Seven ‘Bookish’ deadly sins

Having boasted of my ‘bookish’ virtues last week – I do love an oxymoron – this week I thought I ought to even up the scales.

I’ve tracked back through a few blogs to see if I should be crediting this tag to someone, but it seems that the originator has either been lost in the mist, or they decided to remain anonymous. Given how much we reveal in answering these seven questions, to ourselves, as much as anyone else, maybe they wisely preferred to disappear.

So, deep breath, and before I change my mind.

What is the most expensive book you own? Which is the least expensive?

I’ve just treated myself to The Writer’s Map, which cost nearly thirty pounds, and think myself very extravagant.

The least expensive? There have been so many bargain books, and the ones I didn’t value haven’t stayed with me… Recently, I bought The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, for fifty pence, in a charity shop. Whether you measure that in pages or weight, that’s a lot of book for the money.

What book or books have you shamelessly devoured many times?

Where do I begin? Probably with my earliest memories, ‘See Jane, Spot, see Jane run.’ Those were The Happy Venture Readers books. I was still returning to them after becoming hooked on the Famous Five, Secret Seven and The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse. Was it for the sake of the illustrations, I wonder?

I’ve just looked them up on a bookseller site, and if only I hadn’t read mine into bits, I might have used it for my GREED answer.

Lets fast-forward to adult reading, and some of the ones that I turn to most often. The short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, oh, and Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Then, there’s Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons, The Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon, any Jane Austen novel… all the writings of Angela Carter – yes everything, because all of her writing feels fearless and exciting.

What attributes do you find most attractive in your characters?


What books would you most like to receive as a gift?

Something that is one or more of the following: witty, challenging, thought-provoking, beautiful, exotic, poetic, prosaic, magical, exciting, shocking, hard-hitting, atmospheric, minimalist, heartfelt, hilarious, relevant, life-affirming, emotive, complicated, surprising, relaxing, warming…

Have I missed something? That’s the book I really want.

What book or books do you bring up when you want to sound like an intellectual reader?

How honest must I be? I want to claim that I don’t try to sound like an intellectual reader, but I used to boast about how many books I’d read. Luckily, no one ever challenged that, or they’d soon have discovered that most of my list was light or pulp fiction.

What book or series have you neglected out of sheer laziness?

I started The Odyssey around a year ago, and do want to finish it, but somehow I keep picking up other books instead. Maybe it’s because I already know the outcomes.

What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

I’m trying to think of a writer I find offensive, and yet read. I can’t. I stopped wasting valuable reading time on fiction that didn’t work for me years ago, once I’d realised reading wasn’t a test of endurance or a competitive sport, and that I’d completely missed the true meaning of ‘being well-read’.

But, an author I have mixed feelings about is DH Lawrence. I love most of his short stories and poems. Through them, he covers many on the list of wishes I made under the ENVY heading above. His short writing is often layered, complex and surprising.

His novels, on the other hand, leave me mostly cold. I’ve tried, and tried again, to see them as something other than interesting examples of techniques. I always fail.

You may have noticed I’ve not been tagged. I’ve done that thing my dad advises me is best avoided, I volunteered.

If you’d like to see where the idea came from, you might start with Re-enchantment of the World, or Calmgrove, and work back.

38 thoughts on “Seven ‘Bookish’ deadly sins

  1. Yes, I too treated myself to The Writers’ Map recently, paid full whack for it and don’t in the least regret doing so. And I also bought a charity shop Radcliffe too (maybe on your urgings?) only this time it was the considerably slimmer A Sicilian Romance: I hoped to read it before the end of October but find I have, as usual, overfaced myself in terms of planned reading…

    As for all your other ‘choices’ (some of which I see you’ve wisely refrained from giving hard details) I enjoyed reading them and thoroughly approve of their tenor!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can’t regret The Writers’ Map either, it is a thing of joy both to look at and leaf through. Settling down with it is a treat I’m promising myself in half-term week, if I keep to schedule. It makes a tempting carrot.

      I can’t claim any credit for suggesting Radcliff to you, I’ve read and heard lots about her, but have yet to read more than an extract.

