Columns > Published on September 23rd, 2021

Yahoo! Answers: Books, Reading, and Writing


Yahoo! Answers is dead. But from Late 2005 to May 2021, it was the primary place to ask questions about, well, everything. You'd get terrible, poorly formed advice riddled with grammatical errors, but damn was it fun.

Sadly, some questions remain unanswered. Which is why I dug back through questionable internet history to make sure everyone got definitive replies about about plot holes, reading methods, writing, and how babby is formed.


What is the best book of all time?

If you want a surefire way to hear you’re an idiot, declare something the best of anything at any time in any context.

That said: The Long Walk by Stephen King is the best book of all time. You have to pick a hill to die on eventually, right? 

What makes David Sedaris' book 'Naked' humorous to you? If you didn't find it funny (I'm currently in this position) that's fine too. But please explain why.

Honey, if you’re asking for an intellectual explanation of why something is funny, you’re not the target audience for David Sedaris.

How important is age in romance novels? It seems that all the romance novels I read involve an 18-25 year old woman, and a 30+ year old man. Would you read a romance novel if the ages were reversed?

With almost no effort I managed to find a bunch of romance novels featuring an older woman with a younger man, and I present to you some of the funnier titles:

  1. MILF: Wrong Kind of Love
  2. Dating a Cougar
  3. The King's Spinster Bride
  4. Old Enough
  5. Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar
  6. The Librarian and the Wolf
  7. The Pool Boy
  8. The Hero Sandwich

Is it a smart idea to put the names of people you know on a book? Is there a possibility that they'll chase you around with torches and forks out their anger? Or will they just find it funny?

Nothing about writing a book is smart.

As for putting real people in your novel, here’s the secret: Put assholes in your books, copy them exactly, but change their names. They’ll never recognize themselves because assholes rarely recognize that they’re assholes.

Are there any other good romance book??

I’ve read exactly one: License to Love. But The Librarian and the Wolf, being a milf-y romance, sounds like it might be a hoot.

A poem written on the bus today. Do u like it?
the morning after
The sun shimmers off her curly light brown hair
Her eyes now shut in slumber, nothing could compare
Her lips the color of blood from just underneath the skin
I could sit for hours and hours just watching her angelic face
Her breasts sit up perfect, not too big and not too small

I’m gonna stop you right here, even though you had a lot more.

Enough has been written about “perfect” boobs. Enormous, freakshow boobs that eventually smother their owner in her sleep? I’m in. Boobs that are somehow warped by an accident or something? Yes. Possessed boobs where the left one is good-natured and the right is evil, and the boob owner has to decide which boob to listen to? You bet. Boobs that shoot battery acid instead of milk? I’ll go there with you. But don’t give me this Goldilocks, just right, perfect boobs bullshit. We get it, you saw a nice pair of cans. Get over it.

What should I write my book about?
I am wanting to write a book. I just don't know what to write it about. I really enjoy writing stuff about teenage girls who get into trouble (with alcohol, boys, drugs..etc.) . I love writing about pregnancy and relationships. Also, i am interested in writing about teens with mental/health problems.
I also enjoy writing about crime. Like detectives solving crimes and stuff.

You are a true unicorn among writers: someone who has no ideas but wants to do the work of writing.

Let’s see...a teenage, troublemaking girl meets a boy. The boy is a vampire, but he’s also an alcoholic, so he only feeds on people who are shitfaced (it’s the only way he can consume alcohol, mixed with human blood). He doesn’t kill, though, just consumes enough to get wasted. Then, one morning, a bunch of bodies with puncture wounds in the neck are found. The vampire swears to his girlfriend that he had nothing to do with it, but he has no alibi and was blacked out at the time because it was 50-cent PBR night at a local hipster bar, and drunk, spindly hipsters are the perfect prey. It’s up to one plucky girl who makes bad choices to solve the case. Also she’s pregnant, and she’s not sure if the baby is the vampire’s or a vampire hunter’s. And Adderall is kind of like her Popeye’s spinach, and she uses it to help her solve the crime.

I need an idea for a writer/author tattoo.?
I am very much in love with tattoos and writing. I have been published before for poetry and articles, but I am now taking a crack at a book. That is my biggest goal. I want something that when I look at it reminds me to get up and write. Stop putting it off for tomorrow. And a tattoo is the perfect way to do that, and it allows people to learn more about me. Any ideas?

Get a porcupine, but instead of quills, it has dicks sticking out all over (I call this a “Porn-U-Pine”). For every chapter you write, you can cover up one of the dicks. Until your book is finished, you'll have a dick-covered rodent on your body.

Okay I love to read. My parents will not let me buy books.?
That means I have to read the kiddy books. I'm not doing that. I am also a computer geek is there anyway there are cheap books to buy for teenagers or free ones on the computer or something.

There’s this building in your town called a “library.” I know it doesn’t have the word “book” in the name, but trust me, there are books inside. You give them some info, they give you a plastic card, and then when you want to take the books home, you show them the plastic card. You have to bring the books back, but here’s the trick: You use the time between taking the books home and bringing them back to read them. For free.

How do I create my own voice when writing?

Did you ever see the O’Pioneers! movie with Heather Graham? She was a little kid in it, and she was doing her best, but when she was in scenes with her movie dad, who had a Swedish accent, she would pick it up. When the dad wasn’t in the scene, she dropped it. Heather Graham wasn’t practiced enough to know when she was doing it and when she wasn’t.

Beginning writers have a voice, they just don’t know when they’re drifting away from their voice. Seasoned writers know and course correct right away. That’s the only difference. It's not about developing a voice, it's about being consistent with the one you've got. That comes with practice.

why do i hate books???????????????? my parents piss me off to read them.i tryed to read novels ,every kind. but all of them were boring. Probably because books are boring. Some of us like boring things, but anyone who says books are boring is 100% correct.

