I'm Steph, 21 and live in London, UK.
What do you like to read?
Historical fiction is one of my passions, I really enjoy it, same with crime fiction (enjoy Henning Mankell, Patricia Cornwell, Tess Gerritsen and PD James), science fiction (fan of Asimov's robot novels), 'classics' (no particular favourite, although I dislike Austen & Bronte), poetry (don't have a favourite as such, but I like humour poems, World War poems and nonsense ones) and I'm a sucker for JK Rowling and Enid Blyton... :p
My all time favourite books are the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Treasure Island tops my list of favourite books and I do like anything with a nautical theme (and Clive Cusslar).
I enjoy my non-fiction too, currently mostly on Victorian sexuality for a article I'm writing, but I enjoy history (specifically World War I & II Britain, things about Bletchley Park, and Victorian history), love reading biographies (recent reads include one about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the cyclist Marco Pantani).
PG Wodehouse is another favourite. I'm a sucker for a good ghost story too (guilty pleasure from James Herbert novels!). I also like those utopian-society-gone-wrong types (Orwell, Huxley etc...), I'm planning to start reading some current Russian literature as I'm studying the language and whilst I can't read them in Russian just yet I think it'd be a good idea to get an idea of the modern day literature coming out of Russian and former Soviet countries (current favourite is Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov [Ukraine]).
To be honest, if it's in the 3 for 2 and sounds interesting then I'll probably buy it (found some of my current favourites that way - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke and The People's Act of Love by James Meek).
What kinds of books do you avoid like a bad cliche?
Romance, or anything with a romantic theme, anything that describes itself as 'chick lit' because inevitably it falls into the romance or romantic theme category, contains shallow annoying characters and a plot so thin you'd get a paper cut. I tend to avoid anything written by Ben Elton as he is a shocking excuse of a comic (and most of his writing is comedy). Anything supposedly written by a 'celebrity' (not including people like Stephen Fry and Will Self, but you know what I mean). Self help books are off the agenda,
Recently started to avoid the 'conspiracy' type of book (like the Da Vinci Code), not because I don't like the story but because I'm bored of them now. Also, those biographies that are about abused childhoods - they're depressing and often painful to read and whilst that's usually the point I often finish the book questioning whether everything I've just read is real.
How often do you read?
Not as often as I'd like. My occupation (work in theatre) you would think to be a great for reading, but it's very difficult to (a) read in the dark (b) refrain from making my moth complex worse (c) keep putting the book down mid-sentence. Generally I read in the bath, on the tube or sometimes in bed if I'm not too tired. I used to read an awful lot more but once you get into real life, it sucks.... I definitely read more whilst studying, even if it was books on Electrical Wiring Regulations! (*is an electrician*).
What's in your current "To Read" pile?
Er... *goes to look* (this is sort of a yearly reading list... it gets added to quite regularly and I'm listing most of it because I'm always looking for recommendation's in a similar vein to what I'm currently reading :) :)) I am currently reading 'An Orange Revolution: A Personal Journal through Ukrainian History' by Askhold Krushelnycky
Le Tour: History of the Tour de France by Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Vulcan 607 by Rowland White
Necropolis: London and It's Dead by Catherine Arnold
Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce 1914 by Stanley Weintraub
Black Earth: Russia After the Fall by Andrew Meier
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Conan Doyle Biography by Ronald Pearsall
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
A Brief History of Philosophy by Derek Johnston
The Republic by Plato
The March of Unreason by Dick Taverne
Why I am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alan de Botton * (library book)
Philosophy the Basics by Nigel Warbuton
The End of Faith by Sam Harris * (library book)
The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau * (library book)
A Beginners guide to Reality by Jim Baggot
Britain Unwrapped: Government and Constitution Explained by Hilarie Barnett
The Cloud Spotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
Penguin Stopped Play by Harry Thomas
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Marley and Me by John Grigon
Inferno by Dante
The Dice Man by Luke Rhineheart
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
The Princes Bride by William Golding
Finn Family Moomin Troll by Tove Jansson
Mr Clive and Mr Page by Neil Bartlett
Dune by Frank Herbert
Night Watch by Sarah Waters
The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
The Idiot by F.M. Dostoevsky
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
A Short History of Tractors in the Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin
Sherlock Holmes Pastiche:
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibden
The Whitechapel Horrors Edward B. Hanna
The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr
The Singular Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Various
The Giant Rat of Sumatra by Richard L. Boyer
Sherlock Holmes and the Portsmouth Myster by Jack Coggan
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
His Master's Voice by Stanislaw Lem
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien
The Ghost by Robert Harris
Number Ten by Sue Townsend
The Public Confessions of a Middle-aged Woman (Aged 55 3/4) by Sue Townsend
The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The President's Last Love by Andrey Kurkov
The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Book With No Name by Anonymous
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris
When Guinea Pigs Fly by James Proimos, Andy Rheingold
Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell