Reader’s Reads #13: Richard Staples

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

Today we have Richard, the bold founder of our local book group, his patience in putting up with my ever increasingly bizarre suggestions for book club reads is endless. Over to you Richard!

Beverage of choice: Kir – 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

For me, drinks go hand in hand with places and settings, and what might be a perfect marriage in one setting could easily be a nightmare combination in another.  My drink of choice has therefore largely been dictated by the location of my comfy chair and bookshelf.  If the chair were to be in an English garden on a summer’s afternoon, then I would have to go for a pot of tea or maybe a Pimms.  Similarly, if it were to be by the fireside on a winter’s evening in a Scottish castle, then a single malt would be the obvious choice.   As it is, Kir is the perfect fit for where I would like my chair to be, bringing back many happy memories of time spent in the brilliant southern French sunshine. 

Snack of choice: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

A bowl of ‘posh’ crisps – 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Whilst I can take chocolate or leave it, I am a complete sucker for salty, savoury snacks.  A bowl of Kettle chips or similar at my side would be the ideal accompaniment to my Kir and chosen reading material!

Location of comfy chair and bookshelf: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

On the terrace of a villa, overlooking the sea in the South of France – 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

I have a mental image of my dream home, which is on a hill in the south of France, overlooking the Mediterranean.  The sun is blazing in a cloudless sky, and my deckchair has been judiciously placed in the shade of an umbrella on the terrace, giving an unbroken view over the sparkling sea.  The chilled Kir and the crisps are waiting for me on a small table beside the chair, along with the stack of books and the much needed hat and sunglasses.  Perfect.

The one which kick started your reading habit: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

One day when I was six years old, my dad came home from work with this book for me, – the first in the Famous Five series.  The book was a total revelation to me, being my first “real” book, with text rather than pictures.  I found the book wildly exciting and very quickly worked my way through the entire series of 21 Famous Five books.  I took great pride in having them all lined up in order on my bedroom shelves.

Although it is now easy to criticise Enid Blyton for painting an outdated and idealistic view of the world, I would defend her skills as a children’s story teller, and for me there is no question that my love of reading was triggered by the Famous Five.

The one which changed your view of the world: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Roots – The Saga of An American Family by Alex Hailey

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Having been brought up in a very conventional “middle England” environment, I spent my early life blissfully unaware of many of the terrible injustices which blight the history of what we consider today to be civilised nations   Roots and its sequel Queen gave me a much needed wake-up call in terms of my understanding of the horrors of slavery.  I was a little too young to see the famous 1970s TV adaptation, but the books made a powerful impact on me when I read them in early adulthood.

The one you go back to again and again: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The Collector by John Fowles

If there is one book which I wish I could have written myself, it is this one, – for me it is literary perfection.   Dark and disturbing, and with the interesting technique of presenting the same set of events from the perspective of two protagonists, this short novel contains one of the biggest shock moments I have come across in any book.  The fact that it is John Fowles’ debut novel makes the achievement even more impressive.

The one you comfort read: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Christine by Stephen King

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

My guilty pleasure is horror or psychological fiction, – possibly a legacy of the James Herbert novels which were furtively passed around between classmates in the fourth form at school!  There are many examples of the genre which I could have picked, but Christine is one which I found particularly unnerving.  The idea of a possessed car sounds ridiculous in the abstract, but works only too well in this case. 

The one which you had an unexpected response to: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Les Liaisons Dangereuses was a set text on the curriculum of my degree course.  An epistolary novel made up of letters sent between French aristocrats in the 18th century was never going to have much appeal for a 20 year old British male student in the late 20th century, and I put off reading it again and again.  How wrong can you be?!  The depth of intrigue, sexual tension, sophistication and sheer malice at the heart of this novel is simply breath-taking, and stands comparison with anything that could be written today.  I was utterly gripped when I first read it, and have since gone back to it several times, as well as having seen the stage and film versions.  It is a real pleasure to be able to include in my list of all-time favourites a work which I had initially so easily dismissed.

The one you wish you had time to read: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The sheer size of War & Peace, along with some mixed experiences of Russian literature, have meant that I have never had the courage to tackle this.  Everyone I know who has read it says it is brilliant, and I have a permanent ‘note to self’ telling me that I really should grasp the nettle and plough in.  Proust’s In Remembrance of Things Past is very much in the same category. 

