My Favourite Posts By Me From The Last Decade (Ish)

An unabashed post of self-congratulation marking the fact that I’ve now been blogging since 2011, starting on my old site Laura Reading Books and moving here in 2015. One favourite post per year!

Thomas Hardy backwards: escaping one’s fate [a range of Thomas Hardy novels], August 2011. ‘I can’t think of almost all the remaining cast drowning in the weir at the end of The Return of the Native without smiling’.

A Game of Thrones: Catelyn and Arya Stark [A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin], April 2012. ‘Martin shows us how a desire for justice can be distorted into a desire for vengeance, when life becomes too cruel for mercy’. (If you want to read more of my thoughts on A Song of Ice and Fire, my other essays on Cat, Arya and Sansa are linked here. These essays also drew the most traffic to my blog ever!).

Laura Rereading: Theories about fear [The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull by John Bellairs], February 2013. ‘what I think Bellairs did teach me – and what he still does exceptionally well – is how to scare’.

All this buttoning and unbuttoning [Her by Harriet Lane], April 2014. “if Frances… was, as she put it, ‘making pastry’ as she inveigled her way into Alys’s old life, Nina is making choux buns to Frances’s shortcrust, so lightly and imperceptibly does she trouble Emma.”

Laura Rereading: ‘I belong to him’ [the Emily of New Moon series by L.M Montgomery], June 2015. ‘Emily’s Quest is not a novel about an obsessive lover getting in the way of true, pure love. It’s a novel about obsessive love, full stop’.

‘My child and my child’s child’ [The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers and The Ship by Antonia Honeywell], January 2016. “[Jessie’s] father tries to talk her out of her decision: ‘The future is an abstract concept, Jess’. But Jessie can’t believe this: ‘No, it’s my child and my child’s child’.”

Rewatching ‘San Junipero’: the black mirror [Black Mirror TV series], January 2017. ‘because of San Junipero, [Kelly] can have a second life as a young woman, in love with another young woman. She can be ‘normal’ and ‘transgressive’ at the same time. She can have it all, but only after she’s dead’.

Bookworm, Or I Wish I’d Written This [Bookworm by Lucy Mangan], May 2018. ‘I knew that Betsy was made up, so why was she mentioned in another book? HOW HAD THIS HAPPENED?’

Sex, the sea and academia: Night Waking (Sarah Moss) & The Pisces (Melissa Broder)May 2019. “If Lucy’s Tinder profile says ‘Let’s make out in a dark alley’, Anna’s would probably say ‘Please leave me alone in a dark bedroom’.”

Have any of you written lists of your own favourite posts by yourself, or have favourite posts of your own to recommend?

28 thoughts on “My Favourite Posts By Me From The Last Decade (Ish)

  1. My favourite posts have been my much longer ruminations on my re-reading of Iris Murdoch’s novels over the last 26 months, for me being able to record all my thoughts and the themes I spotted, and for the great discussions in the comments.

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  2. I had no idea you’d been blogging for so long! I’m a relative newbie c. early 2015. I think I’ve only been following you long enough to have encountered the last couple of these. I’m keen to do lots more backlist and re-reading next year. I see how it can be a lot more rewarding.

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    • The blog I kept from 2011 to 2014 was more of a personal reading record – I didn’t really engage with other bloggers until restarting in 2015, and even then I was a very sporadic blogger until 2017.


  3. Congratulations on your blogging achievement! I also started blogging in 2011. I had (well, still have) a blog dedicated to films on wordpress, but it is only in 2018 then I started blogging about books and my other interests by starting a new blog. I cannot say that the two communities (films and books) interact that much in here 🙂 I really enjoyed your article on Thomas Hardy’s works. I am currently reading Jude the Obscure and I think I will have much to say on the book when I finish with it.

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      • I think anyone can be a film critic. There are no strict rules – you just write about what you see and how it makes you feel. I think it is easier than literary criticism because you don’t have to pay attention to the form and language, and you can fall back more on intuition and feelings, rather than knowledge and form of expression (though there is always much to say about acting and cinematography (camera angles, colour, etc)). In films, the world is already built more or less, whereas in books, you can discover it and then imagine and even interpret it as you see fit from the description given.

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        • Ah, that’s interesting, because I see it the opposite way round! I write intuitively about fiction I’ve read but always feel this is insufficient when judging films, and that I should be more attentive to form. I also find it very difficult to write about actors/acting, so tend to ignore them and focus on the characterisation and plot, which seems like a bad approach. I don’t have any qualifications in literary or film criticism beyond English A Level, but I guess I just feel much more confident assessing books.

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  4. Ooh congrats on the milestone!

    I just read your San Junipero post and I LOVED it. I actually don’t like that ep at all for reasons that have nothing to do with the ending (which, whenever I say that I didn’t like it, everyone assumes that I objected to the happy ending because I prefer miserable fiction, lol). I just didn’t find it emotionally engaging and I didn’t think information about the world-building was revealed to the viewer at a satisfying enough pace to keep my attention, the info-dump at the end really didn’t work for me. THAT SAID I found your analysis infinitely more exciting than anything else I’ve read about this ep, and I think you nailed it in the final paragraph.

    I’m also reading through your ASOIAF essays and adoring them. I have so many feelings about the Stark ladies. This is actually making me want to reread the series which is seriously the last thing I need to do.

    As for my own posts, I’m fond of this one which I wrote in response to the exhausting amount of ‘literary fiction is always about professors having affairs’ takes on twitter:

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    • Thank you! I’m a bit obsessed with San Junipero. It’s my favourite Black Mirror episode and I’ve watched it approximately 1000 times 🙂

      I love your post on literary fiction! YA fans are very keen to accuse critics of not reading YA, but they don’t exactly practice what they preach when it comes to literary fiction. I’m so sick of hearing this weird generalisation from people who don’t seem to have read a literary novel since school. I’ve actually read pretty much everything you recommend already, but your post reminded me that I must pick up The Lesser Bohemians.

