I just realized that one of the questions from the meme yesterday asked about favorite characters by other people and I forgot to answer that part of the question, and I was thinking about it just now in the shower and thought it was interesting because, re. what I was saying about likeability, it’s kind of difficult to answer? I was thinking about my favorite books and how I wouldn’t necessarily think about the characters in them in this way — I love Never Let Me Go, for instance, and I love Kathy H., but I’m not sure I would say that she’s one of my favorite characters ever or anything; that’s not really the reason I like the book; same with something like Train Dreams which truly has nothing to do with that character at all. And then even something like Middlemarch is full of characters I love but none of them stand out too particularly — I love Dorothea but she also makes me roll my eyes a lot, which is obviously intentional. You could, of course, say that favorite ≠ likeable, and I don’t even mean to draw a direct parallel. But I don’t know — it’s a different metric.

Anyway in my ruminating I found myself thinking about Lily Briscoe, and Lyra Belaqua, and Jonathan Strange, and Jane Eyre, and Hamlet, and Polly Whittacker and Thomas Lynn, and Vautrin, and Patrick Melrose (who is decidedly NOT likeable), and, last but not least, Ralph Touchett, who was my answer to a question once when asked if I could be friends with one character from literature, who would I choose. Because as he proves in that novel, Ralph is a pretty excellent friend indeed. And pretty amusing at dinner, I’d imagine.

Also if anybody else wants to ask questions from that meme you should, I liked it a lot, and I can answer them when I get back home later.

APPALLED by my EGREGIOUS error in leaving LOVE OF MY LIFE REMUS LUPIN off of this list. My nine-year-old self is judging me so hard right now.

rijomu asked:

Can you explain the ending of Fire and Hemlock?

Hah. Hahahahahaha. Hah. No. No I cannot. I have come to a zen place of acceptance with the end of Fire & Hemlock (well, I was there from my first reading, really, but particularly now after lo these many years) where I just peaceably understand that I will never understand what exactly the fuck is supposed to have transpired in the last 15 or whatever pages of that book. It’s fine. It doesn’t really matter. THE EMOTIONAL STUFF GETS RESOLVED SO IT’S FINE.

I have thought a lot, actually, about how much I would like to make a movie of this book, which would be tricky due to the age range stuff — you’d have to get two actors, I think, and be very clever about it — but I think it would make a really good film, or miniseries, or whatnot. But I have, truly, no idea what I would do about the ending, in this hypothetical scenario. Because like. In the book you can just sort of shrug and move on, but in a film: lol. No. I THINK IT WOULD NEED REWRITING. BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW I WOULD DO THAT.

scribbleymark replied to your post: a book list

Ah yes, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the bees knees @,@

IT’S SO FUCKIN GOOD. I sincerely cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s really long but DO NOT LET THAT SCARE YOU OFF. Its length is actually a great virtue; it is a book that is a joy to read for a long(ish) period of time. And it is so clever and so fun and it plays on so many different literary and historical things in such a brilliant way without being weighted down by any of them — hence the “fun” bit. Basically, I read it when I was in high school and thought it was AMAZING and then read it again having done a degree in English literature and “got” what she was doing on an ~intellectual level way more (plus all of her, like, many many many specific references) but you absolutely don’t need to have that background to read and appreciate the book. Which is a large part of why it is such a great novel.


a book list

Charlotte and I were just discussing this so I decided to put up this highly subject-to-change list of my favorite books, which I feel is pretty telling on a number of levels:

  • To the Lighthouse
  • The Portrait of a Lady
  • Never Let Me Go
  • Middlemarch
  • Jane Eyre
  • Train Dreams
  • The Patrick Melrose Novels
  • On Beauty
  • Brooklyn
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Fire & Hemlock
  • His Dark Materials
  • A Separate Peace
  • Plath – Collected Poems
  • Crush
  • Hamlet
  • King Lear
  • Père Goriot
  • Revolutionary Road
  • Stoner

Authors, I said, would probably be: Woolf, Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Henry James, Colm Tóibín, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zadie Smith, and Edward St Aubyn. Which I say to give you a sense of how totally hilariously skewed my literary influences have been toward the United Kingdom (and Ireland). Henry James is the most American person on that list, and he is very dubiously American.

