The FRIENDS Book Tag

Forgive me, I couldn’t resist!


A book based on a game or competition

In Throne of Glass, a bunch of assassins and thieves compete for a chance to be the King’s Champion. A daft-but-fun YA read with plenty of action.

Organisation queen – How do you organise your books?

Err, I don’t. They’re shoved in my bookshelves every which way and kept in piles on the floor.


A book you read for the hype

I bought Song of Achilles because I’d heard so many people speak highly of it, but I just couldn’t get into it. Not to sound like a straight dude (because I’m neither straight nor a dude) but I was hoping for a bit less romance and a bit more fighting the Trojans.

Shopping addict – What makes you buy a book?

Oh damn, so many things. But lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to read more indie books, so I’m more likely to buy something self-published or published by a small/independent press.


A science fiction book

Let’s go with Klara and the Sun. If you’re a fan of the Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, this is a must-read.

On a break – Which books have you put down to pick up later?

I started reading The Amber Spyglass at 15 but didn’t get around to finishing it until I was 19. I feel like those four years made a difference to my understanding of it.


A book that made you laugh out loud

I rarely laugh out loud at books but OMG, that scene with the tin of pineapple! Three Men in a Boat is possibly the funniest book I’ve read and it was published in 1889. It just goes to show that some things are timelessly funny: slapstick, crap holidays, and young guys being very bad at adulting.

That time at space mountain – Are there any books you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve read?

Ahem, I think you’ll find it was Ross who had the embarrassing incident on space mountain. I don’t see the point in being embarrassed about reading something you enjoy, but I have read some stereotypically “guilty pleasure” books, such as…


A scary book you’d keep in the freezer

Don’t laugh! I doubt any book will ever scare me quite as much as this one did when I was a kid.

V is for encyclopaedia – As an adult, have you read any books with words you had to look up to understand?

I’m sure I have, but can’t think of any in particular.


A book with a spiritual or supernatural theme

This one is about the Norse gods, doing very spiritual things like fighting, playing tricks on each other, and tying their genitals to a goat (that last one is Loki in case you hadn’t guessed).


A book with an “Oh My God!” twist



A British classic

You can’t beat a good Dickens.


A book nobody seems to be talking about

All the indie books! I’m going to take this opportunity to shout out the Inverbrudock trilogy by Katherine Highland, particularly A Lattice of Scenes and Seasons as it’s my fave. These three #ownvoices books centre autistic women and girls as they navigate the joys and challenges of everyday life in Scotland.

Carol and Susan

An LGBTQ+ author and book

This list needs some poetry, so who better to add than Carol Ann Duffy? I love her Selected Poems, which contains work from five of her books. Some of her poems explore her experiences as a gay woman, while others take vastly different points of view. All are vivid, sharp, and full of feeling.  


Romance novel

I don’t usually read traditional romance novels. I need to be tricked into reading romance by disguising it as another genre like historical fiction.

If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged! Unless you’ve already done the FRIENDS tag, which is entirely possible since it’s about four years old.

The Grad Student Book Tag

Jillian the Bookish Butterfly has created this book tag for grad students, and since I’m studying for a MSc in Science Communication, I thought I’d give it a shot. Let’s get cracking!

Picking an Area of Study

What’s your favourite books and/or series from each of your favourite genres?

Argh! I’m useless at picking favourites. I’m useless at picking areas of study, too. I couldn’t decide between Psychology and Biology for my BSc, so I studied them both as a joint honours. I like a lot of different genres, but I’ll narrow it down to three.

Literary: I’m going with NW, because Zadie Smith is the queen and this book is pure magic. A weirdly constructed tale of London life, with a strong but complicated female friendship at its core.


Fantasy: For magic of a far more literal kind, I’d pick Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s a masterpiece! The TV series is pretty good too.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Mystery/thriller: I’m going with a timeless classic for this one – The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Hound of the Baskervilles


What book or books did you feel like you really had to focus on when you were reading and/or you had a hard time concentrating on?

What the heck is a GRE? I’m guessing it’s an American thing. In terms of books that I struggled to focus on, one that springs to mind is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It just didn’t click.

Heart of Darkness

Juggling Work and School

What book took you too long to read and why?

This is probably true of half the readers of the world, but it took me way too long to read Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I enjoyed parts of it (there’s some gorgeous descriptive writing) but it reeeeeally drags in the middle.

Moby Dick

Too Much Homework

Name a book you did not hate, but did not love.

I’m going with The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Basically, I’m aro as hell and find romance a bit dull, even when it’s gay and set in ancient Greece.

Song of Achilles

Research Projects

How do you decide what book you want to read next off your TBR?

I’m a mood reader, but also a seasonal reader. Spring is for getting my teeth stuck into a good, complex literary novel or historical fiction. Summer is for classic adventure stories and nostalgic re-reads of YA and MG. Autumn means snuggling up with a cuppa and a fantasy novel, and winter just cries out for noir-ish thrillers.

Writing Papers

What book, in your opinion, has the best writing?

Oh shit, that’s a big question. I’m going to go with the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. And no, I’m not going to pick one, that’s literally impossibly.

Neapolitan novels

The weird thing is, it’s not the kind of writing I usually enjoy. It’s almost entirely humourless and the only dialogue is brief and terse. But the depth of thought and feeling Ferrante conveys is phenomenal – it’s like seeing someone’s life through a microscope. I’m in awe.


What’s a book you stayed up way too late reading?

In my third year of uni, I completely f*cked up my body clock. Not by staying out partying, but by staying up until stupid o’clock reading the Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon. They’re so addictive! And so chunky, you can read for hours and not get halfway through. I think Voyager is the one that turned me fully nocturnal.


No Social Life

What fiction character do you think would make the best study buddy?

My first impulse was to go for a “genius” character like Sherlock Holmes. But if someone is just naturally brilliant, that means they aren’t necessarily good at studying. Give me a study buddy who has a good brain but got where they are by working their arse off. Elena Greco from the Neapolitan novels is a prime example.

Elena Greco

Final Projects

In your opinion, what book was the best series finale?

Honestly, I read very few series. I’m a commitment-phobe! I think I’ll go with The Deathly Hallows, for sentimental reasons.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’m not such a fan of JKR these days (specifically her views on trans issues) but I’ll always be a fan of Harry Potter. Like so many people, I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the idea of three teenagers standing up to the biggest evil imaginable still moves me.

 Getting that Master’s Degree

What’s the most books you have bought at once?

Not many, I’m a cheapskate. Four or five?

If you’re a grad student, consider yourself tagged! I’m also tagging you if you’re in your final year of uni, or your first year out of uni.