Bookish Headlines #5

And here’s another round of Bookish Headlines, where I stumble across a collection of book-related headlines in the hopes that you, Dear Reader, will find them interesting. Sometimes you do. Sometimes I think that you think I’m the nerdiest book person who ever booked…

Kathryn Schulz’s father was a voracious reader, and his method of storing the books he read was to stack them at his bedside. He never moved them after that, and so the stack grew and grew until it had crossed over his dresser and became a new, ongoing stack on the other side, creating a monument to literacy and books her father loved. They were also a chronicle of his life and how hard he worked to give his daughters the childhood filled with books he never had.

Though we readers tend to cherish our books, often above the rest of our possessions, they are mass-produced items. But in rural Kentucky, Gray Zeitz and Kae Sable of tiny Larkspur Press create every last one of their books by hand, a labor of love that involves setting the text one letter at a time. It’s an incredible, time-intensive process that creates a product that will last for hundreds of years.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a theory about Shakespeare that declared him to be homosexual, but this article makes a case via the Sonnets, many of which are dedicated to ‘A Fair Youth’ and show a passionate love for a young man. While Newman doesn’t convince me that Shakespeare was gay, she makes a good point in addition to discussing the realities of homosexuality in Elizabethan England.

In a shocking twist, a study shows that female authors don’t get as much publicity as male authors.

Look at me. I’m so shocked by this.

grayscale portrait photo of shocked woman

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on

So… There are things that I take for granted, that I assume everyone has figured out and that don’t need explaining. Like if you’re thirsty, you should drink something. Or if you’re going to write a book, you should do some research. While I’m sure that Jessica Avery has a lot of things figured out, I’m less sure of her skills as an author, mostly because of this:

“I was today years old (well technically last-January years old) when I learned that if I wanted to write, even if I was writing a completely secondary world fantasy story, I needed to do my research. Now I’ve done my time in higher education, and compiled my fair share of research papers (often at 3 AM under the influence of too much caffeine—hey I embrace my stereotypes) but one thing I never did, in all those years that I was writing creatively as well as critically, was think to apply my research skills to my fiction.” (emphasis mine)



I thought it was obvious that if you were going to write a book involving horses and didn’t actually know about horses, it would behoove you (haha..) to do some research on horses. Look at books with pictures of horses, read about horse care, anatomy, and breeds, read about the tack and stabling for horses. Maybe go out and see a horse or even *gasps* ride a horse.

Am I expecting too much?

But then, Avery’s realization that doing research, even if you’re writing fantasy, makes me think of many fantasy novels (particularly YA), where I’ve read a passage and wondered if the author had ever looked at a tree. There are still many passages from Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire where I stopped, stared down the book, and asked things like, “Why are they hiking all the way up to the tree line, when they could easily do the thing way lower on the mountain?” or “Why do these authors always write about stinking horse barns?” If none of them are doing their research, that would make perfect sense.

So please, aspiring authors, take Avery’s moment of insight to heart. If you’re going to write a novel- even a fantasy novel- do your research.


white coated horse running

Photo by Helena Lopes on



3 thoughts on “Bookish Headlines #5

  1. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a horse lover. I was never the little girl who wanted a horse. HOWEVER, I got it fixed in my head that I was going to write this ghost story set in a horse stable. The person who ran the stables would live with the owner of the stables — you know, just rent a room somewhere in the house, or maybe a little bungalow somewhere on the property. To get some basic info about horses, I read All Horse Systems Go: The Horse Owner’s Full-Color Veterinary Care and Conditioning Resource for Modern Performance, Sport, and Pleasure Horses. I also read The Complete Horse Care Manual: The Essential Practical Guide To All Aspects Of Caring For Your Horse. I researched colleges that focus on equestrian studies, such as Saint-Mary’s-of-the-Woods in Indiana and read about their equestrian major, the class descriptions, and testimonials from students. Then, I contacted a former student of mine who loves horses. She let me meet her horses and answered all my horsey questions.

    I never wrote the story. Sometimes, I just don’t follow through with the writing, but my point is I did all that research just to not write a story. I think a serious writer should definitely do some research.

  2. I’ve done the same thing- do exhaustive research for a story that I never finished. For my one and only NaNoWriMo, I was working on this Victorian Gothic fantasy story set in Yorkshire. I did so much research about northern English weather, late Victorian fashions, tuberculosis and its treatment, English flowers… I even looked up phases of the moon and sunrise and sunset times for the exact days I was writing about. And then I never finished the story. So yeah, I can’t understand how an aspiring author would not figure out that you need to research the things you don’t know about, and even some of things you do know about.

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