Ask The Reader: Matt

Personal Details

Age: 44 Earth years. I prefer to use Martian years though, I’m then 23. Suits my maturity level better.

Occupation/ hobbies: No occupation. Hobbies include gaming, archery, shooting nerf darts at children (usually my own children) and reading.

Would you describe yourself as ‘a reader’?: Yes. Also “A watcher”

Favourite Genre: Fantasy. Thrillers come a close second, especially ones with a military bent.

Favourite book/ books/ authors: Arg. Book, really hard to choose but The Magician by Raymond E. Feist. It was the first truly epic fantasy which I read (in my early teens). It goes from a simple, pretty standard, beginning about two boyhood friends to a sweeping fantasy covering two worlds, large scope, and a huge supporting cast. It also leads into a series of 31 books which cover countless main characters, universe altering plot, some brilliant concepts and which contain the only scene in a book which ever made me cry. It was the death scene of a character who’d undergone a massive evolution through many books and I had apparently become rather invested in him.

Favourite childhood book: No idea, I’m not sure that I had one

Length of To-Be-Read Pile: Usually zero, they arrive, I read them.

Section 1

  1. a) What was the last book that you read?

The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice. The story of a 500 year old vampire from his “birth” in Renaissance Venice to modern day.

  1. b) What led you to read it? What made it appeal to you before you started reading it?

I had tried reading Anne Rice on several occasions but only ever finished (or indeed got far in) one (Memnoch the Devil). Attempts to read Interview with a Vampire or The Vampire Lestat (the first two in the series) lead to quitting (an exceedingly rare occurrence for me) in disgust, I found the characters of Louis & Lestat extremely annoying. I don’t enjoy reading when my reaction to it is to want to scream at the characters!

I read a lot though, easily a book a week, often more, up to 3 or 4. And the Anne Rice books were sat on our bookshelves. Jen suggested that I try reading Anne Rice’s Witches series, set in the same world but not about her whinging, whiny vampires. I thoroughly enjoyed these so decided to skip past the first few books of The Vampire Chronicles. Having read book 3 and found it readable (if not amazing) I skipped Memnoch (I had reread it recently) and went on to Armand. Now I’ve skipped back to book 3, Queen of the Damned, as I realised it contained some events which were pretty significant for the series. At the moment I’m still finding the books to be just about OK. As the series progresses it apparently focusses less on Lestat and intersects more with the Mayfair family (from the Witches trilogy) so I hope I’ll enjoy them more.

If there was anything in the house which was more interesting which I haven’t read multiple times then I would switch to that though.

  1. c) Did the book live up to your expectations of it?

Hmmm, it has but my expectations were very modest. It’s failed to surpass them. I’m not a huge fan of Rice’s writing style, that’s unlikely to change. The characters are definitely better than Lestat & Louis but still not hugely engaging.

2. a) What makes you want to read a book?

The précis, recommendation from friends, written by a liked author.

2. b) Once you’ve started, what keeps you going?

Wanting to know what happens next. A loathing of not finishing books.

3. Do you re-read books? Which do you re-visit most?

Yes. Lots. I tend to read The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher every year. Likewise the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. The full Midkemia series by Feist gets read every 2 or 3 years, 31 big books every year is a bit too much. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline annually, along with the sequel and Armada. The Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron gets read most years. Eddings’ Elenium and Tamuli every few years. American Gods by Neil Gaiman most years along with Good Omens. I reread a lot.

4. Which book would you recommend to others for enjoyment? / Which would you recommend for changing the way we think? / Which tear-jerker would you recommend for a good sob-fest?

Crap. Too many books to choose from! For enjoyment I would go for The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The size of the book may daunt some people but it just sucks you in and tells a brilliant tale. Rothfuss may take an agonisingly long time to produce a book but his storytelling is stunning. I think that the first time I read it there was an immediate sleepless night, suddenly alarms were going off, sunlight was coming in the window and by nose was still in the book.

American Gods is another brilliantly written book but can definitely make you think about things from angles which you may not have previously seen.

5. Where/ when do you like to read?

When = Any time. All the time!

Where = Usually in bed. I spend more time there than most due to medical problems though. The sofa is just as good. In my ideal house I would have a huge comfy armchair next to a log fire. Probably in my own library.

