Behind the Blogger Tag

Hey everyone!

I am Michael and today, I have been nominated to do the Behind The Blogger tag. I was tagged to do this by the wonderful Danni at For Books Sake, a fellow British Book Blogger. Thank you for tagging me and it feels humbling and a little weird to be putting things about me rather than about books on the blog!


Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer all the questions down below
  3. Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  4. Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

Why did you start blogging? Why have you kept blogging?

I love books. I love talking about books. I mean, I made a career out of it, as an English teacher! So blogging seemed like a natural enough extension of that. I began perhaps seven years ago, as I was in charge of our Reading Club shadowing the Carnegie Medal (which is absolutely worth shadowing regardless of your age: some of the best books and authors I have ever read such as Patrick Ness and Frances Hardinge came to me through those shortlists!). I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing beyond putting thoughts into words! No idea about the audience or the book blogging community, about tagging, about memes about followers…

What kept me blogging? Probably that slow learning curve about the community. I confess I spent very little time on the blog outside of churning out a review when I began, no reading other people’s posts, no commenting and it was a rather static thing. Over the years, I have found a real community of fellow book lovers and wonderful people – and Twitter and Bookstagram – and the blog became more alive and fluid (and demanded more time).

So in short, I came to blogging because of the books; I stayed for the community.

What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Reviews. I love reviews. They were the reasons I began the blog after all.

I also love the Literary List memes I have begun trying to follow: the Top Five Saturday and Top Ten Tuesdays. The best ones, for me, force me to delve back into the past, recalling and remembering those gems from the pre-blogging years.

What are your top three favourite blog posts you wrote?

What makes a favourite blog post? So let’s look at the posts I have enjoyed writing the most.

  1. How To Write a Book Review – which I only finished writing in order to be able to link it in to this
  2. 2019: A Year in Books – I do love the New Year’s Eve tradition of sitting down and reviewing a year’s worth of reading so this is the most recent of those.
  3. Let’s cheat and pick two reviews:
    1. Lanny, Max Porter – it is just a gorgeous strange and wild book and I liked my writing style on the review.
    2. Tsotsi by Athol Fugard which is a fantastically lyrical book, but which is obviously on a lot of school curriculums – which drives a lot of traffic to the blog!

What are some of your favourite things to do to relax?

Reading. Obviously. Everything. YA, historical, lots of crime, literary, poetry; following The Women’s Prize, the Booker Prize, the Carnegie Medal…

I also love to write and have (as many of us do) a licence to Scrivener, an annual attempt at NaNoWriMo and a range of unsatisfactory unfinished (probably unpublishable) works in progress and poems and ideas with no real clue what to do with them.

What are three of your favourite things?

I am going to take the word “things” in the question very literally: material objects. Which is a little tricky: I am horrifically unsentimental about things and throw them out at a drop of a hat!

  1. My fountain pen. It is nothing fancy or old or classic at all – a fairly standard Parker Urban fountain pen, but is balances nicely and writes well. And it writes in green, but that is more a demand from work but it is a nice shade of green! I have on more than one occasion had to explain at work that I could not mark that pile of students’ work last night because I had left my pen at home!
  2. My keyring. Again nothing fancy but it contains a charm from my daughter saying “Dad I Love You” on it. Plus, getting into my own home is kinda important. I lost it in the snow last winter for a couple of days and was very upset by that.
  3. My battered A-Level copy of Wuthering Heights, which has moved from house to house with me since I was eighteen nearly three decades ago! It is dog eared, written on, its spine is broken, but it is part of the fabric of my home.

What are your proudest blogging moments?

The interaction on the blog and the blogging world: every time someone leaves a comment, takes my blog post as the start of a conversation, every milestone that I pass makes me humble, grateful and proud.

What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

Cooking. I have always loved cooking – especially baking – and just yesterday grumbled that making another batch of cakes just before Easter and the deluge of chocolate that followed was silly. I also made three Christmas cakes this year because, when you buy the ingredients for one, there is enough left for a second and, this year, there was enough just in the store cupboard for a third, so why not? As I am the only person in the house who eats it – or the mince pies I bake – there are quite a few reasons why not, if I am honest! Plus bread and pizza and soups… The lockdown feels a little like something I have been preparing for for most of my adult life!

Alongside that, and somewhat in conflict with it, I’d probably have to say exercise… and I never thought I would be someone to say that. A year ago I was a comfortably spreading fellow but to support my wife, I decided to join her when she started exercising prior to an operation last year. The same part of my brain that insists on finishing reading a whole series of books – the completionist inside me – just kept it going and progressing so now an hour or more a day… yikes!

Describe your personality in three words

Three words. I always use too many in every situation so I should put loquacious, yet at the same time I am content with silence and quiet and am introverted too… What to choose, what to choose…

I hate to sound big-headed but I am going for intelligent: I love knowledge and understanding, can be a little obsessive about accuracy and clarity and – oh my! – grammar. Don’t get me started on “who” and “whom”! One of the reasons I delight in books, perhaps, is the joy of finding things I don’t know. Not in an I-have-learnt-this way but in an awesome, uncanny, unheimlich the-world-is-not-as-you-know-it way.

Let’s also add patient which is a word my work colleagues use about me in a way which doesn’t always feel like a compliment: “you showed a lot of patience there” can sometimes feel like it means “I’d have dealt with that much quicker”. It’s odd how management can do that to language.

Finally, calm or optimistic perhaps. I don’t think I am terribly flappable or anxious about things. The universe generally continues to run despite our best efforts!

My wife’s selection of words was silly, witty and loving…

What are your top three pet peeves?

Let’s try to keep this out of the bookish realm and go for

  1. People who don’t put the milk, cheese, cream and other cold things back in the fridge when they use them – I mean, really! Which ties in with…
  2. Waste – especially of food. The ghostly echo of my grandmother’s voice is embedded in my DNA saying “There are starving orphans in the world and you’re throwing that away?” Not that these chicken bones would do them any good, but… Oh, and the waste packaging on everything!
  3. People who assume that there is something wrong with me (or “missing in my soul” as one ex-colleague put it) because I don’t listen to music.

What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I am epileptic and have suffered tonic clonic – what used to be called grand mal – seizures since I was thirteen.

I am tagging:

I always fret about tagging people – it feels a little like turning up uninvited to someone’s house at dinner time so, please, don’t feel obliged to feed me if I do! And don’t feel obliged to do your own Behind the Blogger post, unless you have time and you want to.

  1. Nikki @ Nikki Swift Reads
  2. Ardis @ Pondering the Prose
  3. Caitlin @ Reading Whale
  4. Gemma @ Gemma’s Bookshelf
  5. Storme @ Stormereads

Again, a David Mitchell book is an event, and a thing of beauty! But the music industry is not my natural setting and again I was caught between this and another book – Daisy Jones and the Six in this case – and Daisy Jones was read first. This time, because it was nominated on a book club I was part of.


Bonus: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.

Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.

This one has been on my TBR for years. Literally years. I have heard nothing but praise for it, but so far have never quite got around to reading it! Go figure!

So, there we go: a range of books that I got in 2020 – save for the Scott Lynch – and do regret not reading during the year. Is regret the right word? Probably not to be honest: I do not regret the reading that I did do last year at all. But these are books that I would like to find time to catch up with this year – before prize season hits us again!

Pop in the comments below your thoughts on these – maybe let me know which I should read first!

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