Ultimate book Q&A … on it goes

Lovely Michelle who writes a beautiful blog, Book to The Future has tagged me in a lovely Ultimate Book Q&A.

Here are the Ultimate Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!


And away we go. My favourite book cover.

The Orchard Thieves

I love this cover. The Orchard Thieves is one of my favourite books, but it is, I think, my favourite cover. There is a lovely flying bird on the back with stripey legs. Gorgeous. The illustration is by Rosanna Vecchio. My mother gave me a hardback copy for Christmas in 1995.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading The Rose Grower by Michelle de Krester. I need to finish it before bookclub on Thursday. If someone doesn’t get their gear off soon …

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re finished with that?

The Constant Gardener, John Le Carre, also for book club. But I have ten books on the arm of the sofa right now and eight, including two unfinished books beside my bed. It’s a sickness. One of them is the recently published new book by my philosophy Professor, now retired, Max Deutscher, In Sensible Judgement.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

I haven’t finished Don Quixote. I’ve never read The Master and Margarita – even though I borrowed it from a friend and kept it for more than three years. The Master, Colm Tóibín, because my house sitter stole it in 2007. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood, and everything by Nabokov. Yes, even Lolita.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge room right now?

To quote an editor, I love the smell of magazines. Right now it is Kill Your Darlings, Gourmet Traveller, Vogue, The Monthly, Meanjin, The New Yorker, Economist and the New Scientist. I hardly ever get to read them all, but I can’t live without them. I’m including journals. And no, no one is allowed to read in the bathroom in this house.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

I am very tempted to say The Finkler Question, but I am sure that’s not the intent of the question.

Worst book would have to be Flowers in the Attic. I was about 14 and I loved every page.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

Dead Air – Iain Banks. Couldn’t finish it. Also, don’t throw things at me, but I really can’t stand the Brontes nor Austen. Gag.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Last year, Foal’s Bread, Gillian Mears. It should have won all the prizes it didn’t already win.

What are your three favourite poems?

‘Ozymandis’ – Percy Bysshe Shelley – I learnt it by heart at school instead of preparing Austen’s novels for my exams.

‘Postnuptial’ – John Foulcher – about Ely cathedral.

‘Five Visions of Capital Cook’ – Kenneth Slessor particularly part three.

Two chronometers the captain had,


One by Arnold that ran like mad,
One by Kendal in a walnut case,
Poor devoted creature with a hangdog face.

Where do you usually get your books?

Online at Booktopia or download to Kindle. I love Gleebooks and always have. I used to love Gould’s in Newtown when Bob was still around, I make a beeline for Hill of Content in Melbourne, and Strand Books in New York. In Canberra, Paperchain is great and helpful. I don’t buy many second hand, I love hardbacks and have had to wean myself off buying huge books in hardback due to space and now having to wear reading glasses, the Kindle is easier.

Where do you usually read your books?

In bed. I find it hard to really read a lot anywhere else. A long, long habit since I was little.

When you were little, do you have any particular reading habits?

I read everything and anything. Cereal packets, instructions, all sorts of adult books full of things I didn’t understand. Everything I could lay fist to. Eventually, they gave up and let me leave the light on.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?

Mateship with Birds, Carrie Tiffany and thanks to Michelle for that particularly recommendation.

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?

All the time. The worst example of this I ever witnessed was in 1991 at the Stables Theatre for a Bloomsday celebration. Almost no one except me had read Ulysses.

Have you ever bought a book just because you like the cover?

No. But in the 1990s I often chose books by thickness. It paid off with gems such as Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace – the fattest book I could find in paperback at Ariel that night – and War and Peace among others.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings – on tape read by Ian Holm, and everything by Sendak.

(Oh sorry, I thought you said books. )

What book changed your life?

There are two key works. Being and Time, Martin Heidegger. This was the first book of philosophy I got lost in and it lead me to my ultimate philosophical endeavour, writing about The Philosophy Imaginary by Michèle Le Doeuff. I wrote my doctorate about Le Doeuff’s work. I have analysed every line of her slim volume and sometimes also in its original French.

As far as fiction is concerned, reading The Bell Jar and Orlando in equal measures opened my eyes to fiction’s power.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

From Love’s Work by Gillian Rose

Exceptional, edgeless love effaces the risk of relation: that mix of exposure and reserve, of revelation and reticence. It commands the complete unveiling of the eyes, the transparency of the body. It denies that there is no love without power; that we are at the mercy of others and that we have others in our mercy. Existence is robbed of its weight, its gravity, when it is deprived of its agon. Instead of insinuating that illness may better prepare you for the earthly impossibilities, these enchiridions on Faith, Hope, and Love would condemn you to seek blissful deathless, cosmic emptiness – the repose with the revel.

I reach for my favourite whisky bottle and instruct my valetudinarian well-wishes to imbibe the shark’s oil and Aloe Vera themselves. If I am to stay alive, I am bound to continue to get love wrong, all the time, but not to cease wooing, for that is my life affair, love’s work.

Gillian Rose was the Professor of Social and Political Thought at the University of Warwick. She died young in 1995.

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Jeanette Winterson ~ Tom Wolfe ~ David Foster Wallace ~ Dave Eggers ~ Elizabeth Jolley

What book has no one heard about but should read?

A Mouse and His Child, Russell Hoban. A perfect story that is not for children.

What three books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

Ulysses – James Joyce

Foal’s Bread – Gillian Mears

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?

I recently read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and I was blow away by it.

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers

Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer.

What is your favourite classic book?

Such a hard question. My current favourite is Crossing to Safety,William Stegner.

Five other notable mentions?

Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey

The Swimming Pool Library – Alan Hollinghurst

Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe

Foucault’s Pendulm – Umberto Eco

Animal People – Charlotte Wood

Obviously I cannot count. Or am being lazy and not narrowing the list.

Phew. That’s the end of the questions. Of course, I want to re-write the whole list now. And I want another set of questions that will allow me to talk about all the other books I’ve forgotten.

I am tagging these lovely people below for the Ultimate Book Q&A and I will stay tuned for the responses from you.

What are your favourite books?

You’re next @Robyne7 ~ @ViragoHaus