We chat with Kara Nicholson about David Foster Wallace's biography and the new cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi.
Why do you work in books?
Books are my favourite objects and reading is my favourite pastime – seems only natural.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading the new biography of David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max. I started it the day after I read an interview with Wallace where he said that ‘a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull … imaginative access to other selves’.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
Money Shot by Jeff Sparrow. It’s a fascinating and insightful analysis of censorship and the porn industry in Australia.
What have you noticed people buying lately?
Jerusalem – the new cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi (his last cookbook, Plenty, is probably the cookbook I use the most so I’ve got my eye on the new one) and the Quarterly Essay, Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott by David Marr.
What’s the strangest experience you’ve had in a bookshop?
I was once sent a packet of silk tea bags by a grateful customer in Japan.
What’s the best experience you’ve had in a bookshop?
Recommending a book to a customer who came back the following week to tell me she liked it so much she wanted another recommendation.
What’s your favourite book of all time and why?
Middlemarch by George Eliot. I can’t really say why in a couple of sentences. It’s a book about ordinary people striving for change. Virginia Woolf called it ‘magnificent’ and ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’. I love it so much I collect old editions; the oldest is from 1885.
Name a book that has changed the way you think – in ways small or large.
Any good book should achieve this to some degree. Most recently I read Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes. It’s an extraordinary investigation into a handful of powerful scientists who have joined forces with private corporations to challenge scientific consensus on issues such as the health effects of tobacco and climate change. Very disturbing.
What was your favourite book as a kid?
It’s hard to narrow down, but a shortlist would include The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and People Might Hear You by Robin Klein.