Friday, 27 May 2011

Book meme

I saw this in Stylist, a free women's magazine that I actually quite like. They asked the questions of Mariella Frostrup (I find her irritating, sorry Mariella, especially her gobbledygook agony column in the Guardian) but I thought this would make a good book meme, as some of the categories are a little bit different. Take it & run with it!

The book that takes me back to my roots

I haven't really gone that far from my roots. North to East London is not such an exodus. But I guess any of the books I got from Southgate Library as a teenager, when it was a portal to a more sophisticated bohemian adult world. For example, Islands by John Fowles and Fay Godwin, my favourite photographer from a time when I first fell in love with photography, plus some probably quite pretentious stuff about islands from John Fowles. We were into the Odyssey and Greek myths and all that back then. Very geeky teenagers, what can I say?

The book that reminds me of my best friend

Hmm, probably Breakfast at Tiffany's - my best friend was a wild child, headstrong, infuriating and charismatic just like Holly Golightly. She also wandered off into the wide blue yonder & we lost touch. These days she's a wife and mum and pillar of the community living in Athens. Though she might be visiting England this summer - first time I will have seen her in over 10 years...

The books that I love to read to my children

I don't have my own but I do read to the kids quite a lot. Where to start? The Tiger Who Came To Tea is always a pleasure, magnificent illustrations. I love how the tiger looks like a big friendly cuddly outsize pussycat. Based around food, always dear to children's hearts. And the continuity of it - I remember being read this story when I was at school and I like passing it on.

The book that helped me understand men

I'm still looking for this book. No really, all novels help you to understand other human beings that bit better, they all give you a different angle and some kind of insight. I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, told from the point of view of a boy with Aspergers, for example.

The book that helped heal my broken heart.

Books are no good for mending broken hearts. Sorry books, it's the one thing you let me down on. Music is the only thing to get you through.

The book that inspires me as a woman

Oh, FFS. How would I know, it's not like I've ever been a man? A book that inspired me as a person was Patti Smith's beautiful biography - she is a real artist, she came from a broke working class family and made her way with nothing but drive and talent and instinct straight into the art world. She also seems like a generally very sound, nice, generous human being without a petty or vain bone in her body. Seems like a good way to live.

The book that gave me the desire to travel

I've never got into travel writing. Maybe you can recommend some? Portraits by Steve McCurry is one of my favourite photography books though - reminds you what a big old world it is and how different we all are, I'd love to take a camera around the world (like our Annie, check out her amazing photography...) The kids at school also like this one,though I had to edit it for naked ladies. I felt bad censoring it.

The book that makes me feel romantic

Books that are just about romances leave me stone cold. And films. Racking my brains here... The only romances I seem to like are in comic crime novels, like the policewoman and the bank robber who fall in love in Christopher Brookmyre's The Sacred Art of Stealing, or Susie the getaway car driver and the narrator in James Hawes' A White Merc With Fins. Both written by men. Hmm. Interesting. I seem to have some kind of 1940s film noir/screwball comedy conception of romance.

The book that taught me about style

Going to answer this one not in the spirit of the question. When I was working at the evil -American- bookshop-chain-that-went-bust (bwahaha!) as a buyer, a rep brought in some proof pages from a book about Alex Steinweiss, they're now framed and on my wall. Alex Steinweiss was the first proper album cover designer. They are beauties of graphic design. Alas for the art of the album cover.


  1. Reading Paul Theroux's book about travelling on the Trans Siberian railway during my formative years indirectly resulted in me emigrating to New Zealand when I was 34.
    Allan Bush's Last Bird Singing takes you on a grand tour of the murky heart of an average geezer - it's a brilliant book, should've won prizes, can't recommend it highly enough.

  2. Funnily enough, I've recently read Sacred Art (loved Brookmyre's first book, then went a bit lukewarm, found this in a 2nd hand place a few weeks ago) and agree, the weird frisson is very nicely handled. (Also like the cop's horrified realisation that she's shot more men than she's shagged.)

  3. I'm sure there's something going on in The Tiger Who Came To Tea - an illicit relationship of some kind. And, I haven't read a lot of travel books but the best of those I have was One's Company by Peter Fleming. Very old school.

  4. Good tip, OFW (though I think I read a novel by Paul Theroux & it was so misogynistic it put me off his travel writing). Did you ever read John Williams on Cardiff? He's great.

    Tim, some are better than others but I do like him. He writes good women characters too.

    Artog, you mean mummy... mummy and the tiger... but daddy...? Noooo! I don't know Peter Fleming, will check him out.