MY BOOKS and how I was saved by my sister and Dostoevsky…First lines, first books, first literary loves….and more
BY Julie Drake – I am retired and enjoying the many new (and old) things I now have time to do – particularly reading in bed in the morning!
What’s the first book you remember reading (or being read to you)? Neither of my parents actually read to me, but my mum made up a story for me and told it many times ( about a young rabbit helping his mum with the housework – hmmm…). My father was a great storyteller and I remember his highly dramatic version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
First book I can remember being read to me was Winnie the Pooh by my sister, Christine. Christine definitely inspired my love of books and the first proper book I really remember reading (other than school reading books) was The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. This was also bought by Christine and has remained a great favourite that I have enjoyed reading to my children.
What’s the first book that a made a big impact on you? Again – The Princess and the Goblin. It was when I realised the great pleasure of escaping into a book.
What book are you reading right now? Clock without Hands by Carson McCullers
First line: Death is always the same, but each man dies in his own way.
And the one you read before that? Reflections in a Golden Eye also by Carson McCullers. First time I’d read anything by her (though had seen films based on her stories). Wonderful spare writing and strange, atmospheric storytelling. Loved it and am now reading more. First line: The army post in peacetime is a dull place. Things happen, but then they happen over and over again.
We all know burning books is wrong on every level. What contemporary novel (and by contemporary I mean one published in the last 30 years or so) would you put your hand in the fire to save. Aaah – too many to choose from! What an awful question! I’m going to just go with the last couple of years and I would definitely want to save My name is Lucy Barton by Elisabeth Strout. Read my way through all her other books after reading it and am eagerly awaiting her next. Wonderful writing and so great on small town America.
Same question but this time what classic would you save from the bonfire? (And you can work out your own definition of classic.)
I’d have to put both hands in to get Wuthering Heightsand The Idiot by Dostoevsky. Read them around the same time – early twenties whilst bringing up a baby on my own and living in a dreary little Kent town called Swanley. Probably why they are so important to me. My essay on The Idiot actually helped me gain a place on a degree course and escape the mind-numbing boredom of Swanley!
Favourite non fiction book? I very rarely read non-fiction, but recently read How to Live – a life of Montaigneby Sarah Bakewell. Really well written and a fascinating subject. Also, a friend bought me Swimming with Seals by Victoria Whitworth – not an obvious choice for someone who can barely swim and wouldn’t dream of swimming in freezing cold conditions off Orkney, but I loved it. A wonderful mixture of accounts of her experiences along with history and myth
Favourite poetry book? Rarely read poetry these days, but could often be found with a volume of Yeats under my arm in my youth. Again, sister Christine introduced me.
And a short story that has lived with you ever since you first read it? Oh dear – not a great reader of short stories either – like something that keeps me going for a while. However, I do love the short stories of John Cheever. The one that lives with me is Torch Song – wonderful twist and I’m sure I’ve met people like her…
Finally, what do you prefer: a real book with pages that move, an ebook, an audio device? Torn on this one. Love a real book, but find myself using the kindle more and more just for the convenience.
Would you like to take part in MY BOOKS? Drop me a line at bridgetwhelan At hotmail.co.uk if you would like to contribute. How much or how little you write is up to you. Please put MY BOOKS in the subject line.