I don’t usually go in for a lot of these meme things, but I came across this post at The Book & Biscuit and thought this one might be interesting. So, for anyone who might care, here’s my A-Z of books.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Probably a close call between John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut. I discovered both writers while an undergraduate and spent far to much time I should have spent studying my set texts steaming through their backlists. The World According to Garp and Cat’s Cradle were the novels that introduced me to two writers who have remained among my favourites for over twenty years now.

Best Sequel Ever:

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson. I wrote my dissertation on his Neuromancer trilogy. It seems, as with most trilogies, it is the second instalment of this classic story that stands head and shoulders above the other, admittedly excellent, novels.

Currently Reading:

Ivan Vladislavic’s Double Negative. An intriguing novel from a South African author I had not heard of prior to being sent my copy by the excellent folk over at & Other Stories. Apparently the novel was originally a collaboration with photographer David Goldblatt. I’ll be grabbing a copy of the novel as it was originally presented, TJ & Double Negative, if it continues to grip me as much as it has thus far

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Coffee. Same as when I am writing.

E-reader or Physical Book?:

Both. I jump between physical books, my Kindle and my iPad. Each does certain things well. Print books when at home relaxing, Kindle when on the move, iPad for articles, essays, course reading and comics.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated At School:

Velma from Scooby Doo. Or Daisy from Spaced.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Zoe Heller’s Notes On A Scandal. I saw the film and, despite the presence of Dame Judi, I was not impressed. When, some years later, I found the book to be on my MA’s reading list my heart sank a bit. I decided to give it a fair crack though and found, fairly soon after starting, that the deliciously biting voice of Barbara just sucked me into the story. I romped through the book. One of my favourites now and I can see myself returning to at some point.

Hidden Gem Book:

The Exclamation Mark by Anton Chekhov. I’ve banged on about this one before. It’s a great collection of early stories, all written in a six month period of Chekhov’s life.  Wonderfully edited and translated by Rosamund Bartlett

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Reading Jude the Obscure was an eye-opener for me. I recently guest-posted about it on Caroline Smailes’ blog.

Just Finished:


Essex County, Jeff Lemire’s wonderful trilogy of stories centred around the area of rural Canada in which he grew up. This collection is as good a short story collection as I have read. A great example of quality graphic storytelling.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Self-help books. Not likely to try stuff like Twilight or the Fifty Shades books. Just not my thing.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Probably The Brothers Karamazov which I am planning to reread soon. Or maybe Stephen King’s The Stand. I don’t have a copy of The Stand with which to check. I would imagine that once I have read all six volumes, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle will be the winner here.

Major book hangover because of:

The Road. When I read this my boys were about 6 and 2 respectively and I couldn’t help but relate to this story of a father and son struggling to survive in terrible, hostile world. I was alone in the house when I read the ending and my wife and sons returned to find me weeping on the sofa, truly devastated. They were alarmed and thought something terrible had happened such was my state of distress. Until I told them I was crying about the ending of a book. At which point they all laughed and went back about their business.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

I have three to house my books. Though I really need at least one more for the piles of my purchases building up in nooks and crannies around the house.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Treasure Island. It was the first book I selected from the school library once I was allowed to chose my own reading book in primary school. Since then I have re-read it every five years or so. Most recently I read it to my sons as bedtime reading. They seemed to love it as much as I did at their ages. I still love it.

Preferred Place To Read:

The sofa. Or in the rocking chair we have by the window of our living room. Both are prime reading spots.

Quote that inspires you:

‘One word at a time’ – A. L. Kennedy

Reading Regret:

That there are too many books and so little time.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

I really need to finish reading the whole run of Akira.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Being Dead – Jim Crace

The Exclamation Mark – Anton Chekhov

The Collected Stories – Amy Hempel

Unapologetic Fanboy For:


The current Hawkeye comic that Marvel are putting out. This book breaks all conventions of superhero comics, is gorgeous to look at, messes about with time and layout and structure. Matt Fraction and the various artists working on it deserve the kudos the book is receiving. It’s also hilarious in places, bro.

Very Excited For This Release:

Worst Bookish Habit:

I write in the margins of my books, which I know some people hate.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You by Jon McGregor

Your latest book purchase:

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Never read any Bond. Always meant to. No excuse now.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

After a recommendation on Scott Pack’s blog, I recently started reading the collected short graphic stories of Yoshiro Tatusmi. Both The Push Man and other stories and Goodbye have had me reading just one more story well past what should be lights out for me.

A-Z survey image from original image by TRafferty under Creative Commons license