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Monday, June 6, 2011

Muggle Monday (10)

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I post a quote, a video, or a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this meme: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, I want to share with you a superb new interview with goddess author J.K. Rowling. In this interview with Words with JAM magazine, Jo talks about her favourite childhood book and the book that changed her life.

I don't know about you guys, but I love hearing about book recommendations from my favourite authors. If it's recommended from them, then it must be good, right? Unfortunately, Jo rarely openly recommends books to her readers so it's quite a treat to hear about these books from her:

What was your favourite childhood book, or books?

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge. The tone is perfect: a seamless mix of the fairy-tale and the real. It also has a plain heroine, which delighted me beyond words as a child, because I was a very plain little girl and I hadn't met many literary heroines who weren't breathtakingly pretty. The opening paragraphs of The Little White Horse have stayed with me all my life. Goudge says that there are three kinds of people in this world: those who find consolation in food, those who find consolation in literature, and those who find consolation in personal adornment.
I know I read Little Women when I was eight, because we moved house shortly afterwards, when I was nine. Naturally, I whole-heatedly identified with Jo March, she of the burning literary ambition and short temper. My mother had everything Georgette Heyer ever wrote, so I whipped through those, too, when I was a pre-teen, and I FINALLY found a plain heroine there, too (Phoebe, in 'Sylvester', who also - hooray! - happened to be a writer).
Basically, I lived for books, and was sustained by literary characters with whom I could identify - I was your basic, common-or-garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.

Is there a book that changed your life? If so, how?

Well, setting aside the obvious answer (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) I'd have to go for Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels. My great aunt thought that Jessica Mitford was a simply deplorable character (Mitford ran away from her upper class family to become a Communist and join the war against Franco in the 1930s), and I overheard her telling my mother all about her, when I was fourteen. I showed interest, so Auntie Ivy gave me an old copy of Mitford's autobiography, glad, no doubt, to get it off her respectable bookshelves. It was a most dangerous book to give to a dissatisfied, left-leaning teenager: Jessica Mitford immediately became my heroine. I read everything she'd ever written and ended up naming my eldest daughter after her.

So, I just added The Little White Horse and Hons and Rebels to my already monstrous TBR. I just love hearing about the literary characters that she has identified with in her life. I, too, get a little tired of the endless parade of "breathtakingly pretty" heroines in literature. I highly recommend you click here to read Jo's entire interview, in which she talks about ebooks, the publishing world, the Orange Prize, guilty reading pleasures, and her prehensile toes.


  1. Book recommendations from amazing authors are awesome! It is nice to see what they like to read when not writing. =)

  2. Wow, thanks so much for posting this Aylee, I don't know that I've read even a single interview with her so this was fun:) Like you, I always like knowing what books authors read growing up and what characters they could read again and again.

  3. I love her answers! Gahhhh if I could have a single day to pick JK's brain...my life would be complete :)

  4. Bailey: Yes, exactly. It's so interesting to me. I love to wonder about how the books they've read has affected their writing, their characters, the plots of their books, etc.

    Jenny: This was a super fun interview! I think it might be because she is a lot less stressed now that HP is over because in previous interviews, she has seemed a bit tense. I love learning about my favourite authors and Jo tops the list in that respect :)

    Melissa: OMGosh, yes!! She is so clever, funny, and intelligent in her answers. Absolutely brilliant. To be able to spend a day with her... I'm going to stop that fantasy right there because I know it's never going to happen!

  5. Great post! I love reading the recommendations or literary inspirations from my favorite authors.

  6. It's one of my favourite things to learn about authors :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this! The Little White Horse was my favorite childhood book too--it is really lovely. (But I'm not sure a grown up coming to it for the first time would agree...)

  8. Right, that is often the case. But I think there's a different sort of appreciation reading a child's book as an adult.

  9. I've rarely read interviews with Jo-- who is something of a goddess to me, as well! I love that she identifies with Jo March. I never particularly liked Little Women, but I liked that character, and now I will always think of her as JK Rowling. Thanks for sharing! :)

  10. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've never read Little Women. Having Jo say that she identified with Jo certainly makes me want to read the book to find out why exactly!