What book has made an impact on you and why?
When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have access to lots of books – that’s what made the biggest impact I think. I remember Terry Pratchett audiobooks playing in our house all the time and there was an illustrated edition of The Hobbit that I would flick through to the pictures of Smaug smoldering like a hot coal on his hoard of treasure. These early reading choices might explain why I hoard so much jewellery, but somewhere between the comic wit of Pratchett, Grimms’ twisted fairy tales, literal spirit animals running around with armoured bears in His Dark Materials, and Tolkien’s famously bling-obsessed dragon, I realized that words could conjure anything, confront anything, say…and slay anything. And when you know that, it’s more powerful than a Patronus charm.
What is your favourite quote and why?
I’ve got many, but this one seems fitting given the circumstances:
“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Who is your favourite literary character and why?
Death from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, particularly his appearance in Reaper Man. In essence he’s a parody of the Grim Reaper – he’s skeletal, has a scythe, speaks in capital letters JUST LIKE THIS, likes cats and a good curry, and his observations about humanity are both wise and hilarious in equal measure. In Reaper Man he is essentially forced to retire early, adjust to life on Earth and ‘find himself’ in a satirical Eat, Pray, Love sort of way. It’s weird, comedic, and surprisingly moving for a book that stars a figure that too often evokes fear and dread. Until we get better as a society at confronting You Know What, books will luckily continue to break the ice with a grim reaper who says things like “I AM DEATH, NOT TAXES. I TURN UP ONLY ONCE.”
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Do you read more than one book at a time?
Yes, and it can get confusing. ‘Wait – so Hermione’s now interning for Miranda Priestly? Hang on…’
Do you dog-ear pages or use a bookmark?
Both, and PROUDLY.
Audio books or physically reading?
My preference is reading but audio books serve a practical purpose.
How many books do you currently have in your To Be Read pile?
I’ve lost count.
Written by Annabelle Corton
Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? She’s not sorry.