Really I am quite sure that Dorothy Savidge aka My Gran needs no introduction as you all seem to have found a special place in your bookish hearts for her and the posts she features in are commonly some of my most read. Every other ‘Savidge Reads Grills’ victim (oh I mean guest) has had one and Gran would not be impressed if she had found she was being outdone. I always find author interviews interesting, I know some readers don’t, I thought that an interview with a reader would be something a bit new. Finding one who was an avid reader and has been so for many years was easy - my Gran! So without further a do I shall leave you to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea and bookish chat….
Revolutionary Road. I’m reading it because it’s the choice of one of my book groups.
What books started your reading life, and which books kept your passion for reading alive?
Enid Blyton, couldn’t get enough of her. The Famous Five to start with then the Castle of Adventure, Valley of Adventure etc. Next came the Chalet School books, how I longed to go to boarding school. Then historical fiction got to me, The Scarlet Pimpernel series and then the Anya Seton books. Eventually I graduated to Jane Austen and Thackeray and became a real lover of 19th century novels but I was in my 30’s before I read Hardy starting with the Mayor of Casterbridge I devoured all his books one by one but for some reason have never reread any of them. Following these I started on the 20th century particularly Graham Green, but many others especially when Virago came out, I was able to read more women writers. I had a Muriel Spark period also. One of the biggest joys was discovering Trollope (Anthony not Joanna) who is my all time favourite author. The wonderful thing about Trollope is, he wrote so much, I’ve still go lots to go and would love to reread the Pallisers.
What are your reading habits, where do you most like to read? Are there any specific times which are your most responsive reading periods?
I read for an hour every morning in bed no matter what time I wake up. If I am at home at lunch time I read for an hour after lunch also. I rarely watch television because it stops me reading! So if I am at home in the evening I read then. I never go anywhere without a book, it would drive me mad to be sitting waiting for something when I could be reading. The place doesn’t really matter; the only place I don’t read is in the bathroom. I’ve never thought about it before but maybe that’s why I never linger there.
How has your reading taste changed over the years?
This has happened over a great many years, if it doesn’t sound too precious I would say the only thing that has changed is that I can now tell the difference between good and bad writing and I don’t particularly want to waste my time reading rubbish when there are so many good books out there still waiting to be read.
Have you read any books that have changed your life or books that have changed your view on life and the world?
‘The Fatal Shore’ by Robert Hughes, I’d never realised how brutal the settlement of Australia was. ‘If this is a Man’ by Primo Levi. Both Mark Tulley and William Dalrymples writings on India.
How do you get on with contemporary books and authors?
Very well thank you. I remember many years ago looking with horror at my TBR pile and it only contained one book! However by this time my eldest daughter (Simon’s mother), also an avid reader, began to influence my reading habits and introduced me to writers such as Margaret Atwood, who is still one of my favourites. I love Anne Tylers books too, Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favourites, Snow Falling on Cedars, Cold Mountain, English Passengers, anything and everything by William Trevor I could go on.
Which authors alive today do you think will be most remembered in a hundred years time?
I hope William Trevor. Maybe Margaret Atwood though I’m not sure, possibly John Banville. I’m thinking of the novel here but in actual fact it is more likely to be non fiction writers though I can’t think who.
What is your fondest bookish memory?
When I was a child we only owned a couple of books one was ‘Gone with the Wind’. In my early to mid teens and suffering from a bad bout of flu I decided that the time had come to try a ‘grown up’ book so I started Gone with the Wind, it is a long book so highly suitable for reading during an enforced period of bed rest. After that whenever, in my teens, I suffered from flu I would reread it. The attraction had worn off by the time I got to twenty and I have not read it since though I have seen the film more than once. I should add though we possessed few books there were always a lot of library books, in fact introducing me to the library is one of the things I am most grateful to my parents for.
What are the first fifteen books which you can instantly think of for being unforgettable, not ones that you love the most necessarily…
The ones already mentioned plus Dombey and Son, War and Peace, Emma, Small Island, A Suitable Boy, Our Mutual Friend, Anna Karenina, If this is a Man, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Katherine, The Chequerboard, The Rabbit books by John Updike, Lolita, Two Lives, Bel Canto, The Warden, East of Eden.
What book do you most want to read at the moment that you haven’t?
The Grapes of Wrath.
By the time you have read this Gran will be back up north. She did want to thank everyone individually for all of your thoughts on which books she should vote for as reads for one of her book groups next year. If you have more to add do pop here as she will be popping back. We didnt have time to set up her blog either… but maybe in the New Year!