I’m not sure that this is the first book that I ever loved, but the first book I remember being read to me a lot was Humphrey the Friendly Camel by Diane Elson which is about group of animal friends who meet a camel at an oasis. It has a psychedelic feel to it and I’m still a fan.
Q2) The book you've read more than any other
I’m not actually a big re-reader, there are just too many great books I want to read. The books that I read most nowadays are the ones I read to my daughter. Her absolute favourite is Gorilla Loves Vanilla by Chae Strathie. I must have read that book a hundred times and I still like it. Books for adults don’t have to stand up anything like that amount of rereading, which is one of the many reasons I have no time for people who are snooty about children’s writers. Anyone who thinks that writing picture books is somehow easier than writing for adults should be made to read a terrible picture book over and over again. A bad picture book is a special kind of hell.
Q3) A book that you despise
I am not a big fan of Walter Scott. I studied Waverley at University and I wouldn’t go as far as to say I despised it, I just found it dull, which may actually be worse.
Q4) A book full of beautiful writing
Really struggled with this one. I find any writing that I enjoy beautiful in different ways. Wide Sargasso Sea took my breath away and I don’t really have a better answer.
Q5) The book you've been meaning to read for years, but haven’t
I’m interested in facts, but I love immersing myself in fiction more, so when I have limited time (which is most of the time) nonfiction usually gets put back on the pile. I borrowed If They Come for You in the Morning by Angela Davis from my dad a couple of years ago and still haven’t read most of it. What I have read was brilliant. I really love his 1970s paperback copy which he must have picked up from a second hand shop, but the font is tiny which doesn’t help. I should give it back to him and buy a modern copy with a larger font. I’ll do that.
Q6) The book you're reading currently
The Pact We Made by Layla AlAmmar. I obviously haven’t finished it yet but so far it’s very good.
Q7) Your favourite short-story
Annoyingly the short story that always comes to mind when I’m asked this question is one which was commissioned as part of a short story project I was involved with about fifteen years ago, but I don’t know where to find it anymore! It was by Jackie Kay and I loved the way she conveyed a whole life through simple details. I have no idea how she does it, it’s like magic.
Q8) Your all-time favourite novel
I don’t have an all-time favourite novel. I can’t imagine choosing one novel when there are so many great ones. The books which really stay with me are often ones which have read at important points in my life. Some of these include: After You’d Gone by Maggie O’ Farrell, Morvern Callar by Alan Warner, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan. If you ask me the same question in a week, I’ll give you a different list (please don’t, I actually found this question quite stressful). ●
Caitrin Armstrong is Head of Writing Communities for the Scottish Book Trust. You can follow Caitrin on Twitter via: @CaitrinSBT