Episode #15: How to Read
- Charlotte can often be seen with a well-thumbed copy of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love (1945) or Love in a Cold Climate (1946). Here’s the Daily Telegraph’s review of The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters (Harper Collins, 2007) and here’s the BBC’s obituary for the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the youngest Mitford sister who died in 2015;
- Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989) is one of Emma’s favourite books. Ishiguro’s Nobel Laureate lecture is available here. She also recommends Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), though Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997) has dropped off her top-three list (it’s been replaced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah  and Zadie Smith’s NW );
- Charlotte hated having to read Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love (1997) in school, but was a fan of Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Follow Margaret Atwood on Twitter @MargaretAtwood;
- Laurie Colwin’s five novels include Shine On, Bright & Dangerous Object (1975) and her cookbooks are Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (1988) and More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen (1993). She died at the age of 48 in 1992.
- Here’s the introduction to Nora Ephron’s Heartburn (1983):
- Click here to hear Sophie Collins read ‘Who Is Mary Sue’ from her poetry collection Who Is Mary Sue? (2018);
- Barbara Trapido’s Brother of the More Famous Jack was published in 1982; Frankie & Stankie, the semi-autobiographical novel set during the apartheid era, was published in 2003. In 2004, Barbara wrote about her writing in The Guardian;
- Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah (1987) is set in a fictional West African country that has become a dictatorship after independence;
- Mongane Wally Serote’s To Every Birth Its Blood (1983) is a classic depiction of township life (though Serote was in exile while writing it);
- Here’s the info on the Border Crossings module that Charlotte used to teach at York. The books she mentions are Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Ian Fleming’s Dr No (1958), The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon (1956), and Colin MacInnes’ London trilogy: City of Spades (1957), Absolute Beginners (1959) and Mr Love & Justice (1960). Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea was published in 1966. Here’s the New Statesman review of Dr No;
- The Economist published this article on Charles Dickens’ racism and the Jamaican novelist Marlon James’ love for his stories (James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings  is one of five books waiting to be read by Emma’s bed at the moment). Horrible Histories’ take on Charles Dickens is ace:
- Tomas Tranströmer, Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson, Pär Lagerkvist, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Verner von Heidenstam and Selma Lagerlöf are all Swedish Nobel literature laureates. Quite a few of them served on the selection committee, but Tranströmer (who won the award decades after the others, in 2011), Pär Lagerkvist, Harry Martinson and Selma Lagerlöf are all favourites of Emma’s and therefore legit. Norvik Press has just published a new translation of Lagerlöf’s The Emperor of Portugallia. Norvik also publishes lots of other Swedish-language classics in English, including works by August Strindberg, Kerstin Ekman, Hjalmar Söderberg, Edith Södergran and Victoria Benedictsson. Want to read Swedish arbetarlitteratur? Seek out classics by Moa Martinson, Harry Martinson, Eyvind Johnson and Vilhelm Moberg, and Susanna Alakoski, Eija Hetekivi Olsson, Kristian Lundberg and Kjell Johansson for the contemporary take;
- “To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men axed as Gove orders more Brit lit: New English literature GCSE ditches American classics for pre-20th century British authors such as Dickens and Austen” The Guardian, 25 May 2014;
- “Translated book sales are up, but Britain is still cut off from foreign literature” The Guardian, 30 September 2016;
- Here’s a round-up of Elena Ferrante covers from around the world by Georgiana of Readers’ High Tea. Emily Harnett wrote an article for The Atlantic in 2016 where she discusses the “subtle genius” of Ferrante’s bad book covers – read that here and follow Emily on Twitter @therealeharnett. Elena Ferrante is published by Europa Editions in the UK;
- Well-read authors have websites: here’s Marian Keyes and Sam Binnie. Emma’s former place of work – Vogue House – featured in Lisa Jewell’s 31 Dream Street from 2008. They are also on Twitter: @MarianKeyes, @thesambinnie and @lisajewelluk;
- Why don't men read books by women? When asked which three authors she would invite to her dream dinner party by The New York Times, Lauren Goff replied: "This is a fantasy, so instead of three writers, I would invite every woman writer I have mentioned here, plus hundreds of others I did not have space to name. I would serve unlimited quantities of excellent wine and we would get blitzed and the conversation may eventually meander to touch on that most baffling of questions: When male writers list books they love or have been influenced by — as in this very column, week after week — why does it almost always seem as though they have only read one or two women in their lives? It can’t be because men are inherently better writers than their female counterparts (this would get a huge laugh. After all, Toni Morrison, Can Xue, Marie N’Diaye and Elena Ferrante are in the room!). And it isn’t because male writers are bad people. We know they’re not bad people. In fact, we love them. We love them because we have read them. Something invisible and pernicious seems to be preventing even good literary men from either reaching for books with women’s names on the spines, or from summoning women’s books to mind when asked to list their influences. I wonder what such a thing could possibly be." Read the whole article here, read more about Lauren's work here, and follow her on Twitter @legroff;
