The idea behind Booking by Numbers is simple but ingenious. You take a set bunch of questions, then for each question, you use a random number generator (I used random.org) to pick the book you'll use in your answer. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it gives your readers a peek at your bookshelves at the same time (and let's face it, we ALL like nosing through other people's books!). I've used the 79 books currently jumbled up on my new bedroom bookshelf. It's only a snapshot of my library, and it's heavily biased towards things I've bought recently, but it's easier to count through them on the shelf than to dig through all my overflow book boxes multiple times! Here we go...
Book number: 37 Book: The Library Book by various contributing authors
Q1) Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?
I haven't read it yet! Hanna bought it for my birthday this year - right when I was in the depths of depression - and it put a smile on my face just for being so cute and little and cheerful-looking. It's a collection of short essays about libraries, by all kinds of authors and other bookish people, and I NEARLY took it on holiday with me but I didn't want to accidentally get it wet or something, it's so nice. I'm thinking it'll make a gorgeous read for the depths of winter - books about books really do seem to WORK when it's cold outside and all you want to do is curl up and read!
Book number: 31 Book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Q2) Why did you buy this book? Was it recommended to you? Or was it a random purchase?
For some reason I keep thinking Charlotte sent it to me - probably because she recommended it so heartily after she read it earlier this year - but actually I received it for October 2012's RAK. I'd sent a copy of Mary Roach's Bonk to another participant, Beth, and she returned the surprise later that month with this book! I was already dying to read it, and I'd nearly picked it up from the hotel lounge on holiday the previous month, so I was well chuffed to have a shiny new copy instead of a battered one that had been bashed about in someone's beach bag all week!
Book number: 57 Book: Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements
Q3) Based on what you know about this book, which other book blogger would you recommend it to?
I think one of the first places I saw the author's debut novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was over at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Vicky read and reviewed the book late last year, and also did this gorgeous nail art to match the book cover, so maybe I'd recommend it to her, if she hasn't got it yet? I know that several other book bloggers I read regularly already have this one lined up on their autumn TBR piles, so I'm fairly sure a lot of my potential recommendations would be redundant anyway!
Book number: 39 Book: The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich
Q4) What are this book's bookshelf neighbours?
As you can see from the picture above, this one is currently sandwiched in between my Penguin Modern Classics edition of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Dave Cullen's non-fiction Columbine. My books are pretty mixed up at the moment, because I basically only have this one bookcase and currently own a good... 700 books? Maybe more? When we first moved I filled the bookcase with stuff that might be good for R.I.P. VIII - horror, crime and paranormal novels, mostly - but on Tuesday I took a lot of those off and replaced them with a mixture of books that I want to read over the next couple of months. Having them jumbled up makes it more fun picking my next one!
This will be my first John Scalzi book. I'm ashamed to say that I thought maybe he was a debut novelist, but it turns out he's already a hugely successful blogger and science fiction writer with a range of projects and books to his name, AND he's done a fair bit of fundraising for various charities as well. If Redshirts is as fantastic as Katie says it is (which is why I bought it - no pressure, or anything!) then I'm sure it won't be my last Scalzi reading experience... Some of his other books sound interesting, and I might check out his blog too!
Book number: 36 Book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Q6) Do you have any special memories attached to this book?
Sort of, yes. The first time I read A Christmas Carol, a few years ago I think, I read an old Dover Thrift paperback - one of those super-skinny ones with the naff covers and cheap paper. Then this copy arrived in some books donated to the shop a couple of years ago by a family friend, Richard, and his wife Ruth. Although we aren't religious, my dad plays the organ and when we were little he used to help out playing at services at a nearby village church. Richard, a local choirmaster and school Head of Music, also ran the choir there, and as such was a big part of our childhood; he and Ruth, and their friends, sort-of took us under their wing and looked out for us when we went along with Dad on Sunday mornings. This edition of the book is already beautiful - old, small, with gorgeous illustrations - but now has added meaning because last year Richard died after a very short and vicious battle with a brain tumour. Now when I dig it out at Christmas I'll think fondly of him alongside my inspiring festive reading...
Book number: 19 Book: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Q7) Is this book part of a series? If so, are you up to date with the series?
Nope, I don't think this one is part of a series. It's actually been YEARS since I read an Agatha Christie novel, but I'd heard that this one was super-brilliant and (to my delight) was sent a copy by another blogger. If it was you, let me know - I thought it came as part of the bookish Random Acts of Kindness project, but I haven't mentioned it in any of my posts... Maybe I won it in a competition? Anyway, it'll be nice to return to ol' Agatha again, and maybe I'll pick up some Marple or Poirot books after that!
