The Book Q&A

I was tagged by Jo Case to answer this fulsome Book Q&A; Jo’s answers are here. I’m following Jo’s example: if you’d like to take part, consider yourself tagged. (And come back and leave a link to your quiz responses in the comments). Rules below.

What are you reading right now?

The BelovedThe Beloved by Annah Faulkner. This book won the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Emerging Writer and the 2013 Kibble award for women writing about life in Australia, and was short-listed for the 2013 Miles Franklin Award.

I’m only a few chapters in but already I’m taken by the beauty of the writing and the authenticity of the voice of the central character, young Roberta ‘Bertie’ Lightfoot. The setting of Papua New Guinea in the 1950s is fascinating, too.

I’m fortunate to be sharing a panel with Annah Faulkner at the Brisbane Writers Festival next month.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

It’s all about preparation for Brisbane Writers Festival for me at the moment. Once I finish The Beloved, I’ve got a crime panel with Adrian McKinty and Stuart MacBride to prepare for. I’ll read MacBride’s Close to the Bone. Haven’t yet decided whether to read McKinty’s latest, I Hear the Sirens in the Street, or his first, The Cold, Cold Ground.

Once I can see my way clear to reading purely for pleasure again, Zero At The Bone, the new novel by David Whish-Wilson, is at the top of my pile.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

L. A. Confidential — James Ellroy
For Whom The Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemmingway
Remembering Babylon — David Malouf
The Member of the Wedding — Carson McCullers
The Jim Thompson Omnibus

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?

The Big IssueThe Trip (3RRR subscriber magazine), Empire and Vanity Fair (Hollywood issue).

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

Some ghastly Sidney Sheldon novel. I was backpacking in India and traded Midnight’s Children for it with another traveller. One of the best books I’ve ever read for one of the worst. Thus the world balances itself, I guess.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

I often read popular books that I don’t like, especially the stalk-and-slash/serial killer variety.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Right now it’s The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny, a vital corrective to the mendacity underpinning Australia’s current asylum seeker policy.

What are your three favourite poems?

‘High Flight’ by John G Magee Jnr
‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne
‘Jaberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll

Where do you usually get your books?

At my local bookshop Brunswick BoundReadings in Carlton, Reader’s Feast, the storeroom at Text Publishing and online (for ebooks).

Where do you usually read your books?

Like Jo, I carry a book in my bag everywhere I go, sometimes two if there’s a chance I’ll finish one before I get home. My favourite place to read is in bed, or on the couch with a glass of wine; I especially enjoy it when the book I’m reading is so good, I can’t be bothered watching a DVD. I also read on public transport, at cafes, in queues, in lifts and occasionally while walking down the street.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

At the age of about 14 or 15, I hid a copy of Endless Love inside a maths text book so I could read it at my (Catholic) school sports carnival.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?

Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung.

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?

In my debut novel Behind the Night Bazaar, my PI character Jayne Keeney sings the praises of James Ellroy. She’s read a lot more of his work than I have.

Jasmine Nights coverHave you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

The cover might make me pick a book up but it takes more than that for me to buy it. I mean, I love the cover to Jasmine Nights by S P Somtow (left), but it was ‘The J D Salinger of Siam’ quote that clinched it.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter stands out as my first thriller. The tale of a naïve duck who accepts the offer of a sandy-whiskered gentleman to incubate her eggs in his feather filled wood-shed still gave me chills forty years on when I read it to my own  daughter. Jemima Puddle-Duck introduced me the power of literature that unsettles, frightens, arouses, and introduced me to the perennial theme of inappropriate relationships.

What book changed your life?

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This is the kind of book I aspire to write. In her author’s note to the novel, Kingsolver says, ‘I spent nearly thirty years waiting for the wisdom and maturity to write this book.’ As a writer, I’m greatly encouraged by this admission as I continue working on that requisite wisdom and maturity.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

A tough call, so I’m going with the first piece that springs to mind:

We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.

I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography — to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.

― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Barbara Kingsolver, Simone Lazaroo, Kate Atkinson, Christos Tsiolkas, Andrew Nette.

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo. Set at a hotel in Bali, the story unfolds over twenty-four hours, told from the point of view of Malacca-born Perpetua de Mello, her dissolute English father, a Balinese couple who work at the hotel, and a suite of guests — Australians plus a French family — who are brought together in violent circumstances.

While peppering the story with reflections on food, culture and religion, Sustenance is no Eat, Pray, Love — quite the opposite. The novel poses questions about how vulerable people damaged by the insensitivity of and exploitation by outsiders (not unlike Elizabeth Gilbert) can seek redress, and is all the more powerful for placing these questions in the context of broader reflections on grief and hope across all characters and cultures. It is also beautifully written.

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca
Ghost Money by Andrew Nette
Anything by Honey Brown and Simone Lazaroo.

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido; Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson; House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende; The World Waiting to be Made by Simone Lazaroo; A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn; Peepshow by Leigh Redhead; The Red Queen by Honey Brown.

What is your favourite classic book?

The completed collected works of Oscar Wilde.

Five other notable mentions?

The Song Is You by Megan Abbot
The Household Guide to Dying
 by Debra Adelaide
The Long Firm, Jake Arnott
Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernières
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje



1. Post these rules

2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover

3. Answer the questions above

4. Tag a few people to answer them too

5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them

6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Kirsten Krauth, Margot Kinberg, Felicity Young, Karen Chisholm.

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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23 Responses to The Book Q&A

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Angela – Thanks for tagging me. Time for me to have a think about this… I love the variety in your choices of books and recommendations! And I’m so glad you’ve mentioned Honey Brown’s work. I hear she’s extremely talented and the little I know of her books certainly has me intrigued. A very nice kick in the – er – pants to read her novels.


