Friday Q&A – this time, it’s a classic

Tuesday Thingers 7/15 – Book-swapping (hosted by Marie of The Boston Bibliophile)

Today’s topic: Book-swapping. Do you do it? What site(s) do you use? How did you find out about them? What do you think of them? Do you use LT’s book-swapping column feature for information on what to swap? Do you participate in any of the LT communities that discuss bookswapping, like the Bookmooch group for example?

Well, I have to say “yes and no” to the “Do you book-swap?” question. Inspired by the “read and release” philosophy of BookCrossing (which I joined almost six years ago [as bookcookie39] but where I’m no longer very active), I rarely hold on to books once I finish reading them. I’ll give them away to friends (my off-line book club includes a book swap our meetings), donate them to the Friends of the Library for their bookstore, or just leave them in a safe place where they might be found and taken. When I was an active BookCrosser, I did quite a lot of “releasing by mail,” sending my used books to other members who requested them. In that tradition, these days, when one of my blog readers leaves an insightful comment on a book I’ve reviewed and expresses the intention to keep an eye out for it, I’ve been known to offer to send her my copy – if I didn’t plan to keep it anyway, it’s nice to know where it’s going (and look forward to another review!). I actually like doing this, except for the part that involves going to the post office – and that part is the admittedly lame reason why I do much less of it than I used to.

I’ve never been all that big on true book-swapping, though. I’m happy to give you a book I’ve finished reading, but I’ll rarely take one in return. That’s another BookCrossing-related thing; when I was arranging to send someone one of my books and she offered “something from (her) BC bookshelf” in exchange, I started finding it tiring and time-consuming to browse all those other people’s collections, especially when they didn’t seem to have much in common with my own, so I basically copped out on trading and just gave away books. (Responding with “Oh, it’s fine, you can just have it,” seemed more polite than saying, “Sorry, you just don’t have anything that I want.”) In-person swapping, with the books in hand at the time, is much more manageable for me. If I ever change my mind about that, though, I may have to check out LT’s swap-sites links. If the book “giving” and book “getting” are separate transactions, that may be worth trying. If one of you book-swappers can enlighten me on how all that works, I’d appreciate it!

Vacation Spots – Booking though Thursday (hosted by Deb)

Another question inspired by the Bunch of Grapes on Martha’s Vineyard having burned down on the Fourth of July.
Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?
Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?
What/Where are they?
I’m still devastated about the Bunch of Grapes, even though I usually only got to visit it once or twice a year–it was such a vital part of my trips to Martha’s Vineyard. Its (hopefully temporary) loss won’t affect my day-to-day book habits, but it was such a wonderful store on one of my favorite places. Stopping there was such a strong tradition, and I’m going to miss it as part of my vacations. But it made me think–I always buy books when I’m away from home. They’re as much of a trip-souvenir as any t-shirt or trinket. Better, even! And it occurs to me that I can’t be the only one of us who does that, huh?

I partially answered this question in last week’s BTT response:
There are usually some books in my TBR collection that I have mentally set aside as “good vacation reading” for time or thematic reasons (if not both), and I’ll take a few of them with me. I’ll usually take more books than I think I can possibly get through, just in case I have more reading time than expected – I would not want to run out of reading material! However, if that should happen, it would just be a good excuse – as if I need one – to check out a local bookstore, which is something I’ll rarely pass up an opportunity to do.

Since I don’t have a “regular” vacation spot that I return to every year or so – my in-laws do have a fishing cabin in the Eastern Sierras, but there are no bookstores for miles – I don’t have a specific “away” bookstore that I visit. But it’s rare that I don’t end up in a bookstore at least once during any vacation (or at least check out the books display in a gift shop). It may be an intriguing-looking local shop – sometimes I’ve found books in those stores that wouldn’t have crossed my radar at home, and bringing them back with me has turned out to be a very good decision. At other times, it may be a nearby Borders or B&N, just because I’m jonesing for some new reading material (even though I did bring books with me).

Because here’s the thing about me and bookstores – if it’s rare for me not to end up in one, it’s extremely unusual for me to leave one empty-handed. What about you?

Friday Fill-In #81 (hosted by Janet)

All questions this week are courtesy of Sherry; thank you, girl!

1. If I could be a fly on the wall I would listen in to what goes on in some of those meetings I’m not invited to (boring, huh?).

2. Jealousy is occasionally motivating, but usually just unpleasant.

3. When I see a shooting star my wish would be that I could have three more wishes.

4. I’d rather be early than stuck in traffic any day!

5. Certain songs when I hear them make me wanna push the “skip” button on the iPod or change the station on the radio.

6. If time were in a bottle I’d use an extra couple of hours of it every day (most likely for sleeping)!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to something I haven’t quite planned out yet, tomorrow my plans include writing, reading, and maybe even some housecleaning and Sunday, I want to see The Dark Knight with my husband, and then write a review of it to post here!

