Hello again!

As I mentioned in my interview with Linda here , Linda thought it would  be fun to turn the tables and intervew me about my life as a reader! So -here goes!




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Linda interviews Liz

LINDA: Why do you read? How long do you think you could go without opening a book?

LIZ: I read because I have to (like writers write?!).  I have always taken comfort and joy from reading and loved the places it took me.  I can’t go long without reading.  There is a book in my bag at all times.  I did do a sort of reverse challenge one year, when my Other Half bet me I couldn’t read “only” 2 books per week for a year.  I managed until June that year and he accepted the bet was off – I could hardly bear it, and I didn’t do more quality things with the time I had “free”, just read more magazines and watched more TV!

LINDA: Do you have a favourite book?

LIZ: The books I go back to are the childhood classics – Noel Streatfeild, pony books, Frances Hodgson Burnett, etc.  Then there’s the perennial favourites – Middlemarch is a lovely one to re-read and I loved A Suitable Boy and enjoyed re-reading it 12 years after the first time.  I love travel writing and could read Paul Theroux over and over again. 

LINDA: What sort of thing makes you buy/borrow a book?

LIZ: Recommendation from friends is a big one, especially these days.  There are some that, even if they don’t look promising, I will read if friends have read and enjoyed them.  One example is your own A Lifetime Burning, which I didn’t fancy much cover- or blurb-wise but was persuaded into.  A later example is an Icelandic crime novel I picked up the other day.  If Ali and Audrey enjoyed it, chances are I will!

I do go by the cover, too.  A few paisleys or a minaret, and I’m there.  More about that later…
LINDA: What makes you put a book back on the shelf?/What makes you give up on a book?

LIZ: I don’t like the “chick-litty” covers – all that pink and curly writing, however there have been some books with those covers which are not like that at all (Debbie Macomber comes to mind – simple romance, she is not, but she is marketed as such).  I will give up on a book (and I’ve only recently been able to put a book down rather than go through to the bitter end) if the writing is very poor, if there’s a lot of upsetting violence, if I can see there is a horrible animal death, or, in the case of the last two non-fiction books I’ve read, the information is outdated and subscribes to views or attitudes I am not interested in.
LINDA: What do you think about book covers? How much information do you want about a book on a cover and blurb? (I get incensed by blurbs that tell you big things about the plot when the author has spent 40 pages building up suspense! When I gave my daughter TWILIGHT to read, I forbade her to read the blurb on the back.)

LIZ: Covers are important in providing information on genre etc.  As I said above, I have rejected books with covers implying something they’re not, so I try to see through that.  I have also pounced on books with minarets or paisleys, then found they’re not so good.  The blurb on the back can be very annoying – either too much information or skewed to what the blurb-writer thinks the audience is.  I don’t really like the author quotations on books – I don’t really trust them as a) they could be extracted from a longer comment, and b) the author may be one I don’t like or doesn’t turn out to be similar to the author in hand.
LINDA:  What do you think about the proposal to age-band books for children? (Bear in mind most children’s books are bought by adults for children.)

LIZ: I think this is a difficult one.  With the plethora of books out there, especially this trend for magical themed books (which can get a bit violent or graphic) then I think there is a need for guidance.  But children’s reading ages differ hugely and I would hate to think of a child put off by a younger or older guide age.  I think people should be encouraged to consult the librarian or children’s bookseller – or maybe there should be information available nearby or on a PC, without having it splashed all over the book.  I would hate to have felt I couldn’t have read The Hobbit aged 7 as it was marked 14 or older, and would feel a bit odd clutching my Bali Rai novel if it had a teenage age in big letters on the back, so what would the kids of today feel like?
LINDA: If you could commission a book to be written specially for you what sort of book would it be? (Genre, style, no of pages, author – dead or alive.)

LIZ: A new, endless series of Debbie Macomber novels set in a small town, which appeared effortlessly in my house and I didn’t have to wait a year for the next one.  Or one last Iris Murdoch, from when she was at the height of her powers.
LINDA: If you were a book what book would you be?

LIZ: I often feel like I’m in a David Lodge or Barbara Pym novel so one of those – I think on reflection, a Pym, as I battle on in the background, in a sea of mad academic types!

[Note from Linda G: Well, I think you’re COLD COMFORT FARM, Liz: Flora Poste – practical, funny but with a romantic streak – organizing a family of batty eccentrics with great good humour and common sense!]

Thanks, Linda – that was fun!