      Many thanks for endorsing my answers, it felt a little like balancing on a tight-rope at times, so it’s good to know I got that right.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The questions seem quite broad—until you have to choose just one author, book or series, and then it becomes impossible! I think you managed to stay on the tightrope… 😁

        A Sicilian Romance seemed quite short compared with the Udolpho doorstop, so that was in its favour! As for the essays in The Writers’ Map, I’ve already dipped into one or two but can hardly bear to gorge myself on the rest, trying to eke it out the better to savour it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Cath. Speaking of DH Lawrence: I read Lady Chatterly’s Lover about 10 years ago and didn’t like it at all. It was slow and seemed to be much ado about not too much. But I’m sure that many people totally disagree with what I just said. Bye till next time!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a great post! That is a lot of Radcliffe for 50p, I read it at the beginning of the year and I think you’ve got yourself a bargain and those illustrations for The Happy Venture Readers, fabulous!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Jane.
      I’m waiting for a gap in my schedule when I can draw a really deep breath, to begin the Radcliffe.
      I’m glad you enjoyed The Happy Venture Readers illustrations, too. I’d quite forgotten what a wonderful book that was, until I started these answers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Never hear of The Writers Map – will look into it.
    Though I was brought up in Germany, I read and loved the Famous Five/
    I couldn’t list all the books I re-read. One is a small volume that might be called intellectual – Six Memos for the Millennium – by Italo Calvino.
    I note the kind of books you’d like to receive as a present. My first novel, ‘Course of Mirrors’ might fit. I’d like to send it to you as a present. We follow each other on Twitter, you could message me your address. My twit handle is @mushkilgusha ☼

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a lovely, generous offer, Ashen. Thank you.
      I’ve read Italo Calvino’s, Six Memos – it’s beautiful, isn’t it, and I’d let it slip from my memory, so thanks for the reminder. I might have to dip into it again.


  5. Gluttony: Madame Bovary and Lolita, both of which are now as dog-eared as can be. (Good thing neglect isn’t a deadly sin or I’m going to hell for sure). Sloth: the Magic Mountain has been on my reading list forever, but I keep finding excuses or other books to read before it. Now that I think of it, I really should catch up on my Jane Austen reading too; I started Pride and Prejudice for a class, but never managed to finish it.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for the shout-out, Cath!
    The Writer’s Map looks lovely, I must take a look at it!
    I thoroughly enjoyed Odyssey, a good few times, but I think one’s appreciation of Homer is directly linked to the quality of the translation – at least in my case; some lucky few still can read Homer in original 😉
    I really need to read something by DH Lawrence, I think I only read one or two short stories, a long time ago, and it’s time to renew that acquaintance.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have looked (lusted after?) The Writer’s Map more than once – probably whenever a fellow blogger reminds me of it. And I’ve just looked again now. One for the Christmas list perhaps. Meanwhile, a thought-provoking piece, Cath, as usual. Love in the time of Cholera and Jane Austen are among my favourites too, but I’d be hardpressed to come up with bookish responses to each of these ‘vices’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I found it much more difficult than the virtues list, Sandra.
      I’m loving my copy of The Writer’s Map, and I’ve barely had time to look yet, so I’d have added it to my Christmas list, if I hadn’t still had a book voucher to spend…


    • Thanks Jane. Writing is all part of the long term plan, of course!
      I think a lot of people have come close to achieving my list, but i’d worry if I ever found one that had (in my opinion), I suspect if ever I found that, I’d be unable to read anything else after it.


    • Just a warning, Chris, it was because I accidentally picked this up, in an idle moment in a bookstore, that I began to covet. I resisted at first, but several months later here I am.

      On the plus side, it really is a lovely thing to own, and I’m looking forward to sitting down to enjoy it properly.


  8. Let me say I tried to read Middlesex and got half way through and just stopped. I know it had great reviews, awards, etc. but I was insulted and hated reading it. [Middlesex won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in addition to being a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis.]
    There is many books I reread: poetry.
    Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Books that deserve to be re-read, by the sounds of it. Yes, some lovely poems I could have mentioned, now you’ve reminded me, Lara.

      Middlesex sounds like something to be avoided. I’ve not read it, so thanks for the warning.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I believe I’ve seen that Writer’s Map book in the library, and wow! It’s so tempting, but I need to save up for a proper laptop so I can finally return the one I’ve borrowed. 🙂 I also agree with you regarding DH Lawrence. There was a writer…damn, I can’t recall. Camus? No, not Camus. I mean, I’ll bring up Milan Kundera when I want to sound smart. But there’s someone, I can’t pin who, whom I’ve read short bits of with relative ease, but have never gotten into when it comes to longer pieces. Damn. Amis, maybe? Memory fails me.

    Liked by 3 people

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