The True Sea

The human mind, old films, literature and podcasts.

Book Q&A

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book Q AWhen I stumbled across this lovely Q&A on Hannah Ackroyd’s blog I instantly knew that I had to fill it out myself. I read a massive amount of non-fiction but I decided to focus almost entirely on fiction. It took me ages to choose favourites, apparently I have quite a few.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. I’m also currently reading several creative business books.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read after you’ve finished these books?
I have a never-ending reading list. Next up are The Liar by Stephen Fry and An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks.

Five books you’ve always wanted to read but have never got round to?
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.
The Sundial by Shirley Jackson.

What magazines do you have in your lounge right now?
I love art and design magazines but lately I’ve been sticking to crafty ones like Mollie Makes, Simply Crochet and Homemade with Love.

What’s the worst book you ever read?
It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read but The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave really annoyed me, although retrospectively I can’t remember exactly why. I do remember that I desperately wanted to change the title to Bunny Munro is Going to Die.

What book is really popular but you really hated?
Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney. I couldn’t even finish it and that is very rare for me. I loved his Bright Lights, Big City but this one, not so much. I also found Fanny Hill by John Cleland quite overrated.

What’s the one book you recommend to everybody?
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Every now and then I buy a copy of it and give it to someone. I also tell people to read Franz Kafka.

What are your three favourite poems?
It’s so difficult to only choose three. I’ve always been a dedicated lover of poetry and I wrote quite a lot of it when I was younger. I’d have to go with The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, Antigonish by Hughes Mearns and Le Chats by Charles Baudelaire.

Where do you usually get your books?
Second-hand bookshops, charity shops and eBay. Sometimes a dear friend lends me a book as well. I need to start using the library again really.

Where do you usually read your books?
Everywhere. In bed, on the sofa, on public transport, in tea rooms, in the park, while walking some place or waiting or queuing or cooking. Every chance I get.

When you were little, did you have any reading habits?
It was the same when I was a child. I read as much as I could. I would be sitting reading when my mum went to her evening shift and 6 hours later when she got back, I’d still be sitting there reading. There are holiday photos of me completely engrossed in a book, having my very own change of scenery within the book.

What’s the last book you stayed up half the night to read?
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. It is spellbinding.

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
I don’t believe I ever have. What a silly thing to do.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Definitely, I do it all the time. I like pretty things. I did this with Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach and it became one of my all-time favourite books.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin without any doubt. I also loved Taste And Other Tales by Roald Dahl and anything by H.P. Lovecraft.

Which book changed your life?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Or even more so The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
“…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless. Each model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this—and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing…” – American Psycho

Who are your top five favourite authors?
Today it’s Bret Easton Ellis, Agatha Christie, Haruki Murakami, Oscar Wilde and Daphne du Maurier.

What is your favourite classic book?
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov or Psycho by Robert Bloch or A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Five notable mentions?
Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami.
The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie.
The Strangers by Taichi Yamada.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe.

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