“55 Bookish Questions…”

With regards to not posting for a while, a few more general ones will do fine is my reasoning and since I did promise that I’d answer these book-questions to a friend of mine I thought to begin with them.

As a short introduction, it seems to be a list of 55 questions that can then provide some sort of insight (for others, that is) to one’s reading habits. The one my friend filled in (a disastrous 12 days ago which is also how long it has taken me to get this far) is located over here – ‘Logic Tree: 55 Bookish Questions’.

Here I go.

1. Favorite childhood book?
‘Talks with a Tiger’ by Donald Bisset.

2. What are you reading right now?
Unfortunately, this is a mess as always for me. The names I need to mention are A.C. Clarke’s ‘Cradle’, J.Campbell’s ‘Guardian’, J. Barr’s ‘A Line in the Sand’, and last but not least an indomitable book on Bismarck that is there in case I just want to hit myself on the head with something. Oh, and I’ve just started rereading ‘Lord of the Rings’ as well.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None. I don’t really have a good enough schedule for libraries.

4. Bad book habit?
Buying a few too many and then stacking them up so that they wait to be read.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing. As above on the libraries.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, a Kindle Touch.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One on my Kindle and one on paper, but it just doesn’t work out.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not really. I may make the occasional effort of posting authors who are not as well know as they should, but aside from that, not really.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
I haven’t come across anything that horrible this year, but I did score something rather low on Goodreads. That would have been… ‘Black Wind’ by Clive Cussler. I generally really like his books but this one wasn’t quite up to the standards I’ve come to expect.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
I finally had the chance to take a look at Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84’ and that was certainly worth it. Ryotaro Shiba’s ‘Drunk as a Lord’ came by me early this year as well, so those two are probably at the top of the list.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Probably a fair bit of the time.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
The sci-fi I know and have read before, including the Star Wars books I have.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Yep, and a very good way to spend the time.

14. Favorite place to read?

15. What is your policy on book lending?
“I only lend to close friends and those that I know will take care of books.”

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Very rarely…

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No, but I want to. There’s just so very little to add.

18. Not even with text books?
No, not really.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
 Depends on what language the author wrote in. Reading English and Estonian means I have a small leeway in choosing a hopefully better translation for a German, Russian, or French author.

20. What makes you love a book?
A story that I cannot guess, characters that feel real, and people for whose fates I want to care. And, a world that brings me in and keeps me there is also a good addition.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Knowing the person and what they might read. Or rather then, what I would have liked to read if I were where they are, assuming I can put myself into a situation like this. But I am also afraid of recommending books because what if the people won’t like them…

22. Favorite genre?
Fantasy/science-fiction and naval histories.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Non-fiction, aside from history. I should probably read more scientific things as well.

24. Favorite biography?
I think that at the present moment I would have to venture the thought of Alan Sked’s look on the Austrian Field Marshal Johan Radetzky von Radetz. That book had a tone to itself.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Hmmh, I think I have. I would be hard pressed to name them though. I think it might also depend on what exactly is classified as a “self-help” book (I’ve certainly read philosophical insights into oneself and how to do things ‘properly’ which might not quite be the regular type of this genre assuming it is this genre at all).

26. Favorite cookbook?
None. I don’t have cookbooks.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
‘The Glorious First of June’ by Sam Willis, and ‘Captain Vancouver’ by E.C. Coleman.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Tea. Occasionally bread or chocolate.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Harry Potter books, I would think.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Sometimes, yes. More often than not, I don’t.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
If I didn’t like what I read, there was a reason, and I would hope to bring that reason out in a review of mine. I am not just saying that something was bad, but there was something which made it bad for me. And I would rather have people know of what that was so they can think of whether the same device will ruin their read.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I think that taking into account the times, this would have been Hesse’s ‘Siddharta’. It changed so much.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I generally don’t like starting many new series, just because I think I might like them if they turn out good at all. But I can’t think of any specific books right now.

35. Favorite Poet?
JRR Tolkien or Saigyo. It depends on the mood I’m in, and what kind of poems I’m looking for.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
A few times, I guess.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Maybe Gandalf. There’s so much speaking for him. But maybe there’s someone else I like better. I can’t really say.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Darth Bane is a badass. There are not very many proper villains in the books I read though.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I want at that moment.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
“I have absolutely no idea!”

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
‘Exile’ by Jakob Ejersbo. I did give it a scathing review on this very same blog though. 🙂 And I did get around 20% through before I gave up and decided not to kill my head with it.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
When I’m into a book, it is difficult to distract me.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
I have to admit ‘Lord of the Rings’ was done pretty well, although I might not call it a favourite. I can’t think of others right now though so….

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
‘Eragon’. Horribly done.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Probably around £30.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I sometimes take a look inside but I don’t really skim it. Just look at a few interesting locations.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If reading it is bringing mental aggravation (also why I stopped reading ‘Exile’, mentioned above).

