The I Dare You Tag, a.k.a. “I Am Easily Guilted”

I was tagged to answer these questions by author of the wonderful blog The Orangutan Librarian. You should definitely go over there and check out her posts. Number one, she’s an orangutan, and number two, she has some great satirical pieces.

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

I was going to show a Bible picture book that I’ve had since I was 3, but it turns out it is not on my shelf any more as I have passed it on to a niece. So, here …

What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

What book did everyone like, but you hated?

OK, this is the question that calls for courage. 

There are several that everyone agrees are great, and they probably are, but I’m avoiding them.

The Hate U Give, The Help, and The Secret Life of Bees.

I even have two of these on my shelf, but I haven’t cracked them open. 

Reason? I’m super easily guilted.  I don’t want to read a book that is going to call me racist, because even though I know I’m not, I’m going to feel responsible for all the bad stuff that happens in the book.  I will go around hanging my head just that little bit lower.  Then I’ll be angry that I am being blamed for segregation or for a police shooting in a city I’ve never been to, and … well, you get the idea.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

The Brothers Karamazov.  I’ve started it, and it was super good, and I know it has amazing writing and a ton of spiritual insight, but I’ve heard so much about it that I feel like I already know the ending.

What book are you saving for retirement?

At this rate, what I’m saving for retirement is probably my entire career as a novelist.

Last page: Read it first, or wait ‘til the end?

Wait, definitely. Unless you’ve read everything that came before, the last page won’t make much sense and, even if you can sort of figure out what is going on, it certainly won’t have the same impact.

That said, I have been known to skim ahead a page or two in a book, just to break the tension, when I sense that something really awful is about to happen.

Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

Ok. I have lots of thoughts on acknowledgements.

In general, I like them. They are sweet.  I love it when the author thanks their spouse for all the sacrifices they made.  Also, the acknowledgements can be a way to find out the name of the author’s agent, which is helpful if you write similar kinds of books and want to query the agent.

But I’m not fond of acknowledgements that fill 1 – 2 pages and, seemingly, list every single person who had anything to do with bringing the book to print.  First of all, I can’t pay attention to all those names and my eyes glaze over, and then I feel guilty because clearly all these people deserve to be thanked.

Secondly, these long acknowledgement sections can be discouraging to a fledgling author.  If a dozen people are listed, and every one of them is thanked for their “invaluable edits and corrections,” and is a person “without whose work this book would never have come to be,” we get the impression that it’s impossible to write a book (at least, a decent book) without a team of at least a dozen at your back.  Which means that our current WIP is probably trash, which makes us doubt ourself since we know it’s not.

Also, I once saw a long acknowledgment section by Nicholas Sparks that was nothing but a bunch of puns on the titles of his previous books, none of which I had read. I didn’t end up reading that one either.

Which book character would you switch places with?

Bertie Wooster.  Who wouldn’t want to have Jeeves on hand?

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (place, time, person)?

Yes, all of them. 

(I once told a Medieval Lit professor that because of a certain past friendship I had “issues” around the entire corpus of Arthurian legends, and added, “I guess that makes me a real literature dork, right?”

And she said, “I don’t know, I think most people have issues like that with different works of literature.” I think she was right.)

Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

A Meeting at Corvallis by S.M. Stirling. I read the first book in this series (Dies the Fire) by checking it out of the library. But I couldn’t find the second one in the library, though they had later books in the series. (What are you thinking, librarians?)  So I was forced to go online and order copies of the missing books.

This shows the value of authors getting their books into libraries, by the way.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Only all the time.  It’s called “forcing books on people.” It’s my social handicap (one of many). Apparently I communicate by giving, lending, and recommending books.

Which book has been with you the most places?

This is a tricky one. In my youth I was a world traveler, and I am one of those people who always have to have a book with them, so I have dragged many different books to some very remote places. But it’s never always the same one. I remember reading an Indonesian version of The Two Towers while on a canoe, and reading How Green Was My Valley (in English) sitting on an ironwood porch in the jungle.  Little House probably wins, though, since I re-read that one on the ironwood porch as well. 

Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

No. I liked To Kill A Mockingbird when we read it in high school, and loved it even more later.  I hated 1984 so much that I’ve never gone back to it.

Used or brand new?


Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

I can’t remember.  I have read one by another person in a similar genre, and reviewed it here.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

The Great Gatsby (Leo DiCaprio version). The film made the characters sympathetic and the story poignant, which the book didn’t do for me.

Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

I don’t need a book to make me hungry.

I am easily guilted (is a theme developing here?) by books that feature starvation.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Farmer Boy stars a 9-year-old boy who is always hungry and includes many detailed, sensuous descriptions of food.  Man, that boy could put away the pies! Of course, he was nine years old and was out ploughing all day.

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Not sure this person exists.  Even people I respect greatly have different thresholds than I do.

Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was out of my comfort zone and I avoided it for several years because I got the impression that it demonized missionaries as evil colonialists who don’t bother to learn anything about the cultures they enter.

Eventually, when I’d made some culture crossing mistakes of my own and been through some difficult personal stuff, and I had accepted myself as a flawed person and life had calmed down a bit, I felt ready to read it.

It is brilliant. 

I still think it demonizes missionaries to some extent, but it is such good literature that even the Baptist pastor villain is portrayed in a complex way. It does a great job of showing the huge learning curve faced by Westerners when entering a West African culture.  It deals with white guilt, parenting guilt, and more. At least three of the characters made me go, “This is me!

Also, the sections narrated by the pastor’s oldest daughter Rachel are hilarious because they’re filled with malapropisms.

Now it’s my turn to tag you.

