Favourite reads from favourite authors: WORD Christchurch

Sydney Bridge Upside DownTwo of my favourite things about literary festivals are: to hear authors read from books, and to find out what their best loved reads are. Reading Favourites was a WORD event that ticked both those boxes for me.

The three authors were Kate de Goldi, Sarah Laing and Carl Nixon and they were asked to name their two favourite New Zealand books. Guy Somerset hosted this event, which he wistfully billed as being: “like an Uber Book Group without the wine or cake.”

Kate de Goldi chose:

Sydney Bridge Up-side Down by David Ballantyne, a book about which she confesses to be somewhat evangelical. Published in 1968, it is a book that “keeps finding its readers”. It was, according to de Goldi, way ahead of its time.

Kate’s second choice was Welcome to the South Seas by Gregory O’Brien, a book de Goldi classifies as Creative Non-Fiction. It is a book that awakens the child in you, that grandparents buy for their grandchildren and end up keeping for themselves. It has the artwork asking you the questions.

Cover of HicksvilleSarah Laing:

Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks topped Laing’s favourites list. She has read this graphic novel several times and never tires of its multi layered approach. With each reading she seems to uncover more and more.

Sarah’s second choice was From the Earth’s End – The Best of New Zealand Comics. Sarah reminded us that after the war, 47 comic titles were published every month in New Zealand alone and that libraries are the guardians of much of this early material.

Carl Nixon:

The Day Hemingway DiedCarl’s first choice was The Day Hemingway Died by Owen Marshall. It was the first book (at 18 years of age) that Carl remembers wanting to read as if he had discovered it all by himself. It has a very distinct tone, is the perfect illustration of character foibles and is laugh-out-loud funny – all at the same time.

Carl’s second choice was Gifted by Patrick Evans. He read a wonderful extract from this book about the meeting between Sargeson and Janet Frame, two people who never really understood one another at all, according to Carl. This book never received the attention that it deserved and Carl hopes that we will rectify that by getting out there and doing it justice.

This was a well presented, varied event in which the participants gave us a peek into their best-loved books. And, to top it all, it was free. That is correct, there were a number of free events at the festival, and the calibre of all events is very, very high. So, in two years time, even if the budget is tight and penury looms (and I do so hope this will not be the case), you can still tart yourself up, hitch a ride down to the Fest and recharge those tired old book-loving batteries.

See you there in 2016!

Sarah Laing: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Sarah Laing – fiction writer, graphic designer and cartoonist

What (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

It’s such a great programme and I’m excited about a number of events. I can’t wait to hear Meg Wolitzer and Ruth Reichl talk, and I’m super excited about Kristin Hersh being in town. I am looking forward to meeting Tracy Farr, whose book The Lives and Loves of Lena Gaunt I thoroughly enjoyed. Oh, and you’ll probably find me hanging out at all the comics events.

Cover of The Interestings Cover of Delicious Cover of The Lives and loves of Lena Gaunt

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries. I’ve spent many hours there reading with my children, and I’ve discovered brilliant graphic novels and novels on their shelves. I am still delighted by my ability to read a review on the New York Times or The Guardian and order the book online, only to pick it up a few days or weeks later at my local library.

Cover of The fall of lightShare a surprising fact about yourself.

Surprising facts: I think I do too much oversharing on my blog to surprise anybody, but a few things that might surprise are a. I never studied art at school, b. I always envisaged myself as a musician rather than a writer, c. The nearest I came to being in a band was playing the pan pipes in my Puerto Rican ex-boyfriend’s Latin American folk group, and d. I was scared of the dark well into adulthood and slept with the hall light on until I was 22.