The Proust Questionnaire — Book Edition

Alexandra Lange Answers The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition

By Alexandra Lange November 25, 2013
Alexandra Lange, Design Critic and Author: Design Observer (New York)
View Alexandra Lange’s Profile

This November marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Marcel Proust’s opus, In Search of Lost Time (A la recherche du temps perdu), originally known in English as Remembrance of Things Past. To honor the occasion, we developed the Designers & Books version of the eponymous Proust Questionnaire, which we’ve sent out to various contributors and friends. Rather than including the questions from the original that asked about a wide array of “thoughts and feelings,” our adaptation focuses solely on the respondent’s relationship to books.

View the complete questions asked in The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition

Here are the answers Alexandra Lange sent in response to the Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition:

1. Of these, your reading preference: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama:

2. Your favorite childhood book (or favorite childhood author):
The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace.

3. Your favorite book character:
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

4. Your favorite book title (because you like the sound of it):
Through the Looking Glass.

5. A book you could never finish:
Absalom, Absalom (and anything else by William Faulkner I have tried).

7. If for some reason it turned out that you could save one and only one book from among those you own, which would it be:
Photo books of my kids. Everything else is replaceable.

8. A book you should have read but haven’t:
Architecture and Utopia by  Manfredo Tafuri.

9. The best “book as object” you own (how it looks over what it says):
The Taschen edition of Case Study Houses. A rare case where a giant book makes sense.

10. Your reading speed: very slow, slow, moderate, fast, very fast:

11. While you read, are you a note-taker? If yes, where do you record your notes:
If I am reading for work, I will type the best (or worst) quotes into a Word file. If reading for pleasure, I sometimes turn the corner of the page with a passage I particularly like.

13. The most expensive book you’ve ever bought (and, if you can remember, the price):
My husband bought me the first edition of Architecture of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1950–1962 while I was writing my dissertation on the same period. I don’t know what it cost, but it was the perfect combination of research and talisman.

14. If you could be any author:
Jane Austen, of course! In my dreams I wake up one day and write the Pride and Prejudice of the contemporary design world.

15. If you are what you read, the book that best says who you are:
Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes a little rudeness pays dividends.

16. Your favorite writer of the gender opposite yours:
Charles Dickens.

17. The last book you bought:
The Circle by Dave Eggers.

18. Your favorite place to purchase books:
BookCourt, in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

19. The book you are currently reading:
P. D. Smith’s City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age. Got it for Christmas last year, which shows you how behind I am.

20. The book you will read next:
Playground Design by Michelle Galindo.

21. The current location of the book you will read next:
The library.

22. Your favorite format for books: paper or pixels:
Paper. But I now read many more articles than books, mostly in pixels.

23. If you could have written any book:
Pride and Prejudice.

24. A book that was particularly meaningful to, or highly recommended by, an acquaintance of yours:
One of the first gifts my husband gave me was Exquisite Corpse, the collection of reviews by Michael Sorkin. I have it, I reread it, and I chose an essay from it as an example in my own book, Writing About Architecture. It still makes me laugh.

25. If you have the chance to plan it, the last book you’ll read:
Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, again.

View all Questionnaires.

Also see “Celebrating a Proust Anniversary with The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition.”

comments powered by Disqus