Friday, September 24

Michael Lewis: ‘I didn’t believe in ghosts until I read Neil Gaiman’ | Books

The book I am currently reading
By Kazuo Ishiguro Klara and Sun. He has achieved the most extraordinary thing, to put the reader inside an artificial mind. He makes it look so easy.

The book that changed my life
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert Pirsig. I read it just before my final department exams (art history) in my senior year in college and was so in love that I tried to mimic its style in my exam answers, with predictable results. This book may be the reason why I am not an art historian.

The book I wish I had written
Aurora borealis by Philip Pullman. More generally, I envy the worlds you have created, as it would be a pleasure to spend so much time in them.

The book that the most influenced my writing
By George Orwell Collected essays. When I read them, I had the feeling that much of what passed for “good writing” was essentially fraudulent, and that there was nothing more beautiful than clarity.

The book that I think is most underrated
Red sky in the morning by Richard Bradford. I read this a few years ago and it still amazes me that it is not a mandatory stop, along with Kill a Mockingbird Y The Catcher in the rye, in the forced march we put the schoolchildren through literature.

The book that made me change my mind
The cemetery book by Neil Gaiman: I wonder if I’m the only person who never believed in ghosts until age 52, and I read this.

The last book that made me cry
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: I read all of Steinbeck except this as a kid, because it felt like the kind of thing you were supposed to read, rather than the kind of thing you’d like to read. I picked it up not so long ago and, I know, I know, I couldn’t believe how good it was. And yes I cried. A bit.

The last book that made me laugh
Radical chic by Tom Wolfe: I just reread this for the first time in decades and, like before, I had the other kind of tears rolling down my cheeks. It has never lost its relevance.

The book that I couldn’t finish
By Cervantes Don Quixote: I grabbed my spear and jumped on my horse and charged this thing three times and each time I put it down after about 80 pages. It’s weird because it’s obviously very good, but something is stopping me from finishing.

The book that I am ashamed of not having read
Tolstoy Anna Karenina. If I was really embarrassed, I would read it. It is truer to say that this is the book that I suspect others would expect me to be ashamed of not having read.

The book that I give you as a gift
The long boats by Frans Bengtsson. Just go get it and read it. Just do it. It’s the funniest novel I’ve read since John Kennedy Toole. A confederation of fools and leaves you feeling like you’ve been a Viking.

My consolation read
Anything from John Lanchester. He is my safe place. I know that after reading it I will want to continue being a writer more than before.

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis is published by Allen Lane (£ 25). To support the Guardian and Observer, request your copy at Shipping charges may apply.

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