I must confess that I, too, read this feature in the NYT Book section. It’s called By the Book. They always ask the same questions of well-known writers. I find out quickly if we are like-minded by their answers.
Ursula LaGuin’s fiction is legendary, (and written as the stuff of legend) even if not what I am drawn to reading. Her tastes are both classical and also run toward the sort of books she writes.
Where I find she is a “sister” is in her distaste for “Best” sorts of questions—Best book? Best film? Most overrated? The very notion is ludicrous, but the answers are entertaining so we like this feature anyhow.
I don't say it’s absurd because it is subjective, obviously, but because even for a single subjective point of view this is a changing feeling and not something you want immortalized in print. “Single most overrated” today is a different one tomorrow, depending on what you are reading. It’s fine for a dinner conversation with friends, but not so much for a public interview that will be available possibly long after you left this world.
We have abused “Most” and “Best” to death.
Blogger interviews have also taken this trend on full steam, and even lowly me (I) have had to face and fend off such questions.
I was put in my place years ago when my then-eight year-old informed me he doesn’t answer “who’s your best friend” questions. His reasons echo the ones I mentioned, and I realized how we begin this senseless conditioning of thinking about the subtle and complex as a horse race. I owe him big for it. After that, I never watched another Oscar show without seeing it as pure entertainment devoid of real substance. The Best movie of the year? Nah.
But it’s still entertaining to see the “losers” (I know, na-ah) and the glowing winners, and hope for a moment of reality, because it is live and so little isn't packaged these days.
For the record—I had a ready made answer for “favorite food,” “favorite color,” and “favorite subject” and such while I was growing up.
Then DS set me right, and I grew up.