Sunday 10 January 2010


Approximately forever ago, Lisa at A Bloomsbury Life (the sort of blog which makes you wish you could become someone else for a while, namely her) tagged me in a 'ten random things' meme. I've put it on the back-burner, but since I did 100 Random Things about myself back here, I thought I'd put a little spin on it. And then invite you to do the same...

1.) Go to your bookshelves...
2.) Close your eyes. If you're feeling really committed, blindfold yourself.
3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than one bookcase, if you have them, or piles by the bed, or... basically, wherever you keep books.
4.) Use these books to tell us about yourself - where and when you got them, who got them for you, what the book says about you, etc. etc.....
5.) Have fun! Be imaginative. Doesn't matter if you've read them or not - be creative. It might not seem easy to start off with, and the links might be a little tenuous, but I think this is a fun way to do this sort of meme.
6.) Feel free to cheat a bit, if you need to...

I've tagged some people at the bottom of this post, but obviously anybody who wants to is welcome to give it a go.

I've no idea if this will work or not... mine won't be wholly representative, because most of my books are at home in Somerset, and most of the ones I have in Oxford are those I haven't read yet, but... here goes!

The Virago Book of Twins and Doubles - compiled by Penelope Farmer
I couldn't have started with a better choice, but I promise you I didn't cheat! I'm a twin, and love reading about twins - mostly to see whether or not I agree with the author's depiction of being a twin. This anthology has many sections - Birth, Like Twins, Unlike Twins, Love and Hate, Separation and Death, Twins as Curiosities, The Myth of the Twin, Other Doubles...

The Cross of Christ - John Stott
I'm more of less acting out my little bio now! As well as being a twin, I'm a Christian. I haven't read this book yet, I will confess, and it does look like it would need a lot of concentration, but I will before too long.

The Dangerous Book for Boys - Gonn & Hak Iggulden
And I'm a boy! This was a Christmas gift for Santa - this book is incredible! It has everything in it. I can now learn my naval flag codes, types of tree, tricks to teach a dog... even what a noun is, though I think I've got that covered already.

In Tearing Haste: Letters between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor - ed. Charlotte Mosley
I love reading letters, usually have a book or two on the go - and I love writing letters. Nothing beats getting a letter drop onto the doormat through the letterbox (or in the mailbox at the end of the drive, if you're American). And then I can keep the letters in boxes on my shelves, rather than impersonal inbox folders...

The Sandcastle - Iris Murdoch
I never used to cry while watching films, until I saw Judi Dench's amazing performance in the biopic Iris. That seemed to open the floodgates, and now I cry at every film I see. I've been known to cry at adverts.

The Leavises on Fiction: An Historic Partnership - PJM Robertson
I suppose this represents my study of English. I realised I wanted to study English when I was about ten... This turned to toying with applying for English and History, but I realised I didn't love History in the way I love English - and look at me now, five years of university down the line, and no sign of stopping...

Vanessa and Virginia - Susan Sellers
I read my first Virginia Woolf novel in 2003, Mrs. Dalloway, borrowed from the mother of a family for whom I used to babysit. She's since become one of my favourite authors - and this book also represents my blog, since it came as a review copy.

Vera - Elizabeth von Arnim
I bought this in a charity shop - Oxfam, in fact - in Evesham, the town where I went to school. As well as representing my love of Virgao Modern Classics, and the recommendation of dovegreybooks online reading group, this links to the my first job. I volunteered for Oxfam (in Pershore - a little nearer home than Evesham) sorting men's clothes on Saturdays. When I asked if I could sort the books, they told me that they threw away any with yellowing pages... and I didn't think I could do that.

Casting the Runes and other ghost stories - MR James
Tenuous on this one... I used to be obsessed with the Goosebumps books by RL Stine, and then the Point Horror books, and now I am completely incapable of reading anything scary. But my friend Clare loves MR James, so... I'll read this when it's very sunny.

So Long, See You Tomorrow - William Maxwell
No fact about me to accompany this one - but it does seem a fitting way to end!

