I’m currently a graduate student in microbiology; in college I studied biology, creative writing, and French. I love glass-fronted bookcases, textured bookcovers, and the smell of yellowed paperbacks or glossy full-color pages. When I walk into a bookstore, I generally walk out again with something, even if I wasn’t planning on it.
I grew up on fairy tales, mythology, and The Hobbit, so fantastical fiction will always be my first and true love. I’m a sucker for the weird and Gothic. (My current Insane Ambition is to read and collect the entire works of Tanith Lee.) I am unreasonably attracted to massive short story collections, and have an even guiltier love of anything involving vampires. I’m also a fan of comics, manga, and 17th-19th century French fiction and philosophy.
Re-reading comfort books is probably my greatest weakness. My numerous other hobbies include knitting, painting, gardening, and playing with (Asian ball-jointed) dolls.
I generally don’t review poetry, strictly speaking, but I love talking about it. Some of my favorite poets are Seamus Heaney, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wislawa Szymborska, Kay Ryan, and Edward Thomas. Robert Frost’s “The Telephone” is the first poem that tends to come to mind when I’m asked for a favorite poem, although it’s only one of many, of course.
Take older ones with a grain of salt. I wince when I re-read most of them, but I’m trying to resist the temptation to edit the hell out of them – I would claim that it’s because I want to be honest about the evolution of my critical voice, but really it’s because I don’t have time.
I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I had never read the works of Meredith Ann Pierce, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Patricia McKillip – specifically and respectively, the Darkangel Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings (duh), and Winter Rose. N.B. I’ve changed a good deal since first making that declaration, but those are still in some sense my core canon.
Other extremely influential books are Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Gérard de Nerval’s Aurélia, and Tanith Lee’s works.
The books that I most frequently re-read, apart from the above, include Elizabeth Marie Pope’s The Perilous Gard, Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, just about all of Sarah Waters’ works…
Some of my favorite graphic novels are Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Grant Morrison’s Sebastian O, and Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias.