover, I probably would have left it on the shelf.

    Is there a genre you consider a “no go” area? Is there a section of the bookshop you won’t bother browsing?

    I get really wound up by “grim tales of life in ‘t past” books, regional tales “by a local author” that are packed full of tales about how grim it were back then, but everyone pulled through in the end. It simultaneously bemoans and glorifies a past that exists only through a particularly narrow lens, and they make my teeth ache with frustration when I read them. I once went along to a writing group in the north where 90% of the attending members were aspirants in this genre. /shudder

    Who is your favourite fictional baddie?

    I’m going with a video game reference for this one. Revolver Ocelot is my favourite baddie, because he has an AWESOME NAME and that’s pretty much all you need.

    What is your “comfort read”?

    The Count of Monte Cristo.

    • Gawd, I can’t bear that misery memoir stuff – particularly the whole “it was hard but at least people was honest” nonsense. You’ve got to be amazingly narrow-minded to not be able to see how much better we have it now, in terms of rights and freedoms, not to mention, you know, not sticking children up chimneys any more etc. Plus people are essentially the same throughout all history, only we probably wash more often now.

  9. Ooh, I want to participate! Fav childhood book has to be, Taran Wanderer from the Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander.
    I love book covers. Probably my favourite illustrator is a guy named Michael Whelan. Living in the States I notice that some U.S. publishers will cheap-out on the art versus UK covers, so of course I have to get the nicer UK covers. My only problem is with e-publishing I’m still having trouble adjusting to simple covers that are easily viewed in thumbnail versus the lavish canvases of traditional publishing.
    I never go to the romance section. It makes me cringe if it even looks like I’m browsing there. Give me a solid scifi/fantasy novel any day.
    I’m drawing a blank on fictional bad guy for some reason. He needs to be complicated though. I prefer a bad guy who thinks he’s doing the right thing, versus the moustache-twirling variety.
    As for comfort read, Harry Potter seems to be that for me lately.

  10. Oh hai! Ok… this could be long- apologies in advance for rambling.

    1) Favourite childhood book- I loved the Chronicles of Narnia (although not so much the later ones like The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle) and I wore out my copy of Roald Dahl’s Boy but for all-time favourites I would have to go for Enid Blyton. Specifically Mallory Towers, The Secret Seven and The Secret Island. My sugar-addled infant brain took little notice of the casual racism (all baddies were either ‘swarthy’ or simply ‘foreign’)and misogyny and for a long time I resented my parents for not sending me to boarding school- where I’m sure I would have enjoyed endless midnight feasts- in between solving mysteries. Instead, they settled on a comp in Newcastle- where I enjoyed cheesy chips and was made toilet monitor…

    2 I have been swayed into picking up a book just from a good cover and conversely ignored one because of a bad cover (garish and shiny, raised font doesn’t tempt me). In fact, bad covers are my absolute bugbear. I know it’s completely illogical but I refuse to buy books with the cover from the film adaptation. I just can’t do it. I tell myself it’s because I don’t want to picture the actors in the film when I’m reading the book but really it’s because I’m a massive snob. Also I really hate how some publishers seem to think..ah female writer..fiction…story with a female protagonist…and settle for a cover in pink with a woman looking wistfully in the distance or worse- an illustration of some shopping bags and heels, the aforementioned cupcakes and I’m not even talking about chick-lit, where it at least would make some sense. I’ve seen it on all sorts of books, the only thing they have in common is a female writer. So lazy and reductive. Rant over.

    3) Ok, it’s probably a bit ‘wrong crowd’ to say this- Jen will be familiar with my constant refrain ‘I won’t read it if it has map in the front’ which is my very ignorant way of dismissing 99% of the fantasy section in the bookshop. Even though I’ve read and enjoyed The Eyes of the Dragon (which I suppose is kind of fantasy-lite at a push? There was definitely a map anyway), love watching Game of Thrones and did in fact sit through two of the LOTR films and The Hobbit. I just can’t be bothered to read it.. all those elves and dwarves and mythical, unpronounceable lands and whole chapters where they just sing songs about drinking mead and slaying dragons- of course I’m being totally superficial here and I realise there’s obviously more to it than that, but I guess I just don’t get the appeal. Also ‘chick-lit’ as in anything about ditzy girls who are only interested in ‘vino’, shopping, dieting and finding Mr Right and the horrors of 50 Shades of Grey etc makes me feel ill and twitch and judgy.

