BookADay UK : From Beginnings to Ends

Prepare for Waffle! Book A Day UK Challenge

Disclaimer: So many of these questions were answered by a) Harry Potter, b) crime fiction, and c) literary classics,  d) fantasy and e) young adult… I’ve decided I’m splitting those off into their own little subsects. Some of the answers are in here anyway. And you’ll be able to link through to the other editions once they’re live. 

Are you ready for the bookishness to begin? If so: PREPARE FOR WAFFLE

1. Book that defined my teenage years

Pfft. Start with the hardest why don’t ya?! Most people will probably come up with something like Huxley’s Brave New World or Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I read these, but I didn’t find them life changing or defining.  I had to study Gatsby and The Lord of the Flies, so let’s count them out – they were pulverised of meaning by GCSEs and IB. For me? I have so many books that defined my childhood but I’m not so sure about my teenage years. I entered my teens after thirteen years of adventure novels; having continually re-read Moonfleet, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Swallows & Amazons, not to mention the entirety of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. If we exclude Harry Potter (Harry Potter and midnight book launches were quite a defining feature of my teenage years. I doubt there will be anything like that again.) and fantasy novels (ah The Belgariad) … you’re left with A Clockwork Orange (read aged 13), Middlemarch, (read aged 16),  Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer (read aged 15), … I suppose Kingsolver should win, it was the first of her books that I read and it’s stuck with me ever since.

2. I’d like to know what @_____’s favourite book is #passthebook

All of you! Anyone reading this – pop in the comments what your favourite book is. Not only will I love you forever for commenting, but I’d be stoked to hear about your favourite books!

3. My favourite character’s favourite song would be

I have to agree with Emily Temple actually. Lyra ‘Silvertongue’ (His Dark Materials) would definitely love  “Supertheory of Supereverything” by Gogol Bordello. As Temple says:

For the anti-Magisterium girl in books about killing God: “I don’t read the Bible/ I don’t trust disciples/ Even if they’re made of marble/ or Canal Street bling/ From the maelstrom of the knowledge/ into the labyrinth of doubt/ frozen underground ocean/ melting, nuking on my mind/ Yes, give me Everything Theory/ without Nazi uniformity.

4. Matchmaking: these two characters should get together

I feel if Branson Cable (Thursday Next) met Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), both of them would be a lot happier. Also ‘bromantically’ speaking, Silk from The Belgariad meets Sirius Black (Harry Potter) and The Marquis de Carabas (Neverwhere)

5. The author I would love to meet (living or dead) ?

Dead: Philip K Dick. Alive: Jeremy Lethem or Richard Powers. Actually probably Richard Powers wins because I wrote my dissertation on his books, Plowing the Dark, The Echo Maker, and Galatea 2.2, so I have some serious questions for him.

6. And the question I would ask them is:

What do you think of your use of colons and semi-colons, Richard? Vonnegut told off writers for using them, but I think you apply them to indicate brain-states, shifts between internal and external patterns. Was my entire dissertation a lie or do you agree?

7. My favourite opening line

“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.” – Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Shadow of the Wind

What a line! It’s one of those lines that instantly pulled me into Zafon’s (and narrator Daniel’s) Barcalona. A city that celebrates the imagination.

8. Bought entirely for its cover

I’m so guilty of this, I can’t tell you how many books I own for precisely this reason. The latest is probably The Miniaturist. Mainly because it has blue pages.

8. The book that has always stayed with me

I have two that stick with me that deserve to be here (and aren’t already in other questions) The Complete Works of Beatrix Potter has to be included, especially Peter Rabbit, for nostalgia’s sake. And the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Pirouetting on the boundaries between sci-fi, the crime thriller and intertextual whimsy, anyone who reads these innovative and fantastical books will never be the same.

9. A great book to read aloud

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne and pretty much all of his other poetry books too.  Also The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan.

10. These two characters should not have got together

Harry Potter with Ginny Weasley. I know, I know. Total cliché. BUT aside from the obvious mummy-issues, the girl is defined by the ability to throw a bat bogey hex. I’ve heard the argument that it’s all about her sense of humour, (they once both laughed at Percy Weasley in Book the Third, and in Book the Sixth she manages to make a bitchy joke – or five – about Fleur, and then they have a little banter about bad tattoos before they make out) but as far as I can tell Ginny is the source of zero hilarity of her own making. Rather, she’s a whole lot of girlish scorn. So sure, she can throw a hex and isn’t completely vapid like the majority of female characters Harry’s age, but that’s about as much love as she’s ever going to get from me. #BadShip

I’m just so into you, they each said silently, staring into each others eyes. Uh… sorry, no.