The one with sentimental value: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

A previous partner of mine was a big fan of Thomas Hardy and it is on her recommendation that I read Tess, along with many of the other Hardy novels.  I find the storyline in Tess absolutely heart-breaking, and the novel contains some of the most poignant lines that I can think of.  I am not ashamed to say that this is one which always brings tears to my eyes.  Absolutely beautiful.

The last one you read: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
text-align:justify;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is right up there on my list of all-time favourites, and I had mixed feelings when I saw that someone had been commissioned to continue the series after Larsson’s death.  Happily, David Lagercrantz’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web has met with generally positive reviews, and I completely agree that he has not made a bad fist of it at all.  It was always going to struggle to achieve the heights of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but then what could?!

Thank you Richard! This is a wonderfully diverse list of books, a few of which have ended up on my  “would like to read” list!

Advertisements

Reader’s Reads #12: Millie from Planet Millie

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

Today we have Mille from the wonderful blog, Planet Millie. If you haven’t been over to Millie’s part of the blogosphere I would urge you to do so, it is a genuinely lovely place to be, full of wonderful nature and wildlife posts, along with crafts and books and all manner of happy things. Millie also lives with the world’s most expressive cat. Over to you Millie!

It has taken me MONTHS to write this post, as choosing answers to the questions below is very important!  It’s also taken a while for me to decide what reading space to photograph, but I’ve finally decided to just admit that I do most my reading on the bed in the spare room.  My cat has a fleece blanket on there so she can sit next to me while I read.  I would love to have a reading nook, but I think unless my reading nook was an actual bed I probably wouldn’t use it that much…

Beverage of choice: Tea, of course!

Snack of choice: Nope! I don’t snack while reading.

Location of comfy chair and bookshelf: My books currently live on shelving in a set of cupboards, so I don’t actually see them on a daily basis as they’re behind wooden doors. How sad! Other than that, I have one small shelf above my bed for special books I love, and then I have my Kindle (which has books arranged by genre).

The one which kick started your reading habit:

Hehe, the first book I ever read by myself was the Look! Look! Look! book, which basically only had the word “look” in it. Every page had an illustration and someone saying “Look!” (The best page was a house on fire with a fireman!).  After I’d learnt to read, I was unstoppable!

The one which changed your view of the world:

Wow, this is a hard question. I read a lot of non-fiction, and some of them can be very thought-provoking.  However, I’d like to change this question slightly if I can, as I have one book that changed the path of my life, which I guess probably changed my world view too.  That book is A short history of nearly everything, by Bill Bryson.  Before reading that book as a 17 year old, I was going to be a dentist.  Then I read this Bill Bryson book for a science book report, and decided to study geology instead.  Bill Bryson was the chancellor of the university I graduated from, so on graduation day I got to shake his hand and tell him it was his fault I was there!

The one you go back to again and again:

The Assassin’s Cloak by Irene & Alan Taylor.  This book is an anthology of the best diarists in history and it is totally awesome.  I love reading diaries and this book is great for dipping into.

 

The one you comfort read:

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell.  I love this book.  I don’t read much fiction nowadays, but this is one fiction novel I can always appreciate.  I also love the BBC series as it’s a great adaptation.

The one which you had an unexpected response to:

Wuthering Heights.  It was a negative unexpected response, because this book is a big pile of rubbish and I don’t understand why everyone loves it!  I do not get the love for it AT ALL.

The one you wish you had time to read:

I don’t have one book for this answer, because there are currently over 200 books on my to-read list and I want to read them all!  I wish I was the sort of person that could read War and Peace and be smug about it, but I’ve started it three times and I just cannot be bothered with all the characters.

The one with sentimental value:

Well, I’m 28 years old and I’m a girl, so the answer is the first Harry Potter!  He started Hogwarts the same year I started secondary school, and I distinctly remember the day my Mother gave me the book and made me start reading it.  She’d read about how it was going to be the next big thing in children’s literature and said I ought to read it.  I was grumpy because she hadn’t let me choose my own book (I was 11…), but from the first page I was hooked.  During the later years of Harry Potter I worked at a book shop so I worked the midnight releases (by choice, I might add!).