    4)Favourite fictional baddy has to be Count Fosco from the Woman in White. Corpulent genius with a fondness for white mice, bad jokes and terrorising Victorian damsels in distress. He is supremely, cartoonishly evil yet still weirdly likable. Second has to be Cathy from East of Eden- she’s a complete sociopath and chillingly remorseless and should really be first for pure evil but I’m too scared of her to call her my ‘favourite’.

    5) Comfort read, aside from the Harry Potter’s (especially the Prisoner of Azkaban and Half-Blood Prince) probably A Room with a View, still cracks me up every time I read it and The Stand because I love anything post-apocalyptic and I’ve yet to read anyone that does that theme better than King. THE END!

    • Abby, Abby. You dare to come on here and SPEAK ILL OF MEAD?! THIS SHALL NOT STAND!

      But I would like to point out that when you were complaining about me reading a book with a map in the front, that *was* A Game of Thrones I was reading. So there. :p

      You are totally right about the tendency towards “ladyfied” covers, unfortunately. It’s all a bit “here are the LADIES books, for the LADIES. Let’s put things on them that the wimmins like, such as cupcakes and shoes and little babies and possibly lipstick and those terrifying false nail things”. Alright, fine, I do like cake, but I don’t really need pictures of cake on the front of the book I’m reading, I’m not that desperate.

  11. Ha, fair enough. I am thinking about going out of my comfort zone and reading GoT and also the Dark Tower series, both of which will contain plenty of map action and therefore bring me out in some sort of sweat as I frantically think I have to MEMORISE the map in order to figure out what the hell is going on and where the characters actually are. In fact, does anyone actually pay attention to the bastard maps in the front? I’d be interested to know. x

    • I have to admit… I don’t often pay attention to the maps. Which is a little ironic as I now write fantasy books that require me to draw maps. I think they’re of more use to the writer sometimes (particularly if the writer keeps forgetting which continent her characters are on)

  12. What was your favourite childhood book?
    – Hands down, that would be The Encounter by KA Applegate, the third Animorphs novel. 14-15 years on and I still love the protagonist, Tobias.

    How important is a book cover to you?
    – Not all that much really. I pick books for their covers and their premises equally.

    Is there a genre you consider a “no go” area? Is there a section of the bookshop you won’t bother browsing?
    – Romance. Erotica. Magazines.

    Who is your favourite fictional baddie?
    – Darth Maul comes to mind :-)

    What is your “comfort read”?
    – Some old stuff in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, mainly stuff by Bill King, Dan Abnett, and Graham McNeill.

    • Ah, Darth Maul. One of the biggest (of many) mistakes the Star Wars prequels made was killing him off in the first film. He was the best thing about it! I remember being convinced that he would come back as some sort of cyborg in the next one, but it wasn’t to be; it’s fairly lame when your iconic baddie dies right at the start.

  13. My favorite book was probably Dune, but I read a lot of Mythology books around that time as well.

    The book cover is fairly important to me, it needs to at least say “Hi, look at me!” If it’s not at least easily read and well put together I might pay no attention to it.

    I have found that I enjoy fantasy, and it’s hard for me to find a good book that gets my interest in other genres. I read Moby Dick, Dickens, The Three Musketeers, and so on when I was a kid, and I don’t have positive enough memories from them for me to try again. With that in mind, I rarely go out of the Fantasy/Sci-fi section.

    I was having trouble thinking of this one, because I usually don’t like the bad guy, but I saw Randall Flagg as I was scrolling down, and I have to say he would definitely be on the list if I had one.

    Comfort read… well, the ones I’ve gone back and read a few times are the Wheel of time books, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and Just about anything from Eddings or L.E. Modesitt JR. I love books with good character development, and epic stories.

  14. It’s very difficult to pick a single childhood favourite because when I was younger I’d get ten books out at the library on a Friday and I’d have read them all by Saturday lunchtime; i.e. I read a lot. I read a lot of Famous Five because they were my sister’s books and anything she read I could read better, but I think my favourites are Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath which I still read now quite often. I also had Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede clutched in my sweaty hands more than a few times. It is the story of a princess who wants more than embroidery and marrying a handsome prince and she runs away and becomes the captive princess for a dragon and ends up learning magic and self-reliance and doesn’t want rescuing. There are other books in the series but I only ever read the first two because that was all our local library had. So, fantasy then, yeah?

