plasticponyaddict asked:


02: What was your favorite book growing up?

There were so many. I was INTENSELY obsessed with The Endless Steppe from like, the first grade. Who let me read this? I had a battered used copy, I think from a friend of my mother’s? I HAVE NO IDEA. I was obsessed with it. I should find it and read it again.

Obviously, Harry Potter. Specifically Prisoner of Azkaban, which is obviously objectively the best one, but also was my favorite when I was, you know, “a kid.” I was obsessed with D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, and The Golden Compass, and also the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. I also read The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 in my elementary school book club and was really obsessed with it (I also loved that author’s other book; I saw him at a book signing and was like, OVERCOME) — I don’t really think about that consciously as much anymore (except obviously for the pyromania bits) but it had a really big impact on me at the time and is still probably my first point of reference for the events depicted therein. It is a really fucking good book.


07: Have you ever been part of a critique group?

Well I had workshops in college, which were fine but not a particularly huge thing for me, BUT I was in a writing group when I studied at Oxford that was like, ~life-changing, which sounds stupid but is true. Maybe not so much on a writing level but certainly on the level of… my life, since my entire social circle that year revolved around that group, which was essentially a cult, and it was also how I met alwaysalreadyangry & slavetohiscat. But it was also a great writing group. I hadn’t ever really had any friends who were writers before that point and now practically everybody I know is a writer and that was probably the point of transition. It was pretty huge. (I am going to be one of those horrible people forever who is like, THAT WAS THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!!! but like. THIS IS THE TRUTH. It’s fine, I’m cool with it. I have no urge to romanticize the rest of my college experience. I HAVE THIS ONE THING.)

14: What’s your favorite writing blog?

Don’t read any! Unless… my friends’ tumblrs count…

Already did 39!

Anonymous asked:

If you ever have the time and are willing, could you tell me more about your wrath for Thomas Hardy? Aspiring English major, will probably have to read him at some point, would love to know what I should expect.

Hah. Hahahahahah. Haaaah.

I should disclaim, first and foremost, that I have read ONE ENTIRE BOOK by Thomas Hardy, so my opinions on this subject are FAR FROM DEFINITIVE. That said, my understanding is that my impression from that book was pretty representative of his work in general, since I remember discussing this with my tutor at Oxford and she was like, …yep that is what he does every time. (She was, uh, not a huge fan. “I always wonder,” she said at the beginning of the tutorial, “if we have George Eliot, then what’s… the point… of Thomas Hardy?” And then she proceeded to look really guilty and tried to find interesting things to say about him for an hour.)

[[MORE]]My main beef with Hardy can be boiled down to a couple of things. I distinctly remember thinking, when reading him, that he was doing ALL OF THE THINGS that you are told not to do when writing, and that it was driving me insane. Now, obviously any kind of proscriptive rules for writing are a waste of time — don’t use adverbs! etc etc — because there’s always somebody who can break them to great effect. But I am talking, like, “show don’t tell” — which again, can be reversed, but NOT ALL THE TIME. There are just some basic instinctual things that you learn that are, you know, valuable, and a LOT of that was not evident in what he was doing — it just felt like bad writing to me. A lot has changed stylistically since the Victorian period but this is sort of more basic than that — you do not get this sense reading, ahem, George Eliot. I would be more specific but it’s been so long that I just don’t remember more detailed observations. But this was very frustrating to me.

The major thing, though, was the way he constructed plot in the book that I read for this tutorial, which was The Mayor of Casterbridge. Plot, IN MY VIEW, should always, always stem from character. (There’s a writing rule somebody has surely broken, skillfully and to great effect! In fact, the main example to me of something that is insanely compelling, and has great characters, but often has major plots that are driven by outside forces, is The Wire, which is all about… how the system destroys everything.) Unless you are writing a satire, in which case the whole point of the work is political, the characters have to be the driving force of what you are doing. End of story. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have other ideas, or that you can’t have a political point — but good, compelling stories almost always come from plots based around characters, which ideally have stemmed from the characters (or that at least feel that way). The plot in The Mayor of Casterbridge is schematic: he clearly had an idea, about a social issue, and then shoved characters into this formula, and it doesn’t work. It feels cheap, and manipulative, and frustrating. And my understanding is that this was pretty much how he always wrote. (He also devised plots that were nominally sympathetic to the plight of women, but the main female character in The Mayor of Casterbridge, at least, is a total feminist nightmare.)

