Book Q & A


Australian author and book blogger Annabel Smith tagged me in a fun (quick) meme last week. Yes, it’s taken me a few days to get to it but that’s because I was busy testing my nerves on roller coasters and ridiculous water-slides with the kids on the Gold Coast. I’m still recovering.

Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

What are you reading right now?

I usually have a few books on the go at once –

The Deep Whatsis by Peter Mattei (it’s all about an over-indulged Gen Y brat who works for a New York ad agency)

Night Games by Anna Krien (a non-fiction book looking at the issue of sex, consent and power in Australian football)

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls (my ‘light’ choice that I ‘read’ in text-to-speech mode on my Kindle, usually while I’m doing something exciting like folding washing.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

I usually don’t decide what’s next until I’ve actually a finished a book but I think And Sons by David Gilbert will be in the mix.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

Some of the classics – War & Peace and Madame Bovary. More recently, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. Plus this whole list. I also wish I had sufficient time to re-read some books I’ve loved (but rarely do because it’s at the cost of reading something new).

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?

I don’t read many magazines these days (I used to love a trashy mag but now only indulge when I’m at the hairdresser). The ones I do still buy every so often are always food porn – Gourmet Traveller and Donna Hay.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

Without question, Fifty Shades of Grey (to the point where I really had to consider friendships with people who ‘loved it’ and then said “You should read the second one, it gets even better”)

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – I expected to love it… But didn’t (found it all a little tedious).

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Tricky question! I do recommend Red Dog by Louis de Bernières often – it’s a story with everything. I also push a number of books by John Irving, notably The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany.

What are your three favourite poems?

I’m a little sentimental when it comes to poetry and my favourites are such because of associated childhood memories – I love Jabberwocky and The Walrus and the Carpenter, both by Lewis Carroll. Also for sentimental reasons, I love many Australian bush ballads, particularly Banjo Paterson’s Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.

Where do you usually get your books?

Publishers, my local (independent) book shop and I do read lots on my Kindle. I make a point of buying Australian authors from my book shop (supporting local writers, Australian publishing and of course my very lovely independent book shop).

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

Read everything. Was always reading.

I recalled a time when my mum sprung me reading under the covers (a good hour after my light was supposed to be off). When I asked her years later why she didn’t get cross she replied “How can you get mad about a kid wanting to read?”. TRUE.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

Three nights ago – Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Breathtaking, beautiful writing.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Yes – nearly every Secret Seven book by Enid Blyton. I loved Blyton when I was little but didn’t like Secret Seven or Famous Five. And yet, I kept receiving these books as gifts. I used to read the first chapter, a random middle chapter and the last (so I knew the mystery, a little detail and how it was solved), in case the person who gave me the book later asked about it. Looking back, this is laughable because what adult ever quizzes a kid about a book they’ve given as a gift?!

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

So many times I can’t count…

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

When I was very little it was Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley. Read my post about why I loved the stories so much (it’s mostly about the map…).

What book changed your life?

There’s a few – Milly Molly Mandy because it was the first chapter book I read on my own and the first book that I remember reading and feeling desolate when it came to an end. Then came books by Judy Blume. At the time, I was fairly certain she was speaking directly to me. Soon after I read Anne Frank’s diary – I was the same age as Frank when I read it and also visited her house in Amsterdam. It gave me a very strong and memorable sense of time and history and the lasting legacy of words. Lastly, it’s so corny to include a ‘self-help’ book but The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin prompted me to make same changes in my life – one of the things that changed was making time to start this blog.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

There’s a function on my Kindle that allows me to highlight bits I like in a book. Mine works overtime. Of books I’ve read recently, a passage from Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread has haunted me –

“Though she had no memory of her own mother, who’d died soon after Noah came into the world, or of any kiss with the exception of Uncle Nipper’s after he’d tanked up on rum, she found herself crouching down. Keeping it in the box, she held the morsel of a baby up to her face. Allowing her mouth, her eyes, to fill with a feeling hitherto only bestowed on the eyelids of foals, she gave him a soft and squeaky kiss… ‘Go on then.’ She waded out into the deeper water. Found the current. ‘Be good! Don’t fall out!’ In the moonlight the butter box went like a crazy toy, pulled quickly into the faster water of the Flaggy by the weight of its miniature boatman. But even as the boat and the baby disappeared around the creek’s bend, his forehead holding all the softness of her farewell, Noah’s face changed shape forever.”

Who are your top five favourite authors?

John Irving
Charlotte Wood
Jonathan Tropper
Lionel Schriver
Sonya Hartnett

What book has no one heard about but should read?

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig – first published decades ago, it has only recently been translated to English.

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

A handful of titles by John Irving; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Schriver (read it seven years ago, still think about it regularly); and a whole bunch of kids books.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Forrests by Emily Perkins
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

What is your favourite classic book?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I also love Washington Square by Henry James and A Room with a View by E. M. Forster.

Five other notable mentions?

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett
Heft by Liz Moore
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Reader by Berhard Schlink
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers
Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

(I didn’t take ‘five’ literally…)

I’m tagging Christine, Tony, Mandi and Diane.

Your turn: You don’t have to be tagged to take part in the meme. You can respond in the comments or on your own blog – just share the link in the comments – I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

15 responses

  1. I really enjoyed reading your list Kate. And Sons is high on my list too. I got Hologram for the King out of the library weeks ago and have just been waiting to get through others first, but i will get there. I am dying to read Burial Rites too. That passage from Foal’s Bread sent chills down my spine. It made me even more convinced that I won’t be able to handle reading it.

  2. So I’ve requested Burial Rites in the hopes that I get it. I was picking up/organizing my shelves recently and realized I had semi-arranged them according to recommender. On ‘your’ area of the shelf I have Heft, The Book Thief, Loving Frank, and there is a space for Mateship with Birds if it ever arrives (shipping from UK takes forever). Beside it bordering to Annabel’s section is What I Loved, Garden of Eden, and Wool. Blogging has had a lovely effect on my bookshelves.

  3. I enjoyed reading your responses! Burial Rites is definitely on my radar right now and I’ve been hearing so many good things about The Other Typist, I really should bump that book up my list. I’ve also never read that title by de Bernieres so I’ll have to check that out too 🙂

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