1. Do you have an
early memory of learning to read? In my earliest memory
of reading I wasn’t even reading at all. I was still too young to know how, but
I loved my earliest books so much that, if no one was around to read them to
me, I would pretend I knew how to read them to myself.
2. Have you always
been an avid reader? Always, but it took
until I was 18 and moved to the city before I began to appreciate anything that
3. How do you decide
what to read next? There’s only one way
to choose which book to read next: I listen for the one that calls out to me. A
book might sometimes sit on my shelf for years before it does so. Or more than
one book may call out at once, in which case I test them all until I have a
winner (one will have to shout the loudest).
4. Do you have any reading
rituals that you follow? Once I reach the halfway point of what I'm reading, I always have my next book lined up.
5. What makes a great story or novel? The old standbys: character,
6. Do you have a
favourite genre? I’ll read anything,
from Tolstoy to Crichton, depending on my mood.
7. Who was the first
author you fell in love with? The last? Stephen King was the
first. Hillary Mantel is the most recent.
8. What classic or
well-known book have you never been able to get through? Catch-22. I can’t
remember how many times I tried to read it and was never able to get past the
halfway point. I had the same experience with Moby Dick.
9. What book or books
do you reread? Each year I reread
one book that I read and loved in the past. Each year it’s different, and I
only allow myself the time for one (too many unread books to read!)
10. Do you have dry spells where you stop reading or read
very little? The only time I can’t
read is when I’m in the middle of a writing project. Reading other writers’
great books depresses me when I’m trying to write my own.
11. How do you organize your collection? I’m very anal about
organizing my books. I don’t go as far as alphabetical, but I break them down
by fiction and non-fiction. Within non-fiction I have as many different
categories as you’d find in a bookstore; with fiction I group authors, plus I
have desert island categories. I could go on…
12. Do you enjoy recommending books to others? What criteria
do you use? Recommendations are
easy once you’ve had some success with any given recommendee – they’ll read
just about anything I toss their way. If it’s a first-timer, it takes a bit of
trial and error to nail down what they might like. But I never stop trying.
13. You host a dinner party for five authors (dead or
alive). Who’s invited? Salman Rushdie, John
Irving, Peter Carey, Martin Amis, and Jonathan Franzen.
14. Do you write? If so, how does reading influence your
writing? Reading inspires me
to write, but once I start writing… see question 10.
15. What are you reading right now? Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel and The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand
by Oliver Burkeman. Ravenous Reader will be a regular series of posts.