Bookface Book Challenge – Hodges Figgis Years


Bookface book challenge: “Ten books that have stayed with you in some way.”  I’ve extended the challenge to lots of books ‘that have stayed with me in some way’ plus useless cliff-note-style biographical notes. Here are my Hodges Figgis, The Bookstore years.

*She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb – When you read this book you will not believe a man wrote it. So, read it. It’s poignant, funny, and remarkably well-written.

*Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto – This book changed my life. As previously mentioned I was more than a little obsessed with China in my teenage years, but it was nearly impossible to get books on China at that time. I started reading about Japan. This was the first book of modern Japanese literature I ever read. It is brilliant. I had never read prose like this before – balanced and elemental. Yoshimoto is my heroine – I am addicted to her.

*Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – What a way to tell a story. A beautiful description of a desperate situation.

*The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I had hoped to find something in this book that was not there. I had hoped to find hope. I found it disappointing because I had an expectation of this book that was not met. It is an excellent book. I’m still not sure of my opinion on it as a tract force fed onto young women as one to identify with. Perhaps Wollstonecraft should be read in tangent with it.

*A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – What can I say about this book? It meant everything to me at 20. It was me, in a book, someone else, with another life, in another time, had written. It is an important book for all women.

*Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud – She’s coming to Adelaide Writers Week 2015. Result! This book is told from the eyes of a child accompanying her mother on the hippy trail to Morocco in the 1960s, and it is an excellent piece of work. It reads rhythmically as if you’re tripping. Do read it. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel. Yes, the author is Sigmund’s great-granddaughter and daughter of Lucian.

*The Weeping of Angels by Joseph O’Connor – Lindsay and I used to stalk Joseph O’Connor around Dublin Town. We were his groupies. This play was amazing, it played in The Gate, but was never published. I’d so love to read it. Red Roses for Petrol another O’Connor play, but I have not seen it or read it as it is unpublished. If you could get a copy of it to me I would love you forever.

* A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe – I hated this book. Read it and try to like it. I dare you. That said, you will never forget it.

*Toni Morrison – My Mam loved Oprah. We would often watch Oprah together when I was off school/work or sick. Oprah said we must read Toni Morrison. So, we did. Mam would read a book, then I would. Or vice veresa. My favourites are Sula, Jazz and Beloved. But, I picked Jazz because it has this line in it “Pain. I seem to have an affection … a kind of sweethtooth for it.” – one of my favourite lines ever written.

*The Hours by Michael Cunningham – I read all of Virginia Woolf except her diaries (another excellent present someone could buy me) when I worked in HF. I loved them all. I can’t pick one of her novels as my favourite. But this book came out at that time and I devoured it. I read it on the train. I read it walking from Pearse St, past Trinity College, to Hodges Figgis. I even read it in the lift. We never had a chance to read on the shop floor. There was a lot of reading while walking in HF days. It was a particular skill honed by bookworms in the days before mobile phones. If you haven’t read Woolf and are in any way intimidated then this would be an excellent introduction.

*Disgrace by JM Coetzee – I have lived in Adelaide for almost 4 years and still have not met Coetzee. Seriously. Hmpf. I should definitely read more books from Africa though. Any I have read, I have adored. This book is a little bit tough going and could possibly turn you onto drink and drugs. Coetzee does not paint a pretty post-apartheid picture. Rest up before you read it.

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