Nabbed from Faye L. Booth, a few questions on reading:

What time do you find the best time to read? During the day I combine my writing with research, mainly non-fiction. Or else a book I’m reviewing. I try to set aside time each evening to read something unrelated to work, generally a novel or biography. Becoming a writer has changed the way I read, I’d say that I’m less spontaneous now and I think a lot about the way it was written rather than just experiencing it. But it’s important for me to remember the pleasure of losing myself in words, because that’s what inspired me to write in the first place.

What are you spending time reading right now? Everything I’m reading currently is related to the subject I’m writing about, which could be why I’m feeling a bit starved of fun. Nonetheless, it’s my latest obsession and I can’t get enough of it. Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk And Familiar Spirits is a historical study of healing and magic. What’s great about it is that she takes witchcraft beliefs seriously, and sceptics tend to forget how important magic is in traditional societies where the scientific perspective is less developed. I’m also reading Paolo Coelho’s novel, The Witch Of Portobello. It’s set in contemporary London and I was intrigued by the idea of how differently (or not) a so-called witch, a wise-woman, might be treated today. Coelho also explores the role of witches in an older, Goddess-led/pagan culture.

What is your favourite time (as in era) to read novels based in? I don’t read many novels set in the present day, it can be hard to capture a moment when you’re still in it. But perhaps it’s more to do with the fact that there is so much choice in literature, as I enjoy lots of movies and TV shows that deal with current issues. Certainly, I do feel that much can be learned from the past. I love reading about early to mid 20th-century America, also 19th century Russia. I’m a fan of what they call ‘world classics’, whatever a classic may be – and while I know some things may be lost in translation, it would be very boring just to read about your own culture all the time.

What recently published book do you think deserves to become a classic in time? My favourite novels of the last few years include Arthur Golden’s Memoirs Of A Geisha, Jonathan Coe’s What A Carve-Up! , Joanna Traynor’s Sister Josephine, Shena Mackay’s The Orchard On Fire, Clare Boylan’s Room For A Single Lady, Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, Jake Arnott’s The Long Firm, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides.

What big book would you recommend to others to spend time reading if they haven’t? Either Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, or To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Mind you, there can’t be too many readers left who haven’t encountered those books. Nana, The Woman Of Rome, The Dud Avocado – all great reads in my view. But because reading is so personal, I wouldn’t really want to recommend the same book to everyone. For example, A Confederacy Of Dunces has been much-praised, but I preferred John Kennedy Toole’s novella, The Neon Bible.

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