If your parents are on you to read more, I’ll give you two options:

  1. Get some poetry books from the adult section in the library. Little, slim ones. All you really have to do is read a couple poems from each book and talk about them a little. It’s not like your parents are going to be able to ask you about the plot or characters or whatever.
  2. Read The Long Walk by Stephen King. As established earlier, it’s the best book ever. At least when you’re done you’ll know for sure whether or not you like books.

Is there a difference between a novelist and an author?

Novelists talk about how hard writing is. Authors get paid.

Would you read my book? I'm writing a novel, but I have a feeling the plot is too weird and confusing. Basically, one of the states got a hold of something all of the other states wanted, and the other states broke into a war about it. The government, trying to bring order, installed a 50ft wall surrounding each state. Then they assigned each state a job (like agriculture or electronics). Y'know, to show that all of the states need each other. But because the jobs were so specific, like medicine, technology, weather, and so on, the states fell to poverty.

This is a stupid idea. Which I don’t want you to take as a “no.” Stupid ideas, done right, are fantastic. If you treat it like a stupid idea, like the Demolition Man of books, I’d absolutely read it.

I've got this character in my story who lacks a name. Okay, so she has dyed black hair, a piercing on her nose and a tattoo of a vine on her shoulder. She's mean. Not like, snobby bitchy mean, but mean for no reason other than she's bored and thinks of something clever or sarcastic to say. She wears mostly black, but has a sexier twist on it.
Thanks in advance!
-Cat

The irony of someone named “Cat” asking this question is just *chef’s kiss*

are writers allowed to create new places in towns that already exist? HELP!!!?
can I as a writer create new place in for example Boston or San Francisco that doesn't exist? thank you :D

I RARELY say this, but based on the stupidity of this question, I’d prefer you not write a book.

Is this sentence correct: She didn’t realize that her craving for sex had reached the highest in her life.

No. I’m pretty sure that when someone reaches the horniest part of their life to date, they are ragingly, achingly, drippingly aware.

I really enjoy writing but have always considered it to be more of a hobby because I see it as similar to the artistic majors, which I relate to a "starving artist" type of profession and that's not appealing at all. I just don't want to be directionless and broke all the time. Writing would provide me happiness, but I also need stability and security. Where do I begin?

Let me give you the grown-up’s version of "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life": “Do the thing you can tolerate, that brings you only to the brim of boiling over, and that other people will pay you for, and that combined with a little luck might see you make it to age 65 without going into a coat closet in your rental apartment and putting a revolver in your mouth. This life path will leave you a marginal amount of time for pursuing your dreams, as long as you don’t fuck it up by having a kid, a house, a pet, or a mildly-costly collection.”

what is your schedule for nanowrimo?

October 25: Oh, yeah. I should do that this year. This time for real.
November 1st: Hit my word count!
November 2nd: Almost, no problem, make it up tomorrow.
November 17th: Fuck, I forgot I was doing that.
November 20th: Well, I’ll still finish the project. No sense in letting it go to waste.
December 12th: Wait, what was I writing?

Do you annotate your books as you read them? You know what I realized? If smart readers annotate books, why would there be un-annotated books in the used book market? are they not smart

I’m currently reading a book called Jurassic War by Charles Hinton, and in it a dinosaur zoo/dinosaur meatpacking plant has a jailbreak, and thousands of dinosaurs start killing people. One soldier is fighting dinosaurs, pulls the pin on a grenade, gets chomped and swallowed by a T-Rex, then the grenade explodes inside the dinosaur, blasting it to pieces. I’m taking copious notes in this book. It's the only way to reconcile the dumbest book I've read in a very long time.

Was William Shakespeare really a homosexual as spectualted?

Speculation on Harry Styles’ sexuality is gossip blog bullshit. Speculation on Shakespeare’s sexuality is SCHOLARSHIP.

I find this question boring because Shakespeare wrote so much shit that there’s a line or two to support absolutely any theory you could have about him, and there’s another line to refute that one, and we could do this all day. 

The most interesting story I found in researching this question was that sodomy was SUPER illegal back in Shakespeare's day, and sodomy covered a guy standing on a balcony, putting his penis in some wine, and then splashing the wine on onlookers, an act that resulted in his execution. My English teacher told me these Shakespeare people knew how to party, but killing a guy for spilling a little cock wine on a crowd of onlookers? Seems uptight.

Can you throw away a book? I know this sounds trivial, but I find I cannot throw away a book. Once I finish a book and don't have room for it any longer, I simply can't toss it in the trash. It's like destroying or throwing away knowledge.

I’d like to start a service where I dispose of books for people, like a sort of book-based hitman. I travel the country, you leave the door unlocked, and when you come home from work, your unwanted books are gone. I’ll take a mentee under my wing, even though he’ll eventually betray me. I’ll fall in love with a woman who is a hoarder of rare books. We’ll duel in her library as it burns around us. She'll have to choose between her lover and her books. It’s not going to be an easy life, but few lives are easy these days.

I'm writing a book, and I need to know if this is a good way to start it. Be brutally honest please:
Jimmy Sedgwick sat in the sand, running his fingers through the rough terrain, staring up at his castle.
His castle.
Tall towers dominated the sky

Never start with a name. And if you have to, don’t start with the name Jimmy.


Get A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020) by David Sedaris at Bookshop or Amazon

Get Jurassic War by Charles Hinton at Amazon

Get License to Love by Gina Robinson at Amazon 

About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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