Simon Thomas was born in 1985 in Billinge, Merseyside, and has been drifting Southwards ever since. He just finished reading English at Magdalen College, Oxford, whither he hopes to return for a Masters. In the interim he is working in the beautiful Bodleian Library. A twin, a Christian, a vegetarian and a bookaholic who isn't looking for a cure, Simon blogs at Stuck in a Book.
Why do you blog? > Initially it was a finals revision-avoidance-tactic, and to catch up with old e-friends in the blogosphere. I continue because of the community, the comments and the joy I feel when someone else loves a book I recommend.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Being quoted on the back cover of Angela Young's wonderful novel Speaking of Love.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > An anonymous person leaving unkind comments.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Make sure you visit a lot of other people's blogs. The blogosphere is a community, and it's all about popping in and out of others' houses for a cuppa, not holing yourself up on your own blog. Write often, but keep the posts a readable length. Nice pictures always help. And try to be light-hearted at least 75 percent of the time. A blog isn't the same as a journal.
What are your favourite blogs? > So many! To pick just three: Karen at Cornflower; Elaine at Random Jottings; Margaret at Books Please. All write in an intelligent and welcoming away about books I love – and Elaine and I like just about everything literary in common.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, St. Paul, and my Dad.
What are you reading at the moment? > Lots... Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (re-read); The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome; The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters; Dear Friend and Gardener, the letters of Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd; A House of Air by Penelope Fitzgerald; Yes Man by Danny Wallace; One True Void by Dexter Petley; Incomparable: Exploring The Character of God by Andrew Wilson. Phew!
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The best is Pride and Prejudice, though not perhaps quite my favourite.
What is your favourite poem? > A tussle between Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 ('My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun') and Psalm 51 ('Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow'). Walter de la Mare's 'The Listeners' in at third.
What is your favourite movie? > The Hours, I think - unlike all other Woolf lovers!
What is your favourite song? > 'Stood' by Kathryn Williams.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The Bible, more than any other book in the world. In fact, I'd swap all the other books in the world for it. Glad I can have both.
Who are your political heroes? > Deborah Mitford, actually: after reading the collected Mitford letters, I greatly admire her ability to choose to be apolitical in the face of two sisters' damaging extreme views.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I think Inheritance Tax is kicking someone when they're down.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Jo Brand.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I have vague ideas that life was perfect in the 1920s and 1930s - except 1939 comes along and proves me wrong.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > You never regret the books you bought; only the ones you didn't buy.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > 'GSOH', as the personal columns have it.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Bluntness or selfishness (which are often more or less the same thing).
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To save a life, or to protect my family. I try to avoid all the little white lies which have a way of slipping out - but see above; honesty need not mean bluntness. Sometimes keeping one's mouth closed is the wisest move.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Lots of literary prejudices, I'm afraid: mostly against science fiction. And novels where the author's name is bigger than the title.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief;/He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.' (Othello)
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Getting drunk; watching sport; getting drunk whilst watching sport.
What would you call your autobiography? > I've thought about this. If Not - partly to represent all the possible paths chosen in a lifetime; mostly because the French translation would be Sinon.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > My twin brother would be good; only he's an actuary, not an actor.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Always the countryside. I'm in a beautiful city (Oxford) but I hanker for the fields.
What is your most treasured possession? > My oldest cuddly dog, Patch. He's a month younger than I am.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > I like 'Simon', but with a fairly bland surname, 'Thomas', maybe something more dramatic - like 'Malachi', perhaps.
What talent would you most like to have? > Multi-lingualism. Especially Finnish, to read Tove Jansson in her own language.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Novelist. Or hereditary peer.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]