for writers and readers….
What book are you reading right now?
Franny and Zooey, byJD Salinger.
And the one you read before that?
Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata. This was a peculiar and funny little book. I enjoyed it! I’m fond of translated fiction, there is something endearing about the lilt, authenticity and sometimes other worldliness of foreign voices
Burning books is wrong. What contemporary book (written in the last 30 years) would you save from a bonfire?
I can already imagine myself sneaking around the bonfire site with a rucksack, and by God, I’d save as many books as I could get away with! So here are a few:
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
The Shack, by William Paul Young.
Canada, by Richard Ford.
Same question: what classic would yousave?
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I’d cradle an armful of them! This book has so much to say about society, about humanity, and of course, the characters have practically transcended the page – if you talk about Atticus Finch, most people know who that is without having to mention the title of the book or the author.
“You never really understand a personuntil you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside ofhis skin and walk around in it.”
Favourite non-fiction book?
I like to read autobiographies. They provide powerful insight into people’s lives and reinforce the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. I don’t have a favourite, but here are a few I have enjoyed:
Karate-Do, My Way of Life, by Gichin Funakoshi.
Endurance: A Year in Space, by Scott Kelly
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Total Recall, by Arnold Schwarzenegger
An Ordinary Man, by Paul Rusesabagina
And a short story that has lived withyou ever since you first read it?
Miracle Polish, by Steven Millhauser. This story was first published in The New Yorker and led me into Steven’s other work. Millhauser is a Pulitzer-prize winner and a fantastic writer.
“I should have said no to the stranger at the door, with his skinny throat and his black sample case that pulled him a little to the side, so that one of his jacket cuffs was higher than the other, a polite no would have done the trick, no thanks, I’m afraid not, not today, then the closing of the door and the heavy click of the latch, but I’d seen the lines of dirt in the black shoe creases, the worn-down heels, the shine on the jacket sleeves, the glint of desperation in his eyes.”
What book (if any) have you foundyourself re-reading over the years?
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. A wonderful and redemptive tale about the spirit of Christmas. And my favourite book. I try to reread it every December. In a similar vein to what I said about Atticus Finch, old Scrooge is another character who has transcended the page. The mention of his name invokes recognition, and again,without any reference to the name of the book or the author.
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
If you were giving a book as a present what book would you choose?
The three I like to give consistently are:
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Was there any particular book that inspired you to become a writer?
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. I remember the feeling I had after finishing that book, that anything was possible. And the amazement that something as simple as a bunch of pages glued together could make me laugh out loud and make me feel so many emotions. Of course a book is much, much more than this, but at that time, it changed something in me and awakened me as a writer.
Finally, what do you prefer: a real book with pages that move, an ebook, an audio device?
A real book! There’s something entrancing about the life of a physical book, from the initial sharpness of the paper, the smell…then its journey into dog-eared pages and the wear from being read. I’ve never warmed to eBooks, although I respect anyonewho prefers that medium. I also find my mind wanders too much when I try audiobooks, so I guess I’m a traditionalist in that sense! I do listen to podcasts regularly in the car, though they tend to be biographical interviews, film or book shows.