It's probably Shakespeare, not because that's what I read most often but because I'm awful about cherrypicking from an author's work. I'm too much of a dabbler to buy much by any one author. And then there's the huge omnibus Jane Austen I inherited from my great-aunt, but so far I've only read Pride and Prejudice. Shocking, I know.
#2 What book do you own the most copies of?
I've registered and released tons of copies of Smilla's Sense of Snow on Bookcrossing. I own duplicates of Moby Dick, Bleak House, and probably a few other books, but I don't intend to keep them.
#3 Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
What did you put that book I wanted to be read to out of up for?
#4 What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Jack Burden from All the King's Men.
#5 What book have you read the most times in your life?
I'm not a huge rereader, but I've read All the King's Men at least three times.
#6 What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Sangue Fresco, by João Carlos Marinho. Some kids get kidnapped and taken to the Amazon by a diabolical outfit that plans to milk them for their "fresh blood"—that's the title. They escape into the jungle and get back to civilization by looking for a sunken place in the carpet of leaves—that's a stream—and following it to another stream and another until eventually they get to the biggest river of them all.
#7 What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella: 5/10. I read so much at the beach that I ended up with nothing to read on the flight back, so I bought this slab of literary junk food at the airport newsstand. It's a tie between that and Is There An Engineer Inside You?, a title that evokes either horror or porn, with some of the crappiest writing I've ever read inside.
#8 What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Vineland by Thomas Pynchon was gigantic.
#9 If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
What everybody else has said: there's no point forcing anyone to read anything. But I highly recommend Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino to anyone who can read. It has something to offer every reader.
#10 Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
I don't care much about the Nobel. They say Philip Roth is due for it, but that he's not likely to get it because the Nobel committee hates Americans who aren't Toni Morrison. I could believe that, but personally I don't know because I don't think I've ever read any Roth.
#11 What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Has The Red and the Black ever been on film?
#12 What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
See #7: Is There An Engineer Inside You?.
#13 Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I knew it would be weird when I checked into a hotel where the desk clerk was Franz Kafka. And then at one point a woman who looked just like Farrah Fawcett ca. 1979 turned into a snake.
#14 What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Either Outlander by Diana Gabaldon or Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison.
#15 What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
La Peste, in French, was rough. It took me months, and I only finished it when I did because I had 24 hours on a train back from my vacation in Big Bend.
#16 What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
Is The Winter's Tale obscure?
#17 Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I prefer not to answer questions about "the" French or "the" Russians. If I did, I would say that I haven't read enough of "the" Russians to know.
#18 Roth or Updike?
I've never read Roth. I'm not a fan of Updike, except that I did enjoy The Witches of Eastwick.
#19 David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Hard to say. I like Sedaris's nonfiction, but his fiction is not good. I've only read a bit of Eggers, but he doesn't piss me off the way he seems to everyone else.
#20 Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
I haven't read Milton, so I'll say Shakespeare.
#21. Austen or Eliot?
Haven't read enough of either to say for sure.
#22. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Tolstoy. Dostoevsky. Chekhov. You know, Russians.
#23. What is your favorite novel?
The Red and the Black is way up there. So is Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras.
It's a tie between Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Phèdre (starring Helen Mirren next year at Shakespeare Theatre, baby).
That's the only question here that I REALLY don't know how to answer. There are just way too many poems I wouldn't be without.
"Politics and the English Language" is always good, isn't it? I also like "Ham of God" by Anne Lamott.
#27 Short Story?
I love "The Albanian Virgin" by Alice Munro. "Customs of the Country" by Madison Smartt Bell is good too. And I need to reread García Márquez's Twelve Pilgrim Tales.
#28 Work of non-fiction?
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is always good.
#29 Graphic novel?
That's easy: Persepolis. Volume 1, if I have to pick.
#30 Who is your favorite writer?
No idea how I could pick just one. It would be as hard for me as picking one single best friend. For different things, I like Anne Lamott, Italo Calvino, Katha Pollitt, Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, George Orwell, Louise Erdrich, Machado de Assis, George Pelecanos, Walt Whitman... I could go on all night.
#31 Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I've never read enough of either to know for sure, but I think it's either Neil Gaiman or Richard Dawkins. I'd say Tom Wolfe, but his ratings aren't that high anymore.
#32 What is your desert island book?
The Complete Works of Shakespeare would work. I could pass the time by staging the plays with palm-frond costumes and coconut props.
#33 And ... what are you reading right now?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I love that time and place, the post-colonial "Third World" during the Cold War.