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Book Q&A

Posted on: Friday, 1 June 2012

Book Q&A Rules
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you've taken part!

What are you reading right now?
My Mistress' Sparrow is Dead, edited by Jeffrey Euginides. It's a collection of essays and stories about love - but none of that schmaltzy stuff. It's all about love as characterised by loss. It's wonderful thus far.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I have a Miranda July book that comes hotly recommended by a friend, so probably that. Although I have to read Susan Hill's I'm The King of the Castle for school at some point soon...

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - it passed me by.
Anything by Rushdie. Never read him - despite the death fatwa, which is a bit of a pull, I'll admit.
The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell. Bedford is always banging on about it, and it's got a Smiths connection which should have been enough reason. Haven't gotten around to it yet, though.
Can't think of any others right now...

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
I have given up magazines, deciding that they're destructive to self-confidence and consumerist-encouraging drivel. Oh, I AM lofty, ain't I? I started buying the occasional health and well-being magazines (WOMEN'S RUNNING, grr) but realised that they essentially print slight variations of the same articles every month. The only regular publications through the Bedford door are Farmers' Weekly and Private Eye. I only read the 'Farmlife' section of FW, and Matthew's column when he's in.

What’s the worst book you've ever read?
The first Twilight book made me want to die. Bloody Bella swishing her hair about and wondering why all the boys fancied her. Gah. A serious book? The Old Man and the Sea, by Hemingway. Jesus. I think this painting by Harland Miller pretty much sums it up...

What book seemed really popular but you didn't like?
Birdsong. Just couldn't get into it. Maybe I need to try it again.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Currently, The Marriage Plot by Euginides (quelle surprise). However, previously, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer or The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. They tend to bring on a 'OHMYGODYOUREALLYNEEDTOREADTHISHERE'SMYCOPYTAKEITTAKEIT!'-type conversation.

What are your three favourite poems?

Oh Christ. I'm going to interpret this as 'Which three poems instantly come to mind when you're asked an impossible question such as 'What are your three favourite poems?'
Um, in which case I think Out of the Blue by Simon Armitage - a very human account of 9/11 - is pretty mind-blowing. An Arundel Tomb by Larkin is a typically-Eeyore-esque (and therefore Right Up My Street) reflection on the transience of life and love. And Macbeth's 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' solilquoy is so utterly nihilistic that it cannot help but speak to my miserable side.  And is written in verse so it counts, yeah?

Where do you usually get your books?
I tend to have a big quartley splurge in a second hand book shop (see recent trip to Hay). Otherwise, Amazon. Sorry.

Where do you usually read your books?
I read voraciously on holiday. I read more in 10 days than I can manage in four months

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

I remember going to the Galleries library and getting out Puddle Lane Books. Then I remember being in the elite reading group at primary school; we were allowed Different Coloured Banana Books to everyone else. Woah. I read anything and everything, including the back of the cereal box. 

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Euginides. Couldn't. Stop. Reading.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
Yup. Bleak House was a set text in my first year at University; I used it as a door stop and not much more.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
I have a few versions of Gatsby because they were too beautiful to resist. I love Faber and Faber covers, though. I bought Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars because it was just too beautiful for words. Never read it. Criminal.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Mallory Freakin' Towers. The My Best Fiend books. The Anastasia books. Sweet Valley High. Emily of New Moon. I was a completely indiscriminate reader. I remember being thirteen and reading Jane Eyre alongside Maeve Binchy's Light a Penny Candle. And I might have cried more over Light a Penny Candle.

What book changed your life?
'Changed your life' is quite a bold statement. However, John Diamond's The Big C was a bit of an early branch-out for me from the usual stuff I was reading at the time, and you're all the better for branching out as a reader, I fink.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
Impossible to say.

What are your top five favourite authors?
Jeffrey Euginides
F Scott Fitzgerald
Alan Bennett
Patrick Kavanagh
Jonathan Safran Foer

Mebbes. This could change pretty regularly.

What book has no one heard about but should read?
I love the Foyle Young Poets books, which periodically drop into my pigeonhole at work. There's a lot of unspeakably good young talent out there.

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?
The Secret History, Donna Tartt.
Anything by Alan Bennett - Maybe Untold Stories as a cheat, as it includes so many different examples of his writing.
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene.  

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?

Once in a House on Fire, I think, was Ashworth's first book, and is wonderfully accomplished.

What is your favourite classic book?
P'raps Jane Eyre. It was the first classic I loved. 

5 other notable mentions?
Tarry Flynn - Patrick Kavanagh. I wrote about it here.
Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence. I love its earthy diaglogue and the entirely accurate representation of family tensions.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? - Jeanette Winterson. Found it in a bookshop in Bangalore (err, how?)  and devoured it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - one of the most quotable books EVER.
Tender is the Night - F Scott Fitzgerald. Better than Gatsby. Now there's a claim.

I got this Q&A from this lovely blog, and I shall endeavour to tell Louise that I have nabbed it. To tag? Well, Bedders should get off his backside and write summat. Really, this is a more developed Books That Made Me Me slot, but I like it because you get to slag off books you hated, too. Hurrah.

I'm off to Bruxelles pour le half-term, innit? You'll be glad to hear I'm going to do an intensive French course over the summer so my Franglais may not be with us for much longer. Enjoy it while it lasts.


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