The last one you read:

I usually have quite a few books on the go at once.  The last one I finished was Wildwood by Roger Deakin, which is a non-fiction book about woodland.

I hope you enjoyed this, and thank you for having me Helen!

Thanks Millie! I totally agree about Wuthering Heights….

Reader’s Reads #11: Richard Wood

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

Today’s reader is the Richard Wood, former colleague and long term pal. Richard’s photo fits in with the whole desert island theme, don’t you think?

– The one which kickstarted your reading habit

I struggled with this as I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read, so I asked my big sister.  She tells me that it’s The Wind in the Willows. My Uncle gave me a hardback version with the illustrations by E.H.Shepard one Christmas  when I was about seven. I read and re-read this book all through my childhood and it’s left me with a love of messing about in boats and a lingering fear of weasels.

– The one which changed your view of the world: Bury my Heart at Wounded knee by Dee Brown

This book is a history of the white man’s dealings with the native Americans. Works its way through all the tribes and outlines the treachery and arrogance that the Native Americans suffered at the hands of the “civilised” world.  By the end of the book most of the tribes had been effectively wiped out and those that were still alive had their lifestyle destroyed because it wasn’t convenient to the white man.  I read this when I was at university and was probably the first time that I realised that my civilisation had some very negative effects on some peoples and perhaps our influence on the world isn’t all good.  The next book I read was “A distant Mirror” by Barbara W. Tuchman, another sizable tome which is history of 14th century France. A century where the population of France dropped by nearly two thirds.  I don’t advise this because one of those books is a bit depressing, reading both one after the other made me listen to the Smiths and wonder if it was all worthwhile.

– The one you go back to again and again – Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

I didn’t really get this book until the second or third time that I read it.  I think that there’s a first 30 page problem in which, when you first start reading, you’ve got no idea what’s going on and are inclined to think that it gibberish.  Please keep going, you get there eventually.  Set in the 2nd world war in an American bomber squadron, the plot cuts backwards and forwards through time making references to incidents that you only understand much later in the book.  But the thing that brings me back again and again is the crazy logic that infuses the whole story. Catch 22 (and I don’t think this is ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book) is that if you are mad then you are not allowed to fight, but if you ask to stop fighting on the basis that you are mad then you are clearly not mad as only a mad man would want to fight, and as the authorities want you to fight they won’t notice if you are behaving as if you are mad. The whole book continues in this vein.  I think it’s a total classic and I hope I haven’t put anyone off.

– The one you comfort read: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

I came to this book with some trepidation as my parents both love Jane Austen, so it was hallowed turf.  I enjoyed it the first time round – it’s full of sparkling wit and wonderful characters.  I’ll admit that what has deepened the love was living in France before internet television and only having a few tapes, one of which was the BBC Colin Firth/ Jennifer Ehle version, which we watched many times. As it was so close to the original text, reading it is like settling down with an old, much loved friend. You know what they are going to say, but you enjoy it anyway. We have many family jokes based on quotes from P&P. I do have a thing about  Jennifer Ehle too, so my Jane looks just like her – I leave Colin Firth to the wife.

– The one which you had an unexpected response to: If this were a man by Primo Levi

I could have put almost anything by Primo Levi here.  He was an Italian Jewish Chemist who spent some of the 2nd world war fighting for the Italian partisans before being captured and transported to Auschwitz with 650 Italian Jews, he was one of 20 who survived.  He worked in IG Farben’s Buna Werke laboratory producing synthetic rubber so avoided hard labour outside. Then caught scarlet fever and was put in the camp hospital just before the SS cleared the camp before it was liberated by the Red Army, so he avoided the death march that killed so many of the other inhabitants.  The book is grim, it deals with an almost un-imaginable subject, but what I didn’t expect is the humanity of Primo Levi himself, it wasn’t that he forgave the Germans (he didn’t – he later denied this suggestion) but I felt that he seemed to be searching for understanding.  In other books he tries to understand why people would act like they did – what would make a Jew do the German’s dirty work for them? He makes no judgements but presents the evidence and asks the questions.

