What are you doing now: Right now, I am living in the wonderful city of Reykjavík, on the southwestern coast of Iceland while I complete the fourth and final semester of my Master’s degree in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies. This semester is all about the thesis and, if all goes well, I will complete my degree in May. Fingers crossed!
Relationship to Great Books: Program Assistant at the Amherst College Campus, Summer 2014.
Nerdy fun fact: I perfected my typing skills in high school by transcribing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and wrote myself acceptance letters to Hogwarts when I was 10 with my father’s parchment and quill pens. I was a very proactive child and Hogwarts seemed like a much better idea than middle school.
Favorite book: Oh dear, this is probably the hardest questions for a Great Bookling to answer without sounding like a card catalogue (look it up, Podlings, “card catalogue”), so I will answer the question like this: The one non-academic book that I have flown back and forth with me between Iceland, Denmark, and my home state of Massachusetts is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It is absolutely one of my favorite books, but it also reminds me of home, of good friends, and of why I enjoy studying the subjects I do.
What are you reading right now: I have to admit that I am only reading books directly related to my studies at the moment, particularly the Prose and Poetic Eddas, although I sneak a chapter of American Gods in when I can. I am also a huge murder mystery fan and I listen to audiobooks by one of my favorite mystery authors, Tony Hillerman, during my bicycle commute to university. Reading on a bicycle is not recommended.
How many (and which) fictional/dead languages do you speak? Well, I think “speak” would be a bit of an exaggeration, but I took six years of Latin, all through middle and high school. I signed up when I was eleven because I wanted to know what all the spells in Harry Potter meant and I stayed for the mythology. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I also have some Old Icelandic (Vitoð ér enn, eða hvat?).
Which nerd in history would you most like to have a late brunch with? Well, I have two answers depending on how one wants to interpret the question: Which historical (deceased) nerd would I like to have brunch with? Definitely the Icelandic chieftain Snorri Sturluson (1178/1179-1241). Snorri was not your typical nerd. He was a very wealthy and powerful man, constantly engaged in violent conflicts with his family, his brothers in particular, and was ultimately assassinated in his outdoor hot tub [probably] for, among other things, making shady deals with the wrong members of the Norwegian royalty. However, he was highly educated and intelligent, being the Lawspeaker (lögsogurmaður) of the Icelandic Althingi, which was one of the highest ranking and most influential leadership roles in the Freestate Iceland. He was also responsible for the completion and preservation of one of our very few remaining sources of Norse mythology, The Prose Edda, which is now believed by many to have been composed to preserve and transmit the craft and tradition of Norse poetry, for which the Icelanders were especially known throughout early medieval Scandinavia. (There is also strong speculation that Snorri was the anonymous author of Egil’s Saga, one of the most beautiful examples of the Norse saga genre.) However, if the question is which nerd from the whole scope of history, including the present day, I would have to say: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. I’m human, and a child of the ‘90s. How could I refuse?
Who was your first fictional crush? It’s quite a long list, let me tell you, but allow me to dig into the archives. Perhaps not the very first, but among the first was definitely Jim Hawkins from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. In retrospect, however, I must question if my crush was on Jim Hawkins or on his experience. There was (and is) nothing more I want than to stowaway on a ship, find a treasure map, swashbuckle with pirates and chill out with the one, the only, Long John Silver.
Which author would you want to write your story? P. G. Wodehouse.
Who would win in a fight?: Dumbledore’s Army vs. the Avengers
I’m going to have to say Dumbledore’s Army – I think there would be an element of surprise (I can’t imagine The Avengers being immediately suspicious of a bunch of British school children) and they have a much larger repertoire of supernatural moves to make; while The Avengers are AWESOME they are somewhat limited individually and their super-skills are still within the realm of comic book/sci-fi “reality.” I also don’t think they’d be able to comprehend the power and flexibility of genuine magic quickly enough to win.