30 Books in 30 days
Day One: Favourite book in a series
Kudos by Rachel Cusk
Reason: Because I suddenly began to understand what the first book was about and felt slightly more intelligent, which was nice (the third book in the series was a waste of time!).
Day Two: Favourite book by your favourite writer
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Reason: I don’t really have a favourite author, I went from AA Milne to Catherine Cookson to Janet Evanovich to Clive Barker to Neil Gaiman.
Day Three: Book you did not finish
Snakewood by Adrian Selby
Reason: Too many characters at the beginning completely threw me and it felt like a Dungeon and Dragons person wet dream – UGH.
Day Four: Book you remember from childhood
Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne
Reason: Because all the characters in the world are right there hiding in the One Hundred Acre Wood.
Day Five: Favourite classic novel
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Reason: One reason – Diggory Venn – swoon.
Day Six: Book That Broke Your Heart
The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
Reason: Beautiful, sad and human. (Anything else is a spoiler – READ IT!)
Day Seven: Best audiobook to listen to on a road trip
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Reason: Because who doesn’t want to know what Bilbo will do next…my pretty.
Day Eight: Series everyone should read
Seasons series by Ali Smith
Reason: They are weird tales of weird people doing very human but very weird things – the only bit of advice, don’t read Winter first as it may put you off – the floating head is … em … off-putting
Day Nine: Favourite book to give as a gift
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Reason: Generally, I don’t give books as gifts as I think it is incredibly personal. A bit like buying someone a piece of art for their home. But if pushed, this one is accessible, a bit science-y has a bit of sadness, a bit of history, a bit of weirdness and something of the speculative fictiony-ness to it
Day Ten: A book that makes you cry happy tears
A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Reason: Ove is old and set in his ways, but people keep coming into his life and trying to stop him being miserable – it is odd and sad happy. Perfect.
Day Eleven: Literary character you want to have dinner or drinks with
Mina Harker from Dracula by Bram Stoker
Reason: To find out what it was like to be sidelined so much when actually she was the brains of the operation. That’s got to piss her off, right?
Day Twelve: A popular book you hate
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Reason: I. Can’t. Even. – UGH, puerile, facetious, dross. If you want to read about S & M read The Story of O by anonymous, for example…
Day Thirteen: Book with A Colour in The Title
Orange is not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Reason: Growing up in rural Shropshire I was a bit clueless about the LGBTQ+ community, this book enlightened and saddened me.
Day Fourteen: A fairy tale retelling
Singling out the Couples by Stella Duffy
Reason: Someone on the forums here suggested I read this as the main protagonist is similar to my main character – it is a mish-mash of several fairy tales and a dissolute princess who doesn’t want to marry a prince. She just wants to be a Queen in our world. Fab.
Day Fifteen: A book that makes you cry sad tears
I am I am I am by Maggie O’Farrell
Reason: I didn’t read the blurb. I didn’t realise it was an autobiography, until the very end, by then I was sobbing.
Day Sixteen: A book you’ve read more than once
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Reason: I rarely read books more than once, I tend not to watch films again either – there is so much I haven’t read or seen I haven’t got time to repeat – I reread this for this course.
Day Seventeen: A book with a person’s name in the title (real or fictional)
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Reason: This could have been in the crying at the end category as well – the ending completely snuck up on me. Amazing.
Day Eighteen: A book you like by an author no longer living
I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou
Reason: Of its time, haunting and real. A part of history that shouldn’t be forgiven or forgotten.
Day Nineteen: An audiobook you like because of the narrator’s voice
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (read by Stephen Fry)
Reason: I don’t listen to audiobooks (The Hobbit was from my childhood on car journeys on a tape player), but my daughter does, and she loves this.
Day Twenty: A book with an unreliable narrator
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Reason: I hated this book, I read it because I was looking at writing something from that period last year. I think I hated it because my daughter is the same age and called Lola which Humbert Humbert calls Lolita through the book, like Lou’s choice Nabokov does, however, do an excellent unreliable (and in my opinion, very boring), narrator.
Day Twenty-One: An Anthology you love
The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes
Reason: It was the first time I read adult poems that weren’t about the war (My Shropshire education spent a lot of time on Wilfred Owen), a real eye-opener.
Day Twenty-Two: An LGBTQ+ love story
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Reason: The beautifully tragic story of Patroclus and Achilles who were desperately in love. Again, a very sad ending.
Day Twenty-Three: A book quote you know by heart
I am terrible at remembering quotes here are the only two that have stuck with me – ‘The silly Buckets on the Deck’ from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge
‘…Still harping on daughters.’ From King Lear – Shakespeare.
I can do you most of Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen (like I said – Drummed in!)
Day Twenty-Four: A book collaboration by two or more authors
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Reason: I read this in the early 1990s, it is an amazing story and brilliantly written, Gaiman has said Pratchett was the driving force behind it, but having read American Gods more recently I can hear Gaiman’s voice.
Day Twenty-Five: Book villain you actually love
Hera in Mythos by Stephen Fry
Reason: Hera is the much put-upon wife of Zeus and to be honest I am not surprised she is so vengeful; Zeus just can’t keep it in his pants. I just wish she would take it out on him and not the various male and female lovers he takes.
Day Twenty-Six: Biography you think everyone should read
Prick Up Your Ears by John Lahr
Reason: This is such a sad life story of the incredibly talented Joe Orton – If you haven’t read it please do, or at least watch the film with Stephen Frears.
Day Twenty-Seven: Book You Read Every Year
John Cooper-Clarke (any of his stuff) and Liz Lockhead – Dreaming Frankenstein
Reason: As I said, I don’t re-read novels, but I do re-visit poetry – these are two of my favourites, but I can see Patricia Lockwood (Priestdaddy) and Olivia Gatwood (Life of the Party) becoming firm favourites.
Day Twenty-Eight: Classic novel you haven’t read but plan to
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Reason: I just feel like I have somehow culturally missed out (I haven’t seen the film either – because I would like to read it first).
Day Twenty-Nine: Book Cover You Love
The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charlie Mackesy
Winnie the Pooh – Drawings by EH Shepherd
Reason: The Charlie Mackesy book is just glorious and if anyone is struggling with their mental health right now, just get hold of this book and read it. It is glorious.
Winnie the pooh reminds me of my Dad, I have even written a blog post about it. He used to call me Piglet. So, there are lots of happy memories tied up in it, when I went to college, he would give me framed pencil drawings by EH Shepherd. Which I still have and now hang in my daughter’s rooms.
Day Thirty: The Book You’re Reading Right Now
Heroes by Stephen Fry
Reason: This is research because my novel is about Greek gods, but this and Mythos are also really great reads, entertaining and in modern language (even Kendrick Lemar gets a shout out). There are also links to loads of great reference material – so thanks Stephen 😊