The Never Have I Ever Tag

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NEVER HAVE I EVER…

This tag was created by Madame Writer/Anne with a Book for us to explore (or lie about) our deepest darkest bookish sins. I was tagged by BookForager nearly a year ago (ah, time, that mysterious alchemy of days) so it’s probably about time I came clean…

The rules are as follows:

  • Link back to the original creator and the person who tagged you
  • Answer all the prompts
  • Add one more prompt of your own
  • Tag at least five people
  • Don’t lie

That last one had me a bit nervous – what was I going to be asked to confess to? Surely it couldn’t be quite as soul searing as all that? And yet…

NEVER HAVE I EVER… READ A LATER BOOK IN A SERIES BEFORE READING THE FIRST BOOK

This was a regular feature of my childhood, where I read whatever I could lay my hands on and then went in search of earlier books. I can argue that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was published first – although my editions are quite clear you ought to read The Magician’s Nephew first – but there’s no excuse for starting The Dark Is Rising sequence with The Grey King (book four of five). There was no rhyme nor reason to the order I tackled Xanth books in (although it hardly matters, does it?)

I’ve not done it for a long time though. These days I wait until I can start from the beginning.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… BURNED A BOOK

What.

WHAT?

WHO DOES THIS TAG THINK I AM?

No.

Obviously.

I think I need a cup of tea now.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… READ A BOOK I KNEW I WOULD HATE

So there’s two things I do each year: I keep trying classic science fiction written by middle-aged white guys, and I don’t know I’ll hate it, but it’s always highly likely. Plus I am honoured to be a part of the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards judging panel, and I adore my fellow judges but we have a very broad range of tastes. When a YA romance is on the menu, we’re back at ’there’s a chance I won’t hate it, but it’s a snowball’s chance in hell’ even if I acknowledge its objective merits (it’s a subjective kind of award, I don’t have to be objective). But mostly, the awards nominees do surprise me – the judges have excellent taste (obviously, I would say that). So on balance, I guess I don’t really do this, although not all reads have the odds in their favour.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… WRITTEN FANFICTION ABOUT MY FAVOURITE BOOKS

Nope, although they have heavily influenced the sort of worlds I created and the narrative voice back when I was writing (my job took over my life; I’ve never found my way back to writing).

NEVER HAVE I EVER… LOVED A BOOK WHEN I WAS YOUNG THAT I HATED WHEN I GOT OLDER

I may not have loved Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels, but I did love the Apprentice Adept series as a teenager. Adult me nearly threw Split Infinity across the room before DNFing less than half way through. Sorry, past me, I feel we could have done much better than all the Piers Anthony.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… DRESSED UP AS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTERS

Nope. I was about to say I don’t do dress up but I used to spend occasional afternoons dressed up as a pirate, so that’s clearly not true. No literary connection, though.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… HATED A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR I LOVE

I don’t think so? I’ve not loved books by authors I love, and even been disappointed – but not downright hated.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… GONE INTO A BOOKSTORE TO BUY ONE BOOK AND COME OUT WITH MANY MORE

Nope, never. Nuh uh. Not me. And I definitely didn’t consider buying a whole extra bag to get back from Portland after that trip to Powell’s.

However – more damning, maybe – I can go into a bookstore and leave without buying any books at all (and regularly do). I just love being around all the books for a while; buying one is a bonus, not a given.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… READ THE END OF A BOOK BEFORE READING THE BEGINNING

Not me. I have almost never intentionally sneaked a peek ahead, either. I don’t love actual rollercoasters (I don’t like heights; I get motion sick; I spend any ride thinking about how much maintenance I think it’s actually had recently, and how well qualified and well-rested and attentive the person doing that maintenance might have been) but I’ll ride a bookish rollercoaster white-knuckled and screaming.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… READ A BOOK WITHOUT THE DUST COVER

I rarely remove the dust cover these days – the flaps are useful bookmarks – but half my hardbacks have no dust cover because Past Me not only read the books without the cover, she didn’t even keep them.

I’ll understand if we can’t stay friends. I’m so sorry.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… SKIM-READ NEARLY HALF A BOOK

Ahem, yes, well. If I’m hating an ARC but feel obliged to finish it; or am reading an awards nominee? Sure, I’ll skim to the end to see if it gets better. Although one of the books I did this with most recently was King of the Conquered by Kacen Callender – not because it was bad but because it was hard. This duology is relentless in its cruelty and violence and treachery, and I just couldn’t. I very nearly did this with the last book I read (Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov), and then gave myself permission to DNF (for the record, it’s not a bad read, but it wasn’t doing anything for me and I’m not currently equipped for even reading to be a slog).

