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What book . .?

Daily Mail, 5th February 2015

Whatbook …?

…are you reading?

Julian Barnes’s Letters From London, essays he wrote for The New Yorker in the early Nineties, which wonderfully evoke Britain at the time: Francois Mitterand signing the Channel Tunnel contract to cries of “Froggy Froggy! Out! Out! Out!” And the Lloyds underwriters disaster.

And he’s laugh-out-loud funny about the redesigned Britannia’s new bra size, Thatcherite carol singers and John Major’s suits.

…would you take to a desert island?

Alberto Manguel’s wonderful book, A History of Reading. He reminds us that when we read  through a computer document we’re imitating what the Ancient Romans did with their scrolls. They did it to make public announcements - originally reading was always done out loud.

…gave you the reading bug?

I wasn’t much of a reader at school, then one day I got a copy of John Donne’s poetry. I couldn’t believe it - confessional love poems in a completely modern voice, intellectual, passionate and funny.

I found out that, like Dylan Thomas, he was even better read aloud. So I became an actor.

…left you cold?

The Prophet by Kahill Gibran should have been washed away with all our guilty secrets from the Sixties, like the flares and kaftans. But it annoyed me even then.

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