I haven’t started a new book this week – still reading Girls Like Us – so I’m bypassing the Page 123 meme. Instead, here are my responses to the Classics Meme that has been making the rounds. It was started by Kristen at Book Club Classics to promote her new site (a site dedicated to helping teachers/students navigate classic literature), and I’ve seen it at Just a (Reading) Fool, Blue Archipelago, and My Own Little Reading Room (and I’m sure there are others who have posted their answers too – I just haven’t seen them myself!)

  1. What is the best classic you were “forced” to read in school (and why)? Huckleberry Finn. I read Tom Sawyer on my own – it’s more of a kids’ book, in my opinion – but might not have read Huck if it weren’t required American Lit. reading. It’s a good story with a great main character, but from where we are now, it’s also an important historical document in context of its time and place.
  2. What was the worst classic you were forced to endure (and why)? Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff isn’t a tortured hero, he’s just a beast. Far too much romantic mythology about “the bad boy” sprung from here. Sorry, I can’t really be objective – I just heartily dislike this book.
  3. Which classic should every student be required to read (and why)? Slaughterhouse-Five. It’s a more modern “classic,” granted – it may even be postmodern in its blend of elements (history, science fiction, existentialist absurdity) – and that in itself is enough reason to read it. So it goes.
  4. Which classic should be put to rest immediately (and why)? Beowulf. I took Shakespeare instead of British Lit. in high school just to avoid it :-). Seriously, though, I don’t really have an answer for this one – I suppose I could vote for Wuthering Heights, though.
  5. **Bonus** Why do you think certain books become classics? They’re well-written, their themes are universal and timeless, and they have at least one appealing, sympathetic character.

What would your answers to these questions be?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,358 other subscribers


  1. Tom Sawyer is to Huck Finn what The Hobbit is to Lord Of The Rings!

    I hadn’t heard about that fire; how sad 🙁

    I’ll be looking forward to reading your review of The Dark Knight; I’m going to see it Saturday.

  2. I want to see Dark Knight too….Let me know if it’s as good as they say it is!

    I am on GoodReads now and like it, (YellowRose on there!)

  3. SmilingSal – It is a good place to read, as long as you bring plenty of books with you :-)!

    Janet – Good analogy re: Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn.

    JustaReadingFool – You definitely went in the other direction time-wise with your answer to that one :-). This was an interesting meme – thanks for being one of my meme-thievery victims!

    YellowRose (and Janet too) – My husband has been panting to see this movie for MONTHS. I’m a little hesitant about it, to be honest, but I’ll let y’all know what I thought.

  4. I get very few of those requests via BC anymore, and when I do, I tend to RABCK it, too. Unless someone contacts me and says, “I have xxx on your wishlist; would you be willing to trade xxx for it?” it’s easier to turn a trade request into some random kindness.

    Besides, I have too many books here. Unless someone has something on my wishlist, forget it.

  5. Susan – I don’t really keep a wishlist, but I guess if I did book-swapping might be easier. But you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    (For the uninitiated: “RABCK” is a Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness – giving someone a book they want without receiving one in return.)

  6. I am right there with you in not caring to go to the post office. I’ve had a couple of postal clerks encourage me to mail from home, but I’m so worried I’ll screw something up and end up costing someone money.

    I hate being stuck in traffic. I will be attending a training next month and am dreading driving into Orange County during rush hour. My commute now isn’t so bad. I avoid the freeways all together and while there’s traffic, it’s fairly steady.

    I hope you enjoy The Dark Knight. I can’t wait to see it.

  7. Literart Feline – I could commute without freeways, in theory, but it would take me about 1.5 hours each way, and my job’s not worth that :-). Lately traffic has been pretty light, though – I’m dreading when school starts again! But I’m sure you’ve read my traffic rants here before.

    I do not envy you that trip to the OC, though – hope it’s just for one day!

    I hope I like The Dark Knight too! Tall Paul is SO psyched to see it – me, not quite as much, but I’m open-minded.

  8. It’s *very* hard for me to leave a bookstore empty handed!
    as far as swapping, I like your philosophy. Very generous!

  9. A couple of extra hours for sleeping sounds wonderful!

    “Because here’s the thing about me and bookstores – if it’s rare for me not to end up in one, it’s extremely unusual for me to leave one empty-handed.” Can I just say ditto? 🙂

  10. Marie – The book swapping/giveaway thing evolved out of laziness, to be honest, but I’m actually pretty happy with it myself.

    Tanabata – It seems like no one gets enough sleep, doesn’t it :-)?

    I suspect most of us book folks rarely leave a bookstore empty-handed, actually.