There’s something voyeuristically thrilling about knowing what other people’s reading habits are. The Reader is a brief interview inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, which was itself inspired by a 19th century party game. We ask readers, writers, publishers and book-lovers everywhere (including our own staff) to answer eleven questions about the books they love, what they have been reading and their literary habits.
Max Rashbrooke is the editor of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, published in June 2013 by Bridget Williams Books, and the author of the BWB Text The Inequality Debate: An Introduction, published in March 2014. As a journalist, he has written stories for national newspapers and magazines in Britain and New Zealand, including the Guardian, the National Business Review and Metro. He has twice been the recipient of the Bruce Jesson Senior Journalism Award, and was recently awarded a 2015 Winston Churchill Fellowship. His forthcoming works include a short book on New Zealand’s wealthy.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?
Just finished HHhH – which I first saw at Unity!
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?
In most cases, I’ve only read one or maybe two works by any given author, so all I could honestly say is that my favourite novels are Vanity Fair, The Great Gatsby, Possession, and Brideshead Revisited.
WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?
I’m currently stuck about a third of the way through Proust, so the remaining volumes are sitting there, reproving me…
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?
I’m one of those people who, unfortunately, doesn’t really enjoy book-to-film adaptations.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?
Possession. It’s endlessly rich, and enthralling, and amusing.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?
Hard to pick one overall, but my favourite comedic character is Mr Brooke from Middlemarch.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?
How Late It Was, How Late (the 1994 Booker winner).
WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR SUPPER?
Thackeray, Katherine Mansfield and Mikhail Bulgakov.
WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?
Not sure – maybe something from eastern Europe.
HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?
Alphabetically (fiction) and by subject (non-fiction). My mother’s a librarian, so it’s a learned habit.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?
My favourite literary sentence (from an otherwise terrible Nabokov novel called Ada or Ardor) is: “His heart missed a beat, and never regretted the lovely loss.”