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Transformative, not Derivative

Fanfiction is, as the name suggests, fiction by fans; it refers to stories thought of and written by fans of and about a certain show/series/text, based on the original universe and using the characters, but putting them in scenes, situations, and sometimes characterization that deviate from the canon setting, timeline, and character portrayal. Fanfiction is never written for profit, and many sites like Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own (which defines fanworks not as derivative, but as transformative, works) allow users to publish their works for free. Entire communities in social media and other similar sites have been built around this concept that it has ascended into the level of subculture.

Archive of Our Own—IMO the best fanfiction archive to date—is run by the Organization for Transformative Works, which is essentially what fanfiction is: rather than focus on its "derivativeness" from the original, fanfiction "transforms" it in a literary manner

In a 2015 conference panel, I heard someone in a panel raise the argument that fanfiction is not primarily hailed for the literary output, but for the sense of community that it fosters. While I agree that the latter is crucial to fandom cohesion—I met so many of my good online friends because of our love for the same ships and therefore consume the same content—the former contention—that fanfiction is not "real" literature (meaning: its quality is inferior)—is not necessarily true. Some fanfiction is so well-written, they can give bestselling young adult (YA) authors a run for their money. (In fact, some YA authors were discovered/tapped by publishers because they already had a large following in the fanfiction community.)

I only recently discovered that The University of Iowa has an entire series on fan studies, including The Fan Fiction Studies Reader, written by the founders of Transformativeworks.org.

Fanfiction is, to me, a very good reading of the original by a very intelligent and insightful fan. More than being an homage to the original, it is a thoughtful examination and masterful re-interpretation of the source work, through the eyes of someone who is fully invested in someone else's created world. In a way, it is the best form of "media criticism," and that's why I think many academics (aptly called "Aca-fans") recognize the literary value and inherently discursive nature of writing and reading fics. Academic journals and readers have been established based on the importance of such phenomenon. To me, it is absolutely the best form of participatory culture, to borrow from fandom father Henry Jenkins.

Check out the discussions on fanfiction at the Urban Dictionary »

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When the canon isn't enough

So I enjoy reading fiction about fiction. (I know, it's very meta.) On a day when I wish to unwind, fanfic is all I want to read; fic has the added bonus of making readers more engaged because they already care about familiar characters, rather than crack open a new book to discover new ones. After all, there can be little disappointment in reading if it is content you can choose; fic tropes and pairings provide a relative predictability in the sense that fic tags, generally, give a vague idea how the story is going to turn up, and I will not choose to read a fic that will run contrary to my expectations not make me I will not feel happy after finishing.

I turn to fanfiction when the original leaves me wanting more. My very first orientation into fandom was through fanfiction. I think I first started reading fics when I was 12 (back when the Internet was a glorious and expensive thing), and it may have been a Rurouni Kenshin story. I liked Kenshin and Kaoru (and I still do—they're one of my major OTPs), and I was looking for something to further satisfy my fascination with the pair. Reading fics fulfilled that thirst—I usually get into reading fics when I really like a series and I want more.

Twenty-plus years later, I still foray into fics whenever I want to get to know a new fandom. (This means that not every series/show/text I watch will lead me into fandom; if I am satisfied with the canon, I will not turn to fics.) A really good fic is, to put it one way, a very, very good analysis rendered as a well-written story. To me, the best ones not only reveal a certain literary grasp of handling the narrative and characters (and making sure it complies with the canon storyline and characterization, although I do enjoy the occasional AU). Above all, the best fics reveal an intimate knowledge of the series, indicating that the writer him/herself has a keen insight into the story and knows how to take it further.


Check out my AO3 bookmarks »

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Parameters for Curation

I am a romantic at heart, and I suppose that's a big part of the reason I turned to fanfiction in the first place: I wanted to see more of the couples I love, especially when I didn't get enough of them in the original. I prefer my ships het (M/F) and canon, save for a few exceptions.

I enjoy the stories for different reasons—some are hilarious, while others are dramatic; some make me think, while others tug at my heartstrings; some draw me in with incredibly beautiful language, while others lure me chapter after chapter with an irresistible plot—but they are all fics I go back to, time and time again, and ones I can never get tired of. All my recs conform to three basic traits, however, and may be worth noting when perusing my selection:

  1. Literariness of language is the first and foremost criterion. I cannot stand fics that contain glaring grammatical errors or typos, and which are not lyrically written. I can make exceptions if the story is really compelling, but for the most part I listen to the sound of the text. Horrible syntax, inappropriate vocabulary, and atonal prose are big no-nos for me.

  2. Timelessness—and retrospect—are also factors in picking out these fics. This means they are not "picks of the moment;" they are time-tested stories I still go back to and enjoy rereading whenever I feel like getting back into a ship. Some works may be recently published—written, say, in the last two years—there are more that are old, sometimes by a decade or two.

