Independent Bookshop Week 2016
And now I am going to answer the bookshop questions:
1. What book(s) are currently in your bag?
Always a thick one and a thin one on the go, depending on which is more convenient for the journey and the bag. Right now the third of the Elena Ferrante Naples series is the thick one. The thin one is an obscure academic mystery called Landscape with Dead Dons by Robert Robinson – for a blog meme I am doing.
2 What’s the last great book you read?
What was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn. People have been telling me to read it for years, but I ignored them and it turns out I was completely wrong – it’s a fabulous book, a masterpiece.
3 What book have you gifted the most?
Good question. I tend to have a standard couple of books that I give everyone, then it changes after 6 months. Recently I was dishing out Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a while back it was Nina Stibbe’s Love Nina, before that it was Where d’you go Bernadette by Maria Semple.
But if I had to pick one it would be
4 What’s your favourite independent bookshop?
I live in Winchester, and Wells bookshop in College Street (a couple of doors from the house where Jane Austen died) makes the choice easy. It’s everyone’s idea of an old-fashioned bookshop.
5 What’s been your favourite book recommended by a fellow book blogger?
Last year my friend Col of Col’s Criminal Library recommended Falling Angel by William Hjorstberg and I am still recovering from reading it. It is a quite extraordinary book. I chose this from the many excellent recommendations people have given me, because it is a book I would never have found or read on my own.
6 What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
I think I might have been 10. When I had my hair cut, there was a little extra time while my mother was having hers done, and I used to visit a bookshop a few doors away. I would then report back at a set time. While I was in the bookshop I would be looking at books and reading them and also sighing and wishing I had money to buy them. One time when I got back to the hairdresser’s, a friend of my mother’s was sitting next to her, and on being introduced to me gave me some coins and said ‘would you like to buy some sweeties for yourself?’ I thanked her manically and ran to the bookshop where I was able to buy 2 paperbacks, just picked them up and paid for them, and then I ran back. (The friend was wildly over-impressed by this, that I didn’t buy sweets, and that I instantly knew which books I wanted.) It was possibly the most dream-come-true moment of my entire childhood. Imagine.
7 What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them? Expectation and glory.
8 What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. The entire works of Agatha Christie, and countless other detective stories. Joyce’s Ulysses. Proust. Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. Nancy Mitford, Marilyn Robinson, Ford Madox Ford, Rosamond Lehmann. Noel Streatfeild. Margery Sharp. Sybille Bedford’s A Legacy. The collected letters between Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh. Hundreds more.
9 What book do you recommend readers gift for Father’s Day?
The Man with the Golden Typewriter: the Letters of Ian Fleming. Completely riveting for anyone, an ideal present, you don’t have to be a fan, and has made me embark on reading all the James Bond books again.
10. What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
The Theoretical Foot by MKF Fisher. She is my favourite food writer of all time: this is a re-discovered ‘lost’ novel and I am really looking forward to it…