Book number: 66 Book: Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body by Jennifer Ackerman
Q8) Is this book something you’d typically read, or is it out of your comfort zone?
I don't read biology books a LOT, but it's definitely not out of my comfort zone either. I actually really like to pick up interesting non-fiction from pretty much any category when I get chance. It's much harder to read them at the shop because you really have to concentrate to get your head round things sometimes - which is probably why I tend to read denser non-fiction mostly in winter, when we have more time off and the shop is very quiet anyway! My sister read this one already this year and apparently it's not too hard going, so I'm looking forward to maybe reading it this autumn.
Book number: 7 Book: World War Z by Max Brooks
Q9) Have you reviewed this book? If yes, share the link!
Haha, no, another 'not yet' I'm afraid! The books currently on my bookcase are mostly unread, which is why they're out and within reach rather than still tucked away in a box somewhere from our move. There ARE one or two old favourites on there that are ripe for a reread, but everything else is new for me! I've had this one for years now and I dig it out every time Hallowe'en comes around, but every year it's somehow missed making it to the top of the pile... I've heard it's amazing though! Maybe I'll have to bite the bullet soon and read it *gasps* NOT AT HALLOWE'EN. It'll save it gracing my R.I.P. pile a third year in a row, at least!
Book number: 23 Book: It's Not Me, It's You! by Jon Richardson
Q10) Where did you buy this book?
I first bought this one for my Kindle, back when it was shiny and new and I was buying lots of e-books thinking that this was going to be the start of a wonderful friendship. I read half of it and sadly, although I was loving the book, I was HATING The Machine, as it came to be known. So when I spotted a paper copy in The Works for an almost-insulting £1.99, I picked it up immediately! It was one of those "Why is that book here?!" moments that are happening with increasing regularity in remainder shops these days, and I wasn't going to say no, because Jon Richardson is my spirit animal.
Book number: 8 Book: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Q11) Roughly how long have you owned this book?
Not very long at all! First I dug out The Stepford Wives to read for R.I.P. VIII (I've since read and reviewed that one). Then I found A Kiss Before Dying in The Works while I was shopping with my sister a few weeks ago. Aaaand then for some reason everyone was suddenly talking about Ira Levin and Rosemary's Baby and how awesome it is. So I bought it, in the smart Corsair edition, because I'm independent like that. In fact, if I consult Amazon, it will tell me that I bought it on... *checks*... 18 September. So exactly a month ago. NEXT QUESTION.
Book number: 35 Book: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Q12) Share the first sentence of this book.
"I address these lines - written in India - to my relatives in England." A rather unassuming opening sentence for the novel widely believed to be the first detective novel written in the English language... My stepdad read this one very recently and loved it; I'm still debating whether or not to join Ellie's readalong in November, or whether to save it for over the worst of the winter months! I have two editions right now - a cute little Oxford hardback or this bog-standard Popular Classics copy - so I should probably pick one and discard the other at some point, right?
Book number: 41 Book: Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic by Ruth Reichl
Q13) What's your opinion of this book’s cover?
I love it! Between this cover and Ruth Reichl's gorgeously evocative Twitter feed, every time I spot this book on my shelf I feel a little bit warmer. I think it captures the kind of welcoming 'bright spot in a dark day' atmosphere that the best bars, diners and cafes seem to exude - the kind that draws you in with a happy sigh. You can almost hear the gentle clatter of crockery and catch the scents of food and coffee on the air. In some ways it reminds me a bit of Edward Hopper's painting, Nighthawks, which I love because it spotlights a place that offers a welcome to anyone, anytime. I'm hoping it'll be a fantastic winter read!
Book number: 22 Book: Agorafabulous! Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa
Q14) In a few sentences, describe this book in your own words.
Sara Benincasa is a comedian and writer. This book is about her descent into - and struggle out of - agoraphobia, or the fear of being away from a safe space. In Benincasa's case, this safe space grew smaller and smaller until she couldn't even leave her bedroom - hence the title. All I really know about the book is that it's apparently very funny, very wise, and at some point she has to pee in cereal bowls because she can't even get as far as the bathroom. As a pretty much recovered agoraphobic (I didn't leave my flat for well over a year and had to slowly work my way outwards from there), I'm super looking forward to FINALLY reading this!
Okay, that's my Booking by Numbers! Do leave your link below if you decide to take part - and go drop by Jess's original as well, of course... While I was taking these photos I actually took full photos of each shelf too, so I might do a proper bookshelf tour soon to fill in the gaps!