A Life in Books - Cathy Bolton, Director of the Manchester Literature Festival

PUBLISHED: 08:33 06 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:56 20 February 2013

A Life in Books - Cathy Bolton,  Director of the Manchester Literature Festival

A Life in Books - Cathy Bolton, Director of the Manchester Literature Festival

Cathy Bolton is Director of the Manchester Literature Festival which runs from October 14th to 25th in various venues around Manchester. We asked her about the books she has by her bedside table

What are you reading at the moment?
Im reading Beatles by Lars Saabye Chistensen whos appearing at this years Manchester Literature Festival. Set in Oslo in the 60s and 70s, its a really entertaining coming of age book about four boys who model themselves on the Fab Four. Despite the difference in gender, age and culture I can really identify with their adolescent antics
and dilemmas, and its full of understated humour.

What book are you looking forward to starting?
Laurie Moores A Gate at the Stairs . Her lyric language is not to be rushed so Im saving it for a post festival treat. I love her witty and evocative short stories, and Im really looking forward to relaxing with a longer narrative offering.

What was the first book that got you hooked on reading?
It was The Wind in the Willows. I was completely captivated by the adventures of Toad - theres one particular image of a gypsy caravan setting off into the sunset thats still emblazoned on my imagination to this day. Its the first time I remember disobeying the time-to-sleep curfew, reading by the dim glow of my bedside lamp so as not cast any tell tale light onto the landing - this developed into a regular habit that I blame for my terrible eyesight!

Do you have a favourite beach read?
The kind of novel that transports youto an unfamiliar world or culture - that way you get to experience a double escape. Some of my most memorable holiday reads have been Toni Morrisons Song of Solomon, Margaret Atwoods Oryx and Crake, and more recently Barbara Kingsolvers The Lacuna and Monique Roffeys The White Woman on a Green Bicycle - theyre all great examples of books that both entertain and provoke reflection.

Who is your all time favourite author or book?
Its hard to choose just one, but I think Ill have to go for The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. I love her fresh and quirky descriptive style of writing and theres an underlying optimism to this particular novel - that even the most damaged and dysfunctional of people can find love.

Also, Im a great sea lover and the novels atmospheric sense of place - the desolate, windswept coast of Newfoundland - really takes my breath away.

Is there a book that changed your life?
I dont know about changing my life, but the book that made the greatest impression on me as a teenager was Doctor Zhivago. As well as being a terribly romantic saga, Yuri Zhivagos moral conflict about whether he should devote his life to medicine or poetry made me really think about the role of the artist in society, and how the individual can best serve the
wider good.

The book you least like?
In my former job I had to read a lot of unpublished manuscripts, including several tedious espionage thrillers that have all blurred into one happily forgettable clich.

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