. . .are you reading now?
LIKE a child at a birthday party, eating Party Rings biscuits, popcorn and crisps simultaneously, I always have a novel, an audiobook and a non-fiction on the go.
So, currently, I’m reading Lauren Bravo’s debut novel Preloved, listening to Candice Carty-Williams’ People Person and I’m also reading This Won’t Hurt: How Medicine Fails Women by Marieke Bigg. I definitely listen to more books than I read. Last year, I got through Anna Karenina and my first Jilly Cooper that way.
. . .would you take to a desert island?
I HAVE thought about this many, many times, and I think for nostalgia, company, humour, a sense of home and familiarity, it would either be the Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse or Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson.
I was introduced to the former when I was about nine and in India with my family, suffering from acute homesickness. My mum found a paperback in a bookshop in Hyderabad and read it to me on the train.
I read Notes From A Small Island when it first came out and I was just 11 — it was possibly the first book that made me laugh out loud. When it comes to non-fiction, Bryson is my hero.
And the only man who has ever got me excited about Victorian physicists.
. . .first gave you the reading bug?
THE first book I ever read to myself, in its entirety, was Heidi. I have never been to the Alps, but I still have a very strong, almost visceral, memory of reading that description of melting cheese, warm goat’s milk and sleeping on a bed of straw under the stars. Perhaps that was when I became so outdoorsy. The book that first made me want to be a writer might have been The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin, which I studied at A-level. Although my early attempts at poetry are now, thankfully for everyone, either lost or burned.
. . .left you cold?
I BREASTFED my son for nearly two years, and the only thing that just about held together the stretched threads of my brain during the endless night feeds was staring at my partner’s light-up e-reader.
In those hours, I was able to read things that I’d never normally pick up — Eric Newby, Douglas Adams, John le Carré.
But I’m afraid even hysterical insomnia couldn’t persuade me to persevere with either Terry Pratchett or some Eric Ambler spy novel that I was left so cold by that I can’t even remember the title.
Not that I imagine either man was writing specifically with breastfeeding in mind. n Holding The Baby: Milk, Sweat And Tears From The Frontline of Motherhood by nell Frizzell is out now at £16.99 (doubleday).