11. Feel-good read

I do love a good romcom / chiclit. And for me the best are usually Sophie Kinsella’s. Therefore, my ‘Feel-Good’ read is probably ‘I’ve Got Your Number’, the rib-crackingly hilarious story of a girl who discovers that perhaps her perfect boyfriend isn’t going to be her perfect husband after she ends up with the phone of a total stranger. Someone explain why this isn’t a film already?!

12. This book is precious to me because…

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is the perfect adventure novel. My dad read it to me when I was very young and then when I was eighteen, my friend helped me find a beautiful first edition of it in Portobello Market. I treasure both the memories and the actual text.

13. The book that reminds me of an ex

How to Be a Heroine: Or What I’ve Learnt from Reading Too Much. Not for any particular reason, other than the fact I came out of the relationship feeling like the protagonist of my own life. Any woman with a remotely bookish childhood should gobble this up; it’s honest, warm, and fizzes in the brain like sherbet on your tongue.

14. Book set in the place you’re from

Fairly certain there isn’t a book set in or even near to where I grew up. Fortunately, I now live in London, and one of my favourite books set here has to be Barbara Vine’s King Solomon’s Carpet.

15. Favourite book in translation

The Cemetary of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Obviously. This isn’t to say I don’t love my Russians. Crime and Punishment has to be one of the best books I’ve ever studied and Master & Marguerita is wickedly brilliant; also the French Realists, Albert Camus’ The Outsider, and some of the most curious translations of all from Garcia Marquez to Horacio Quiroga and Otavio Paz. I highly recommend to everyone that they read everything on this list as well:  50 Works of Fiction in Translation That Every English Speaker Should Read

16. Book you were wrong about

I didn’t expect Fifty Shades of Grey to be as bad as everyone said but it was.  It really, really was.

17. Book you read after seeing the film

The Hunger Games. I heard so much about the books that I didn’t want to read them. And then I watched the films but since the last film wasn’t out, what was I supposed to do. Wait for the film? Actually, this happened with The Lord of the Rings too – I never found myself interested in The Fellowship, but I did love the sequels.

18. Favourite book about music

An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. It’s definitely blow off your best friends to curl up on the sofa until you finish it good. Capturing the smell of rosin on a bow, the satisfaction of slow scales played with a partner, the sleepy somnolence of working a piece through in your head just before sleep… it’s the perfect romance for music lovers. My mum gave this to me to read when I was about fourteen. It was the first romantic novel I ever read but the plot felt about as original as it can possibly be. It was so beautiful and so exquisitely painful.

19. Slept with the lights on after reading

Criminal by Karin Slaughter. Actually most novels by Karin Slaughter keep my eyes wide open, peering into shadows, mistaking jackets for intruders, and jumping at my own reflection.

20. Brings back good memories

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Admittedly, I have never ugly cried as much before or since I read that book. I remember turning to my parents who were staring aghast as I sobbed uncontrollably in the middle of a tranquil Caribbean cove, and trying to tell them why but the words were completely lost behind tears.

21. Glad you took a chance on…

Haruki Murakami. My life would be infinitely less surreal if it wasn’t for that hazy summer day reading Kafka on the Shore.

22. Favourite book published in your lifetime

There’s so many!? His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, The Shadow of the Winds, Neverwhere, Criminal… I couldn’t chose.

23. Character you’d least like to turn up on a blind date

Discounting the number of serial killers from Tess Gerittsen, Karin Slaughter, Ian Rankin etc and every single character included in Nico Lang’s 17 Truly Awful Literary Characters You Love To Hate, it has to be the one and only Jean Brodie, controlling and manipulative little sociopath that she is. I’d 100% diagnose that woman as a borderline personality with narcissistic tendencies.

24. Book you would give to a lover

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It’s a test. I can’t give anymore away.

25. A book you’d love to discuss with your favourite author

I would love to chat all books with Joss Whedon. But mostly, when will make a film or TV series about Thursday Next?

26. Longest owned unread

War and Peace.  I have no excuses. I was given it for Christmas before I started university so it’s been in the pile a while. In fact, it’s soooo hefty, it makes a brilliant book to prop up other books with, and therefore it’s now at the bottom of the Leaning Tower of Penguins.

27. Book to convert a non-reader

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. If you can’t enjoy something as irresistibly readable, something so irrepressibly exuberant and fun, I really don’t think anything will convert you. Saying that,  my dad bought himself a Kindle, and he’s gone from reading a handful of books a year to reading a couple every month. The Kindle is a brilliant thing for people who perhaps find a hard copy tedious.

Je serai poète et toi poésie,


5 thoughts on “BookADay UK : From Beginnings to Ends

  1. Michy says:

    I wasn’t able to read as in depth as I wanted to but I have to at least share some books…. I had to read the Outsiders as a kid in school and I liked it back then but when I reread it later on life not only has it brought back so many memories but I found a new love for it and it has to be one the most memorable books of my youth


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