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes. But it isn’t happening.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep, keep, keep. Build me a library…

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

52. Name a book that made you angry.
I don’t think I can name a book like that.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Before having read anything else of Mr Tolkien, I was given ‘The Hobbit’. And never would I have thought that I would like it. But I did. So very much. 🙂

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
I thought I would like ‘The Ionian Mission’ by Patrick O’Brian better than I did. I am not quite sure why that wasn’t the case though.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Tolkien, Clarke and Ryotaro Shiba.

‘The Radetzky March’, J. Strauss (Vater)

I have always been a great fan of ‘The Radetzky March’ but it is only now after reading a biography of the Marshal Joseph Radetzky that I can actually appreciate the full sense of what makes that piece so moving. Indeed, I believe I may have gained some sense of people listening to it for the first time would have thought.

For, what is this march? We are speaking of a celebratory march, much unlike most popular marches, and one to a far happier tune.

This was the situation: Just recently, in March 1848 the commander of the Italian armies of the Austrian Empire, Joseph Radetzky, had been forced to move out of the capital of Lombardy in Milan towards a series of forts. This was partly due to the general being outnumbered around four times by the incoming Piedmontese troops and also the general restless and hostile population of the city that numbered around 170,000 (to Radetzky’s 15,000). This retreat, however, was a potential disaster for the court in Vienna which if it lost the Italian territories, as now seemed inevitable, could face insurrections everywhere and quite probably a war on a number of fronts against revolutionary forces.

The soon-to-be-Marshal, however, regrouped at the forts he had moved to, the main one of which was Verona, and then attacked the oncoming Piedmontese troops who were led by their King Charles August. His troops were defeated decisively at Custoza in the end of July, and Radetzky moved back into Milan where he could consider to have concluded his campaign not a very long time after it started.

As a summary, the quick and decisive action by Joseph Radetzky quite probably saved Vienna and the Monarchy from great trouble and reinforced Austrian nationalism and army morale.

Johann Strauss (the Father) was the composer whose task it was to commemorate this event with a march, and I can quite imagine that the people who heard it first were entirely taken away by how in-theme this celebratory tone was to the events of the month, how apt the tone that describes the movements of the army under their octogenarian general, and how much Vienna itself owed to the good man for what position it was to retain for a while longer.

So, here I’ve attached firstly a quick paragraph from the book by Alan Sked which mentioned the march and also a version of the march from the well-deserved position of the last item to be played on Neujahrskonzert.

“It was on a splendid evening in August 1848 at a concert at the Wasserglacis in Vienna that Johann Strauss the elder concluded his Radetzky March for the very first time. There was a storm of celebration. The march was demanded time and time again and soon, in one historian’s singularly apt phrase, it became ‘a national anthem without words’.”


‘Radetzky’, A. Sked

“That you will make no deliberate blunders, your character guarantees; if you make the usual ones, well I have long become used to them.”
— The Emperor Francis I on appointing Joseph Radetzky to the position of Chief of General Staff

The full title of this book reads as ‘Radetzky. Imperial Victor and Military Genius’ and after reading this piece I have to agree with the opinion of the author, Alan Sked, on many issues. Many but not all, for at one moment he makes the bold statement that the Marshal Radetzky was a greater commander than Marlborough. While this might be true, I would need to look into this far more, while I am more forgiving in granting him the correctness of opinion when asserting that the Marshal outclassed Napoleon Bonaparte along with every other man of his own day, and probably the majority of the soldiers of the previous century.

So, who was Radetzky? Well, the answer to this I knew a while ago, when I had not heard of this book nor of Alan Sked. This answer would read: Radetzky was a man who was great enough to have a march written about him. This for me was quite sufficient for indeed the Radetzky March is a brilliant composition, as I see it.

However, that was not really an answer to who the man himself was, so when I saw this book on one good day on a shelf in Waterstones I knew I had to read it. It was until yesterday waiting for me to finish a biography of von Bismarck, when for some reason I decided to pick the book up and nearly read it in one go.

Compellingly written, I believe Mr Sked to do justice to the Field Marshal for the victories gained at Leipzig, Custoza, and Novara, and the plans leading up to these do indeed allow us to consider Joseph Radetzky as a most brilliant military mind. I was also intrigued by the statement that the Field Marshal was one of the few people in the relatively peaceful decades after Napoleon’s Hundred Days to insist on military innovation, bringing Austria to a rather high position (especially compared to where it would end up by the Great War).

Overall… now I know why Johann Strauss wrote such a masterful piece of music, and I know that the man it was meant to celebrate went far further in the minds of his contemporaries than history would give him credit for.

“If I had an army of 700,000 and Radetzky only four men and a corporal, I would not attack Lombardy.”

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