Tag! You’re it. If you want to do this tag, go home and do it, and let me know. Or answer randomly selected questions from this tag in the comments.

15 thoughts on “The I Dare You Tag, a.k.a. “I Am Easily Guilted”

  1. The Brothers Karamazov IS a great book. But I’m partial to the Russians, so just like Dickens, I’m not unbiased.

    I was shocked, however, that you listed no one as your Book Guru. I thought we had pretty much agreed that I was filling that spot! Or was that just the conversation in my head? That sometimes happens…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww thank you for the lovely shoutout! ❤

    ooh hope you like/liked good omens! 😀 I really am curious about the help, because everyone says it's good. I actually expected to have very strong feelings about the hate u give- but *whispers* I just thought it was okay. To be honest, I'd just say the writing style was so average, I just came out of it feeling like it was pretty meh (regardless of the politics, which I was prepared for).

    I hear you about brothers Karamazov, but seriously recommend it anyway. The plot of Dostoyevsky's books are never that much of a big deal- for me, it's mostly about how insanely good the characters are! Alexei Karamazov is one of my favourite characters of all time!!! (although many people prefer Ivan). Plus, the philosophical insight is always incredible from Dostoyevsky!

    hehe okay- very fair about the acknowledgements! I think I only tend to read the sweet bits, but I think super long ones can be daunting to read.

    haha I love that you communicate by giving away books!

    I loved to kill a mockingbird- I read it in school as well 🙂 I'm really sad that it's been taken off the UK syllabus for schools now :/ (not for any controversial reason, but because the Education secretary a few years back wanted more British books and no American books… which I completely disagree with, but whatever, it's not up to me 😉 )

    Really curious about the poisonwood bible now!

    Loved reading your answers!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And thanks as always for the tag and all the great visits.

      I am enjoying Good Omens. Of course its theology is a disaster, but it’s a really fun romp. The Help is probably really good. A friend, not normally a reader, who read it told me she was sorry when it was done because the characters had become her friends and she missed them. That’s always a good sign. Thanks for the review of Hate, now I don’t have to read it. 🙂

      About the Brothers K, yeah, I may yet read it if the stars align. It’s more a matter of having the time/emotional bandwidth for it. I actually expected Ben to jump all over me for not intending to read it more strongly. I guess he didn’t have time for a long comment.

      I guess I can understand an author putting in long acknowledgements even knowing most readers will skip them. The people acknowledged will look for their own names and be thrilled to find them. Hope you & I find ourselves in a position some day to worry about acknowledgements!

      Yes, I do force books on people. 🙂 I always feel that the books say things so much better than I do. I guess that vice is an asset among book bloggers, though!

      Poor British Education secretary! There are far too many good books to choose from on both sides of the Pond! But NO American books? At all? That doesn’t sound like it will serve mutual understanding …

      Def check out The Poisonwood Bible if you are able. I’d be interested to see your reaction.

      Thanks, you are sweet!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! My pleasure!

        hehe that’s fair! Yeah I’ve heard such good things over the years, I’m really keen to read it. No problem- I think it’s one of those books people make a huge fuss about, but really there isn’t much to write home about with it.

        That makes sense! Hope you do get to it! And like it as much as I did 😀

        hehehe that’s the dream! 😉 😂

        hehehe it absolutely is 😉

        Yeahhh I’m not a fan of that decision at all. The reason for it was supposedly to encourage British books getting picked. I’ll never support the decision though and hope they change it back (seems unlikely though- the education system is keen on coming up with new crazy things every year, but never backpedal on a bad decision). If it helps, they still teach American history 😉

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Benjamin Ledford

        “About the Brothers K, yeah, I may yet read it if the stars align. It’s more a matter of having the time/emotional bandwidth for it. I actually expected Ben to jump all over me for not intending to read it more strongly. I guess he didn’t have time for a long comment.”

        I admit that as I read that question and answer, one eyebrow lowered slightly and a brief shadow of disappointed concern passed over my face, but it was gone as quickly as it had arrived. I’m no stranger to being in the same position with regard to many great and worthy books, most of which are less than 900 pages. And I understand about not having the emotional capacity for it. When I was reading Brother’s K, another architecture student told me “If you read more than one Dostoyevsky it will crush your soul.”

        I used to pick books based on what I thought I should read, but I’ve found that I read and enjoy more if I don’t try to kid myself about my own interest and just grab the next one that is most appealing to me at the moment. When I was in 7th grade I tried to read Les Miserables (mostly due to pride/snob appeal). I was not enjoying it at all but I felt like I had to finish it before going on to something else. I finally quit about 300 pages in (or 400? either way, plenty) and felt so much relief. That’s probably one I’ll never end up getting to. Or maybe Augustine’s City of God. Doesn’t stop me from citing them though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “If you read more than one Dostoyevsky it will crush your soul” 😀

          I, too, used to read books because I “ought to.” And I think there’s a place for that when you’re younger. After all, books become classics for a reason, and people who have been around longer than we have, have a better idea of what’s out there and of what’s good. And what you will be expected to be familiar with. (Not that this means you had to finish Les Mis.) Anyway, now that I’m older, I feel I’ve earned the right only to read things when they catch my interest. And it often works out seredipitously where some new field catches my interest and then turns out highly relevant to my writing and/or relationships.


  3. I just donated several POUNDS of Tom Wolfe books to the library book sale. I’ve had those hanging around on my shelves for years. What a relief to get rid of them. They were all gifts, btw.

    One of the most liberating thing I’ve learned in my years of reading is that I don’t have to finish every book that I start. Life is too short and there are too many other great books to read. However, I will qualify that by saying that sometimes I will make myself read something because I think I can learn from it. I guess I’m wishy-washy on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

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