My first memory of reading
My mother used to read Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Terry Furchgott to me when I was four or five years old. is such a cheerfully illustrated book about an girl whose widowed father leaves her home alone while he is at work and one night the house catches fire and Phoebe puts it out using a hot water bottle. I mean, picture book-wise, things were a little darker back then. God, I loved it.
my favorite book growing up
Although when I was little they read to me endlessly, once I got to school, I rejected reading altogether, preferring to draw. Sunshine by Jan Ormerod is the only book I remember reading alone, perhaps because it has no words, just illustrations of a family rushing to get ready one morning. It fascinated me so much: the house, the representation of the domestic, the mothers, the fathers, an observant daughter and the intrinsic humor. Which are all my concerns as a novelist, so it clearly went pretty deep.
The book that changed me as a teenager
My resistance to reading lasted throughout my adolescence; I struggle to name a single book at the time. But in my last year of school, I moved out of the country and instantly lost my friends: I had nothing to do but read. When I got Emma from Jane Austen, I finally understood what everyone had been talking about: that there really is such a thing as reading for pleasure.
The writer who changed my mind
When I set out to write fiction, I was desperate to be literary, and I thought that meant keeping everything very bleak and not letting the “jokes” get into things. But during that time, therefore unhappy, I went on vacation and picked up a dark and difficult novel and Nina Stibbe’s Paradise Lodge. In the end, I couldn’t face the first one, and I read Stibbe twice. Then I realize that if that’s what I want as a reader, humor and pathos together, why would I go out of my way? not to write that way.
The book that made me want to be a writer
The bookstores were more than a single writer; wandering around places like Daunt in Marylebone when he lived in London in his early 20s, imagining what it would be like to see your own book on a shelf. (Feels like going to a stranger’s beautiful home and seeing your own wet bathing suit in a heap in the corner of the living room, mortified and confused as to how something so intimate of yours ended up there, is the answer.)
The book I returned to
There are favorites that I go back to once a year, but I’ve never gone back to anything I was passionate about the first time because, starting so late, I read with a permanent feeling of being behind and feel like there isn’t enough time for a second try. In the things.
the book i reread
I’ve had a copy of George Saunders’s Fox 8 within arm’s reach of my writing shed ever since I first read it, in 2013, in a state of eye-opening, stunned delight. I pick it up and read a page most days. It is perfect. Is so Perfect. I can not explain it.
The book I could never read again
I was completely obliterated by Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels, and thought I’d keep going back to them, but never did, anxiously, I think if it’s not the same complete and perfect reading experience as it was back then, the memory will be ruined . .
The book I discovered later in life.
I don’t know how I managed not to discover Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles until last year. When I did, it was like arriving at a party and finding all your friends already there. They are as wonderful as everyone says. But it is also true that you must deviate from number five if you do not want to have your heart broken with a hammer.
The book I am currently reading.
One day I will amaze the world, Stibbe new and perfect. As soon as I started it, my camera roll became exclusively screenshots of the best lines, though everyone the best lines
my consolation reading
Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, which I reread so often that I worry it will one day lose its effectiveness when it comes to comfort. That’s why I try to alternate it with Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. It’s just that, in so many situations, only Mitford will.