– The one you wish you had time to read

 I commute by train – all the time in the world!!

Perhaps I’ll try something chunky and intellectual and impress my fellow commuters – The Illiad by Homer or The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx (or maybe I’ll just read cheap thrillers)…

– The one with sentimental value: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

This was one of my mother’s favourite books, a novel by Dickens, so it’s got the Thames, fog, characters with incredible names (Niccodemus Boffin, Lizzie Hexam, Silas Wegg, Bradley Headstone etc.), corpses, plot twists & turns and Dickens’s wonderful language.  But most of all, for me, as my mother lent it to me, then we talked about it, it represents the start of a great pleasure I picked up from my mother of reading a book, giving it to someone else, then talking about it.  I’m always amazed by how differently two people can see the same text, and what different things they take from it and get great satisfaction when someone else gets pleasure from something that pleased me.

– The last one you read: East of the Mountains by David Guterson

This is a beautiful, bitter sweet book. It is written from the perspective of a retired doctor who has recently discovered that he has colon cancer.  He carries the mental scars from fighting in the war and the recent death of his wife. He decides to go on one last hunting trip with his two dogs across the mountains of Washington State to the orchard areas where he was born and grew up.  It is clear that he intends to have “an accident” during the trip and shoot himself with his father’s shotgun.

The book has wistful quality, he remembers incidents during his childhood and the war, one of which leads him to decide to become a doctor. But it also evokes his love of the country and I felt transported into the landscape and felt that I had spent time there with the doctor.  There’s a continual contrast between images of life and death throughout this beautiful book.  I’ve read “Snow Falling on Cedars” which I also loved and I will slowly work my way through his other novels – not too fast as I don’t want to use them up too quickly. You mustn’t waste a good author!!

My beverage of choice is: A cup of tea (of course)

My snack of choice is: A muffin with butter and marmite (or a hot cross bun)

My comfy chair is located:  By a log fire somewhere on holiday

Thanks Richard!

Reader’s Reads #10: Chris Hallam

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

Today’s reader is the lovely Chris Hallam, engineer and all round good egg. Chris has a really lovely selection of books to share with us. 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:107%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

I have carefully thought of where I read and I cannot pin it down to a comfy chair!  Mostly I read in bed but I do read quite a lot when travelling principally on the tube/train in and around London.  Indeed I missed my stop at Vauxhall recently as I was so into David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks!  So I think that the photo of the tube seat is most appropriate.

– The one which kickstarted your reading habit

A book that kick started my reading habit?  This was difficult and took me back to my childhood.  Having been born into a working class family in the fifties, a class which I still fervently belong to, I like John Prescott’s definition of himself; working class but with middle class aspirations, books were not as common in they are now.  However I was surrounded by things to read; mainly comics, Victor and Wizard were my staples and Eagle if I had the money.  The DC comic books, Superman etc., also played a prominent role but I remember using a public library in Toton quite a lot.  It was only a small library but the librarian didn’t seem to mind a scruffy little herb like me using it.  I don’t quite remember my age but I’d put in in the 12-14 range, and I must have convinced her that I would return the books as I read an awful lot of sci-fi from there.  I also spent many a happy afternoon in there just browsing the shelves, which was in between setting the local fields on fire and making other general mayhem with my mates…

– The one which changed your view of the world

Ian Serraillier’s Silver Sword changed my view on the world.  We read it at school and again I can’t quite remember the age but I am sure I was still at junior school.  The war was still fresh in many people’s memory then and this book opened my eyes to a wider world and the horrors that it held.  I still give it to children in the family.  I don’t think any of them have read it but you never know.

– The one you go back to again and again

It’s a children’s book Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper which is a book I have re-read the most.  I have read the whole Dark is Rising series 3 may be 4 times but the first book I have seem to like the most possibly due to its naivety.

– The one you comfort read

My comfort read is a genre rather than a book.  I worked in the south of France for 3 years in the early 90’s and to help improve my French the librarian at the works library suggested that I start on BD’s, Bande Dessinée, other words a graphic novel in French.  I started with Asterix and Tin Tin; Asterix is easier to read than Tin Tin and far funnier.  I started reading Largo Winch series which first came out in 1990 and I have purchased every issue since then.  They usually come out around the end of November and I read it in the run up to Christmas, a perfect start to the holiday!

