The motley crew came together after an intense MSc year at the University of Edinburgh. After heading our separate ways all over the world, we needed a way to keep sharing what we loved about books, arts, culture, politics…just about everything. And so BookNotes and FootMarks was born. We are continually looking for new contributors from a variety of backgrounds; meet some of the brilliant minds behind the curtain.
Michelle Anya Anjirbag graduated from UConn and the University of Edinburgh, and really wishes she still lived in Scotland. Sometimes she is a normal, friendly human who loves reading, writing, cooking, bad movies, and most outdoor activities, on top of advocating for a sense of common humanity and the right to read for all. Other times, her personality is much more like a grumpy baby dragon. Both halves will write for this blog. She can be found on Twitter @anjirbaguette and on Instagram @michelle_anya
Roxanne Gentry is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Edinburgh. When she’s not writing for BookNotes and FootMarks, she spends time convincing her cat to let her love him, reads mountains of books, and watches an unseemly amount of television. You can follow her on Twitter @RoxanneGentry.
Amanda Norelli graduated from UConn and set out for publishing as fast as her legs would carry her (Boston isn’t too far from Connecticut). The text publishing world isn’t glamorous, but it got her foot in the door. Speaking of feet, she loves walking the city, exploring the wonderful bookstores and enjoying a good cup of coffee. She always has a book in her bag and a spare cookie.
Anna Chalkidi graduated from the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and the University of Edinburgh. Her friends call her Anna and, due to the lack of any evidence, we assume that her enemies call her Anna as well. She is a proud Slytherin and spends her days reading, writing bad poetry and listening to depressing music. She collects dinosaur figures and isn’t ashamed to admit that she casually carries at least two of them in her bag. Under personal goals she usually writes “Disney villain”. She can be found on Twitter @ and Instagram @anna_chlk.
Sarah Jellenc is a graduate of the University of Alabama and, most recently, the University of Edinburgh. Her interests include Romantic and Victorian poetry, the role of fairy tales and myth in literature and society, and the intersection of literature and cognitive science. She’s also partial to fancy dress and festivals. You can follow her fascinating Twitter feed @SwagLikeSarah.
Lauren Szalkiewicz studied English at the University of Connecticut and worked as a project editor before packing some suitcases and moving to a cornfield in the middle of the US. Sometimes she reads, sometimes she writes, and sometimes she simply stares and does nothing. You can find her in real life sitting in her apartment. You can find her on instagram at @laurszalk.
Torhild Aas graduated from the University of Oslo and the University of Edinburgh. Despite being a literature student, she can be quite picky about what she likes to read, and she rarely listens to book recommendations; primarily she prefers 19th_century English classics and fantasy novels. In her free time, Torhild enjoys the following activities: eating chocolate, existing with her two cats, baking things, and reading Donald Duck comics.
Kirsten Amundsen is a graduate of Salve Regina University and more recently the University of Edinburgh. She holds a degree in archeology, which is not getting much use in her job as a museum curator. When not cleaning ancient taxidermy, researching dead rich people, and telling tourists where the bathroom is, she spends most her time painting, reading, binge-watching Netflix and looking for her next big adventure. She is a history nut and the type of person who will insist on giving a history lesson and tour of whatever place you might meet her. Kirsten does have a Twitter, which she has used one time, you’ll have more luck following her on Instagram @kirstenerica.
Layla AlAmmar graduated from the University of Kuwait (Economics), has a TESOL certificate and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. When she’s not confusing people with her background, she reads, writes, and salivates over antique jewelry that she can’t afford. She also enjoys grumbling about the lack of good music nowadays. Her short stories have been published and shortlisted for an award. No biggie. She also spends a lot of time online. Twitter and Instagram: @Layla_Alammar
Sabena Blackhall has spent the past year and a half of her life bolstering the profits of several independent breweries and has somehow been awarded a Master’s in Literature for her efforts. A devout champion of logic, organisation, and sarcasm who thinks the world is exceptionally wonderful except when it’s exceptionally not. Highly ambitious for the future and equally as terrified but with an enduring love of literature and its ability to envelop, enlighten, and transform. Controversially does not care for Harry Potter, can be found on Twitter @Scotchbean.
Evie Chamberlain: In a previous life, Evie graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in English Literature. She later realized that might not be the most helpful degree in the world and went back for more punishment—also known as practical job knowledge—from the University of Edinburgh Business School. She has a thing for podcasts, the weirdest cat in the world, and a job in the charity sector.