      I had a lot of fun writing those ASOIAF essays, back when I was procrastinating from working on my PhD. I’ve always found Arya hard to like (Cat and Sansa have always been my two favourite characters) but writing those essays gave me more appreciation for her.

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      • I’d say my favorite episode is 15 Million Merits but Be Right Back and Shut Up and Dance are also up there for me. (That last one being a rather unpopular opinion, I gather. I tend not to have the most popular Black Mirror opinions.)

        And yes that’s SO true – I just get so frustrated by progressive, important, diverse literary fiction getting shafted by the silly sorts of generalizations that you see by YA fans. No shade to YA itself, but a lot of what these people claim to be looking for in the mythical New Adult genre is… right there in adult lit?! I don’t get it. And I’ll be very curious to hear your thoughts on The Lesser Bohemians! I liked Girl so much better but my appreciation for TLB has grown over time.

        Ahhh Cat and Sansa have always been my two faves as well ❤ Arya I find interesting but frustrating. Incidentally though, her POV chapters in Braavos are my favorite chapters in the entire series. I'm not even sure why!

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        • I spent a long time after the last season came out ranking every Black Mirror episode ever in order. Having wasted my time doing this, I can tell you that Fifteen Million Merits is my third favourite episode, and Shut Up And Dance is my eighth favourite – so yes, I liked both of them a lot! (San Junipero is emotionally important to me, but I only ranked it second – my absolute favourite episode ever is Hated In The Nation which I just think is genius).

          I liked Arya a lot more in the fourth and fifth books, she’s much more interesting once she reaches Braavos.

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          • Ohhh interesting – have you written anything about Hated in the Nation? It’s middle of the road for me – I was loving it at first and then felt like it overstayed its welcome with its unnecessarily long run time. But I did think it had some very clever and important things to say.

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              • Me too! I’d love to see your complete rankings. I should revisit mine. (But I also haven’t seen the newest season yet.)

                Have you seen The Lobster? It’s my favorite film and Hang the DJ reminded me so much of it so naturally it paled a bit in comparison. I just read your post and completely agree that the ep leaves more to be desired if you read it as a straight-forward HEA love story. Another middle of the road one for me.

                But yes! More Black Mirror posts!!!!

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                  • I found my rankings!

                    1. fifteen million merits
                    2. be right back
                    3. the entire history of you
                    4. shut up and dance
                    5. the national anthem
                    6. nosedive
                    7. white bear
                    8. white christmas
                    9. hated in the nation
                    10. hang the dj
                    11. arkangel
                    12. uss callister
                    13. san junipero
                    14. bandersnatch
                    15. black museum
                    15. metalhead
                    17. crocodile
                    18. men against fire
                    19. playtest
                    20. the waldo moment

                    I think I mostly stand by this but I definitely need to rewatch a few of these. And watch the new season, obviously.

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                    • So interesting to see! I found my rankings shifted a lot on a rewatch, though I haven’t rewatched every episode. e.g. White Bear just didn’t work for me second time around because I knew the twist ending, but I appreciated The National Anthem a lot more. I’m surprised at the degree of congruity here (though I’m afraid I’ll never get why The Entire History of You is such a popular Black Mirror episode).

                      Because I am a massive geek, I have also split my rankings into groups where I think there’s a big quality jump between one group and the next, because I found it so hard to decide precise rankings:

                      1. Hated In The Nation
                      2. San Junipero
                      3. Fifteen Million Merits
                      4. The National Anthem
                      5. USS Callister
                      6. Nosedive
                      7. White Christmas
                      8. Shut Up And Dance
                      9. Be Right Back
                      10. Crocodile
                      11. Striking Vipers
                      12. Bandersnatch
                      13. Smithereens
                      14. White Bear
                      15. Hang the DJ
                      16. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
                      17. The Waldo Moment
                      18. Playtest
                      19. Arkangel
                      20. Black Museum
                      21. The Entire History of You
                      22. Men Against Fire
                      23. [Metalhead] could not watch due to violence, so technically unrated

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                    • Mine also shifted around a lot upon rewatching and I completely agree that White Bear really doesn’t work as well once you know the twist. But I loved it too much the first time to knock it down much lower.

                      Oh WOW The Entire History of You worse than The Waldo Moment?! I really really love that episode – the technology is fascinating to me to the point where I think it’s the Black Mirror invention I’d most like to have access to, and I found the two main actors’ performances so compelling that I was riveted by every minute of it.

                      But yes otherwise so much overlap! The National Anthem is just genius, it makes me sad that so many people rate that one low just because it’s gross. It’s such an incredible piece of writing.

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                    • I need to rewatch The Waldo Moment. It’s obviously one of the weakest but I remember finding more in it than a few of the others when I first watched it many years ago. Perhaps on a rewatch I would dislike it more.

                      My problem with The Entire History of You is that it introduces a really fascinating bit of technology, and then doesn’t do very much with it, pairing it with shallow annoying characters and a kind of sub Mike Leigh social commentary. So I kind of hate it more for the missed opportunity rather than it being objectively the worst episode. However, it always comes out really high on best of lists, so others must see something more in it.

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                    • What I’m gathering from this convo is that you should rewatch all of Black Mirror and do write ups of all of the eps tbh.

                      And yes I definitely get that. I feel like with Black Mirror I tend to be more compelled by good performances than well-written characters for whatever reason (unless a character is like, obviously written terribly) and Toby Kebbell’s performance really stood out to me.

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