The Bookish Bucket List

I was tagged by Mary at Mary and the Words for this tag. She’s a pretty snazzy human being, so go check out her blog. Feel free to do it right now. I’ll wait.

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So. The Bookish Bucket List involves answering questions about bookish things you would like to accomplish before you die. Because that’s the point of a bucket list, right?


What books or series that intimidate you (because of length, density, subject) would feel like an accomplishment to finish?

There are several of these. Series-wise, I’d feel a major sense of accomplishment by completing the science fiction series, The Expanse by James S.A. Corey. It’s a nine-book series with two accompanying novellas, and all the novels are long and filled with a lot of hard SF elements blended with great character work and an apocalyptic-level plot. I’ve gotten all the way to book two, Caliban’s War.

Standalone novels-wise, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain has been on my shelf for a long, long time. I don’t know why. I read Mann’s Doctor Faustus for a class in college (translated by the same translator), and it was brilliant. So why am I hesitant to begin The Magic Mountain, a 706-page book of ideas by a Nobel Prize-winning author? Probably because it’s a 706-page book of ideas by a Nobel Prize-winning author.


What author would you like to co-author a book with?

I have yet to read a book by Lois McMaster Bujold that doesn’t show an immense understanding of humanity. Her best characters have an extraordinary sense of themselves, and that informs their actions and responses throughout the books (or series). Working with her to find out how she works through character psychology would be so illuminating.

And if I could just attend a lecture on writing presented by Hilary Mantel, I’d be over the moon.


If you could interview any author for your blog, who would it be? What’s one question you would ask?

Lois McMaster Bujold: How do you figure out your characters’ psychologies so perfectly?

Katherine Arden: How do you translate an abstract and magical world like Midnight into words?

Neil Gaiman: How do you even?


a clear sky at night

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As a writer, what genre is out of your comfort zone that you’d like to conquer someday and write within?

Surprisingly enough, I have successfully written a romance (shocking, I know), so the next genre to conquer would, I think, be horror.

That’s a natural progression, right?

The problem I have with horror is that, because I know that it’s a book and not real, I really don’t experience the fear or suspense that is supposed to come along with horror, and it quickly grows tedious for me. The trick, I suppose, would be for me to find some concept or thing that I genuinely find frightening, and then write a story about that concept or thing.

grayscale photography of hallway

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What specific edition of a book would you like to own someday? It could be rare, a first edition, an anniversary edition, signed, or one with a cover special to you, etc.

First editions of The Lord of the Rings books would be amazing. I own a first edition of The Silmarillion, though it’s a book club edition and thus less valuable (it looks almost exactly like a regular edition, though, so I’m good with that). A first edition of The Hobbit, before Tolkien went back and edited it following the publication of The Lord of the Rings would be fantastic, too.

Otherwise, I think I’m good. Though I would, at some point, like to get Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy from the British publisher, 4th Estate. They’re lovely covers, and they all go together, unlike the American books, where the first two books have similar covers, and then book three is completely different.



Are there any books or bookish items that you’d like to collect?

There is an edition of Tolkien’s History of Middle Earth that is bound up into a few hardcover volumes with beautiful covers and a slipcover. But they are horrendously expensive, and so I will probably never get them. But otherwise, I don’t buy bookish merchandise like bookmarks or book slipcovers. I have cats who like to play with bookmarks, and the used bookstore hands them out plain paper ones (with their logo) for free with every purchase, so I’m good where it comes to bookmarks. And given that I live in a small apartment, I don’t have space for random trinkets. That shelf space is devoted to books.


A photo of the oldest book I own next to the fanciest bookmark I own.

Name one bookish place you’d like to visit. (Not somewhere you’d like to visit because of a book and not a fictional place within a book. A library, bookstore, etc.)

Shakespeare & Co. in Paris is one place, just because it’s such a bookish landmark.

But I think my number one bookish place to visit in the world is El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina that began its life as a theater in 1919. The architecture shows its Art Nouveau roots, and while the selection is apparently your standard chain store fare and in Spanish (which I don’t read), just being in such a beautiful bookshop is endlessly appealing. Plus, I’ve wanted to visit Buenos Aires for a long time.


Source: Atlas Obscura, photo by Miguel Vieira

Name one bookish event you’d like to attend. (A festival, a signing, a book fair, etc.)

I have little interest in attending a book festival or convention, except if the festival in question is the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts in Hay on Wye, a little town in Wales, which has way more bookshops than a little town could ask for. Hay on Wye is located on the edge of Brecon Beacons National Park, which is a place I would love to travel to, whether or not I ended up at Hay on Wye.

Your WIP is getting published and designing the cover is solely up to you. What does it look like?

I don’t know what particular image would best encapsulate my current Work in Progress, but there are a few artists who could definitely capture its essence, in a perfect world: Michael Whelan, Alan Lee, or John Jude Palencar, whose iconic work has defined fantasy art for decades.

And while their art doesn’t quite match up with the fantasy setting I’m working in, if my WIP was, say, gothic or steampunk, I’d love to have Colleen Doran or Sana Takeda create the cover art. Their work is more stylized, but it is mind-blowingly beautiful.


What’s one thing you’d like to accomplish within the bookish world? As a writer, reader, blogger, whatever you want.

Doesn’t everyone want to have their novel published?

I think being an editor would be fascinating, if stressful job, as would being a book critic or reviewer. Given that I have a book blog, I am a reviewer of sorts. It would be lovely to be paid to write book reviews, though.


This is the part where I’m supposed to tag people, but I am lousy at thinking of different blogs on the spot, so if you’ve made it this far and you’re interested in completing this tag, consider yourself tagged.

8 thoughts on “The Bookish Bucket List

  1. On a slightly different note, I’ve never read Infinite Jest because it intimidates me. Yet I keep seeing it on lists of books people should read during shelter in place….I don’t see that as being a good option…

  2. I read one essay by David Foster Wallace, and that was enough for me. I often wonder if Infinite Jest is one of those books that people say you should read because they’ve heard it’s important. I don’t plan to ever read it.

  3. There are thankfully paperback editions of the 13-volume history that have all the same covers, and I’m slowly working my way through collecting all of them. I have five so far, and I can’t wait for all of the spines to line up with each other. They don’t sell them all together, though, weirdly enough, which is both annoying and a relief to my wallet, haha. And Alan Lee’s artwork is incredible. I’m so grateful to him for everything he’s drawn for the Middle-earth universe.

    I feel you on not wanting to attend a bookish convention! They just sound so unappealing to me–large crowds, enormous lines for books that you have to make fast decisions about, and encountering some of my favorite authors? Nah, I’m all good, haha.

  4. I definitely know about the paperback editions. At some point, I’m going to start collecting them to replace my little mass market paperbacks, but it’s definitely not going to start happening right now.

    Yeah. Conventions, theme parks, and things like that just don’t appeal to me. I’d go to the Hay Festival, because it’s largely open air, and most used books (as far as I know), so it’s not like you’re going to have rabid fans trying to swarm their favorite YA author-of-the-month. Plus, it’s in Wales. Can’t beat that.

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