Books Ahoy! is a feature inspired by Entertainment Weekly‘s “Books of My Life” column. I wanted to go beyond the interview and ask authors (and even readers) about their favorite books. Reading is a personal, but shared experience and what a great way to know someone by asking them about the books that shaped their life.
No author or reader was forced to walk the plank.
I’m really excited to welcome Anna North to Lit, etc.! I’m about halfway finished with The Life and Death of Sophie Stark and am enjoying what I’ve read so far. Hopefully there will be review of it soon, but in the meantime, get to know a bit about Anna plus I’m giving you the chance to win your very own copy!
Q. Your favorite childhood book?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes. My dad used to read to me from a giant book of Holmes stories, so big I could barely lift it myself. It’s funny to me now that Sherlock Holmes has had such a big cultural resurgence; I feel like I was into him before it was cool.
Q. Favorite book you read for school?
Probably the collected poems of Catullus. I read this in a college Latin class, and it’s probably in the category of things I wouldn’t have read if I wasn’t assigned them. But these poems are funny and sad (not to mention really mean), and a lot of them feel like they could’ve been written yesterday, not thousands of years ago.
Q. Classic book you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve never read?
Q. Which book do you think deserves to be a Broadway musical?
It’s kind of surprising that the Divine Comedy has never been made into one.
Q. Favorite adaptation of a novel?
Tie between Children of Men and James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein. Children of Men is one of my favorite movies, but I haven’t actually read the novel, so maybe it doesn’t count here. Frankenstein is a famously unfaithful adaptation, and leaves out a lot of the best parts of the novel (the monster in Antarctica!). But I still love it, especially Boris Karloff’s lumbering, tragic monster.
Q. An author that is underrated?
Gaston Leroux — nobody really reads the novel version of The Phantom of the Opera, but it’s wonderfully weird. I feel the same way about the novel Dracula, though it’s a little more widely read — it’s not a great novel by any means, but it’s really entertaining and revealing of its time.
Q. A book you wish you had written?
I kind of wish I’d written Rachel Cusk’s Outline. It reads like memoir, but it’s a work of fiction; I’m jealous of the way she takes what could be just the mundane details of a life and turns them into art.
Q. A book that in some way cemented you as a writer?
Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. I read this when I was a teenager and it made me excited about telling stories of female heroes on dangerous journeys — it also got me excited about writing about the future, which I did in America Pacifica (though not as much in The Life and Death of Sophie Stark).
Q. Have you ever been in trouble for reading a book?
My parents took Dragonsdawn, by Anne McCaffrey, away from me when I was a kid because they realized there were sex scenes in it. Later, my mom read The God of Small Things right after I finished it, and asked if I’d read the more explicit parts. I think I pretended I’d skipped them.
Q. And finally, you’ve been given the task to host a last minute dinner party. Which authors are on your ultimate dinner invitation list? Alive or Dead.
Catullus, Sappho, Arthur Conan Doyle (he’d probably lead a séance, which would be fun), Henry James, Mary Shelley, Sei Shonagon (read The Pillow Book if you haven’t), William Blake.
Anna North is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, America Pacifica, was published in 2011, and her second novel, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark will be published by Blue Rider Press in May 2015. She has been a writer and editor at Jezebel, BuzzFeed, and Salon, and is now a staff editor at the New York Times.
I have a copy of Anna North’s The Life and Death of Sophie Stark up for grabs. US only. Any incomplete task will be disqualified (therefore don’t say you completed a section when you didn’t. 😉 ) Giveaway ends on Thursday, June 04th at Midnight MDT (2 am EDT). Good luck!
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