Samantha Irby Refuses to Organize Her Piles of Books


Samantha Irby’s Quietly Hostile is available now via Vintage. We asked her a few questions about how she write, and what she can’t live without.


What part of your writing routine do you think would surprise your readers?
Probably the fact that I am really unorganized and leave everything to the last minute? Wait, that probably won’t surprise anyone. I was so late getting all my work in for this new book that the advanced copies were missing an essay. I love dancing on the razor’s edge.

Okay, a real surprise: I don’t type a sentence until it’s formulated in my head. Even though my writing is fairly stream of consciousness, I sit staring at the computer until it sounds good in my brain, then I type it. Truly psychotic behavior.

How do you decide what to read next?
This is embarrassing: Sometimes I look at what books other people are posting and find myself influenced by the algorithm or whatever. And the rest of the time I read all those lists (“best spring books to read on the toilet!” “22 must read books about leg cramps!” etc. etc.) and pick the one with the coolest cover. I’m easy.

How do you organize your bookshelves?
Does “piling them haphazardly on every available flat surface” count as organization? I have stacks of books literally everywhere! It’s extremely annoying!!!! If my wife and I ever get divorced you can bet “overwhelmed by towers of flammable prose” will be her first line item.

What is your favorite way to procrastinate when you are meant to be writing?
Movies. A movie about TV. A TV show about making movies. Staring at the wall while listening to sad songs on repeat. Making an unnecessarily elaborate snack. Looking at Instagram. Responding to old texts. Laughing at memes. Pretending to clean. The list is endless!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you do instead?
If I had the same life and the same circumstances before I started writing full time then I would absolutely be doing what I was doing before: working the reception desk at an animal hospital, scheduling dog surgeries and refilling cat prescriptions.


Quietly Hostile: Essays - Irby, Samantha

Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby is available via Vintage.

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