  3. All stories here are SFW—which means fics may contain suggestive, but not explicit, scenes; they are, at the most, M-rated. Part of my goal is to prove that good fanfiction exists without having to resort to E-rated scenes. However, this does cut my list down by a large portion, because I am aware that some of the best-written fics are of the Explicit rating. I've read them, too, but I made the conscious choice not to list them here. I'm basically keeping this list as wholesome as possible.

You'll see these in my curated selection, and I think all these explain why my list is relatively compact. And if you happen to agree with me that they are really good (or at least, enjoyable) stories, please take the time to drop the author/s a line saying so.


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By "Favorite," I mean "The Best"

This page lists all the fanfiction that, as personal favorites, I think represent the best of any ship I ever fancied. I compiled everything here mainly because I need them all in one place, but other fans may enjoy reading them as well. Most are lyrically-written oneshots; others are captivating, plot-driven multichapters. Some are recent, but most are several years old. All feature NL/het couples, and none are explicit. Which would probably account for the brevity of the list—while most of the best-written fics I've read have an E rating, I made the conscious decision not to list them here.

The list below is a perpetual work-in-progress; I intend to keep adding to it when I either discover a new fandom or I come across a new fic for an old favorite. Fics arranged alphabetically according to ship, with the series identified after the couple name. If you happen to agree with me that it's a really good (or at least, enjoyable) story, please take the time to drop the author a line saying so. (On that note, most of the authors here have written other stories featuring the same pair. If you like one I recommended, then do check out the writer's profile, linked in their fic pages. Maybe you'll find a story you'd like better.)

All links are guaranteed to work, and open in new windows.
If there are any broken links, please let me know.

Eriol/Tomoyo (CCS)

Image commissioned by Ainna (Northstar.nu) from Har-leen (har-leen.tumblr.com)

Harry/Hermione (HP)

Art by Tigress0787 (deviantart.com/tigress0787) | Used with permission
  • Any HHr fic by Parker Gray—seriously, she's that good

Ichigo/Orihime (Bleach)

Fanart by Hanran (deviantart.com/hanran) | Used with permission

Jonny/Jessie (TRAJQ)

Screencap used with the Fair Use Clause

Kenshin/Kaoru (RK)

Fanart by Marc Lim (marclimillustrations.webs.com) | Used with permission

Miroku/Sango (IY)

Screencap used with the Fair Use Clause

Naruto/Hinata (Naruto)

Screencap used with the Fair Use Clause

Ranma/Akane (Ranma 1/2)

Fanart by Spelarminlind (deviantart.com/spelarminlind) | Used with permission

Sai/Ino (Naruto)

Fanart by Time-Flies (time-flies-fal.tumblr.com)
  • Ink by xiaoyings (D, G)
  • Hands by Devektra (G)

Tony/Pepper (MCU: IM)

Fanart by Cylonka (deviantart.com/cylonka) | Used with permission

Wheeler/Linka (CP)

Screencap used with the Fair Use Clause

Yusuke/Keiko (YYH)

Image scan used with the Fair Use Clause

Zealot/Grifter (WC)

Screencap used with the Fair Use Clause

Other Faves

Here are other well-written fics featuring couples that are not my OTPs:


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Site Info and Exits

Site purpose. I'm Ainna, and I've been reading fanfics for about two decades now. A plethora of saved stories and fic accounts later, I decided I needed one place where I could access all the stories I want to reread. This is what this site is for. It's not meant to be a comprehensive list of all the fanfiction I have read; it's meant to give me easier access the best ones. Clearly, given all the selection parameters I outlined, my list is meant to be short. Hopefully this helps other fans as well!

The Name. This site used to be called "Bookmarked," but that was so plain and boring so I changed it. XD "Dog-eared" is an adjective referring to a corner of a page in a book that has been folded down, to either mark the reader's place in the absence of a bookmark, or to indicate that these are words significant enough to come back to. More than the appearance of overuse is the fact that one does not dogear a page that does not mean anything to him/her. Loved, rather than well-worn; or, conversely—well-worn because it is loved. ♥

Layout credits. I know there's a dog in this layout, but its connection with the site name is unintentional; I simply wanted this design to feature an anime character I love who also happens to be a voracious reader. (So yes, this site will only make use of layouts that will feature characters who are reading and/or writing.) This fanart of Kuroko Testsuya (and Nigou) from Kuroko no Basket (© Tadatoshi Fujimaki) is by MasterBISH, used with permission. For the rest of the disclaimers and credits to my resources, please go here.

Links. If you have a similar site, I'd be open to exchanging links! You can reach me via this contact form.

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All written content, graphics edit, and HTML/CSS/PHP coding is done by Ainna in July 2019. Some rights reserved. Full disclaimer and credits »






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Last updated July 17, 2019