For any book-lover it is always a great (voyeuristic?) pleasure to know what books and authors have their own favourite writers loved and cherished. We assume that writers must have been readers (and it’s true of most cases).
We take a peek into some books written by well-known authors, that give us a window into the books and authors that they in-turn have cherished during the course of their lives.
Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante
The heavy tome has a wealth of information: 20 years of letters, essays, reflections, and interviews, coming from a writer whose books have been immensely successful, but who yet, as a person remains elusive to the media. Her readers do deserve to know more about her, including her choice to remain anonymous, which she explains in the book. However, we are scouting for writers and works that have moved her in some way. Spaced throughout the book, in different forms are mentions of books and authors who have left a deep impression on her. She highlights literary influences-not only the books that she enjoys but also the themes that she seeks from them, time and again.
Bookless in Baghdad by Shashi Tharoor
Tharoor’s literary pursuits could well deserve a tome to themselves. We may know him as a diplomat and politician, and right now he may be in the news for a variety of reasons, but, this is the book where you see him as a reader, writer and lover of literature. This collection of essays chronicles his thoughts and opinions on a variety of literary subjects, including authors he loves (and dislikes!), anecdotes, literary criticism, reviews, themes from his own fiction and so on. Refreshingly, he also talks about books he read as a child..right from the good old Enid Blytons to the Hardy Boys series! His brutally honest comments on books and authors, both contemporary and of the past, make this book a treasure-trove for those with a literary bent.
Love among the Bookshelves by Ruskin Bond
In his characteristic style, Bond weaves the story of his life with the mention of books and authors who influenced him at varied stages. He goes beyond the mere mention of books that left an indelible impression on him as a writer. He also includes, quite generously, extracts from them. You can take a break from his interesting ramblings and lose yourself in another work of fiction, till he draws you back to the next chapter and continues his anecdotes.
Goodnight and God bless by Anita Nair
Written in an easy, ruminative and conversational style, this is a collection of essays where books, writers, book events and literary titbits jostle with personal anecdotes, observations, random musings and trivia. She makes generous use of footnotes and quotes which account for some nice “literary diversions”. You’ll almost feel as if you are talking to a friend, who is dropping names of interesting books and writers as well as literary trivia, as you chat on about a host of topics!
This is but a glimpse of a few books where authors have revealed partly or focused solely upon the books that have made a difference in their lives. There are bound to be more, and undoubtedly they will continue to enthral readers who want to know a little bit more about their favourite writer’s reading habits!