Anyway, I’d recommend any of those books unreservedly. And if you want me to talk about any of them/talk about any of them to me I am happy to do so.

wtf-polarbear asked:

Hi! Big fan of your blog and your writing! You seem to have pretty good taste about stuff in general, do you have any book recommendations? I need something to read...

Hi! Thank you so much! First of all, let me say that I LOVE GIVING PEOPLE RECOMMENDATIONS for books and films and things, so please never hesitate to ask. This is quite general though; do you have any particular hankerings? I basically only read lit fic, which is probably unsurprising (and by that I do NOT mean books about middle aged college professors sleeping with their students [with one recent exception BUT IT’S AMAZING] or books about middle aged women who live in Maine and Have Family Trouble), and also classics, which is ALSO probably unsurprising.

My go-tos tend to be Never Let Me Go, which is one of my three favorite books of all time (the others are To the Lighthouse and The Portrait of a Lady, which are… a different sort of endeavor, though obviously I also recommend them if you are looking to read that kind of thing, since they are amazing), Brooklyn, and On Beauty. Amongst many others. But those are often the ones that come to mind first. They’re really, really amazing and, I think, fairly accessible — I read all of them in like, one/two days. (I have read Brooklyn twice and the second time ALSO read it in basically one sitting despite knowing, obviously, what was going to happen, which is really saying something.) So I would recommend all of those books to anybody. But if you have any particular interests let me know and I may have more specific recommendations. (That goes for anybody.)

things i learned in high school english

I read this post by tomato-greens when I woke up this morning and thought it was really interesting (I’m always interested in what people read in class in high school because my experience in this area was, as you will shortly see, COMPLETELY ABNORMAL), and then got on twitter and started seeing all the news about the reformed English education standards in the UK, which are just so mind-bogglingly terrible I can’t really even process it. (Can we just. Eject Michael Gove from the planet. Can we just send him to space. Could we do that with the collected power of our minds.)

Anyway this got me thinking and I tried to type up a list of the major things I read at my extremely good public high school — I grew up in a rich town in the suburbs that people moved to “because of the schools,” which should give you an idea — and I’m sure I’m missing some but it was pretty interesting.

Read More

This is seriously so, so alarming, and I DESPERATELY URGE all of you who order books (or, indeed, anything) from Amazon to read it. I have been anti-Amazon for a long time, by which I mean I will very rarely order something from them but almost never books if I can help it, and then only obscure out of print titles, and this is hardening my resolve to try all possible alternatives in future before doing so.

I realize, of course, that I have the privilege of living in a city with an abundance of bookstores, though compared to twenty years ago their number has diminished precipitously; many (indeed, most) people are not so fortunate. But because it is easy for me I buy my books in independent bookstores: that is where I want my money to be going. If you live near an indie bookstore and are a reader I don’t doubt that you patronize it, but if you regularly order books online through Amazon I STRONGLY URGE you to seek out alternative options, of which there are many: Indiebound is obviously the best choice, but Barnes and Noble is also good. I’m not trying to sound patronizing — Amazon is SO EASY to use that it is most people’s default, which makes sense! I used to order books there all the time, because if you don’t… follow publishing industry news… you wouldn’t necessarily have a reason to be thinking about this, and so most people don’t. But the ramifications of their increasing monopoly are really bad and will get worse. This incident is really, really worrisome.

The problem, of course, is that so many people DO buy books on Amazon, and as a publisher you want your books to have the widest reach as possible. Particularly for a young startup like us there’s not really any way to NOT offer books for sale on Amazon, which is really unfortunate because it plays into a system that undermines the very existence of small presses in the long term. We will make less money through those sales than we will through just about any other retailer, and Amazon will profit, and in the long run they want to cut out publishers entirely, which is pretty dystopian: but what else can we do? Not put the books up? We would die out immediately. Because they have a stranglehold on the industry. I can only hope the big guns try to do something about it, because otherwise this is all headed nowhere good.


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.

Hey Tumblr! It’s a pretty day, I’m queueing PWT for tomorrow, and yesterday’s horrible cramps have left me in peace. Ask me questions and we can talk about/take pictures of/reminisce about books?