You can probably learn a lot about someone from their tastes in books, art, music, films, etc.
My favourite author/book
I have to go with Lord of the Rings. I have read it multiple times and I still return to it. I wouldn’t say Tolkien is the best author I’ve read. (I don’t, for instance, enjoy the style of The Silmarillion.) But the book is fabulous. The films try hard and I enjoyed them but they pale in comparison. If I had to pick an author I’d probably choose Georgette Heyer – shades of Austen plus subtext with lots of humour as well.
The Book I’m reading.
Culpeper’s Herbal. It’s a re-read. I lost my copy in the Portuguese fire and have repurchased, this time a copy with modern updates/annotations. I’ve used the book for reference when writing my fae saga and I love all the ways it sends my mind down lots of untrodden pathways. I was interested to note that JKR in an interview said she had three copies. Other than that I’m reading this week’s New Statesman, and enjoying the short stories in the Rainbow Advent Calendar.
The book I wish I’d written
I think Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series. Whenever I read King I feel as if I’ve attended a writing master class, and I really liked the series plus the way it merged genres: adventure, romance, urban legends, quasi-sci fi, horror. Every word counts and the style, especially in the later volumes (he wrote it over a long period) is flawless.
The book I couldn’t finish.
I usually plough through to the end (with some skimming), especially if a book is popular, to see what the fuss is about. I tend to abandon badly written romance and crime. I think I’ll have to mention The Silmarillion – see my first answer! I got totally bogged down and bored. Same with Don Quixote and The Great Gatsby.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read
Not actually ashamed since it was a deliberate choice, but I haven’t read Ulysses. I’ve seen excerpts and that was enough. I definitely avoid anything that might be ‘stream of consciousness’ even though I gather it is currently fashionable again.
My favourite play
Torn between Midsummer Night’s Dream and Vivat Regina.
My favourite film
Torn again. The Third Man or The Fifth Element? If I had to pick for a Desert Island I’d have to toss a coin.
The box set I’m hooked on
Game of Thrones. I wasn’t able to watch it as it aired but I am up to date on the books. My copy of Season 8 (the final one) arrived this morning and I have so far been able to avoid spoilers – since the book series is not yet complete I have no idea who wins the game or whether winter simply draws play to a close. Why it took about six months for the DVDs to be available I have no idea.
My favourite TV series
Spiral, or Engrenages to give it its correct French title. Long running French cop show with all kinds of extra delights involving lawyers, French culture, and a look at modern policing issues. Before that, I might have said Spooks, for the same reasons. But I think I’m enjoying the French series more, partly because the actors, who are superb, are unfamiliar to me so I’m both hooked and fascinated.
My favourite piece of music
When I remember to vote in Classic FM’s annual lovefest, I always choose Bruch’s violin concerto. The first time I heard it I was on my way to work and stopped the car (and was late) in order to hear the end and then find out what it was.
The last movie that made me cry
Probably I, Daniel Blake.
The lyric I wish I’d written
More Like the Movies – Dr Hook
The poem/song that saved me
Not sure I ever needed saving… but I’ve always felt an affinity with Robert Frost’s short poem In Neglect:
They leave us so to the way we took,
As two in whom them were proved mistaken,
That we sit sometimes in the wayside nook,
With michievous, vagrant, seraphic look,
And try if we cannot feel forsaken.
He’s one of my favourite poets anyway.
The music that cheers me up.
It depends on my mood. If I really need to laugh, Flanders and Swan, or The Wurzels. Or Captain Beaky, though I lost my CD in Portugal and it’s no longer available. If I want to feel optimistic, perhaps any Chopin other than the Études which have some rather sombre pieces. His other work takes me to happy places – a visit to his house (now a gorgeous museum) in Poland, and learning to play some of the waltzes.
If I could own one painting, it would be
Hmm. I love all sorts of paintings in art galleries. Not so much in my own house which is ‘difficult’ with lots of oak beams and uneven nooks and crannies. Perhaps a fairy painting by Brian Froud or Amy Brown. It would have to be small if I was going to hang it anywhere. Other than those, I like the female pre-Raphaelites a lot.
The place I feel happiest.
My mood tends to depend on the company I’m in rather than the location. This is a hard question. Maybe in our garden in summer, especially at twilight, with that indigo sky, bats, and stars.
My guiltiest cultural pleasure
Buying too many e-books. I’m usually over-budget and nobody knows but me because they’re all hidden on my Kindle.
I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors.
I only enjoy small dinner parties with people I already know and like so this is another hard one. And authors or artists whose work I like are not necessarily people I’d get on with or want to cook for. I’m going to go with people I do actually know: Fiona Glass (writer), Kat Soini (poet), Stevie Carroll (writer), Beth Richardson (artist), Bruce McGregor (actor). I think they’d get on well and the conversation would be stimulating.
…and I’ll put on this music
The Best of Queen, The Best of The Rolling Stones, and The Best of Sting.
The play/film that I’m looking forward to
I haven’t watched Peterloo yet but it’s on my Amazon Prime watchlist. Since I live on the outskirts of Manchester it’s something I’m really interested in.
The play/film I walked out of
I’ve never walked out of a theatre or cinema unless I’ve had to catch a last bus or train. I can switch off films on TV or my laptop and frequently do. The last one was Master and Commander. I was looking forward to it because I’d enjoyed some of the books, but I couldn’t be bothered with all the sea scenes.