Samantha Edwards graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Master’s degree in Literary Translation and desperately wishes she had UK or EU citizenship so that she could live in Scotland forever. She nurtures an unhealthy obsession with E. M. Forster and will stop at nothing on her mission to see him universally acknowledged as one of the greatest novelists of all time. Between rants she writes fantastically awful verse and translates Hispanic and Lusophone poetry while feigning sophistication before her friends and family as an excuse to eat dark chocolate and drink fine wine. Like Sabena, controversially does not care for Harry Potter.
Elly Grayson graduated from the University of South Wales and the University of Edinburgh. In doing so she fulfilled a childhood dream: of moving to the city of spires, castles and underground caves. When she’s not reciting a rhyme for every occurrence in her daily life, she reads, scouts out folk and fifties music, attends gigs and tries to control her instagram habit. Twitter: @ellygrayson Insta: @ellygrayson.
Sarah Hayden graduated from William Woods University and the University of Edinburgh. She is an avid fan of horses, dogs, Disney and, most surprisingly, books. In her free time she reads, rides horses, and day dreams about the perfect career as writer, the Olympic gold medal she’s sure to win in the near future on her very old, rather decrepit horse, and all of the travels to exotic, romantic places she cannot afford as she spends her time day dreaming and not working. She also knows that Sabena’s opinions on Harry Potter are, quite simply, wrong.
Franzi Heydrich graduated from Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the University of Edinburgh. After studying that much literature, she decided that it was high time for a vocational degree that might actually get her a job, so she went on to study the MSc Publishing degree at Edinburgh Napier University. Apart from being an admitted bookworm and lover of the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, she is obsessed with penguins, coffee, baking and the Marvel Universe, and tweets from @Franzi_Heydrich
Anjali Misra earned her BA in English Literature and MA in Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is the Program Coordinator for Open House Gender Learning Community, UW-Madison’s first LGBTQ-inclusive residence hall. She also co-teaches leadership courses for LGBTQ youth of color and incarcerated youth through the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools. When not consuming fiction novels, Sci-fi TV, avant-garde film, 90s alt-rock and Marvel comics, Anjali enjoys cooking, biking, volunteering, and making art. She can be found on both Instagram and Twitter at @_anjali_misra
Georgia Ouli graduated from the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and the University of Edinburgh. You can always find her in front of her computer watching movies or an alarming amount of TV shows. She is a self-certified geek and an amateur astrologer with a disturbing fascination for Shakespeare. She is also an avid baker, coffee enthusiast and a proud owner of a sonic screwdriver.
Sophia Pope graduated from the Kapodistrian University of Athens and is currently studying for a master’s degree in European Literatures at the Universities of Thessaloniki and Bologna. However, she grew up in London and this makes explaining to people where she’s from extremely difficult. She has escapist tendencies and never seems to be able to stay in one place for long. Apart from reading a good deal she spends her time doing classical and contemporary ballet and trying to reconcile her spontaneous nature with her obsessive need for order in her personal space. She also gets really excited about horses and naps a lot.
Nicole Stathopoulou graduated from the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece and the Institut de Traducteurs, d’Interprètes et de Relations Internationales in Strasbourg, France. She spent six months in the European Parliament working as a translator in the Greek Translation Unit. She is obsessed with everything British. In her free time she enjoys scrolling through social media – join her on Twitter (@CetteNicole), Instagram (cettenicole) and Tumblr (juliekaila).
Ashwati Thampi graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and the University of Edinburgh. In the course of completing her Masters, she fell irrevocably in love with the city of Edinburgh, and yearns to go back there someday. Her recent foray into professional life has convinced her that “adulthood” is not her cup of tea. She wishes she could travel back in time and warn her younger self about adulthood, yelling RUN! while flapping her arms. She is a fantasy fiction nerd and if you ever notice a vaguely blank look on her face, she is most likely thinking about dragons and elves and wizards. Apart from reading, she enjoys watching TV shows and movies and tweets from @ashwati91.
Claire Thomas graduated from UConn and North Carolina State University. She works as an auditor by day and moonlights as a language and music geek, dabbling in Irish, Icelandic, and Old Norse. She recently began learning the Irish whistle and enjoys freaking people out by playing the Shire music from Lord of the Rings out her bedroom window. She also loves poetry, mythology, and Terry Pratchett.