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Survey says

There is nothing I like better than a survey. I mean it. When I was younger, we would get these big consumer packet surveys mailed to our house once or twice a year and I couldn’t wait for my dad to get home so we could fill it out together. Answering really cool and interesting questions about things like what brand of paper towels we preferred and how often the family went grocery shopping. I’m not kidding, I lived for those.

So, when Publishers Weekly posted their Great Big Reading Poll yesterday, you can bet that contributing my answers was the highlight of my day. (Okay, now that might be a bit of an exaggeration). In any case, surveys are super fun and no matter the subject, the results are always interesting on some level. When you combine surveys with things about books, though, then, well, you’ve got me hooked.

While the questions PW poses aren’t revolutionary, they are indicative of the types of things that set readers apart from one another. One thing about surveys that’s a bit frustrating (and the reason I always hated multiple choice tests in school) is that you don’t get the chance to explain yourself. So, below are some of the questions I wished I could have explained to PW when I was answering!

Do you write in your books?
Generally, I do NOT—though I always wished I was the person who did. There’s something romantic about the image of the intellectual, dreamy reader who is so inspired by their books that they can’t help but get physically involved. There are a few books I have with half-hearted underlines, hearts, stars and exclamation points, but they are far and few between. The only book I have that is thoroughly marked up (and helpfully so) is my copy of Ulysses—it’s the notations that let me read and re-read it to my heart’s content without any confusion.

How do you save your place?
I was a dog-eared girl growing up, occasionally a face-down-on-the-table kind of lady, but now it’s strictly bookmarks. I have no idea what prompted the change in ideology, but now, though I harbor no ill-will or disdain towards anyone who is a page-folding, spine-breaking reader, I can’t bring myself to do it.

My bookshelf is…
Hah! I would say arranged by a method only known to me (and my roommate), but that only happens when we get in a crazy “let’s organize all these darn books!” mode and then, active readers that we are, constant taking out and putting back of books kind of messes up every single system we’ve ever come up with.

How many books do you read at once?
Counting only books read for pleasure, I’m definitely a one book and only one book kind of reader. I’ve tried reading more and sometimes it works, but I just start to feel bad for whatever book I’m not reading at the moment. Like I’ve hurt its feelings. Okay, let’s stop talking about this now.

Do you read used books?
A no-brainer. This isn’t to say that I don’t love a good brand new book all crisp and just mine, but guys, books go out of print all the time. Sometimes the only option is a used book, sometimes they’re just cheaper, and used bookstores are treasure troves of exciting things you never would have looked for on your own. There’s nothing better than buying a good book with a personal inscription in it, either, in my opinion.

I’d love to know what questions you liked best as well as those that could have really done with an “explain here” box below them. Tell me in the comments!

6 Responses to Survey says

  1. D. C. DaCosta says:

    Well…I have to say, that’s not much of a survey. If it was meant for anything other than the entertainment of the participants, the person who commissioned it should get a refund, and the person who approved its use should be fired. (Sorry, my background is in marketing research.)

    I was heartened to see that I was not in the minority on most answers. But, as you pointed out, there were no opportunities for “none of the above” or “other”. And three choices simply aren’t enough.

  2. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    I agree, and I have to say that this kind of fluff is all too typical of PW these days… About the only thing I bother to check with these guys is the Book Deals section to see what kind of stuff is being repped by who; the new Publishers Lite format is otherwise pretty empty unless you’re following the latest digital litigation news from the e-book market. As another writer I know put it, “Every week Publishers Weekly gets weaker and weaker. ” And I’m a little concerned that you’re that into Ulysses, Rachel-I thought most people got over that one by the time Prohibition ended… If you want to do a seriously anachronistic sensation from a Long Time Ago, I suggest The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis-it’s the world’s first racy horror novel from the late 18th Century which actually shocked Lord Byron (complete with poetry breaks every second chapter or so) and it’s a lot more coherent than Ulysses, begging your pardon. Make a helluva movie too, although dumbing it down to a PG-13 level would probably ruin it…

    • Kevin A. Lewis says:

      Actually, PW’s BEA coverage isn’t bad-I’ve just gotten used to skimming and spending time elsewhere-like here!

  3. Julie Nilson says:

    Do I read used books? I rarely read UNused books anymore. We have an outstanding library nearby, so I haven’t bought a book in a very long time.

  4. Emily Carter says:

    Loved the survey!

    My fun questions:

    Do you write in books! Not just yes but H___ YES. Are you kidding? How could I not write in books — there’s so much going on.

    Do you use the library?

    Not only do I use the library, I’m a Board member for the Friends of the Library

  5. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    Sorry to be slagging on James Joyce, Rachel, but I went to a very exclusive prep school that had a strictly no-bullying policy, except in cases of James Joyce enthusiasm, when it was considered an extenuating circumstance…. (Anderson Cooper was excused for giving the Athletic Director a severe knuckle rub on these grounds, if I recall correctly…)

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