Today is the day – it’s time for the second part of the Sunday Morning Book Chats series! Today’s guest is the wonderful Saoirse from @xleptodactylous (if you haven’t read the first part in this series, you can find the link here). A former book blogger whose been on bookstagram for over a year now, she has just under 5,000 followers and is currently reading her way through the massive #InfiniteVariety2016 reading challenge (it’s over 200 books long, can you even imagine??).
The General Questions
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, how long you’ve been on bookstagram for, and what you like to do when you’re not reading books, photographing books, or just generally thinking about books.
I’m from North Yorkshire, England. I’ve been on Bookstagram over a year now (or 62 weeks if you’d like to get technical) and I enjoy books a lot. When I’m not being killed by my lack of shelves (toppling book piles are a terrible hazard) I run my own business and walk my dog all over the cliffs and moors. I also really enjoy watching sports and no one will ever understand how excited I am for the Olympics. I love the theatre and try to watch as many as I can (subject to availability). I try my best to spread my hobbies around-it’s so easy to just sit and read a book for 8 hours a day but I don’t like my PS3 being neglected.
I also work in a shop but let’s not talk about that rubbish.
2. How did you discover the bookstagram community, and what made you decide to start your own account?
I’d been a blogger before I was on Instagram. Social media on the whole doesn’t interest me really (I don’t care what you’re eating) but Instagram seemed different since it was wholly visual. At first I had no idea what tags were and obviously wondered why my photos weren’t being seen or being liked. I don’t remember how I even found Bookstagram but as soon as I did I decided to join. I think niche-posting works really well on IG, especially when you’re first starting out, so Bookstagram is perfect for that.
I also initially used Bookstagram to improve my photography. I used to have palpitations if there was ever anything outside the frame of the photograph and my composition technique was utterly devoid of any sense, so thankfully I think I’ve overcome my fear of not having every item in the shot within the boundaries of the photo and I’d like to think I’m better at composition now, so I’m very happy to say that the reason I joined Bookstagram has been conquered to some extent.
3. In all your time on bookstagram, are there any moments in particular that stand out to you or any experiences you’ve had because of bookstagram that you’re particularly grateful for?
I’m sorry to be boring but I’ve never been invited to any kind of Bookstagram event. I’m currently doing a Reading challenge (#InfiniteVariety2016) which, although I’m failing miserably at, I’m enjoying it like no one’s business. I think just the moments you find someone else who’s read a book you’ve read that you thought no one had even heard of before are wonderful. I’ve yet to find anyone who reads Robert Rankin but there’s time left for that.
A Bit More Specific…
1. Are you the type of person who likes to read multiple books at a time, or do you like to pick up one book and stick with it until you’ve finished it?
I read as many books as possible at the same time. I try to get different mediums and genres going, though, so they don’t blend in to one another (although I love fantasy, they can get a bit samey). Usually I’m working my way through a poetry anthology and a couple of novels of different genres.
2. What are you currently reading, and what books are you excited to start reading soon?
Currently I’m reading a poetry anthology, Gormenghast (fantasy), The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists (political fiction), The Art of War (military philosophy) and something on the kindle which I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten the name of.
I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the slipcase edition of Terry Pratchett’s next batch of short stories he wrote when he was younger (The Witches Vacuum Cleaner). I don’t tend to keep an eye out for new releases because I can’t really be bothered, so I get around to them eventually.
I can’t wait to read Cranford, though. I watched the adaptation and I nearly died it was so good.
3. On a scale of 1-10, how intimidating is your TBR pile?
It’s off the scale.
I’ve got 101 books left to read on my challenge (unlikely, but I’ll give it a ruddy good go!) and I’ve just counted 20 books on one shelf alone that I haven’t read yet. I keep trying to impose spending bans. For a few months it works but then some cheap book pops up in The Works and I’m left dead and buried.
4. Who are your go-to authors?
Terry Pratchett, Charles Dickens, Joe Abercrombie, and Robert Rankin.
It annoys me that my favourite authors are male but I’ve never really noticed it until recently. Trying to find female authors who write really good High Fantasy (not YA) is the bane of my existence.
Happily though all my favourite comedians (and most other famous people) are female so I think that balances it out nicely.
5. You’re hosting a tea party and you can invite three famous people, either living or dead. Who do you invite and why?
Tony Benn – so we can chat about Socialism and how rubbish the world is right now, but then laugh it off because he’s dead and I’m too busy reading to really care.
Freddie Trueman – So we can be really Yorkshire together.
Rik Mayall – No need to explain.
Who needs authors for a tea party, really. Maybe Tolkien can pop in with Dahl for a bit and we can talk about war and stuff.
All men again, jeez. My favourite women are all alive though: I’d prefer tea with the dead.
I’ll do an alive one, though:
Victoria Coren Mitchell – so we can sit there in our matching dresses and talk about poker and porn and her lovely hair.
Jennifer Saunders – She’s bringing Dawn French and we can just laugh our tits off until we die. And then go and have tea with Chaucer.
Sara Pascoe – We’d just talk for hours about everything. Mostly vaginas, though.
6. Let’s talk about reading slumps: do you get them, and if you do, how do you get yourself out of them?
No. I don’t believe in reading slumps like I don’t believe in writer’s block.
I say just keep reading. Change book. Change genre. Change medium. Read the newspaper. There’s no need to stop reading. Write something and read it back. Maybe go on the Playstation for a bit.
7. What are five books you think everyone should read and why?
- The History Boys by Alan Bennett – This is a play, but I think it still counts. I think this is wonderful, funny and poignant, but the main reason is it was the play that made me fall in love with the theatre. It is just a wonderful story.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – This is much better than The Lord of the Rings and it’s one of those books that is full of wonderful imagination and humour but actually says something, as well.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – If you skip the battle scenes (he was bad at battle scenes) this is one of the greatest novels on society and love I’ve ever read. It was perfect (except for the battle scenes).
- Equal Rites (or Monstrous Regiment) by Terry Pratchett – Both these books have feminist qualities to them, which is brilliant (especially coming from a man and written before the new wave of feminism arrived), but they’re also great examples of Pratchett’s anger and his humour and the way he loved life but found it difficult, too.
- Jane Austen’s Juvenilia – Jane Austen was a better writer when she was younger and wasn’t so hung-up on people marrying their cousins. Her younger writings are some of the best things I’ve ever read. Funny, charming, a little naive sometimes but that’s the beauty of it.
8. I know how bookstagrammers love a good literary quote, particularly for the captions of their photos, so can you share one of your favorite literary quotes with us?
“The pungent turd!”
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” – Hector in The History Boys
Ugh I want to have tea with Hector, too.
Speed Round! What is your favorite…
Movie? Hot Fuzz (I don’t really like films that much, but anything with Simon Pegg in it).
Reading Spot? On grass, under the sun, with a light breeze and some ice cream.
Ice cream flavor? Oh. Honeycomb Cornish.
Song? ‘Les Mort Dansant’ by Magnum. Though this year I’ve not been able to stop listening to ‘Paris’ by The 1975.
Fictional character? PIERRE! (From War & Peace)
Thank you so much for joining us on Sunday Morning Book Chats! Before you go, do you have any tips for anyone looking to start their own bookstagram account?
DON’T DO IT. YOU’LL BE SO POOR FOREVER MORE!
We are terrible enablers, but at least it’s not drugs. I’d say don’t fall for the need to buy any special camera: use your phone, use the Aviary app, don’t read popular books just to get followers. Read what you love and love what you read. Open your mind to different genres and stop rating everything five stars.