Saw this tag over on Booktube (I’m procrastinating the last things I need to do before going to the airport – which is insane, but I’m not the kind that prepares her backpack in advance, there’s a lot more fun to be had with a sense of urgency), the original video was made by Amy Jane Smith. The questions are as follow:
1. What three books do you want to read this summer?
Based on the ones I recently bought or borrowed and will have to read in the next 6 weeks (because they’ll be the only ones available):
- Amitav Gosh’s The Glass Palace, because it is set in Myanmar (then Burma) where I’m headed in a couple of hours
- Reader, I married him, by Tracy Chevalier. Because Jane Eyre inspired short stories. And because Tracy Chevalier. Need I say more?
- The day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham, which is a S-F classic I haven’t read, and I love a good classic in the summer.
2. Which character most embodies the traits of summer?
I’ve been thinking about it and, apart from every character in Fitzgerald’s novels, I would say Laura Sheridan, the protagonist of The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield. Not only because the short story itself takes place one summer day but Laura herself, young, joyful, with so many hopes and expectations, is one of the sunniest characters you could find.
3. What book do you most associate with the physicality of summer?
Well, perhaps quite obviously every novel and short stories by Fitzgerald, from The great Gastby to Flappers and Philosophers – particularly the short story in that collection taking place on a yacht. The summer nights with cocktail parties, the colours, everything by Fitzgerald is the embodiment of summer.
Other titles which spring to my mind are Sputnik Sweethearts, by Haruki Murakami, for the depictions of the small Greek Island the novel ends in. I read it before going to Greece on a holiday and had an eerie feeling of deja-vu until I realized it came from Murakami’s atmosphere depiction, spot on.
Finally, there’s a very short novella, almost a short story by Doris Lessing, called The grandmothers, which is everything and more about generations, life, taking place one summer.
4. What kind of books do you like to read on holiday? Any books that hold memories to certain places?
Well, what is available, really, I’m not picky. Growing up the main selecting criteria was the size, because I was allowed to take 10 books at the public library (upper limit, not negotiable, trust me I tried) for the 2months holiday, so each one had to last at least a couple of days. And still the horrifying moment where I reached the end of the pile would come (usually by mid July) and I was left with re-reading every single book in my grandparent’s bookshelves.
Apart from size I like to read at least a Thriller/mistery, and often classics I wouldn’t have the time or the concentration ability to read during the year.
Tuscany summer, by the lake: find a book and hide somewhere
As for memories, where to begin?
I went to Benin a long time ago and still remember all the books I read during those two months, because they are covered in the bright red dust of the Benin earth, and amongst the most battered of all my books. Most strikingly Duong Thu Huong’s Terre des Oublis (No man’s land), a beautiful novel about three characters and the effects of the Vietnam War on individual destinies. Also, and forever, I will associate binge reading comic books to Italy where I used to spend the summer holidays, after aforementioned pile of borrowed books had run out, mostly Tintin and Lucky Luke, but piles of old “Spirou Magazines” as well.
And finally reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace in Greece, on a small Island, in one sitting.
5. If you could you go on holiday with any author, who would you go with and where? What would you want to know?
wouldn’t you want to ride along too?
My holidays tend to be rather adventurous, so it would have to be somebody motivated into doing something rather crazy. I think I would have loved more than anything to jump into Nicolas Bouvier’s 4L on a 2 years trip to Asia. As for living authors I wouldn’t mind taking Bill Bryson on a walk across, well, anywhere really, he seems he would be able to point out the quirks and oddities of travel anywhere on the globe.
6. What’s your book of the year so far?
So far… well, looking into my goodreads list, I would have to pick Human Acts by Han Kang – terrifying, but necessary – and The art of asking by Amanda Palmer for non fiction.
7. How did you spend your summer holidays as a child?
In Italy, where my grandparents have a house. 2 continuous months of what is really now the very idea of summer for me: the constant sound of the cicadas, afternoons building sand castles, and lots of climbing up various pine and olive trees to hide with a book.
And: What are your plans this summer?
I’m on my way to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, enjoying my last 3 months of freedom before starting work again in a hospital, I’ll be backpacking with a bookworm friend, we neither of us are fans of days of farniente at the beach so it will probably be “as many secluded temples as possible, public buses into the middle of nowhere and letting the road decide where we end up”. And monsoon. My kind of summer.
Here are all the questions, consider yourself tagged if you want to, and enjoy a great summer of reading!