Again, I AM NOT AN AUTHORITY ON THIS SUBJECT; I am sure scholars of Thomas Hardy would disagree with my reduction of his technique. But I did. Not. Like. It. If you compare that to Jane Eyre, for instance: obviously, the governess falling in love with her employer plot is a total trope, right? I mean, that book is the epitome of the trope, but it was still a trope. And it’s not a very plotty book, exactly. But: based on Jane and Rochester’s personalities, it COMPLETELY MAKES SENSE that they would fall for each other. Similarly, it COMPLETELY MAKES SENSE that Rochester would have coped with his wife’s… problems by doing what he’s done, AND that he would have then reacted to locking her up in the attic by going into a self-loathing shame spiral. When Jane finds out, her leaving causes a huge dramatic event in the book — and it feels completely natural, because OF COURSE Jane has to leave. It would be completely inauthentic to the character for her not to. The same with her choosing not to go to India with St John later. Obviously the book ends on a deus ex machina, but I just wanted to pick a simple and familiar counter-example from that (approximate) period.

So basically, I RECOMMEND AVOIDING THOMAS HARDY. Of course there are people who enjoy him, and godspeed to all of you, love what you love, but when you have alternatives like the Brontës, George Eliot, and Henry James, to name but a few, I don’t… really… see… the point.

luckyfilbert asked:

Hmmm. 2,15, and 28?

2. Favourite female writer.

Virginia Woolf. Hands down. I read basically all of her books for a tutorial at Oxford and the experience blew my mind. I basically wrote 8 essays about novel structure and it was SO FORMATIVE. Sob. EDUCATION. Also, To the Lighthouse is my favorite book, to the point where I basically have it memorized, and I read A Room of One’s Own at exactly the right age. She is essential.

Secondarily: George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Zadie Smith, etc etc.

15. Favourite lay-out design.

Charlotte and I have both squinted at this and concluded that we have NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS.

28. A book that was a waste of your time.

The Mayor of Casterbridge, except insofar as it convinced me to NEVER READ ANY OTHER THOMAS HARDY EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE. Except that I will probably still read Tess at some point, so yes: a waste of time.

socpuppet asked:

#20 for the Home Library please!

Doing these finally! Just a couple — if people want, the meme is here, I am bumming around tonight and maybe writing some more fic.

20. The funniest book you own.

What I have concluded from this is that everything I own is depressing. This is not exactly a revelation, but there you go. I was expecting to find a few comedic books and I did not. So I would say that this probably has to go to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.


My Home Library: The Meme



As requested, I have put together a meme based on my Home Library posts. You can do all of them, but feel free to skip a number if you don’t own any books relevant to the day’s prompt (just replace it with an idea of your own). Take a picture, write down the stories attached to the book(s) in question, go nuts!

1. “The System” (example).
2. Favourite female writer.
3. Favourite male writer.
4. Bought on location (where the writer lived, the book takes place, the movie adaptation was shot).
5. The largest and the smallest book you own.
6. Complete works of one author.
7. Favourite poetry collection
8. Favourite biography.
9. Favourite cookbook.
10. Favourite graphic novel.
11. A book you didn’t understand at all.
12. “One of these things is not like the others” (inconsistent editions within a series, like so).
13. Best bargain.
14. Most recent purchase.
15. Favourite lay-out design.
16. Book you bought because of the title.
17. Book you bought because of the cover design.
18. Multiple translations of the same work.
19. Multiple copies of the same work.
20. The funniest book you own.
21. The most expensive book you own.
22. A recurring interest/theme.
23. A book you read so many times that it fell apart.
24. A book you think everyone should read.
25. A book that made you cry.
26. A book you would prescribe for an aspiring author.
27. A cover design you hate.
28. A book that was a waste of your time.
29. Favourite book from your childhood.
30. The book with the most pages in your collection.

Having recently been reunited with my bookshelf, please! Ask away!

Planning on spending most of the day cleaning, and I actually get to SPEND TONIGHT IN MY APARTMENT, so: hit me, and I will do these later.


As requested, here are my bookshelves:


We begin with the world literature shelf. This is how I organize my books. ALPHABETICALLY AND BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. This is pretty paltry although I do have quite a bit more at my mom’s house (from college). Also: Research Books, and a plushie Shakespeare. Yes. Yes.


MOVING DOWN THE SHELF, into what I like to call the “disorganized crap” section, i.e. young adult + non-fiction + Tall Books. Stuff I Needed To Shove In Somewhere. Ahem.

Read More



despite the recent addition of two small new shelves, I absolutely do not have enough bookcases in this apartment

this is what I have learned today

I have managed to put all the books away

and I did it without stacking any of them horizontally

and they are still sorted by section