I'd say that there's somewhere between 500 and 1000 books in the house, some of which are Mark's, and some of which are mine. I also have a few boxes of books at my parents' place in Sydney. (Mark has just estimated we have around 800 in the house.)
2) The last book I bought?
The last time I bought books was at the Cambridge Literary Festival. I bought 26A by Diana Evans, Dining with Terrorists by Phil Rees, Why Do People Hate America and American Dream, Global Nightmare by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies.
3) The last book I read?
Crossing the Border: Voices of Refugee and Exiled Women, edited by Jennifer Langer.
4) Five books that mean a lot to me:
- The Magic Toyshop, by Angela Carter. I read this for the first time when I was about thirteen or fourteen, and it was the first book that I remember reading which made me think I want to write like that. I love everything that Angela Carter ever wrote - she was the absolute mistress of the slightly sinister fairytale - but The Magic Toyshop remains my favourite, perhaps because I read it first.
- The Last Magician, by Janette Turner Hospital. This is a book that means a huge amount to me, but I am always wary of recommending it to others, because I'm aware that many of the reasons I love it are due to the age and place I was when I first read it, and those are the sorts of things that don't necessarily translate well to others. It really encapsulates a lot of what I feel about Sydney and Australia, and I relate very, very strongly to the protagonist. I consider this to be my book for the above reasons, and because hardly anyone else has ever read it so it feels like mine.
- An Intimate History of Humanity, by Theodore Zeldin. Oh, this book should be read by everyone. I bought it ages ago and finally read it when I was in LA in October 2003, and it's one of the richest, most sensitive books I have ever read. The way it's written is the way that I look at the world.
- The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. I can't put my finger on quite why I love this book so much, but when I read it for the first time I was just so excited by it, smiling the whole time I was reading it, and having great difficulty in putting it down. It is a buoyant, joyous read.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. A very recent read, but the love story in it encapsulates the way I feel about love - it's the antithesis of the howling, wailing, head-banging type of love described in, say, Wuthering Heights, which so many people choose to buy into, and I vastly prefer Clarke's version. I didn't realise quite how much it meant to me until I met Susanna Clarke at the Cambridge Literary Festival, and almost burst into tears while stuttering: 'I just loved your book - I mean, I really, really loved your book,' while she looked at me wide-eyed. Not my finest moment.
5) Tag five people and have them fill this out on their journals.
Anyone who hasn't done it already.