What Writers Read – Pandora Sykes (Ed)

Published By: Bloomsbury
Pages: 208
Released On: 01/11/2022

In this love letter to reading, curated by Pandora Sykes in aid of the National Literacy Trust, bestselling and beloved writers share their favourite books: the ones they hold most dearly, that they return to time and again and that helped make them the writers they are.

*****

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love a book about books or about writing or reading. So this was definitely my thing.

It’s going to have a lot to answer for when I look at my bank account at the end of the month. Every book mentioned is described with such love and passion and admiration that I can’t stop adding them to my basket.

Not many people in the family like to read. One or two, but even then not to the same extent than I do, and so it’s sometimes hard to fully get across how much a book can change your life. So it was gorgeous to read 35 reasons why a book can be so important. They all managed to put down on paper that which I find hard to articulate. It shows that books can be more than just books. They’re more than just entertainment pieces.

Pandora’s managed to get contributions from the likes of David Nicholls, Marian Keyes, Elif Shafak, Lisa Taddeo, Elizabeth Day, William Boyd, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jojo Moyes, Sebastian Faulks, and many others. Some of the top authors around. It’s really quite extraordinary. Out of the 35 authors, I was aware of 23 of them, which gives me more 12 more authors to investigate, not to mention the authors they talk about. It’s a simple delight.

I also learnt in Lisa Taddeo’s section, that Japanese Sake is in fact alcohol and not what I’ve always thought it to be, which was soup. I was wondering how you could get hungover from soup.

As I finished it, I instantly wanted to go through my own bookshelves (containing 700+ books) and write about each of them and what they all mean to me. Spoiler alert: I did not do this. But it really makes you think about books in such a way that you just want to tell everyone about them.

It is most certainly a love letter. A love letter to books, to authors, to words, to reading, to writing, to art, to poetry, to stories.

I would have liked a little entry from Pandora herself. At no point does it say she would contribute, so I wasn’t expecting anything, but I would have liked a small bit from her, documenting what she reads, just to give it a little extra. And we would then see just how important books are to her.

It shows the universality of reading. There’s no smugness. It covers the classics, contemporary work, non-fiction, comic books – it shows that it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you read and you’re enjoying it.

There were some books I wasn’t so interested in reading about, but only a handful. Most of them really interested me and they were added to my wish list.

There’s just something so comforting and joyful about reading a book about books. You can dip in and out, read one entry at a time, or you can sit and read it all in one sitting. It works anyway you want and it’s just glorious reading.

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