– The one which you had an unexpected response to

The one that I had an unexpected response to was the Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.  This is the only book of his that I have managed to finish.  I was very moved by the ending possibly because as the road ahead is shorter than the one in behind you begin to analyse what you have achieved and is it a legacy that you would want?  An easy book to read and highly recommended.

– The one you wish you had time to read

A book I wish I had time to read?  There isn’t one really.  There are lots of books I have started and not finished but that’s because they didn’t catch my imagination not because I thought I didn’t have the time to finish them.

– The one with sentimental value

Sentimental value? Again difficult and again back to my childhood; Rupert the Bear!  My father used to read the Daily Express when I was a boy and in those days the Express was a broadsheet.  Rupert was one of the cartoons but it was the annual that took my eye because of the colour.  When I see a Rupert book these days it takes me back…

– The last one you read

The last book I read was the Bone Clocks, the one I’m reading at the moment is the third of the Game of Thrones series.  I love the TV programmes but they deviate from the books and you do get more detail which fills in the gaps which the series doesn’t.  Mind you at 1500 pages I do wonder whether I will ever get to the end!

My beverage of choice is: Drink?  Water or maybe a bottle of Peroni!

My snack of choice is: Snack would be something salty or maybe chocolate!

Thanks Chris! It totally agree with you on the Silver Sword, and everyone knows how much I love Oversea Undertone!

Reader’s Reads #9: Robin Stevens

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

Today’s reader is the fabulous Robin Stevens, the author of the wonderful, and frankly addictive Wells and Wong mysteries. I reviewed the first in the series, Murder Most Unladylike a few weeks ago. The third book, Murder First Class is due for publication on 30th July. If you haven’t met Daisy and Hazel yet, then you have missed a treat, get yourself copies of the books pronto! So, let’s see what Robin’s reads are…

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

– The one which kickstarted your reading habit

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien. This is the first book I ever remember reading on my own, possibly because it was the first where I ever felt totally immersed in the world. I remember being fascinated by the riddles and wishing passionately that Bilbo and the dwarves could be my friends. And, of course, I felt sure that Smaug was just the victim of bad press. I’ve always had a soft spot for dragons.

– The one which changed your view of the world

Fingersmith – Sarah Waters. I first read this when I was thirteen, and it messed with everything I’d assumed about storytelling. I thought there were rules about what a historical novel, and a romance, and a novel with a first-person narrator, was allowed to be, and Sarah Waters broke every single one of them. In Fingersmith everyone cheats, everyone lies, the past feels like the present and two women fall in love.

– The one you go back to again and again

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m a very visual reader, and in my head this book is so bright and vivid that I can’t bear to watch a film adaptation. The night-time party scene, the moment when Gatsby goes through his colourful shirts, the curtains blowing in the wind the first time Nick sees Daisy – I can see them all as though they’ve happened to me. I think it’s a perfect piece of writing and I reread it almost every year.

– The one you comfort read

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith. This is both my comfort read and the book that most haunts me. I’ve spent more time wondering about what happened after the final line than I have on any useful lifetime pursuit. Cassandra genuinely feels like a friend, and I’d give a lot to be part of her world.

– The one which you had an unexpected response to

Miss Pym Disposes – Josephine Tey. I found this book in the Strand bookstore in New York when I was about fifteen, bought it on impulse and read it with no particular expectations. Twelve years later it’s my greatest crime novel influence, a huge part of the reason why the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries read the way they do. The twist at the end still gives me chills when I think about it.

– The one you wish you had time to read

Possession by A. S. Byatt. I completely adore this book (two intertwined love stories about academics and writers who fall for each other through the medium of words), but it’s so hefty that I don’t have time to reread it as often as I’d like. A. S. Byatt’s a total hero.

– The one with sentimental value

Dark Lord of Derkholm – Diana Wynne Jones. When I was a teenager, Diana Wynne Jones came to the Cheltenham Festival, and I went to her event. I’d been obsessed with her ever since I was seven and read Dogsbody, and this was one of the rare moments when the reality of her was just as perfect as the person I’d been imagining. She signed my battered copy of Dark Lord of Derkholm and told me how much she liked seeing books that had been loved. It’s still one of my most treasured possessions.