Right - tagging ten people, but do have a go whether or not you're tagged - and link to your results in the comments. Enjoy!

1. Elaine at Random Jottings
2. Simon at Savidge Reads
3. Karen at Cornflower
4. Rachel at Book Snob
5. Lyn at Prefer Reading
6. Hayley at Desperate Reader
7. Claire at Paperback Reader
8. Thomas at My Porch
9. Darlene at Roses Over a Cottage Door
10. Danielle at A Work in Progress


  1. Oh I will have a go at this... it just might not be until next week, so I shall let you know when I have done it!

  2. Oh blast it, I sent that withourt finishing it, tut! I meant to add I think this is a brilliant idea and what a great way to learn about other bloggers. I loved Point Horror too... I could go on.

  3. Yes, of course I'll do this--will post it a little later this week as it sounds like fun. So, is there a Dangerous Book for Girls? And I wonder what's in it. I used to be a wonderful letter writer when I was younger but it's literally been ages since I've gotten or written a proper letter--very sad really. And I wouldn't be able to throw out books with yellowing pages either--you'd think they'd try and recycle them, but maybe it's not worth their effort? Fun meme.

  4. I'm in, but it won't be until much later in the month. Gotta get home and recover from my vacation first.

  5. Simon, I will have a go later in the week. It's 43 degrees here today & Abby & I are not moving far from the air conditioning!

  6. Ill definitely be doing this, Simon! I was tagged in another meme last week and it's actually a good way of combining them. Like you, a lot of my books are with my parents but I have enough to complete the meme with! However, I do know instinctively where all of my books are on my shelves...

  7. Forgot to mention earlier that you must read Cassandra at the Wedding to combine your interest in twins with fascination with VMCs.

  8. Thank you for this idea. A wonderful displacement activity on a miserable day!

  9. Loved finding out how you came to read your first Woolf novel. Okay, off to my shelves...ready, set, go!

  10. What a fun idea! I guess for a true sampling, one from each room in the house would be okay?

    I must agree with you about the personal letter thing. One of my hobbies (that I don't get to very much any more) is making cards. I also make my children write someone a note every Friday (mainly grands and other out of town family that they don't see as often) so they will know the pleasure of giving and receiving "real mail."

    Throw out a yellowing book?? Such blasphemy! :)
    Susan in TX
    PS - Are you an identical or fraternal twin?

  11. Hi Susan - we're fraternal, but look almost identical..

    Looking forward to seeing everyone's memes!

  12. Assignment complete and handed in...that was fun! Thanks Simon!

  13. Will certainly be doing this and must back up paperback reader on Cassandra at the Wedding, a really good book about sisters, no idea how good it ia about twins...

  14. I'm echoing another Susan (but I'm in Toronto, not Texas) when I blurt out the first thing that came to fingertips when reading this post:

    There was a man at my church (years ago, now) who put himself in charge of the fund raising book sales, but committed himself to selling only "good" books, and getting rid of anything that didn't come up to his standards. Of course, the one time I was allowed loose in his discard pile, I found the true gems.

  15. i liked these! especially your 100 list

  16. It's harder than it looks but here's my offering:

  17. Simon,

    What a fabulous spin on the idea! Genius, pure genius. I love the books that you happened upon...they all seem to have a wonderful personal story behind them as well as being interesting in themselves.

    I promise to tell you next time I'm in London. Probably early August...we must get together, it would be so fun to rattle on about books with you!


  18. I had a go at this and here's my list ended up surprised by the books that came off the shelf, and really keen to read a lot of them again. A really nice way to start the year. Thanks Simon.

  19. "Naval flag codes"?? Would that be semaphore by any chance? (Which incidentally they haven't even taught to sailors since the 1970s...)

  20. Nope, according to the book it's not the same. It doesn't have positions you hold flags at, it's actually different coloured and patterned flags...

  21. I've done it. I did cheat a little though. Have a look at

  22. i stole it too!

  23. Finally completed it, Simon!


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