- LitHub recently published an article by David Hayden called ‘Men Still Too Often See Their Writing as the Canon: An Homage to the Women Who Influenced My Writing’. Sample paragraph: “Men reading only, or largely, male writers often do so as an unreflected-upon exercise of taste; thinking, it seems, that they are not missing much. But they are imposing upon themselves an enormous loss of connection with half and more of humanity and rejecting an immense gain of vision and understanding in a dazzlingly expanded universe of books.” Read the whole article here and follow David on Twitter @seventydys;
- Male Authors We’ve Seen on Men’s Bookshelves: J.G. Ballard, Tom Wolfe, Sebastian Faulks, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan (whose latest book, Nutshell , tells the story of Hamlet through a nine-month-old foetus, and whose son got a C for his A-Level paper on Enduring Love);
- Joan Didion on the art of non-fiction, Paris Review, no. 176 (Spring 2008): “Writing fiction is for me a fraught business, an occasion of daily dread for at least the first half of the novel, and sometimes all the way through. The work process is totally different from writing nonfiction. You have to sit down every day and make it up. You have no notes—or sometimes you do, I made extensive notes for A Book of Common Prayer—but the notes give you only the background, not the novel itself. In nonfiction the notes give you the piece. Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing. Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.” Read the whole article here;
- “On Gendered Book Covers and Being a Woman Designer: Jennifer Heuer Wonders Why She's Always Getting Offered a Certain Kind of Book” was published on LitHub on 25 July 2016. Sample paragraph? “Just because I’m a woman, don’t assume that I automatically empathize with a brooding 20-something Elizabeth-Bennett-type protagonist. (Trust me, I don’t.) This doesn’t mean I can’t design the latest update of Pride and Prejudice (I have, but due to a title change that design never left my hard-drive) or a biography on Susan Sontag—or, for that matter, a spy novel, a political satire, or a memoir about a Japanese game show host set in outer space.
I can do all of these things.
Because it’s my job to design book covers.”
- Most of Zadie Smith’s recent books have covers designed by Jon Gray. See all the covers here and more of Jon’s work here;
- Diana Evans’ book is Ordinary People (2018); follow Diana on Twitter @DianaEvansOP. The Crystal Palace Transmitter is the Eiffel Tower of South London;
- Jennifer Egan’s books include Manhattan Beach (2017), A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010) and Look At Me (2001). Read more about her on her website and follow her on Twitter @Egangoonsquad;
- Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America (2004) has a new cover that you can take on holiday to Germany without committing a crime. The original cover is here;
- Åsne Seierstad’s One of Us was published in 2015. This is the UK cover; here’s the Norwegian hardback, and the Swedish paperback (that's the one Emma has covered in tape). Follow Åsne on Twitter @asneseierstad;
- Anna Stothard’s The Pink Hotel was published in 2011 and longlisted for what was then the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2012. Read more about Anna’s work on www.annastothard.com and follow her on Twitter @AnnaStothard;
- TNK008 was all about New Year’s resolutions. Listen here!
- Puleng Hopper is an excellent person to follow on Twitter if you want to stay up-to-date with South African book news, and for inspiration to stick to one book at the time; find her at @PulengHopper;
- Stadsbiblioteket – the main city library – is in the top five of things Emma misses about not living in Malmö (the others are family, friends, falafel and the sea). The e-lib has revolutionised her life.
- Charlotte’s reading from Rachel Wetzsteon’s 'Love and Work', published in Sakura Park (2006):
- Charlotte recommends Rebecca Solnit’s Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism (2002);
- Emma recommends Rachel Cusk’s Outline (2014), which has been republished by Faber & Faber with a cover that is much better than the original Penguin edition;
- Bonus: Dolly Alderton’s ‘Men are applauded when they express emotion – women are just told they’re over-sharing. They are beta-male feminist heroes; while we’re big, sloppy, pitiful, embarrassing messes’ was published by the New Statesman on 14 May 2018. Read more about Dolly here and follow her on Twitter @dollyalderton.
THE NEXT EPISODES
- #16 is all about Windrush, citizenship, empire and migration (homework: listen to TNK009 on imperial nostalgia);
- #17 is our Men's World Cup special - Charlotte will make use of her German heritage to gloat about the 2014 tournament; Emma will reveal what it was really like to go to school with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and why the summer of 1994 can never be bettered. Plus: we set our sights on the 2019 Women's World Cup.
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