skip to Main Content
'Reality, as defined by novelists, seemed to consist of being of a certain class in a certain city, experiencing certain emotions and situations. It didn't feel like my reality, which was highly uncertain.'
'These chaps who are being murdered as prisoners of war, or burned to death in their tanks, or shot as they hang from parachutes, are my Dad's generation. Lucky for me, he missed the war by a few weeks.'
'Shy as a child, books became my shield from life, as well as an escape, and I read my way through anything I could find. My eyes were never far away from the pages of a book.'
'I'm also very keen on reading work in translation, as the translator often has to work hard to render the writer's mother tongue into English, with creative results.'
'It's a habit I don't have — re-reading. It's simply too risky. It's not the text you remember differently, but the person you were when you experienced it first.'
'I'm always hoping to chance upon the kinds of details novelists — lucky things — use to light up their characters. The protagonists of non-fiction deserve their places in our imaginations too.'
'My default reading is old thrillers, specially the novels of Simenon, of which there are a lot. I particularly like thrillers dating from the seventies.'
'I treat books quite roughly; that is, I crack their spines mercilessly, turn down page corners, and scribble stuff — quite often recipes or telephone numbers — in them. I suppose I like to break them in.'
'For complete relaxation, crime fiction from several countries, especially America, Britain and Scandinavia; these are the books I most enjoy as they have nothing to do with my work... or so it was until now.'
'I wanted access to people, places, cultures, different from my own; and reading, especially fiction, seemed to give me that.'
'The longstanding members have been reading a book a month together for nearly twenty years, and are responsible for choosing some of my favourite recent literature. None of which I would have chosen for myself.'
'How to evoke, with sensuous conviction; immediacy, with personal engagement; these hidden stretches of human time, dwarfing written history? How to say it in ways that seem irrefutable?'
'Once I start writing I stay away from anything similar; the temptation to mimic someone else's perfect prose is too seductive. In fact, I try and avoid historical fiction altogether. '
'An opportunity presented itself to shed ourselves of unwanted or unread titles. I have to say, my wife, who is also a writer, and I, very nearly fell out over The Haiku Handbook.'
'The list of Important Books That I Haven't Read is not as long as it was, but I'm now virtually guilt-free about not reading many of them, and I feel no guilt at reading so-called 'airport thrillers'.'
'When I'm reading novels for potential adaptations, or books for research, I can't read anything for pleasure... everything I read is potentially work related. I've had the same novel by my bed for over a year.'
'Never having driven a car, I've spent a lot of my life reading on buses and trains; I read Moby Dick on a seventy-two hour bus journey from London to Athens.'
'There is a silver cloud in everything, even disability, as I can now reserve eighteen books at time instead of six; there is real bliss in knowing that there is always something new to read.'
'Like a lot of writers when I read something I enjoy, part of my mind is also deconstructing it. My subconscious brain continues to work even when I am supposedly relaxed and on holiday.'
'Reading is an adventure, a glorious freedom. Follow your instincts, enjoy yourself; don't worry about those gaps which anyway will be closed eventually.'
'I read to understand better, to try and know more; I keep what I read because the object conjures the ghost of a person, a place, or time, and the feeling that went with it.'
'My natural habitat is a book-lined room, so a habit can be something in which we swathe ourselves, symbolic and protective, denoting belonging, in which we wish to dwell; that sounds just like my reading habit.'
'At awards season, scripts of newly-released films find their way online as studios and agents quietly upload PDFs of screenplays as part of their Oscars' push. Reading these scripts offers a window into the writing process.'
'Under pressure, or in the grip of a story I can't tear myself from, I occasionally read as I walk along the street. Fortunately I have great peripheral vision for lamp posts and other pedestrians.'
'One friend recently asked me to name the best five books I've ever read; I told him mine, he told me his, and we've been working our way slowly through each other's lists. That's a plan of a kind and it's been a revelation.'
'In those happy bygone days when I was a smoker I would wake early, make myself a coffee, tuck myself up on the sofa with a book and read for an hour before breakfast: three fags.'
'At school I used to swallow a book in the lunch hour, and now I can do two in that same time. It doesn't feel good. I race through them, unable to slow my reading speed down.'
'The to-read list continues to sit online, every bit as formidable as ever. But these days it fills me with joy rather than dread; I've realised, with a kind of wonder, that I'll be reading the world for the rest of my life.'
'Poetry is a great thing to give a novelist, I think. Very few of the volumes I own are ones I chose for myself. A treasured collection is by Harry Martinson, sent me by a friend and colleague which I'd otherwise never have come across.'
'We don't have a name but we do have a reputation among local book groups as the most badly behaved. It's true that we're not the most organised of groups.'
'Newspaper stories act as one of my biggest writing inspirations. I've often come across a random story which gets my imagination going and acts as a way in, and a starting point to explore a new world.'
'There's a Library Shelf in the living room where all the through-traffic is stored; library books, obviously, plus books borrowed from friends and books I think friends might like to borrow.'
'I also aspire to read a play a day, which is unrealistic if you are a commissioned writer with a Netflix subscription, and a poem a day, which is more achievable. '
'I didn't even bother to line up with the other girls. I marched straight to the 'wallflower' seats and opened up my novel. So entranced was I in the plot that I didn't notice the smart line up of boys.'
'Now I didn't need him to read to me anymore, that our sitting down side by side, and his joy in reading to me, was ended; guilt then, infests my reading habits from their beginning.'
'Choosing books indiscriminately by weight as much as content, I wanted to find books that were heavy enough to keep me going until my visit the following week and I didn't risk wasting my precious allocation of books on something slim.'
'Style and form are all find and dandy, I'm sure they do wonders for my poor old brain, but sometimes I hanker after a good story. Luckily there are plenty of them about, and some happen to be beautifully written too.'
'I only discovered thrillers a year or so ago but they soon became an addiction; in fact I've probably read as many in the first five decades of my life as I've read in the past year and I am queasily aware that habit is beginning to blunt my reading palate.'
'The novel I believed did not want to be written suddenly wrote itself right to the end in a matter of weeks all because of a few lines I chanced to read one afternoon in a remote house in Wales.'
'After a man broke into my home and tried to kill me I couldn't read properly for five years. I just couldn't lose myself; constantly on the alert for sounds, people, danger. I couldn't concentrate. '
'In recent decades I've largely read novels or non-fiction, but then I got involved with a community based RLF project, the Reading Round, which is entirely built around short fiction, and my interest was revived.'
'One of the great pleasures of re-reading something is that the pressure is off. You can skip the bits you don't fancy revisiting and just read the bits you love, secure in the knowledge that you haven't missed anything.'
'Reading habits become part of our legacy. A family that reads together passes down a wonderful inheritance; words enveloped in love, and thus given meaning.'
'I still employ that childhood sweet-shop approach of chancing upon an author I like then consuming all her, or his, books one after another until they are gone.'
'My reading habits have changed since I became a writer myself. I used to read haphazardly and uncritically, from French translations to war memoirs to fiction; now inevitably I read a lot of crime because that is what I write.'
'I don't know exactly when I gave up pretensions to being a serious reader, but the crime and children's books scattered around my bed indicate my current diet; I justify them on the grounds that I write both.'
'I've watched films that have been adapted from books or short stories and then I read the original material to see how close the adaptation is to the source material; it's enjoyable, and a really good exercise. '
'I don't binge on authors. I am amazed by people who boast (there can be no other word) that they re-read the complete Dickens once a year. I couldn't do that. I am simply too slow a reader.'
'If I there is a guiding principle behind my reading — let's call it a 'tendency' — it's the idea of The Canon. I've been working on The Canon since I was at school.'
'I like to sit and read at one of the narrow tables next to the floor-to-ceiling windows on North Front 4, occasionally looking out across college gardens to the spires of central Cambridge.'
'I am never without a book. It would be tortuous for me to be on a journey, short or long, without something to read. I have books in the bathroom, bedroom and the living room.'
'During a science fiction addiction I wrote to Isaac Asimov: "I think you should know that my academic failure is entirely due to the addicting nature of your books. Thank you."'
'At the back are all the books I'm embarrassed to have read; the trashy romances, chick lit, badly written thrillers, comfort reading for a tired brain.'
'I see smokers on the subway or train preparing to smoke as soon as they can find a permitted place, fingering their cigarettes, rolling their tobacco. Fortunately my habit is portable and not prohibited.'
'I made a failed attempt to become a scientist but realised fairly quickly that writing was what I was suited to, and for me one of the most important pieces of writing advice is this: read. Read everything.'
'This is reading as a meander and a different kind of immersion in a subject than the reading I do when I'm working on poems with a specific theme. I tend to read novels to relax or to be lost in a narrative.'
'Often I am at a loss to map the routes that have brought me to particular titles. Many of the books I now regard as foundational seem to have been discovered more or less by accident, often as impulse buys in charity shops.'
'The reason I'm a nasty Bogtrotter of a reader is not because of my appetite, but because of the disgusting way I treat my review books. Over the years I've developed a system of book mutilation, mastication and digestion all of my own. '
Back To Top