Our house... on our street

Loving the Liebster

The Liebster Awardliebster

My friend over at Melissa’s Compass has nominated me for a Liebster Award – but what is that, I hear you cry? It’s a great way to discover new blogs and to interact with the people who run your favourites, and the rules of the award are:

1. Link and thank the person who nominated you

2. Answer the questions they asked you

3. Pick eleven bloggers with fewer than 3,000 [this number can vary!] followers to nominate them.

4. Ask them eleven questions

5. Let them know by commenting on one of their posts

So my questions from Melissa were:

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

It’s from a quote in Sidney Lee’s Principles of Biography (1911): “Discriminating brevity is a law of the right biographic method.”

Romantic book spines

So many literary figures…

What was your first ever blog post about?

Learning to Love Literature – this was the original name of my blog and it was initially designed as a literary teaching resource. After a couple of posts I realised that my ‘insights’ into classic literature probably weren’t hugely insightful, and that I wasn’t reading enough of it to post on it regularly. But I was reading a lot of auto/biographies – so I decided to write about those instead!

 

Where is your favourite place to write?

At my laptop, in the armchair in the corner of my living room, when no-one else is in the house.

If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go?

To a polling station in Scotland to feel the mood on this historic day!

What have you been doing today?

Working at this literary museum and historic house in the Lake District. I’ve written a report, answered some emails, tidied my desk… exciting! But it is a very beautiful place  to live and work.

Do you have a favourite author? Roger Deakin's Waterlog

Hmm, more than one! I love Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mary Wesley, Richard Holmes, Roger Deakin, Robert Macfarlane, Joanna Smith Rakoff, John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Gwyneth Lewis – my husband always says ‘I don’t do favourites’, which can be sometimes annoying, but I’m with him on this one.

What was the last thing you wrote about?

On this blog? Submitting my work to the Scottish Book Trust to win a competition. Outside of blogworld? 5,000 words of Life Writing for the Mslexia Memoir competition, all about my time living in Japan and first moving to the Lake District.

Would you rather live in a grand castle or a cosy cottage? 

Our house... on our street

Our house, in the middle of our street

Cosy cottage. I actually do live in one of these anyway – here’s a sneaky peak!

What was the first story you remember writing?

The first thing I remember writing was a poem about three witches (green, blue and yellow) which I did once I’d finished my work in year 1 of primary school. My mum still has it! The first full-length story I wrote was when I was in year 7 (aged 12 or 13) about Midgard and the adventures of some fictionalised Vikings. I remember spending ages on it, and then becoming completely convinced it was dreadful, so much so that I didn’t want to show it to my teacher. And I was absolutely gobsmacked when my teacher said it was brilliant.

Do you have favourite letters of the alphabet?

Erm, never thought about it before this question but I do like M (a nice bilabial consonant) and L is beautiful too. And of course E, as it’s my initial.

What is your biggest aspiration?

To be a published biographer. And to run or set up a literary museum or arts organisation!

Now, I don’t think I regularly read 11 blogs so I’m just going to nominate those I do:

Stuck in a Book

Kim Moore Poetry

A Penguin A Week

Grasmere Poetry

Scarlet Pyjamas

I Prefer Reading

And my questions (six for six people) are:

Do you regularly read biographies, autobiographies or anything that comes under the category ‘Life Writing’?

Do you scribble in the margins of your books?

Do you read your books in the bath?

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

Do you keep a diary? If so, how long have you kept it for?

Do you have a favourite sort of weather to read in?

Attribution: Johannes Jansson/norden.org

100 years of reading…

A really good way to broaden your taste in literature is to do commit yourself to a reading challenge.

Attribution: Johannes Jansson/norden.org

Attribution: Johannes Jansson/norden.org

I’ve just signed up for A Century of Books after being inspired by Stuck-in-A-Book, who has already completed one Century and is about to start his second in January 2014. A Century of Books is just that – a challenge to read one book for every year of a given century. I’m jumping in with 1900 and will blog about my journey through the 20th century over the coming months. Although you could take this up as a New Year’s Resolution, I’m going to make it my Academic New Year’s Resolution and start now. Who’s with me? I’ll be blogging about each book I read – and I’ll be reading them in chronological order, starting with Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad.

Other reading challenges to try are:

  • Six Books Challenge, for those who find reading difficult
  • Book Trust run a series of games and competitions throughout the year for readers of all ages, from babies to grannies and everyone in between
  • The Literary Exploration Reading Challenge at Literary Exploration – they’ve dated it 2013 but you could attempt it any time
  • Follow in the footsteps of A Penguin a Week but with any publisher or series: how about a poetry one using Faber’s iconic poetry series or Persephone’s beautiful ‘neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women’

There are also lots of great online memes and articles to get you thinking about what you read

Right, off to go and collect Lord Jim from his lofty resting place in the library…