Section 2

  1. Which would be your ‘desert island book’?

Probably The Magician. I haven’t tired of rereading it yet. The Name of the Wind comes a very close second though. It might simply depend which I can reach first when abandoning the sinking ship.

2. Do you have a ‘goal book’ that you would love to read?

Yes. The Qur’an. I’ve read the Bible, I own a Qur’an, I’ve just never got around to reading it. I’m not a believer in either faith but I do believe that understanding the religious texts of a world faith can give a much better understanding of those faiths and the attitudes and actions of believers in them and followers of them. Given the impact of religion on world politics this can give a better understanding of why countries act in the way they do.

3. Which character from which book would you most like to go on an adventure with/ out to dinner with/ walk around the zoo with? Put your own option if you like….

That depends if I want a really good conversation or a chaotic adventure. Kvothe from The Kingkiller Chronicles for the former. He’d be fascinating to talk to. You have to read the books to see why. Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files for the latter. Whatever we did would be almost certain to descend into chaos, fun (in my opinion anyway, might be terrifying to some) and some kind of manic adventure. Probably also involving a burning building.

4. You get to go out to dinner with one author and get all of the inside gossip on their book/ characters/ universe – who do you pick?

Just one?!?!? Damn. Jim Butcher would be on the list. Even ignoring his books he’d be really interesting to chat with. He wouldn’t give inside gossip though, just infuriatingly vague hints. I could happily offer my own theories and ideas though and love watching him laugh evilly and probably nick some. His wife coming along would be good, she’s almost as interesting as Jim.

If I can resurrect someone for it then Terry Pratchett. The guy’s mind worked in such an unusual way that I think I could talk to him for hours.

I might have said Pat Rothfuss as my first choice but he can’t spare the time, he needs to get the third book of Kingkiller finished not mess about having dinner with fans.

5. Have you ever seen a movie that was better than the book? Which was it?

Lord of The Rings. I like the story but I can’t stand the way Tolkein wrote. I’ve never managed to get far into any of his books because of it.

6. Which was the most beautiful book you ever owned? Judging the book by its cover is entirely encouraged here, so please feel free to describe…

Tricky, I love the spine on my copy of The History of the Kings of Britain and the illustrations are lovely medieval ones. The covers of Norse Mythology (Gaiman) and The Wise Man’s Fear (Rothfuss) are some of my favourite ones. Bookcase pictured is just one of several. All are crammed to overflowing with books double stacked, sideways on top of rows etc. We really need a library.

7. Has a book ever changed your life/ outlook on something important to you? What was it?

Nope. Not about anything major. They’ve made me look at different angles or changed my mind about minor stuff but nothing huge. Although if I had read Good Omens or American Gods in my early teens they might have done.

8. Book you threw hardest across the room?

The Fellowship of the Ring. In my opinion Tolkein was a great maker of stories but a bloody awful teller of them, he just can’t write for toffee. I’ve tried to read his books several times and every time I just feel patronised and irritated by his writing style. Or lack of style. I think that his are the only books which I have ever thrown

9. Book you would insist that your children read?

That’s difficult. They definitely need to read The Dresden Files just because of how much my wife and I tend to talk about them. Probably Good Omens though, the depth of that book and the concepts explored in it never cease to amaze me.

Arg, no, I forgot one. The History of the Kings of Britain by Geffery of Monmouth. It’s the basis for so much later literature that it’s insane and it’s a key building block in the mythology of Britain. The fact that someone chose to write a story, present it as a history and tie the rulership of Britain back to Rome while weaving in pre-existing strands of native mythology gives a fascinating insight into the national psyche at the time, a point at which that psyche was the foundation of much of the modern one. It’s a damn good story too

10. Which book do you think deserves some sort of award?

Changes by Jim Butcher. The award being “Most surprising opening, most shocking climactic decision and ending most likely to make readers either cry, shout “what the ***” or throw the book”.

11. If you aren’t enjoying a book, do you leave it un-finished?

Yes. It’s rare but if I can’t engage with it or am infuriated by it then I do.

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Published by BeckyBookBlog

My name is Becky and I run a blog about Books

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