    • angelasavage says:

      I’ll be intrigued to see what you come up with in each category, Margot. And yes, do check out Honey Brown’s books. She’s one of my favourite contemporary Australian crime writers.


  2. Jo Case says:

    You’re a Barbara Trapido fan too! Excited to see that. I should have listed ‘Jabberwocky’ as one of my favourite poems. I was just paralysed by being revealed as a poetry know-nothing, and couldn’t think of anything. Great ‘five books to read’, too.

    Loved reading this – thanks! You are indeed being very diligent about your panel reading. Gold star for you. 🙂


  3. Felicity says:

    So many books so many memories. Thanks for the tag Angela, I’ll get onto it ASAP.


    • angelasavage says:

      Good on you, Fe. I think these things are fun! Of course, almost as soon as you post online, you think of a whole swathe of other books you could have mentioned…


      • Karen C says:

        Fun! FUN!!!!! Good grief these things are terrifying…. Trying to dredge up answers for these things just reminds me how the memory isn’t what it could be… (It’s age / nothing to do with too much partying….)


        • angelasavage says:

          I wouldn’t want to terrify you, Karen — not unless you’re reading a scary scene in one of my novels. I tagged you as a reader I admire. But if you’re memory’s not up to it… Sorry, what was I saying?


  4. Pingback: The Book Q & A | Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

  5. kathy d. says:

    These are fantastic answers. I wholeheartedly agree about Barbara Kingsolver; The Poisonwood Bible is in my top books of all time, along with Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Alice Walker’s A Color Purple, and I’d have to add Theodore Dreiser, John Steinbeck, Richard Wright, others. And I’m not even thinking of a lot of books I’ve read since a teenager.
    Kingsolver’s current book Flight Behavior is excellent.
    I concur on Malla Nunn’s first book.
    A friend encouraged me to read Ondaatje, and now that I read that passage I can see why.
    However, your location has provided book ideas not even heard of over here, like The Beloved and Sustenance. I’ve never seen them written about here nor some of your other titles.
    They are intriguing to me and I’ll look for them.
    The last book that kept me up all night reading was Paddy Richardson’s Hunting Blind. A friend told me the same thing. She can write nail-biting suspense! I couldn’t go out while I was reading that.
    On life-long reading habits: When I was 11 I discovered I could read past my bedtime under the covers with a flashlight. That discovery led to my decades-old habit of staying up reading until the wee hours, tasks and schedule be darned.
    Although I grew up going to public schools sans religion, I discovered risque books belonging to my parents — quite staid by today’s standards — at 12 and I read them.
    Anyway, great answers! My TBR list just grew.
    A benefit of the Internet, despite all of the non-privacy difficulties, is how our world widens by reading blogs from various countries.


    • angelasavage says:

      Thanks for sharing Kathy. One reason I enjoy these exercises is because they both reveal shared loves and introduce me to new books/grow the TBR pile.

      Knowing what I know about you, our shared love of Barbara Kingsolver comes as no surprise (I love her non-fiction, too). And Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy only narrowly missed making my list.

      I’ll keep an eye out for Paddy Richardson. Thanks.


  6. Angela – have you read Simone Lazaroo’s The Australian Fiance? An outstanding and memorable read.


  7. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway is one of the best books I’ve read. I agree Sidney Sheldon can be “ghastly” at times and “Midnight’s Children” will forever be on my list of greatest books of all time, ranking well below 10. Such mastery over the language!


    • angelasavage says:

      Thanks, Prashant. You’ve strengthened my resolve to put For Whom The Bell Tolls on my summer reading pile.

      I love Midnight’s Children. Also, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is brilliant.


  8. Pingback: The Book Q & A | Reactions to Reading

  9. kathy d. says:

    I can’t find Simone Lazaroo’s books here. I’ll have to keep looking.
    Anyway, I want to reread The Poisonwood Bible but my TBR list and piles are so humongous I dare not try a second perusal of anything.
    There are just so many good books out there, some which I just run across due to good book reviews: Stef Penney’s The Invisible Ones about the Roma in England, The Earth Hums in B-Flat about a 12-year-old girl in 1950s Wales, even Fred Vargas’ The Ghost Riders of Ordebec.
    And a favorite was the second book in Adrian Hyland’s series about a young Indigenous woman detective, Emily Tempest. Great language in that book, descriptions of the Outback.
    And now to settle in and hope no one calls or knocks as I have a wonderful treat of 3 books from Oz, including The Dying Beach, and two by Paddy Richardson. Hope no bills have to be paid or dishes washed for a few weeks.


  10. kathy d. says:

    At the risk of giving a small spoiler in The Dying Beach, I’m mentioning a great line I just encountered: Isn’t a girl allowed to have more than one phobia? I’m still laughing over reading that. I relate, as I intensely dislike the slithery creatures to which she is referring. Lizards aren’t too far off either, but my toes were once licked — yes, in the middle of Manhattan — by a Malayan water monitor. He was a pet in an apartment; my partner and I stopped by. I had on sandals, open toes and Malayan (his name) decided to lick my toes. After I got home, I realized the possible outcomes, none good, so I was fine. Those people had a boa constrictor living in a desk drawer and a house full of lizards. When I tried to use the bathroom, a big hiss came out of a lizard who was sitting on the toilet. Oh, what fond memories.
    So, I get Jayne’s comment.
    I haven’t had much reading time to read this fascinating book. I must say NO to the world and read. I borrowed this from a mutual blog friend but I want to buy my own copy to lend it out.


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