Margaret Drabble tells us what she’s reading this summer
The renowned author Margaret Drabble has a number of accolades to her name – she’s written nearly twenty novels (the first, A Summer Bird-Cage, was published in 1963), numerous screenplays, plays, short stories and non-fiction; and is a Dame Commander of the British Empire who should be referred to as Dame Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd in good company; she has won awards and honours aplenty.
And now, she’s something new. She’s a fan.
Yes, Dame Drabble is a new evangelist for eReading and has recently made her substantial list of books available for the first time in digital format in the UK, and hopefully will make them available to the rest of the world very soon.
“As we get older, books and bags get heavier. The e-reader is the answer to happy travel and baggage restrictions…,” she wrote in The Guardian. “The e-reader allows you to shop as you go, or when you arrive. It has handy built-in dictionaries. It allows you to read in the full glare of the sun, or in the darkness of your hotel bedroom…You can work it with one hand, and you can enlarge the font of your device to suit your eyesight.”
We had the chance to ask Drabble a few questions recently – here’s what she told us:
Q. Why did you pick up an eReader in the first place? What led to that first try?
A: I was given my first e-Reader for Christmas about three or four years ago, by my three children, and after a few initial difficulties found it easy to use, and indispensable.
Q. What do you find is your favourite feature?
A: The possibility of carrying so many volumes with me all at once- I often read two or three books at once, and the e-reader is perfect for that.
Q. Tell us about your reading life – what are you reading/what book are you diving into next?
A: I’m reading Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, and Bernardine Bishop’s new novel, Hidden Knowledge
Q. Where do you read?
A: Everywhere! In bed, on the bus, on the train, in the garden, in the library…
Q. Where do you write? What’s your routine?
A: I write in my study, and prefer the mornings. I used to be an evening writer, but now, if I’m writing at all, I start early. I don’t write every day.
Q. Do you believe in writer’s block? What’s your advice on a cure?
A: Walking is the best sure. A lot of problems are solved by walking.
Q. If you had to choose another career, what would it be? Why?
A: I’d like to have been a marine biologist.
Q. What books made the biggest impression on you as a child?
A: Wuthering Heights and Jules Verne’s Twenty Tghousand Leagues Under the Sea
Q. Of your own books, do you have a favourite?
A: Yes, my favourite is The Needle’s Eye.
Q. What should someone not acquainted with Margaret Drabble read first? Why?
A: Either The Millstone or the Radiant Way. Both are easy to read, though very different.
Q. When will the rest of the world be able to read your books on eReaders?
A: As soon as possible, I hope!
Q: What are your favourite eBooks?
A: Currently my favourite ebooks are:
- Dave Eggers, The Circle, because it’s a great warning about what happens when technology gets out of hand;
- Michelle de Kretser, Questions of Travel, a very ambitious novel about restlessness, travel, and tourism;
- Alan Johnson’s This Boy, a wonderful evocation of growing up on an estate in North Kensington;
- Karl Ove Knausgaard’s weird Norwegian memoir, My Struggle, which is very funny about being a modern father and very sad about his father and grandmother’s alcoholism
- Also Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, which I’m just re-reading before a visit to Haworth.