Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is Karen, who blogs at Kaggy’s Bookish Ramblings.
Karen lives in East Anglia with her husband, but is Scottish by birth, though most of her life has been spent in exile! When she isn’t working she loves reading, listening to music and blogging — and has endless fun attempting to control the ever-increasing piles of books in the house.
She’s worked mainly in places involving finance (bank, accountants, bursar) which may be why all her outside interests are artistic ones (she has been known to craft a bit)!
Without further ado, here are Karen’s choices:
A favourite book: Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
This is a difficult category when you’ve read as many books as I have and have a wealth of favourites to choose from! However, I’ve gone for a relatively recent discovery, which is a wonderful, complex and very cleverly constructed book, full of puzzles and stories and mysteries. Perec was a member of the OuLiPo literary group, whose members often employed writing constraints in their fictions, and here the book, which relates a snapshot of life in a Parisian apartment building, is based mainly on a sequence of moves on a chessboard. Despite the restrictions employed, Perec creates a rich and involving tapestry with a wonderful array of characters. One of those books you can’t put down and are still thinking about months (and years!) after reading it; and one I certainly want to read again.
A book that changed my world: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
No competition for this category at all — this is definitely the most life-changing book I’ve read! I first came across this wonderful tale in the early 1980s and it engendered a huge obsession with, and love of, the author’s work which has lasted to today. It’s metafiction at its best (and by another member of OiLiPo, as well!), full of cleverness yet utterly absorbing. It made me realise what could be done with the written word, that there were no limits and also gave me the confidence to believe that I could read and appreciate any book I wanted to. It was something of a springboard for my reading and I feel like I never looked back after it. What’s especially striking is the fertility of Calvino’s mind, the sheer amount of wonderful stories he’s capable of coming out with. I’ve re-read the book several times and it’s never lost its brilliance, which is testament to its greatness!
A book that deserves a wider audience: Nothing by Paul Morley
This was the hardest category to pick for, and I’ve chosen the favourite book by one of my favourite authors. I’ve read Morley since he wrote for NME in the 1970s/1980s but this personal memoir from 2000 is something quite special. The book is about Morley’s family, his father’s suicide and the effect on them, his memories of childhood and his emotions while growing up.
I’m broadly contemporary with Morley and much of the environment he came of age in resonates deeply with me. Apart from the interest of the story, it’s a wonderful piece of writing featuring his hallmark prose (which I absolutely love) and an excellent meditation on the act of remembrance and how we deal with the past and the big events in our life. I personally can’t have enough of Morley’s writing; I think I can see a trend here in that I adore people who can play with words, turn them into prose poetry. Too many people dismiss Paul Morley as someone who merely (over)writes about popular culture, but I think if they read this book they would see a different side. Nothing is one of my desert island books — in fact, if I had to choose only one, this might well be it.
Thanks, Karen, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
This is such an interesting selection of books. I’ve not read Life: A User’s Manual, but I have read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and, well, how should I say this? I wasn’t a fan (my thoughts are here). But I adore the sound of Morley’s book — I love his rock journalism, but had no idea he’d written a memoir. It seems to be out of print, but thanks for bringing it to my attention.
What do you think of Karen’s choices? Have you read any of these books?