Monday, 6 April 2009

Time to think about...

Over at Juxtabook, Catherine has picked up a time theme from Simon at Savidge Reads and invites us all to have a go.

So I took a break from the editing marathon and here’s my effort.

What time do you find the best time to read?

I’m literally a morning, noon and night reader. Having to sit in front of my lightbox for half an hour in the morning for the darker six months of the year has trained my brain to expect thirty minutes of reading matter with breakfast and this carries on into the summer. I’ll usually take at least half an hour for lunch and I read then (lunch has to be something eatable with one hand as I’m using the other to hold the book open). And, at the end of the day, I find it almost impossible to get to sleep unless I’ve read for at least half an hour.

At the weekend and on holidays, my idea of bliss is uninterrupted reading time somewhere warm.

What are you spending time reading right now?

Just at the moment, I’m rereading Ian McEwan’s Atonement and finding it brilliant all over again. I don’t generally re-read books (life’s too short and I read too slowly) but my younger son is studying it for AS Level and I wanted to be able to discuss it properly with him rather than relying on my ludicrously poor memory. It’s started us both on an Ian McEwan reading trajectory – he’s just read my copies of Black Dogs and Enduring Love. He’s got Saturday and Chesil Beach waiting for him and I need to acquire Amsterdam. Couldn’t ever get on with The Child in Time…

What’s the best book with time in the title you have read?

Like most other people in the known universe I did enjoy Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife very much. And The Thief of Time allows me to cheerlead for Terry Pratchett – way more than a spoof fantasy writer.
But if I can cheat and put in a plea for a book with a time-related word in the title I’d recommend Sue Gee’s The Hours of the Night, a beautiful, lyrical, deeply humane book.

What is your favourite time (as in era) to read novels based in?

The medieval period – it just fascinates me - though I love the Lindsey Davis’s Falco novels set in Imperial Rome, too. I’ve also recently read a book or two set during the English Civil War and that has whetted my appetite for more novels from this period. Any recommendations?

What book could your read time and time again?

As mentioned above, I’m not a huge one for re-reading but I do regularly re-read Terry Pratchett as his books cheer me up so infallibly, particularly any of the titles that feature the witches, Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat Garlic.

What recently published book do you think deserves to become a classic in Time?

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Absolutely stunning. (My review of it is here.)

What book has been your biggest waste of time?

James Joyce’s Ulysses. I felt I had to read it while I was at university. Finnegan’s Wake, ditto.

What big book would you recommend to others to spend time reading if they haven’t?

It’s quite old now but Leon Uris’s Exodus – a wonderful epic about European Jewry in the early twentieth century and the birth of the state of Israel; the entire Harry Potter canon – storytelling at its page-turning best; Dickens’ Bleak House.

What’s your favourite read of all time?

I find this an impossibly difficult question as various books have been important to me at different times. When I was ten, I read The Swiss Family Robinson six times in a single year so that must be a contender though I can barely remember a word of it now. Except one word which I’d never come across before I read it and had to look up. Isinglass…


David Isaak said...

"Amsterdam" is my favorite McEwan book: short, clean, and cheerfully mean-spirited.

We used to use an antique wood stove for heat when we lived Way Up North. It had isinglass windows, one of which was broken. You can't replacements nowadays. (That is, assuming you mean the isinglass that is thin sheets of mica. I guess there's some kind of edible stuff called by the same name.)

Alis said...

Hi David - yes I did mean the thin sheets of mica, though I'm not sure I knew that's what it was! How amazing that you actually had some of the stuff in your life!

The Bassist has been checking out Amsterdam on Amazon and says it seems to be universally hated - what was that I was saying about Amazon reviews a couple of weeks ago....?!

KAREN said...

I loved Sue Gee's novel too, and you've just reminded me about Geraldine Brooks! Great answers.

I think my favourite periods to read about are WW2 and Victorian times.

Juxtabook said...

A lovely list - quite different to others I that have read answering this meme. I totally agree about lunch needing to be a one handed affair. I love reading and eating by myself at lunch time. I also agree that Terry Pratchett's works are far more than their image might suggest. I have been modelling myself on Granny Weatherwax for years.

Alis said...

Hi Karen - yes, Atonement made me realise that I have read startlingly little fiction based around the second world war - any recommendations to get me going in that era?

Alis said...

Hi Juxtabook - Granny Weatherwax - Yes!! My heroine - though she'd probably prefer hero.
One of my favourite GW quotes is 'sin is treating people like things' - oh yes, I do believe it is...!
Thanks for kind comments, btw...