NEVER HAVE I EVER… PRETENDED TO HAVE READ A BOOK I HAVEN’T READ

Erm.

There’s only occasion that leaps to mind, and arguably it’s the worst. My English Lit dissertation was on the life and works of Jane Austen. I never actually read Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion, but I’m pretty sure I referenced both of them and managed to bluff my way through the oral cross-examination as if I’d read at least one of them (possibly because the examiner got distracted and we ended up talking about how I’d probably love Iris Murdoch, who I still haven’t read and really, really should).

NEVER HAVE I EVER… WATCHED THE MOVIE BEFORE READING THE BOOK

I certainly have, most recently with Foundation. I’d definitely seen Jurassic Park at least twice before I ever read it. I don’t know how many times I’d rewatched The Prestige and Fight Club before I finally read the books.

As a rule, I enjoy the film better if I watch it before I read the book; and I rarely find watching the film ruins my enjoyment of the book, so it seems by far the better way round to tackle things. Would I even have read I Am Legend or War of the Worlds if I saw the films first? Probably not.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… HAD A BOOK BOYFRIEND

No. I don’t really get the concept, to be honest.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… READ A HISTORY OR ANTHROPOLOGY BOOK FOR FUN

I have a degree in archaeology and a lifelong interest in history, so I most certainly have (if not for a while; I’ve got a few on my TBR though, starting with the excavation reports from the first decade of the Neolithic project at the Ness of Brodgar). Shout out to past favourites Archaeology and Language (Colin Renfrew) and Watching the English (Kate Fox). I remain haunted by HV Morton’s In Search of London for his descriptions of London after WWII.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… PICKED UP A BOOK BASED ON THE COVER ALONE

We’ve talked about this. I have strong feelings about covers. There are specific fantasy and scifi cover art tropes that immediately get me interested. So yes, yes I have. Regularly. Often. And yes, I would absolutely have picked up The Unbroken regardless of the hype for Those Arms.

Book cover: The Unbroken - CL Clark

NEVER HAVE I EVER… BOUGHT MULTIPLE BOOKS IN A SERIES WITHOUT HAVING STARTED IT

…I’m not sure that I have. I’ve bought multiple books from different series by the same author without having read any of their work before (and regretted it; the ensuing rant was posted to some LiveJournal community rather than my blog so got lost during my account deletion), but I generally stick to one at a time for unknown quantities. Even when the series is an author I love, I’ll buy (the first) one and see how I feel about it.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… KEPT READING A SERIES EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T LOVE THE FIRST BOOK

I have. I didn’t love The Name of the Wind, but I didn’t hate it and I was bored so I read The Wise Man’s Fear (which turned into a hate read. It made me more bored). I feel obliged to read half of each series nominated for a Subjective Chaos Kind of Award in Best Series, which means at least skimming sequels (and on one occasion hate-reading one).

Besides, some series get better as they go on. Two of my favourites have improved massively the longer they have run (Rivers of London and The Expanse go from strength to strength) – although I did thoroughly enjoy the opening books when I first read them. I didn’t love Murderbot on first reading (I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it) – All Systems Red grew on me after a reread and with the support of the excellent Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol. I didn’t love The Bone Shard Daughter, but I plan to read The Bone Shard Emperor to see if it comes together for me.

So, I’d almost go so far as to say I do this a lot?

NEVER HAVE I EVER… READ A BOOK SO QUICKLY THAT I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED BY THE END

Kinda, although I don’t think this has anything to do with the speed of reading so much as how long it’s been since I read it. I typically remember the concept and the outcome and forget the details – like how subplots resolve or what happens to particular characters. And I’m not a reader who can get part way through a book before they realise they have actually read it before!

NEVER HAVE I EVER… STOLEN A BOOK FROM THE LIBRARY

I haven’t. I’m a very vanilla soul, I’ve never stolen anything from anywhere.

NEVER HAVE I EVER… DOG-EARED A PAGE TO KEEP MY PLACE

I am so sorry. I occasionally did this when I was younger. Now I am older and wiser and far better behaved. Forgive me, fellow bookworms, for my past sins.

….phew! I’ve made it! So, will you join me? If you fancy confessing your sins, tag yourself in. Waggling my (erm, reptilian) eyebrows at possible partners in crime Lisa @ Dear Geek Place, Peat Long, Tammy Sparks, Peyton at Word Wilderness and Calypte @ Little Frog Scribbles!