    Book covers are so important! I share the gripe about book covers with the movie version cover. I too refuse to buy them because I am a snob. I was so glad I got my First Law trilogy all matching with maps before the new weird covers with people on came out. I saw some with maps on again at Waterstone’s the other day so maybe they went back. I was so annoyed when Stewart & Riddell changed the art style for the Deepwoods books, too, because now the whole set will NEVER match. I like to check with other countries’ publishing. I remember seeing the French-Canadian print of Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone and being very jealous of their prettiness compared to the UK print but still happy that the UK paperbacks were sensible compared to the weird gaudy US ones.

    I would read the side of a bus if it sat there long enough. Depending on the mood I’m in, I’ll read anything, but I wouldn’t purposely go out and browse chicklit, hard sci-fi (gritty spaceships-cold-void-of-eternity-type), or horror. I get freaked out by Goosebumps. (Although, thinking about it, I have read and loved Let The Right One In which was quite bleak). I don’t mind violence and bad language and blood but I don’t like creepy psychological things. I don’t shun sci-fi, but I don’t read it much. I am also very turned off by silly names. If I’m reading the back of a fantasy book and it fails the silly name check it goes back on the shelf regardless of how good I think the story sounds. Exception: steampunk because silly names are integral to the plot.

    In literature; my favourite baddies are the Gray King from Lies of Locke Lamora, Joffrey Baratheon/Lannister (the guy who plays him in the TV series is amazingly good. I don’t think he even had any lines in the first episode and I still wanted to slap him!), Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked just pummels all my feels) and Prince John from Sharon Penman’s Justin de Quincy novels, although I don’t know if he counts since he’s an actual person.
    Film; Hans Gruber from the first and best Die Hard. Alan Rickman is my god.

    Comfort reads vary depending on my mood and the season. My most well-thumbed books are Valley of the Dolls if I’m feeling glitzy; Memoirs of a Geisha if I’m feeling introspective; any middle Discworld novel if I need a laugh (Lords and Ladies through to Last Continent); in Lent I always read Chocolat; if it’s cold and dreich in the winter I read Gemmell – Echoes of the Great Song or A Quest for Lost Heroes, probably. I also love The Princess Bride, The Handmaid’s Tale (I give myself regular doses of that) and Harry Potter. If I’m going to read HP though, I have to read the whole lot from the beginning, eagerly skimming through Chamber of Secrets to get to the joy that is Prisoner of Azkaban.

    I could have said a lot more – let me know if you want round 2!

    • Haha! You weren’t kidding about an essay 😉 Brilliant!

      It’s odd really; I am very obsessive about an awful lot of things, but I am strangely unbothered by book covers that don’t match in a series. I suspect that the Sandman graphic novels actually pummelled me into this stance, because they changed cover styles so often it became utterly impossible to get matching ones, and in the end I embraced it. Our collection of Dark Tower books is similarly all over the place – partly because Marty and I both had all seven books, but in different versions, but also because I was obsessed with Wizard and Glass and got my brother to buy me the American edition with the excellent cover (gorgeous Dave McKean illustrations too!).

      Also, Lords and Ladies is in my top 3 Discworld books ever ever ever. Love it.

      • I’m never sure if I prefer the Witches or the Watch Discworld, but then I also have a soft spot for the Wizards which covers pretty much all the bases except I love Death as well. So, all of them really. Jingo is my fave Watch, Maskerade is my fave Witch and Soul Music is my fave Wizard. Mort is my favourite Death book because it was the first time I’d read a book where Death had been treated that way back when I first read it and it’s stayed with me.

        • The Witches have always been my favourites, although choosing my favourite book out of those would be very tough. Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Witches Abroad… they’re all little slices of genius. The Watch comes a very close second though, and I particularly love Guards,Guards! and Men at Arms because of the way they play with some fantasy tropes I’m very fond of. And I love Carrot.

          Gosh, I really want to re-read some Discword now. Again! Nanny Ogg forever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *