Why a personal library?
I suppose it’s because books were the only thing I never felt guilty about buying, so I bought a lot of them over the years and now don’t know what to do with them – so there are shelves laden with new and old purchases, mostly read and half-read, in every room of my house. And I’m a terrible hoarder and can’t quite part with my three separate copies of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Nor my two extra Austen anothologies. Oh – and did I mention that I possess not one, not two, but three separate Kama Sutras? None with illustratioins, sadly.
To what lengths have you gone to acquire a book you wanted?
I remember during a particularly turbulent period in my life, I was hiding from the world in Quetta and visited a local library there and discovered that they were going to burn their ‘antiques’. These were books that the British had donated over the years but which no one read any more. There were Neville Shutes galore, plus obscure treasures like C.S. Lewis’s The Screw Tape Letters and an absolutely divine collection of obscure and enchanting stories called The Old School Tie which are ridiculoulsy hilarious. So I pleaded with them to postpone their plans and they gave me four days in which I labored, from morning to evening in a dark and dingy and freezing basement, leafing through salvagable copies. My fingers were numb, but I managed to save 80 books that I later bound and packed in a carton and returned to Karachi.
What do you currently have on your bedside table?
Taste by Daisy Rockwell and the collected stories of Guy de Maupassant which are very special to me because they were gifted to me by my neighbour who died of ALS a few weeks ago.
The three books you’d take with you on a desert island
Don’t judge me – I’d be too stressed to do any heavy reading, so the first will be ‘trash’: I quite like the stuff Judith Mcnaught writes – so that would be Once and Always. Or is it Always and Forever? Appropriate titles, both of them, wouldn’t you say? I’d also take a coloring book and some color pencils for therapy and finally, the manuscript of my second novel which I will need (and have) forever to edit.
[quote]I’ve met many authors with highly unpleasant personalities and their books are soured forever[/quote]
An author you would like to dine with
I’ve met many authors with highly unpleasant personalities and their books are soured forever. I’ve already dined with the ones I like. I want to keep liking the ones I haven’t met yet, thank you very much, and cherish my delusions about them.
Your favourite genre
A book everyone should read
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. It’s glorious.
Also, The Road less Travelled by Scot Peck. Essential for anyone thinking about issues of love, abuse and egos in relationships. It should be some sort of emotional intelligence text book. Also The People of the Lie by the same author.
A book you think is highly over-rated
Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. In fact, all of his books.
What kind of a reader are you? Unbroken spine, not a speck on the pages, or everything underlined, lots of marginalia?
Yellow pages. Penciled notes. Folded corners. Coffee stains on the cover. Second hand preferably.
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to complete…
Ulyesses by Joyce. Yuck and double yuck.