I bought this tea set in Beijing last April, when I went there during my honeymoon. You'll also notice The Penguin History of Modern China on the shelf next to it. I haven't read this yet. I do like non-fiction and always think I should be reading more of it. Yet, I tend to find myself putting it down and reaching for a novel and thinking, ‘I'll read that another time when I can concentrate on it properly.’
This shelf is quite a good snapshot of my reading tastes − some classics (1984 and Paradise Lost), some kids’ books (The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight and Boy Meets Boy) as well as some modern adult fiction (One Day, Pigeon English and Cat’s Eye).
Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite writers and Cat's Eye is one of my favourite books. I first read it when I studied it for my English A-level. The story of the relationship between Elaine and her best friend/tormentor, Cordelia, just resonated with me, and I have since read this book about six times. Writing this makes me want to read it again.
I also love a good ghost story as you can probably tell from this next picture.
I went to see the play of The Woman in Black with my English class when I was in sixth-form.
Oh. My. God.
I have never been so terrified! I had hold of my best friend’s hand the whole time. At one point she tried to shake me off, but I wouldn't let go. Finally, she gasped, ‘My rings! Just let me take my rings off!’ I looked down and saw that I had been holding onto her so tightly that one of her fingers was bleeding (only a little bit) from where her ring had dug in. Oops. I bought this book when the film came out a few years ago. I didn’t see the film, though.
Michelle Paver’s Dark Matter is another terrifically, terrifying ghost story. Set in the Arctic during the long dark winter, the environment is as much a part of the haunting as the ghost. *Shivers.*
Most of my favourite books seem to be the ones I read either as a teenager or in my early twenties. I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials during my first year at Exeter University and then ended up doing my dissertation on it.
Rainbow Rowell was the author of 2014 for me. I read everything she'd written in a single month, starting with Eleanor and Park. The thing I like about Landline (and, in fact, about all of Rainbow's books) is her honesty. Her characters are real and so not always likeable. They jump off the page at you, though, and you can absolutely imagine going for a coffee or a drink with them. That shows real skill as a writer. I can't wait for her new book − which is apparently a bit of a ghost story. If that’s true ... well, I am very excited!
There are also some books about writing on this shelf. Probably the only non-fiction I actually do get round to reading. The James Wood book is great. I would recommend it to any writers among you.
This next shelf shows my love of detective fiction, from Wilkie Collins through Agatha Christie to contemporary Swedish noir. I don't like books that are too grisly, which is why I love Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. It is the puzzle of solving a crime that fascinates me rather than the gruesome details of a murder! I particularly enjoy tracking how the author has constructed the novel and so how he or she reveals the truth behind the mystery.
There are also a couple of pretty hardbacks on this shelf. I don't buy hardbacks that often, but these were too pretty not to.
Oh, and the Lonely Planet Guide to Iceland has sneaked into this picture. We are planning a trip there in the autumn. And finally, there's a picture of me and the hubby on our wedding day − reading books, obviously.