– The last one you read

Fire Colour One – Jenny Valentine. I recently discovered Jenny Valentine through her book The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight (a reboot of Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar, funnily enough), and I fell in love with her weird, lyrical, creepy style. This is her newest book, out in July, and it’s brilliant.

My beverage of choice is: A cappuccino big enough to float a small ship in.

My snack of choice is: A cinnamon bun from Bagieret in Covent Garden. I don’t know how they make them so delicious, and so I have to keep buying them to see if I can work it out.

My comfy chair and bookshelf are located: In my grandparents’ cabin in Utah, my perfect holiday destination. It’s airy and beautiful and surrounded by sunny mountains. I wish I lived there permanently

Thank you Robin, there are some great reads in that list. The Delightful Mr F loves The Hobbit too, and I have Miss Pam Disposes on my To Be Read pile. 

Reader’s Reads #8: Clementine Beauvais

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Today we have *drum roll* the fantastic and talented writer Clementine Beauvais. Clementine is the author of the Sesame Seade books and also the Royal Babysitter books. You can read my reviews here, here, here, and here. If you haven’t read her books, I would urge you to hotfoot it to your nearest bookseller and purchase some copies. Start to read them, and you will have a smile on your face for days. 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}
table.MsoTableGrid
{mso-style-name:”Table Grid”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-priority:59;
mso-style-unhide:no;
border:solid windowtext 1.0pt;
mso-border-alt:solid windowtext .5pt;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-border-insideh:.5pt solid windowtext;
mso-border-insidev:.5pt solid windowtext;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Beverage of choice: In order from morning to evening, in accordance to circadian rhythm: Coffee. Tea (x4). Coffee. Diet Coke. Tea (x2).

Snack of choice: Strange but true: glutinous rice balls, stuffed with either sesame paste or peanut butter. I buy them frozen from the Korean supermarket. Boiling time 5 minutes, and deliciously sticky.

Location of comfy chair and bookshelf: I read in bed! The bookshelf is above my desk. I wish there was more of it, as it’s overflowing…

The one which kickstarted your reading habit: Probably the Emilie series, by Domitille de Pressensé, with which I learnt to read. This French icon is celebrating her 40th birthday this year…

The one which changed your view of the world: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Nabokov’s Lolita – and of literature, too.

The one you go back to again and again: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Harry Potter. Whatever happens, I’m sure I’ll still remember in old age, when everything else is forgotten, what you get when you add powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood…

The one you comfort read: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

A genre rather than one book: detective stories. 

The one you wish you had time to read: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The one I wish I had time to write.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The one which you had an unexpected response to: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The Luminaries, which I picked up vaguely annoyed (who writes such a massive book? Does she think I have nothing else to do with my life?) and put down only three days later, enchanted.

The one with sentimental value: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

All my battered, bath-water-swollen, broken-spined childhood copies of Jennings and French children’s series Fantômette.

The last one you read: 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Alison Bechdel’s hugely moving and impressively-structured comic autobiography, Fun Home. 

Thank you Clementine! Your comment about Harry Potter spells made me and The Delightful Mr F laugh!

Reader’s Reads #7: Nic Bottomley

Of late I have become an obsessive listener to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. Clever, famous (not necessarily the same thing) and interesting people are interviewed and asked to choose eight records they would like to have with them on a desert island. I wanted to get to know some of my readers a little better, so thought it would be fun to feature readers and their favourite reads. This spawned the rather natty, although probably not originally named “Reader’s Reads”.

Each reader has a comfy seat, anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, a beverage and snack of their choice and a bookcase which will only hold eight books. 

If you would like to be featured, please contact me via the email button (bottom left of the main page) and I’ll email out the bits and pieces to you. 

Today is very exciting, as we have none other than Mr B himself, the owner of the best bookshop in all of the world – Nic Bottomley. If you want to read about my bookish experiences in the shop, then please use the Tag Mr B’s Bookshop in the tag cloud on the left. So what does a bookshop owner read?…

Beverage of choice: A cold beer, preferably something Czech and pilsnerish or something obscure and new.

