I made a tag! In my continuing quest to retrieve my bloggy mojo, this seemed like a good idea. Time will tell, eh?
I hate the usual “what do you do?” and “where are you from?” questions that normally get fired out upon making a new acquaintance. The answers invariably fail to give me any sense of the person I’m talking to, and feel … judge-y. So this tag is about the things I actually want to know when I first meet a new person (specifically, the ones I want to be friends with).
(I know I should insert some rules here, like please link back to me as the creator of this tag, and tag so many friends etc, but … everyone knows the drill, right? So we’ll skip that and get on with it).
What’s that in your bag? (Also, what kind of bag do you carry? No bag? What’ve you got in your pockets?)
I always want to know what’s in people’s bags!! If I weren’t already doing my dream job, I’d want to be the person who has to dig through people’s bags for security reasons at museums and art galleries. I like seeing people’s stuff and whether their bags are neat or chaotic – with no judgement either way, I’m just nosy.
I carry a backpack most of the time, a yellow one at the moment, and in it you’ll find:
- My notebook and a pen
- Whatever book I’m reading at the moment and, if I’m close to the end, another one as back up
- A small zip up pouch decorated with a fox print, in which I keep my work keys, a pen, a pot of lip-salve, one of my penknives, an emergency tenner and a safety-pin
- My phone, keys and a spare fold-up bag (boring)
- A small smooth black pebble that I particularly like to hold when I’m having a moment (before I found the pebble it used to be a tiny teddy bear, which I lost)
- And in the front pocket I also currently carry hand sanitizer, a spare face mask and a spare pair of rubber gloves. While the hand sanitiser was always in there, the mask and the gloves are newer additions to my everyday carry.
- By the end of any given day I usually end up with a small collection of stones, seeds, leaves or bits of bark, and other things I’ve picked up because they look interesting.
(Also do you keep a notebook, and if yes, can I see it? What do you keep in it?)
Yeah, I do. This is my current one. I normally use one notebook per year, roughly, and I love them. I keep a planner in the front, list books and movies both to read/watch and read/watched; I write down interesting facts, quotes and things to investigate; I draw in them and I stick pictures and articles in them. They’re my brain-in-book-format. They’re the thing I’d save from a burning building. After animals and people, of course, *embarrassed cough*.
What’s the one book you recommend remorselessly to anyone who’ll listen?
So, actually my second question would be ‘what are you reading right now?’ – but I’ve swapped that out for this one, because as bloggy people we’re always talking about what we’re reading right now.
I have what I think of as a ‘safe recommendation’ and a ‘brave recommendation’, depending on the vibe I’m getting off of the person I’m talking to.
My safe recommendation is Corrag by Susan Fletcher (also published under the title Witch Light) and I’ll try to sell this to anyone who’ll stand still long enough. It’s a gorgeously written book based around the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, but actually far more concerned with the internal life of the young ‘witch’ Corrag, the beauty of the Scottish Highlands and human connection. It’s not fantasy, nor magical realism, just a straight up historical novel, but I always feel like it sits very close to the genre border.
My brave recommendation (only to be suggested to people who I really want to be friends with because they’re awesome) is always one of three books. It’s usually Among Others by Jo Walton, because I think that’s a pretty accessible title of hers, or I try them out with Folk by Zoe Gilbert, or Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. None of this is new information to anyone who’s been following me for a while. *grins widely*
Tell me a funny story about yourself (extra marks if it involves books)
I have two funny (to me) book stories:
The first one is that as a young teenager I had a fairly long daily walk to and from the train station to get to school, so I used to read whilst walking. We lived on the outskirts of a small, quiet village, so this wasn’t a particularly risky thing to do, but one evening I straight up walked into a lamppost. Like something out of a cartoon. I banged my head in doing so and kind of bounced off. It scared the wits out of me, I’d been so completely engrossed in my book.
My second story is even more stupid. I’ve mentioned before that my brother and I used to read and listen to the Storyteller 2 magazines and cassette tapes as children. In one of the stories that my brother particularly enjoyed listening to (I think it was Simeon the Sorcerer’s Son by Peter Wingham), there was a scene in which someone (presumably Simeon) creeps up a staircase to a door at the top, only to find that “the door was ajar”. Which I heard as “the door was a jar”. I was confused by this for the longest time, unable to understand why, if the door was a glass jar, as I imagined, the person inside the room at the top of the stairs couldn’t immediately see the person sneaking towards them. For some reason (possibly my dislike for the illustrations for the story) I never went back to the magazine to look at the word on the page and make sense of it. It wasn’t until some time later, when reading a completely different book and coming across the word “ajar” that I finally found out my mistake.
Now you know.
Do you have any favourite words?
Yes. Here are just a few of them:
Luggage. Pandiculation. Amongst. Bamboozle. Cloister. Fabricate. Ostentation. Melancholy. Geography. Rambunctious. Mellow. Childlike. Pickle. Proper copper coffee pot.
Saying words to myself is something I find very soothing when I don’t have my pebble to hand.
Tell me about a favourite book from your childhood
I’ve probably mentioned this before, but one of my favourite books as a child was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I bought it from a library book sale because, on picking it up because I liked the title, I saw the unicorn on the front cover. Sold. I still have the same copy and everything about it still captivates me. It’s a solid little hardback, virtually indestructible (and it’s been bashed about in a lot of bags in its time with me), with lovely soft, thick pages, and a handful of beautiful colour plates throughout, as well as some black and white drawings too.
It was a book I lost myself in on my first read-through and returned to again and again for comfort. Even now, from its opening pages in which Maria, Miss Heliotrope and Wiggins travel to their new home in Moonacre, I still get swept away from the real world into a wonderfully safe imaginative space whenever I open it up.
Do you like the smell of books?
Yes. Yes, I do. Book smells are the best. Two of my favourite book smells are Brand New Textbook and 1980s Ex-library Book. Both of these smells make memories happen.
What’s the weirdest book you’ve ever read? (And would you recommend it?)
Jim Giraffe by Daren King. And no, I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t actually remember much about the plot any longer, but I remember that there was a ghost giraffe (the book’s USP) who was very very rude (not in a cute way), and that there was a lot of sex stuff.
Also, I hated the cover:
Sooo … how do you feel about dragons?
Dragons are never not cool! This question is a test!
I met a very awesome colleague last week who dropped a number of key words into our conversation that immediately put her on my Coollest People Ever list. The word that sealed the deal? Dragon. (I also absolutely have to read The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon after our chat, which is something I’ve kept putting off because that book is just so chonky. This is the power of the word ‘Dragon’!).
What are you looking forward to right now?
I’m looking forward to a couple of things. And it’s really nice to be able to say that after having been in a blue funk for a bit. Firstly, I’m looking forward to Spooktastic Read in October and I have a small stack of spooky reads lined up for that. Secondly, I’m eagerly anticipating SciFi Month in November and am shuffling books on my TBR pile deciding what I most want to read. For both of these events I’m also super excited to see what everyone else reads and writes about, because vicarious enjoyment of books I’ve not yet read is definitely something I’ve only recently realised I get from this bloggy endeavour.
Thirdly, I’m really looking forward to sharing a small personal project and a book bingo challenge I’ve made for next year. The time has not yet come (and I’m dreadful at keeping shtum when I’m exciting about something), but watch this space for things I’m going to be squeeing about soon.
Can I tempt you into giving this tag a go? Or do you accept bribes? What about a pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top?