Christmas this year and my family has decided to do a Kris Kringle. We have a limit of $50 to spend on whoever we have drawn out. I’m not going to mention whose name I drew, just in case they are reading this. But if any of you just happen to be wondering what I might like – the answer is always books. OK, sometimes the answer is a book voucher, but in the end, it equates to books.
I can never read enough, or find enough time for reading. I am grateful for my journey to and from work on public transport, because it is the time I can spend on reading. I am grateful for my Kindle, because it can hold so many books and is lightweight and compact, perfect for my handbag.
At the moment I’m reading my second Geoff Dyer book, “Yoga for People who can’t be Bothered to do it”, having thoroughly enjoyed “Out of Sheer Rage”. This year I also read and loved “The Girl on the Train” and “The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford” which I added to my Kindle after an episode of ABC’s The Book Club. I’ve also enjoyed reading Anna Funder’s “All that I Am” and “Stasiland” and the first three of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autobiographies.
Over the last few years I’ve also read several books as research for my memoir. Some of the books, such as “A Fifty-Year Silence” by Miranda Richmond Mouillot, “What did you do in the War, Daddy” by Sabine Reichel and “Dancing on One Foot: Growing up in Nazi Germany” by Shanti Elke Bannwart, I read because of their content. Others, such as “The Dangerous Bride” by Lee Kofman and “Reckoning” by Magda Szubanski, I read for their style, for a glimpse of how memoirs should be written.
I have a list of books I feel I should read, although I might have to force myself. Classics by authors such as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Nabokov. Some I have read many years ago, and really should revisit. Some I began to read but, through boredom or lack of interest, never finished. Then there are the books I should read which I am looking forward to, like anything I haven’t already read by Deepak Chopra, Bill Bryson, Virginia Woolf and Margaret Attwood.
However, my other list excites me far more. The list of books I want to read, some by authors I know and others I have never heard of. Paulo Coelho’s new book “The Spy: A Novel” is one of these. I have several Coelho books and have enjoyed them all. “On the Blue Train” by Kristel Thornell looks fascinating, especially as I have always liked Agatha Christie. Katherine Brabon’s “The Memory Artist” sounds interesting as does “Secondhand Time” by Svetlana Alexievitch, and I’ve heard plenty of good things about Zadie Smith. In fact, every day I find more books to add to this list, more than I will ever have time to read.
So remember – the answer is books – always books.