Snack of choice: A salty snack of some sort – salted or spicy nuts or something obscure and new.

Location of comfy chair and bookshelf: Because of the proliferation of small children at home (not conducive to reading time), the chair is unlikely to be near any of the many bookshelves. It will be a table in a café in Bath (snatched lunchtime read) or a café, farm shop or pub table in the Wiltshire/Somerset sunshine (summer on days off).

The one which kick started your reading habit: Already it’s tough to play by the rules and go with one. But let’s say “Fantastic Mr Fox” by Roald Dahl just because I re-read it so regularly, mainly for the tail-less hero’s incursions into the store-rooms of Boggis Bunce and Bean.

The one which changed your view of the world: “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck – Cemented my teenage preference for everything American and created an obsession for the literature and culture of the American dream and American journeys – which in turn led to me spending most of my uni summers driving knackered cars around the U.S.

The one you go back to again and again:  As a bookshop owner I have new or off-the-beaten track books to read for the bookshop; lost gem books to read with a view to possible publication (under our Fox, Finch & Tepper publishing guise) and books to read for author-events. All of that, plus the random things I just grab and decide to read, mean that in the last 9 years I don’t think I’ve ever gone back and re-read something. It would be a real indulgence. Not that I did that much before being a bookseller. I am determined to re-read (and it’s so tiny it should be possible!) Camus’ “The Outsider” to see how different it feels now compared to when I wore a younger man’s shoes. 

But if you want one, then the one should be “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid because I did re-read that when he came to us to be interviewed about his later novel and it was so marvellous a re-reading experience that I immediately wanted to read it a third time. There is so much ambiguity in that ending. It’s incredible.

The one which is your guilty pleasure: Well booksellers more than anyone know that one man’s coffee is another man’s tea and we should all be free to read anything, without guilt, as the mood and moment dictates. I certainly don’t think of particular genres as “guilty reading”.  

That said, I think my reading of 4 or 5 Jeffrey Archer novels as a teenager moving from teen to adult fiction is a phase I won’t be repeating. “Kane and Abel” was a pleasure at the time, and I feel vaguely guilty about that now!

The one which you had an unexpected response to: “Wuthering Heights” – in a mission a few years ago to focus on reading classics I had not got round to, I began with this and it killed off the mission single-handedly. I thought it was illogical, overblown nonsense and would love to actually go back to school just to study it so I can understand why it is has its place in the top division of English classics.

The one you wish you had time to read:  This happens a lot, again because there is much pressure on my reading time and so anything that crosses the radar and comes in at over 500 pages often has a tough job making it to the top of the pile. That’s especially true if the book is renowned anyway, so customers are unlikely to need my help giving an opinion on it. For example, I’ve never read “Wolf Hall” and am unlikely to for many years, even though I am sure I would think it was superb. 

I’ll go for “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry though as the one I’ve contemplated indulging in (all 900 pages or so) but repeatedly haven’t because of time constraints. I love his writing and it’s a real shame that I still haven’t had a chance to get stuck into his most celebrated work and what is supposedly one of the finest Westerns.

The one with sentimental value: “The Sagas of Noggin the Nog”. This is a beautiful box set of the 12 gorgeously illustrated mock-Norse myths by Oliver Postgate. I bought my set direct from the Dragons Friendly Society (and Mr B’s is now one of very few UK shops to stock them) to read to my eldest daughter. I began them way too early (when she was 2 and a half) but shortening the text to keep her gripped. They were the first stories that she and I obsessed about together (there are many more now) and are the books that made her into a young book addict.  

The last one you read: “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson – a brilliant, sometimes hilarious, often jaw-droppingly shocking look at the way errors of judgment in the C21 can lead to public shaming via social media (that is often disproportionate to the original transgression). It’s a book that draws you straight in and that looks at the issue from every angle and with direct input from all-involved in the many examples he cites.

Many thanks Nic! Have to agree on The Reluctant Fundamentalist, it was stunning. You are also correct about “guilty pleasures”. I’m going to change that question to “The One Which Is Your Comfort Read”.