The pleasure of reading

Antonia Fraser describes herself as an ‘addict’ of the written word. In this revealing book, she brings together more than forty leading writers (writing in the English language) of all ages and from backgrounds a diverse as possible, to explain what inspired their interest in books and what keeps them reading.

First published in 1992, original contributors include Margaret Atwood, J. G. Ballard, Melvyn Bragg, A. S. Byatt, Carol Ann Duffy, Germaine Greer, Alan Hollinghurst, Doris Lessing, Ruth Rendell, Tom Stoppard, Sue Townsend and Jeanette Winterson.

They were asked to describe their early reading, what did (or did not) influence them, and what they enjoy reading today. They were also asked “if possible” for a list of their ten favourite books.

For this new edition, five additional writers were invited: Kamila Shamsie, Rory Stewart, Katie Waldegrave, Emily Berry and Tom Wells, respectively a novelist, a travel writer, a biographer, a poet and a playwright.

The contributors are a diverse group whose dates of birth range over seventy-six years, from countries as diverse as China, Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and with varied backgrounds.

Yet common themes do emerge; strongest of which is of reading as a childhood or youthful passion. The words “addiction”, “obsession” and “avid” are commonly used.

This is a delightful collection and will surely bring joy to anyone who enjoys reading.

Further details of The pleasure of reading can be found on the main catalogue, available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website.